I believe I share a similar backstory as many others when it comes to Twitter. Years ago, having got my head around Facebook, I got myself a Twitter account, followed Stephen Fry (a long time ago!) and Lord Sugar, posted a tweet about what I was eating, felt proud of myself and waited.

Nothing happened.

I followed a few more celebrities like Lily Allen and Amanda Holden, posted something else hilarious and waited.

Nothing happened.

I went back to Facebook, posted something hilarious about not getting Twitter and I got about 15 likes in 10 minutes and a load of hilarious comments in solidarity from friends. I decided then that I was a Facebook person. Twitter was stupid and that was just how it is.

Something continued to niggle though. Heat magazine devoted a whole page to celebrity tweets. The latest Bridget Jones book built its entire plot round it. I decided to go in again. I liked words; I should in theory be smashing this platform.

So, I followed Caitlin Moran. She was a legend to me whilst seeming friendly and accessible. I posted a hilarious reply to one of her tweets.

Nothing happened.

You see the trend? Anyway, a few weeks ago I decided to get serious on it’s ass. I was told if I wanted to be a writer it would bring all sorts of benefits. So, in these past weeks I’ve gone at it like an ant to a picnic. In just over a week I’ve gone from following 51 and being followed by 46 to following 230 and being followed by 140. I’m still the awkward kid in the corner, still not a lot happens, but I sort of get it – I see the point. And it’s still 300 – 400% growth in just over a week right?

Anyway here are the 3 things I learned that changed the game for me:

  1. It looks like FACEBOOK but it’s not.

Twitter and Facebook are often mentioned in the same sentence in social media conversations. A lot seems the same – you post or tweet, you share or retweet, you like or heart symbol, you follow or friend, a lot of it included people’s dinners and most people claim to hate them. As you can see from my history I simply went to Twitter with my Facebook “skills” and expected the same. It isn’t the same.

  1. Celebrities ain’t your friends.

Oh celebrities! As you can follow just about anyone you like on Twitter, they don’t need to grant you access, you just follow like runners behind a beardy Forrest Gump, it’s easy to feel a connection that doesn’t exist. You can watch them saying stuff! It takes a while to realize that this is little different from how you interacted with them before you followed them. Nothing magic happened.

I realize now that when I replied to a tweet from Caitlin Moran, it was unlikely she was sitting at her desk thinking wahaaaa! Jackie Wilson from Hook is a right laugh! I wonder if she wants to go for cake?

I often watch banter between Moran and Marian Keyes, both idols of mine, and feel a bit jealous. I now acknowledge that as an irrational response. Moran and Keyesy owe me nothing and I’m probably not THAT hilarious. Reading things they have to say was originally what made me love them and Twitter gives me more of that. It’s good. My heart will go on.

  1. You need an Agenda

By this I mean you need a reason or reasons to use Twitter. Facebook for me is simply a place to interact with people I know (to varying degrees) and like (to varying degrees). I don’t think that is what Twitter is about at all. As mentioned, I went at it because I was told as a writer it would be of use. It totally is! I can follow people for whom I want to write, I can follow a person who’s writing I love, I can feel the scene, I have access to a trillion blogs and that’s just a small part of it.

I’m also a marketer who’s been off the beat for 3 years. I have followed various magazines, agencies and people who have brought me very quickly back into that room.

I’m also a keen runner. I’m now following events, other runners, accessible and other. I’m reading running all kinds of articles and blogs.

I love reading. I’m following all my favorite writers and am able to send them compliments where I believe due (you get responses to these!).

I also found out what the super injunction was all about in about 5 minutes.

And so……

OK, I am still a novice, but I feel I’m moving from beginner to intermediate here. I am writing this because I know I’m not alone.  I hereby offer the following:

  • Be happy to consider it’s not as simple as some say
  • Don’t see it as an alterative to Facebook it’s something else entirely
  • Go at it with an agenda and don’t get too excited about celebrities
  • Be prepared to lay a foundation before you knock up your house

That’s my experience so far. These things I write are the things I wish I understood 5 years ago.

Right, I’m off to blog this, Facebook it and Tweet it. You never know what might happen right?