On Twitter’s birthday: How Twitter changed my life

twitter's birthday

Ten years ago today, Jack Dorsey sent out the first tweet. Twitter was nearly an afterthought in those early days, an outcropping from a video service Dorsey had a hand in starting. Despite protests from investors, the company launched officially July 15, 2006. Still, I like to think of this day as the “real” birth of the service.

It is no overstatement or social media hyperbole to say that Twitter has changed my life. Although I am known (somewhat?) for writing the best-selling book on Twitter, the platform has altered my path in profound ways.

twitter's birthday

I could spend days recounting the real personal and business benefits of Twitter, but allow me today to tell you one story, one of my favorites.

Twitter chatter

I signed on to Twitter in 2008 but didn’t really become a power user until the following year. In fact, for six months I hated it. The first tweet I ever received was “It’s 4 a.m.” … pretty much confirming this was the stupidest thing I had ever seen.

But after a while I got in the flow and I used to love to look for my friends online each evening.  One in particular was hard to miss, Amy Howell. Amy had a habit of ending every tweet with at least five exclamation points, a style I dubbed the “Exclaimy.”

Amy was a natural networker and soon I was drawn into her circle of friends. In fact, she decided to hold an event in Memphis and bring all of these Twitter peeps together. I couldn’t miss this and drove nine hours out of my way on a business trip just to attend.

Here are some the results of this ONE meeting with Twitter friends that fall day in 2010 …

The results

Amy Howell was the organizer of the event and we have been close friends ever since. We have collaborated on many projects. She was featured in two of my books and I was featured in her latest book Students in High Gear.

Anne Deeter Gallaher was the “Students” book co-author. Anne and her family have become close friends. She was responsible for hiring me to keynote her Social Media at Work Conference for five consecutive years. My annual trip to speak in Harrisburg has become a cherished time to see friends in that city like Dan Christ, Kathy Snavely, and Alan Brocious, who recently volunteered his time to teach my intern Google AdWords.

Billy Mitchell is the president of MLT Creative in Atlanta. Billy has been a dear friend and collaborator. His firm has created art for me and was a sponsor of this blog for many years. I supported his business through webinars, an ebook, consulting and speeches, including a keynote debut of my “Content Code” speech in Atlanta. At one of my speaking events at his creative campus I met Ted Wright, who became a key collaborator on a project I did for Adidas last year.

Glen Gilmore is a consultant and attorney in New Jersey. I helped Glen get a contract with McGraw-Hill (check out his indispensable book Social Media Law for Business) and a teaching position at Rutgers University. He has helped me with legal advice on a variety of issues.

Deb Weinstein is the very talented founder of the award-winning Strategic Objectives firm in Toronto. She recently helped me with a client project in Ontario and I’m meeting her for dinner next week to discuss new ways to work together.

Chris Brogan was the speaker at this first event. Chris has become a friend and he was featured prominently in my latest book The Content Code. We created a new video together just a few weeks ago exploring the idea of personal branding.

This group of friends got along so well in that first meeting that we decided to do it again the next year. I offered to host the group in Knoxville and had the idea that we could create some content together … maybe have a few talks and panels. I invited the public to attend … and 425 people showed up from 13 states.

This was the beginning of the Social Slam conference, a highly successful event I founded to highlight new social media marketing talent and provide world-class conference that was affordable. It drew 650 people from 25 states and five countries in its final year (I ended the conference when it grew so large that we could not easily maintain the volunteer format that kept ticket prices low).

The network of friends that coalesced around a few early tweets has created far-reaching business benefits that have touched thousands of other people, and it continues today.

Coda

This is just one of the many stories I could tell about the amazing things Twitter has accomplished in my life. Most of my most important business collaborators, customers, and friends started with an innocent tweet. But not everybody sees Twitter like I do, especially Wall Street.

In the past year there have been so many business problems at Twitter. Sometimes I wonder if the company really knows how powerful they are. Twitter is the most people-driven social media platform. None of Twitter’s greatest innovations came from the company.

  • The hashtag came from the people.
  • Twitter chats were created by the people.
  • Innovations that led to Twitter being a television voting mechanism didn’t come from the company and neither did the Twitter-powered social revolutions. When governments announce that a leader has fallen on Twitter, it’s hard to believe the best innovation that came from the company last year was “Moments” (yawn).

In my The Tao of Twitter book I refer to Twitter a “majestic random synergy.” And so it is. You simply never know what’s going to happen next. Twitter is changing the world.

So Happy Birthday Twitter. And thanks.

