My Twitter Ah-Ha Moment

What did it take for you to “get” Twitter?

I was certainly in that vast number of people who resisted it.  The first tweet I ever received was “It’s 4 a.m.” … confirming that Twitter was indeed the stupidest thing I’d ever seen.

But then I had my ah-ha moment. I was bored at the computer one night and saw a trending topic for #NewFluName.  Mildly curious, I clicked to see what was happening.

Remember when the pork industry was having a fit about the swine flu?  It thought the name was hurting meat sales and asked the public to call it something else.  So hundreds of people on Twitter from around the world were coming up with HILARIOUS new names. Like …

  • The Aporkalypse
  • Porky’s Revenge
  • This little piggy went to the bathroom
  • Hog Flashes
  • Porkenstein
  • The Other White Flu
  • Mad Sow Disease
  • Hamageddon
  • … and my favorite, “Hamthrax”

Yes, it broke the monotony of my evening. But something more important happened. I realized that I was witnessing a real-time, global brain-storming session.  And it dawned on me that at no other time in the history of mankind could that kind of conversation take place.  It was an awesome moment, an inspiring moment.  I was finally starting to “get” Twitter.

Over the next several weeks I witnessed Twitter serve as a powerful news source during the revolutionary activity in Iran.  I made my first meaningful business connections.  And I began to realize that Twitter was probably the most interesting and compelling educational tool I had ever seen.

But when you come right down to it, I owe it all to Hamthrax.

I think everybody probably needs to have that ah-ha moment to get them over the top.  What was yours?  Did it happen in a flash or did it sneak up on you?

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  • Mark, that was hilarious! I do remember several A-ha moments with Twitter, and with Social Media as a whole. Mine were decidedly boring though, compared to this. Thanks for a good laugh.

  • My Ah ha was when I realized I got breaking news faster via twitter than traditional media.

  • Awesome retelling – my favorite at the time was “Pig Pox.”

    My big “ah-ha” with Twitter came the first time I met someone that I had only previously conversed with online through Twitter. I suddenly realized that Twitter was a new medium of communication and that the people getting something out of it were using it to take relationships offline – then back online – then back offline. The concept of networking was finally tangible to me and my life has been greatly enriched because of it.

    Thanks for the article.

  • I had a definite ah-ha moment when a magazine editor I was following asked for help identifying a plant…I knew the answer AND remembered to include a link. I helped someone influential who has since become a friend; networking dee-LUXE!

  • Mark

    Great stories. Thank you!

  • Image of Airbus landing on the Hudson right after it happened from an iPhone.

  • Fara

    Great Post.
    As a marketer, my ah-ha moment was not a funny one, but quite powerful. I did a search on my company and found, to my surprise, that there was a group of people using my site in a completely different way than i had expected. I was working for a 3D animation company which had a web tool for teens to create greetings… I found that our tool was being discussed at a major education conference, as teachers had been using it in the classroom as an interactive tool that the students used for presentations (science classes, social studies, even a kindergarten class!). We were blown away. After discovering a market that we had never even considered, we were able to launch a product that fit the needs of the classroom.

  • Mark

    @Casudi — That was a big one!

    @Fara — Amazing! What a case study.

  • My first inkling that I should reconsider Twitter was from you in class (no I’m not trying to get in good with the instructor!) as you talked about various AHA moments. My first AHA in the Twitter real world was when the American Society on Aging retweeted my tweet – then I really believed that the connections were being made. The next thing I knew I was in several #FF tweets. My second AHA moment is a sad one. I got a tweet about the shootings at Parkwest Hospital so soon after they happened that we realized that those were the sirens we were hearing outside our office. All the knowledge and thoughts that people are willing to share and I can choose to hear is amazing. Love it!

  • Mark

    @Jan — Ok you get an “A” ! Great additions to the dialogue today!

  • Everything is better with bacon Mark, even Twitter…No real “aha” moment yet, not to say I haven’t connected with others (I have). But for me that’s not the “Aha”. I understand the value of the tool as I have worked and traveled nationally and internationally. I think the real issue is to see how it provides business value which I am sure will only occur overtime.

  • I’d been fiddling with Twitter for a few weeks when a company asked me to do a press release for them after clicking my Twitter profile.

  • To this day, I’m excited when I find myself engaged in ‘conversation’ with people I admire, respect and would never have access to ‘in real life’. To share thoughts and ideas as equals and each walk away from the exchange better off than when we got there – and to have ready access to this at any given time ~ THAT is powerful. I love Fara’s discovery – what brilliant teachers to enrich learning in that capacity!

  • Mark

    I love to hear these fun stories. Thanks for sharing!

  • The bird lit up over my head, when I read a linked article, called the author, because the subject related to a mutual business interest, and we hit it off the old-fashioned way: talking to each other!
    Twitter is like a giant sampler. If you like a particular chocolate, you can go back for more.

  • I’ve been blogging about Twitter’s Hidden Gifts; there are so many. I never could’ve made the connection to {grow} without Twitter, either. That says it all!

  • I had always thought of Twitter the same as wathcing stock tickers on CNN (boring) and didn’t see the light of day until someone’s tweet linked to a how-to article that helped saved my tail on a project.

    That and I discovered the LOL cats through it (but don’t tell anyone).

  • It is always about finding value, and value has a different definition for each of us in every context we move within. I’ve had Twitter a-has for sure. Now, when people ask me about Twitter and ask “why” I don’t explain my a-has. I take them to Twitterfall.com and do a search on something I know they are interested in, like breast cancer or long term care insurance or traffic on I-95. The stream of tweets always results in their own a-ha.

    By “getting” before they start to give, it’s a pretty straight forward path to participation. The next time I’m asked to do a present a little something on Twitter I’m going to do the exact same thing – set up a search before the presentation starts, put it on the big screen and see where the conversation goes.

  • Brad Lovett

    I didn’t have much use for Twitter until I got Tweetdeck. I could keep up with conversations and trade one liners with complete strangers. My real a-ha moment was when we had a tragedy in a snowstorm which resulted in several passengers of a special needs bus being killed. I watched news reports and prayer requests literally flash around the country and world. That was amazing.

  • Mark

    Tremendous stories. Particularly like that little trick, Carla!

  • The winter olympic games this year in Vancouver was my Twitter “Ah-ha” moment.

    I followed a swedish hashtag for the event and it suddently all becameclear for me: How great Twitter actually is when it comes to big sport events.

    To read comments in real time from experts and from ordinary people felt great. We formed a small community (With Q and A too) during the olympic games. I found a few really good twitter-contacts from that event 🙂

  • Mark, the “ah ha’s” for me just keep on going. There have been so many. One for instance was connecting with (Grow). But also, I’ve met so many terrific people with wonderful ideas that have helped me both personally and professionally. The biggest “ah ha” was connecting with and ultimately learning enough to help close one of my most significant business opportunities so far this year. Without Twitter, it would not have happened.

  • Mark,

    As I mentioned during our phone conversation the other day: Twitter is changing my life. No bigger aha than that.

  • Mark

    @Arminda — Yup, I would say that’s a big one!!

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