5 great gains from 5 years on Twitter

It’s a big day. A huge day. I’d argue it’s just about as important as any other anniversary of a major life milestone.

Today, my Twitter account, @MikeWaterhouse, turns five (shall we call it a twitterversary?). Yes, Sept. 19 is marked on my calendar — and I intend to celebrate it.

In the half decade I’ve been connected to this social network, my life has been better. On a scale from 1 to 10, I’d say Twitter contributed to at least a two-point surge in the positive direction since that 2007 date. It wasn’t down in the dumps before — it was great, but perhaps “enhance” is a better word.

Why? Twitter has in so many ways made a me a smarter person, distributor of content and consumer.

In looking back at the impact it’s had on my life, I’ve identified my five personal great gains because of Twitter (in no particular order):

1. New awesome friends. No other tool has made it so easy to open up a public dialogue with random people who share common interests — and then connect in-person at an event like a “tweetup.” Although there is still that awkwardness of first meeting someone in real life after connecting via a series of 140-character statements, most have paid off for the better. Since moving to Cleveland a little more than 2 1/2 years ago, I’ve met so many outstanding people via Twitter whom I now consider great friends. After all, we don’t usually “follow” people we don’t think we’d like in person, right?

2. Exponential connection growth. I’m certainly not a well-traveled person, but I feel like I know people everywhere now. Every day, I am connecting with new people across the country who may or may not be connected to others in my circle of Twitter contacts. When they’re not, it’s usually the start of a whole new extension of connections. Twitter just brings people together.

Side note: I am usually in more awe over seeing in-person someone I’d consider a “Twitter celebrity” (a well-known local person who has A LOT of followers) than I am an actual celebrity.

3. Social media-focused job. Fortunately, my job at a news content provider (AKA television station turned multi-platform focused organization) has granted me a tremendous opportunity to work with Twitter daily. It’s one of the few jobs where social media not only encouraged, it’s practically mandated. I am privileged to be on the social media front lines, where my team is constantly crafting strategies and best practices for our news organization, and getting first-hand feedback from users.

4. Information source. There is no question that Twitter is the best and fastest way to get information in a breaking news scenario — or really any information, for that matter. The rawness of the content and speed at which it’s delivered is unmatchable. Even news professionals count on Twitter to find out what’s happening (me included). The search feature is powerful and serves as a conduit for digging into what’s really happening at a given event.

5. Smarter consumer & distributor of information. Twitter’s attention deficit disorder-causing quality of constantly feeding information to users trains us to better filter our content intake. I am able to pick out the stuff that is most interesting to me, not being afraid to offer feedback or unfollow when I feel like someone is abusing my time or news feed. But on the other hand, I’ve had to become more strategic in my posts by always considering my audience, wagering how each tweet will benefit or turn off my followers. Will they be informed, entertained, moved emotionally, etc. The power is in striking some kind of chord in 140 charaters or less, which is no easy task. One mastered, though, that skill carries over in so many other facets of life.

So, there you have it. That’s how Twitter has changed my life in the last 1,827 days. But it’s also changed many of your lives, too. I posed this question to my followers on the eve of this anniversary:

And got some great responses, like these two about how couples met via Twitter and are currently dating:

I met some of my closest friends and my boyfriend through twitter. Can’t imagine life without them. Thanks twitter!

And how it’s changed the way information is consumed:

And so on.

I do have to give credit to some former co-workers who helped inspire me to embrace a medium I once thought was solely dedicated to silly “I am eating a turkey sandwich for lunch” status updates. Please give a warm Twitter follow to @ScottSaxton, @KariAnnAlysis and @OUsqueak110.

If I could add one feature to Twitter, it would be better integration with the “RT” method of retweeting others’ posts. If the service allowed users to enter a 140-character comment as an attachment to an unabridged tweet reposted in its original form, I think better context and thought could give greater virality possibilites to exceptional tweets. But what do I know?

When is your Twitterversary? Check out http://twbirthday.com to check your anniversary date and chime in via the comment box below.

1 comment for “5 great gains from 5 years on Twitter

  1. Anonymous
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Danielle, Jeff & Lou: Thanks all for chiming in on the blog. It’s interesting to hear how Twitter has become so important and so relevant to so many people.Danielle: Great examples there — thanks for sharing. The Japan example showcases the true power of Twitter, and how it’s a standout when it comes to big events compared to other social media platforms. Probably would not know you or Tony, if it wasn’t for Twitter. And yes, such a small world with the Nick Parsons connection.Jeff: We’ll have to celebrate your 5-year Twitterversary somehow — it’s at least a reason to get together and have a beverage or two. Thanks for checking out the blog. Trying to get better about updating it. I really like your blog, too — love your take on how to live life to the fullest while being practical. Great stuff.Lou: Thanks for sharing. I was also not a fan at first. But once I got going and started making great connections with awesome people, I knew there was something bigger that the service would become. Glad to have reconnected with you via Twitter.

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