Twelve hundred days on Twitter
Thursday, March 19th, 2009 is when I decided to give this 'Twitter' thing a try. None of my friends had an account back then -- I was finishing up my spring semester at Rutgers University and hadn't begun working for Engadget just yet.
I'm almost certain I joined Twitter because (you can laugh) I found out that Kelly Ripa was giving away tickets to her show via Twitter, and, well, I had nothing to lose. I thought it'd be entertaining to see if Tweeting a celebrity would actually result in something -- maybe I'd get a response.
So there I was, desperately trying to win tickets to see Kelly Rippa on her show. Did I win? No, but I was on Twitter -- a world unknown to most common folk back then.
The first person I followed was Saurik, the mastermind and creator of Cydia. I then followed Jimmy Fallon, MuscleNerd and iphone_dev. I was clearly into the jailbreaking scene back then (and Jimmy's just a cool guy) and found that Twitter was an excellent way of receiving instant updates from people that I truly gave a shit about.
I gained a couple of random followers in the first few months -- interestingly enough, The Onion (the official account) was following me at one point. This was even before working for Engadget and I still find it bizarre to this day. Maybe The Onion bought the account from someone who nabbed the handle first. Who knows? I don't know, and I digress.
I soon grew bored of Twitter though, and I think it's because I didn't care to follow (read: receive instant updates) from anyone else besides those 4 accounts. My logins became less frequent, and I pretty much stopped using the service altogether.
Fast forward to September 13, 2009 -- the day of the first ever Engadget show. I went and got the first ticket and wanted to share it with the world. So I tweeted it. This event essentially marks my return to Twitter. After that, I began following a bunch of the Engadget editors. I was really liking Twitter, because after meeting Josh, Nilay, Paul, etc, I had more people to follow and receiving instant updates on the go was, to me, an exciting addition in my life.
Soon after, I began working at Engadget as an intern, and my twitter usage was on the rise. I gained close to 100 followers in the first month or two and, I'll be honest -- having that many followers felt pretty great. I could tweet something and get real feedback from other humans who had similar interests.
Over the course of my time at Engadget I accumulated between 600 and 700 followers (I think). I've always made it a top priority to respond to people that tweet @ me. In fact, over 40% of my 9000+ tweets are @ replies. Engaging with an audience and building a brand for yourself only works when you give back to the people that listen. I thoroughly enjoy getting and reading responses to my tweets, seeing what other people have to say about the things that interest me, or, you know, the things I bitch about sometimes.
Fast forward to today -- I have over 1300 followers and have since left Engadget and work for The Verge (clearly). I don't really care about the specific number of followers that I have. I care about the conversations that take place and I'm absolutely humbled that there are people who care enough to listen to what I have to say. I am thankful for everyone that follows me and take pleasure in engaging with people who want to talk to me.
Of course, Twitter as a service isn't perfect and there's a few things I'd change if I were in charge. I'd like the option of making @replies private / have the ability to hide them. There are time that I'd rather not have everyone see who I'm tweeting @, but I guess that just the way Twitter was made. Also, I'd like to be able to see when I started following someone. And I think Twitter needs to consolidate this retweeting business. The native retweet and RT @name: should somehow be unified -- the retweet number oftentimes gets screwed up because of this. Oh and one more thing -- users should be able to see who unfollowed them directly in the interactions tab and not through a third party service like who.unfollowed.me.
My choice of Twitter apps has been quite limited although I have downloaded and tried close to 20 different apps across Android, iPhone and iPad. When I first joined Twitter I mainly used Echofon. I used it for a while until I found out about Tweetie and made the switch. Soon after, Tweetie was acquired by Twitter and turned into the official Twitter app and I've been using it ever since. I bought TweetBot a few months ago and never stuck with it.
So that's pretty much it. Those are my thoughts on Twitter after using the service for 1200 days. I like Twitter a lot for many reasons, but mainly because of the conversations I have with people around the world. Oh, and if you want to follow me, you can do so by clicking here: @samsheffer