Sunday, March 7 marked the three year anniversary of the day I joined Twitter.
I don’t remember how I first heard about the platform. I didn’t use it much for the first 8 months and after a year and a half, I still mainly shared with a small circle of people … maybe 300 people followed me and I followed half of them back.
Sometime over the summer of ’08, I became friends with Jack Dorsey, cofounder and the idea guy behind Twitter. On one of his visits to NYC in October, I went to my first Tweetup (being hosted by a friend of his) and experienced the power of the hashtag.
By following the hashtag before the get together, I connected with Brian Simpson (@Bsimi), fellow Sox fan and New England transplant. It was right before he joined the staff at The Roger Smith Hotel (@rshotel).
When we met at the event, Brian introduced me to the lovely and whip-smart Julia Roy (@juliaroy). Julia sent me my first DM the next day. Everyone else I followed at that time could just text me so they never saw a need for a direct message. This direct contact by strangers was new and exciting.
October and November saw an explosion in usage for Twitter as we participated in the most historic Presidential election to take place in our lifetimes. I found great joy in watching the debates at home with my roommates, livetweeting my reactions and enjoying everyone else’s.
Fast forward to ’09 which, for me and so many other people, was The Year of Twitter. The thing blew up.
In February, there was a five-course beer pairing at the Roger Smith Hotel, where the newly minted food & beverage director (Mr. @Bsimi) gave away 10 spots on Twitter. All of us dinner guests were strangers to one another, but I left having met three women who would become cherished friends: Karen (@vanillabean45), Katie (@misskatiemo) and Patrice (@patricec). It was also our first introduction to the now-famous Roger Smith Hotel bacon.
In June, Jeff Hayzlett (@jeffreyhayzlett – a client I knew independently of Twitter) did something that really opened up the door to show me the power of Twitter. He and I were at a cocktail party with my boss and he turned to my boss and said, “Emily needs to be at the 140 Conference.”
I went to the first day of the first #140conf event and was really impressed by the openness of the discussion and the quality of the content. More than that, though, I made several great connections with people like me who are multimedia creators, connectors and people who leverage social media to build theirs brands.
These connections, and the ones I’ve since made through the L.A. #140conf and the monthly get-togethers have been integral to my learning process.
Other fun moments include the time I won a coveted comfy bathrobe from my favorite hotel (@kimpton) just for tweeting.
And the time Dominos (@dominos) gave me a free “new pizza” to review.
My favorite Twitter memory so far is still the time when a handful of friends saw me asking for help on Twitter as I was about to miss a flight. People I’ve never met looked up an alternate flight for me that I would not have seen on my own. Then @vanillabean45 stepped up to the plate, hopped on the phone with me and booked another ticket.
People I first met through Twitter in turn introduced me to other amazing people. The first example that comes to mind is when my friend Clay (@clayhebert) introduced me to one of my marketing industry icons, Seth Godin.
I met about half of the guests at my housewarming party first through Twitter.
In three years, Twitter has had a quantifiable effect on my life on all fronts. It’s made me more private about my personal relationships, it’s packed my calendar and it’s put me in touch with an amazing network of entrepreneurs that are so willing to help me as I look a few months and years into the future. It’s even changed how I work: Today my colleague and I booked the first speaker that we’ve reached out to first via Twitter as opposed to traditional channels of communication.
The platform itself will morph and buckle depending on what its users ask of it. Regardless of the value you see in Twitter, the openness and immediacy of interaction, the pulse and flow of intimate information available on one another, what a reporter once called “ambient awareness” is here to stay.