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  • I’m pretty sure I first “met” you through Twitter (which led me to your blog, which led me to Social Slam, which led me to so many other friendships I can’t count them all).

    Twitter has always been my favorite platform, and it pains me to see my stream devolving into mostly auto-tweets. Instead of complaining about that, though, I’m trying to post more original thoughts and replies in my own stream (“be the change”, right?).

  • I’m pretty sure I first “met” you through Twitter (which led me to your blog, which led me to Social Slam, which led me to so many other friendships I can’t count them all).

    Twitter has always been my favorite platform, and it pains me to see my stream devolving into mostly auto-tweets. Instead of complaining about that, though, I’m trying to post more original thoughts and replies in my own stream (“be the change”, right?).

  • Mark, I think you were one of the first people I connected with on Twitter. Like thousands and thousands of others, I started following you because of the smart marketing content but it was your good humor and the fact you could laugh at yourself that kept me following, retweeting, and becoming a regular reader of the {grow} blog. But it was a personal comment in a tweet you made that prompted me to respond beyond a retweet. We’ve been friends ever since and I’ve met many others through knowing you too. I’m not nearly as active on Twitter as I once was so I probably need to give it a go again. Thanks for the business collaborations, introductions, and friendship Mark! And Happy Birthday Twitter, you old bird you.

  • Mark, I think you were one of the first people I connected with on Twitter. Like thousands and thousands of others, I started following you because of the smart marketing content but it was your good humor and the fact you could laugh at yourself that kept me following, retweeting, and becoming a regular reader of the {grow} blog. But it was a personal comment in a tweet you made that prompted me to respond beyond a retweet. We’ve been friends ever since and I’ve met many others through knowing you too. I’m not nearly as active on Twitter as I once was so I probably need to give it a go again. Thanks for the business collaborations, introductions, and friendship Mark! And Happy Birthday Twitter, you old bird you.

  • Well said Rosemary. I’m trying to do my part as well!

  • Well said Rosemary. I’m trying to do my part as well!

  • Thanks so much for your friendship and your comment Billy!

  • Thanks so much for your friendship and your comment Billy!

  • Kathy Keaney Snavely

    You’re one of the best gifts Twitter has ever given me, Mark! Your generosity with both my students and the Harrisburg Social Media Club has been such a blessing. Without Twitter, we likely would have never connected – as well as many who, I’m sure, will express their thanks and admiration here today. May the grace continue, my friend!

  • Kathy Keaney Snavely

    You’re one of the best gifts Twitter has ever given me, Mark! Your generosity with both my students and the Harrisburg Social Media Club has been such a blessing. Without Twitter, we likely would have never connected – as well as many who, I’m sure, will express their thanks and admiration here today. May the grace continue, my friend!

  • Awww … so kind of you. Thanks!

  • Awww … so kind of you. Thanks!

  • Amy D. Howell

    I love this post Mark! And as a note..you are featured in BOTH of our books. This has been such a great “crew” of friendships and we need a reunion!

  • Amy D. Howell

    I love this post Mark! And as a note..you are featured in BOTH of our books. This has been such a great “crew” of friendships and we need a reunion!

  • Kathy Keaney Snavely

    Amen to that! And you too, Amy, are a gift from Twitter!!

  • Kathy Keaney Snavely

    Miss my Big Fish!!

  • Kathy Keaney Snavely

    Amen to that! And you too, Amy, are a gift from Twitter!!

  • Kathy Keaney Snavely

    Miss my Big Fish!!

  • Meg Tripp

    The extent to which Twitter has altered the course of my life is immeasurable. Marriage, a stepson, a new city, new work, new friends, new causes to pursue… a world of new. If I were anything but thankful, I wouldn’t be too bright. 😉

  • Meg Tripp

    The extent to which Twitter has altered the course of my life is immeasurable. Marriage, a stepson, a new city, new work, new friends, new causes to pursue… a world of new. If I were anything but thankful, I wouldn’t be too bright. 😉

  • Thank you my dear!

  • Thank you my dear!

  • Thanks for the great story Meg!

  • Thanks for the great story Meg!

  • Hi Mark,

    I am so late to the Twitter party that it’ almost absurd, lol… 🙂

    Since I started getting involved just six months ago the results have been phenomenal. I’ve made a lot of friends, earned some fabulous business and I’ve made several partnerships.

    What was I thinking waiting so long…

    Lesson learned.

    Happy Birthday Twitter!

    Thanks for sharing your story Mark of how you network on Twitter and how it changed the trajectory of your business.

