Cheatin’ through Tweetin’ Sipping from the Social Media Water Cooler
On Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 18:42, I opened a Twitter account. As I get ready to celebrate – yes, celebrate – my one year Twitter anniversary, I wondered how I got here and why.
I kinda remember my friend @DebraPrinzing suggesting I start, but beyond that, I don’t recall how I connected so well with Twitter. I didn’t go gently into that good night. I went kicking and screaming. Never would I have guessed I would be the Twitter champion I am today. Yet, intuitively, I knew I must tweet. Just as I knew I must have a Facebook account (fan me at Helen Yoest and fan my business, please, Gardening With Confidence Facebook Fan Page and a LinkIn account.
I took to social media. I don’t otherwise consider myself very social.
If you ask my former colleagues, from when I actually worked in an office, if I was always so social, they would laugh out loud- or LOL to some and LMAO to others. I’ll let you figure that one out, but here’s a hint, this four-letter acronym (LMAO) has a three-letter naughty word in. Acceptable to some, but to others like my friend @DebraLBaldwin, she would stop following you for using a bad word. I respect this. I’ve read some $%&@ on Twitter and really never thought it was necessary. I like it when folks challenge themselves to find a more respectable word to convey these sentiments. I like to convey thoughts in a clean, I want to write this as if my children will read it, sort of way….but I digress.
Back in the old days when I worked in an office, the local social media was held at the water cooler. The water cooler for me was nothing more than a small sip water. Yes, I valued it for needing to tap information in a casual way, but I could always go to their office. If I wanted water, I would fill my water bottle from the fountain. I had work to do. I didn’t have time to chat at the water cooler. So why is Twitter so different, you ask? It’s not. Twitter is a modern day water cooler.
When I first messed around with Twitter, I just didn’t “get” it. I hear that a lot from others. Yet, I knew I needed to figure this thing out. I was determined to make the time to “get” Twitter and it was made easier with a few helpful tips from fellow tweeps; they had me “getting it” in no time.
Some of those folks still tweet, others don’t. This is not uncommon; not unlike at college when the professor, on the first day of class, asked you to look left and then look right to exemplify one of you will not be there at the end of the semester. Would you not go to college because of these odds? Nope. So, would you not tweet because of these odds? Nope.
By many standards, my social media meter is still on low side of the social scale, but I at least “get it” enough to play, and have a great time doing so. But it’s more than that, of course, in the process of trying to “get it”, I befriended some fantastic friends. Not just great like-minded people, but the cream that rises in any setting. I’m sipping, and going back for more.
As these social friends became real friends, as my friend Laura Schaub @InterLeafer puts it, I became to value and respect who they are and what they do. I cannot think of any other way these meetings would have occurred. Folks from California were not likely to be hanging around my Raleigh, NC office water cooler….now they are. As such, I began to tap their expertise.
I find Twitter to be an incredible resource. One day, alone working in my office, preparing a presentation on creating a backyard wildlife habitat, I had a great image of a spider. I didn’t know the name of the spider, but wanted to know it in case someone in the audience asked me. I remembered sharing many tweets with Debbie Hadley @AboutInsects. During the course of our tweet relationship, I found her to be really nice, incredibly knowledgeable and totally into her field. So I figured I’d ask her. Otherwise, it was pulling resource books or googling until I found what I was looking for. A click to @AboutInsects with an accompanying photo and tweet asking if she would mind identifying a spider for me, please? I had my answer in less than 10 minutes, common and latin names, no less. Next up was a frog. A tweet and an uploaded photo to Kelly Senser @klsnature resulted in an answer in less than a half hour.
It is not uncommon to see a posting and photo to the tweepsphere for help in identifying a plant. Answers arrive is seconds!
For my presentation preparation, the generosity was unbelievable. The delivery was professional and spot on. I felt like I was cheatin’ through tweetin’. It was really more than that. I had resource at my fingertips and I like to think I have since reciprocated to others.
We are a family of friends of mutual respect, committed to our craft, no matter what it is. Casual conversation brought us together, tweet by tweet, we built respect, while also sharing about ourselves. If I need to know what tomatoes I should plant next year, I know I can count on Teresa O’Conner @SeasonalWisdom to suggest some to me (yep she did, and yep they are on my list for next year.)
If I need a plant identified, no doubt, Christina Salwitz @Aracdia1 will top my list. If it’s a really weird plant, I heading over to Keith Alexander @Hyperating; he knows his stuff and is willing to help out.
I have @joegardener and @ShawnaCoronardo to give me green advice (as well as many others), there’s @SusanLMorrison @SusanCohan, and Lynn Felici-Gallant @IndigoGardens to bounce ideas off of. I also have easy access to my editors and publishers. @gardenpublisher also keeps us abreast on the state of the book publishing world.
On the days I want a dose of some really weird garden humor, I can count on Steve Bender @grumpy_gardener. If I have a social media question, I’ll shoot a DM to @JeanAnnVK. If I want to see what’s on edge in the gardening world, I head over to @GardenRant
My social standing is not 6 sigma. But my water cooler has me sipping from nearly every state in the US and abroad.
A year later, it is very clear why I tweet. My first tweet was something like, “Ok, I joined Twitter, now what?” One of my first tweet replies was from my now friend Katie Elzer-Peters @GardenofWords telling me to just start writing. So I did.
I use to talk Twitter up and found I was trying to convince folks the value of Twitter. I no longer do that. I’m beyond convincing anyone to tweet. They need to figure it out on their own. If they don’t get it, they don’t get it. But, social media is not going away – thank goodness.
My story is no different from many naysayers. My excuse for not wanting to tweet @HelenYoest, was because I didn’t have the time to tweet. I found the time and I’m glad I did.
Not “getting it” seems to be a popular excuse not to tweet. Some of these folks, I think, hope if they can say it loud enough, it will make it go away. I don’t see it going away anytime soon.
As I end this post, I’m getting thirsty for knowledge. I need a sip from the social media water cooler…here I come tweeps…
Post Script I was not able to mention all the tweeps I follow and admire. For a full list, check out @HelenYoest following. A a very personal thank you for all the tweeple who have given me tips, advise, and friendship – you know who you are!