Twitter: Birds of a Feather Helping One Chick Take Off … Literally

I’m a passionate user of the social networking site, Twitter. I’ve been sharing short, personal updates on my life, AKA “tweeting” at @EmilysPearl since March 7, 2007 and on a separate account for work (@ECava) since September 2008.

People frequently ask me why I use Twitter. Because the site limits updates to 140 characters or less, people seem to enter the discussion with the viewpoint that they could get the same mileage out of scanning friends’ Facebook status updates, reading their blogs or shooting them a text message.

I have one recent story that illustrates both the beauty and utility of Twitter in my own life.

First, I want to share four quick points on why Twitter is my social networking tool of choice.

Four Points

1) Community: I follow about 700 users between my two accounts, and have about 1,500 people who follow my updates on those accounts. I share updates mainly about food (random pics of what I’m eating/drinking, or in relation to my website MouthOfTheBorder.com), music, social media/marketing or tidbits on my beloved neighborhood in Brooklyn. I follow real-life friends, fellow food bloggers, other Brooklynites and many folks in the social media.

Although many of these are people I’ve never met in person, Twitter allows me to have a conversation with them and learn more about what they’re reading, listening to and thinking about right at that moment. My Twitter community keeps me up to date and inspires me with the breadth and depth of its available resources.

2) Ease of Use: At the beginning of 2006, after having been a member of several niche social networks since 1997, I became an avid user of MySpace and started blogging publicly. I moved from New Hampshire to Brooklyn at the end of that year. After taking a job with a start-up company, I found that I had no downtime. Being surrounded by people on public transportation, I had no privacy for phone calls when I did have downtime. It was a challenge to even find the time to reply to personal emails.

With Twitter, I found I could quickly share what I was doing or thinking with everyone at once. I could post a photo, shoot out a link to an interesting article I read or share a song I just heard. No painful HTML coding, no blog categories, no trying to remember to include everyone on an email. Boom. Update complete.

3) Instant connection and feedback: All you have to do is search Twitter for @EmilysPearl to see that it literally takes a second to get in touch with me. People see what I’m saying and are able to immediately provide thoughts, help, inspiration. If a friend asks for help with something, and I can respond immediately. Or I can “retweet” it and share it with my network of followers to try and get them help. That is immensely valuable. Had Twitter been around when I was a newspaper reporter, I would have been the first user to sign up for it.

4) It just rocks: I have a limited amount of free time. It comes in spurts, but that shouldn’t limit the opportunities for me to stay connected with friends, stay on top of trends and news pertaining to my career or to just be silly and post a picture of my delicious cheeseburger. Twitter lets me do any of those things in five seconds. No other platform accommodates my lifestyle as efficiently and elegantly.

Why Use Twitter?

On September 18, ironically the 1-year anniversary of the day I opened my second Twitter account, the utility powerfully demonstrated why it’s the best social platform to connect with a group of people who matter to me.

It started when it looked like I was going to be late for a flight to Phoenix.

A couple of minutes later, after getting off the phone with Delta a second time:

Less than a minute later, my phone is ringing. I’m still stuck in traffic from midtown Manhattan on the way to JFK airport. A friend I met through Twitter and now cherish in real life saw my tweet and says, “What do you need?” iPhone to my ear, I use my Blackberry to keep my followers updated:

At the same time, I receive 3 direct messages (these are private tweets sent only to me). Two are from people I’ve met in real life due to Twitter, and one is from someone who follows my updates, but whom I’ve never met.

Without taking some online relationships into real life, Twitter wouldn’t be nearly as powerful. I had a great friend on the phone looking stuff up on her computer and another friend who found a flight that we would have missed without his help. Someone else who I’ve never interacted with also selflessly provided information that helped me:

After arriving at the airport about three minutes too late to board my plane, and after Delta told me it’s going to cost me $744 book a morning flight with a layover in Salt Lake City, I feel like my options are dwindling. I let Twitter know I missed the flight, and here’s the response:

And then, she actually did it!

Every aspect of why I use Twitter came together for me that day: Community, Ease of Use, Instant Feedback and It Just Rocked.

My flock of Tweeters literally helped me take off. All told, they got me back in business in less time than it took a Delta call-center employee to tell me there were no more flights to Phoenix that night.

Twitter’s not just social. It’s usable, elastic and expansive. It brings people and information into your life when you need it, and allows you to contribute to others’ lives when they need you. It’s beyond networking, viral this or that or data. It’s a personal connection with a heartbeat, and it’s incredibly powerful.

* Once again, many thanks to my fantastic friends who helped me get on a flight that night. @vanillabean45, @PassionMD, @syntax_ and @bigkelleh, you are part of why Twitter is amazing.

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18 responses to “Twitter: Birds of a Feather Helping One Chick Take Off … Literally

  1. You.Light.Up.My.LIFE!

    …..and if you are ever having a bad day, remember this one thing:

    I DO WHAT I WANT, MmmmmMMmmHMM!

  2. Great story, and great example of why Twitter is excellent. Thanks for sharing that!

  3. I am going to bookmark this blog so the next time someone asks me WHY I tweet. I don’t understand. People don’t need to know what I am doing, blah blah blah.

    This illustrates the power of 140 characters.

    • Emily Writes Here

      Thank you, K! I do feel like the question will continue to be asked. People still ask about the value of Facebook, LinkedIn and even blogs. Those platforms have been around much longer. Again, social media is a very personal experience. What works for one person or organization may not translate, but I wanted to at least show the value of Twitter for me.

  4. Thank you for the mention in your blog. I’m glad I could be a part of your adventure. There is a certain beauty when strangers become friends.

  5. It was no problem :) I love twitter. I have met so many wonderful people that I never would have met if it didnt exist. Glad I could help a little… and Im glad you made the jetblue flight

    • Emily Writes Here

      Me, too. We wouldn’t have known about that flight if it weren’t for you and @syntax_ because it wasn’t showing up when Karen (@vanillabean45) was looking up flights!

  6. Thanks for the shout out, Emily! I’d like to think that you and my other “tweeps” would be just as helpful in a bind. You’re lucky I wasn’t cutting cheese at the co-op! Anyway, very poignant and right on thoughts on the grandness of twitter. Let’s keep optimistic about the future of social networking and the good it will do or if not, let’s make good on those drinks in its stead. Cheers!

    P.s. cookies are still on the way, I can’t find zucchini in all Bed-Stuy for some reason.

  7. Awesome story! There are still so many people who don’t or can’t understand the value of social media platforms. People think Twitter users are vain, self-centered morons. Your conundrum, and the people who helped you through it, is just one of a thousand perfect examples of Twitter’s power and influence. This is well-written and very encouraging. Thank you for sharing it. =)

  8. Agree with SassyK.
    Some people just don’t get it (twitter). You get out of it, what you put into it. The lazy generation don’t take time to learn the format and therefore the benefits of twitter.
    Thanks for the great read.

  9. I too have had some great support from fellow tweeters. I love the power of short quick contact. It’s like a text message shared with a whole network. Ok I am at an airport now hhhhm flight delayed… Luckily I have a long connection

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