    ~ Don Purdum

  • Hi Mark,

    I am so late to the Twitter party that it’ almost absurd, lol… 🙂

    Since I started getting involved just six months ago the results have been phenomenal. I’ve made a lot of friends, earned some fabulous business and I’ve made several partnerships.

    What was I thinking waiting so long…

    Lesson learned.

    Happy Birthday Twitter!

    Thanks for sharing your story Mark of how you network on Twitter and how it changed the trajectory of your business.

    ~ Don Purdum

  • If you are just starting, you might enjoy The Tao of Twitter. It has helped thousands of people around the world. Thanks for your comment Don.

  • If you are just starting, you might enjoy The Tao of Twitter. It has helped thousands of people around the world. Thanks for your comment Don.

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  • You know, this is interesting given all of the “Twitter Bashing” lately. Like Rosemary, we first met here too, and it’s been a great ride. I’ve personally leveraged Twitter for so many things, I cannot count them all. But most importantly, the discovery of fascinating people (like you) that I’ve learned more from than possible on any other platform. I can only hope that Twitter eventually finds its way and gets out of the doldrums it’s in. It needs to better understand why its users love it and give us more of the same, not try to become a TwitBook, Linkeder, Tweetsapp or Instatwit…… It could be so much more than all of them (and is).

  • You know, this is interesting given all of the “Twitter Bashing” lately. Like Rosemary, we first met here too, and it’s been a great ride. I’ve personally leveraged Twitter for so many things, I cannot count them all. But most importantly, the discovery of fascinating people (like you) that I’ve learned more from than possible on any other platform. I can only hope that Twitter eventually finds its way and gets out of the doldrums it’s in. It needs to better understand why its users love it and give us more of the same, not try to become a TwitBook, Linkeder, Tweetsapp or Instatwit…… It could be so much more than all of them (and is).

  • Thanks so much for the kind comment Steve!

  • Thanks so much for the kind comment Steve!

  • Hi Mark, Twitter is my favorite social network. I’ve met do many wonderful people via it and have a local group where we get together. So many people seem to still not get it but once they do they usually love it.I think it is like you experienced, not love at first site. It will be really interesting to see where Twitter goes in the next few years!

  • Hi Mark, Twitter is my favorite social network. I’ve met do many wonderful people via it and have a local group where we get together. So many people seem to still not get it but once they do they usually love it.I think it is like you experienced, not love at first site. It will be really interesting to see where Twitter goes in the next few years!

  • rogercparker

    Very engaging article, Mark–a true “pivot” story. Lots of lessons for fence-sitters afraid to take a first step into something new.

  • rogercparker

    Very engaging article, Mark–a true “pivot” story. Lots of lessons for fence-sitters afraid to take a first step into something new.

  • Thank you Lisa!

  • It was very rewarding journey for me Roger … and it continues to be!

  • Thank you Lisa!

  • It was very rewarding journey for me Roger … and it continues to be!

  • Kathleen M. Keith

    Hi Mark, I think your informative and very impactful article may have started a pivot in my life. In 1996, I suffered a life altering industrial accident while working for McDonald’s Corporation doing real estate development for them nationally and internationally. I just offer that as a way to show I was well-equipped with a lot of skill sets… It’s a long story, but all the surgeries and dealing with a corporation that truly has no moral compass (I settled for only medical care), seemingly robbed me of the powerhouse work ethic/stamina, expert negotiating, and creative smarts that set me apart. Your story juxtaposed against my own attempts (and lack of success) at a business in social media has spurred my enthusiasm for helping others (small businesses, etc.) and I’m starting again with your books that you’ve suggested to others. I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks!

  • Kathleen M. Keith

    Hi Mark, I think your informative and very impactful article may have started a pivot in my life. In 1996, I suffered a life altering industrial accident while working for McDonald’s Corporation doing real estate development for them nationally and internationally. I just offer that as a way to show I was well-equipped with a lot of skill sets… It’s a long story, but all the surgeries and dealing with a corporation that truly has no moral compass (I settled for only medical care), seemingly robbed me of the powerhouse work ethic/stamina, expert negotiating, and creative smarts that set me apart. Your story juxtaposed against my own attempts (and lack of success) at a business in social media has spurred my enthusiasm for helping others (small businesses, etc.) and I’m starting again with your books that you’ve suggested to others. I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks!

  • Wow so sorry to hear about that journey Kathleen. Hang in there and let me know if I can do something to help. My books are a good place to start, especially Tao of Twitter.

  • Wow so sorry to hear about that journey Kathleen. Hang in there and let me know if I can do something to help. My books are a good place to start, especially Tao of Twitter.

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