This week, I have been mostly – staring at Twitter. Startled by how quick and easy setting up @KateWaddon was, I suddenly found myself live on Twitter with very little knowledge apart from “StephenFry” and “Trolls” and “Hash tags”. It all felt very frenetic. I felt old. I wanted to run straight back to Facebook.
But then – ooh, interesting people. “Who to follow”, it said. It was like some crazy famous person shop. Columnists I admire. Chefs. Musicians. Susie Dent. I began clicking like a nutter. Then I started searching for contacts, Cornish businesses and potential useful networks. The purpose of Twitter for business suddenly became clear.
I contacted a couple of tweeting friends and announced that they would now be my Gurus. One of my new Gurus sent me a great introduction to using Twitter. Aimed at academics (now there’s a tricky line to walk – how to pitch at a bunch of people who could tweet before they could walk, without Trying Too Hard or being laughably luddite), it was also very useful for general professional use. It suggested three tones to use: substantive, conversation or compromise. I chose The Middle Way. OK – I have a handle (the @ thingie), a style, two Gurus and a business plan. Let’s tweet.
My Husband/Small Business Advisor doesn’t do Facebook. That’s probably helped our relationship no end– he is spared the inanities of my personal page and I don’t get a business critique on my professional page. But he does use Twitter… “You’ve tweeted Lauren Laverne!” Er, yes (blimey, how does he know that? Oh yes…) “And she didn’t favourite your tweet!” Damn. Social media fail hanging out for all to see.
Because it’s all so public. That feels quite strange. Before each tweet I still feel as if I am clearing my throat and about to pronounce in front of a large, possibly critical, audience. Logging onto Facebook felt like returning to a warm, loving embrace. It felt like my Mum. I snuggled back into its welcoming arms and burbled away happily.
So, why am I doing this? Even four days in, I can appreciate that it’s a great way of reaching an audience. My main copywriting market at the moment is businesses in the South West, and Twitter is a great way of letting them know I exist. At the moment, this seems to be mainly through gentle stalking and ingratiating favouriting (that’s a word?!); however once I build up more tweets and gain more followers and start being retweeted, it will be an amazing way of reaching an audience.
From a writer’s point of view, it’s a marvellous exercise in being concise. Limited to 140 characters per tweet because of its SMS-based origins, there’s no room for waffle. It’s like the good old days of texting on unsmart phones, where a message could become a mini masterpiece of condensed writing. I was sure I could remember how to communicate in this way, but many of my words ended up shaded in pink – I am too long-winded for Twitter. I began pruning. I am aware that I overuse the ellipsis – Twitter could cure me of that…Maybe…
So will I continue to use Twitter? Oh yes. Already, I feel its strange pull. I get daily words of wisdom from Susie Dent. The joy of being retweeted resulted in a hideous, blokey air-punch. I messaged one of my Gurus instantly to tell her (on Facebook, ahem). I’m not yet at the stage of offering to manage clients’ Twitter accounts yet, but one day…
My confidence is growing. Today I may even attempt a hash tag.