To Twitter, my love

A love letter to Twitter, whom I once loved

It was three years ago. We'd flirted at a few parties but I just couldn't understand you: I followed you, but you didn't follow me back. I called out "Hello World" but not a chirp.  Ignoring the advice of others I gave you up.

Of course I thought of you. I tried to shut you out but I kept hearing your name on everyone’s lips. Even Philip Scofield was talking about you.

Then we bumped into each other at some work event I'd been pressed into.  It was electric, you followed me, then I followed you, and suddenly … we were surrounded with people: you and me at the heart of a thousand conversations.

Oh that night, and the many nights we shared. Of ignoring people we had long known in favour of the unknown, of staying up later and later to never miss a moment together...

That was three years ago now. I'm not saying we've changed. Oh, who am I kidding, of course we've changed. No don't look away, you know it's true. The passion has gone, well it has hasn't it? We shared everything with each other, not a moment wasn’t recorded and broadcast. Our very location drew comments or people checking in with us but now our relationship is more and more, well, normal. The honeymoon is over.

I still love you, of course. How could I not? We moved together, changed jobs - life before is a distant memory. Everything is different now but for the better. We still laugh, and sometimes not just in nostalgia. And we learn from each other, debate and banter. We'll not weary quite yet, are we?

I just wanted to ensure I recorded these words lest we forget ourselves, and what we once had and might not again.

From parody to charity: How @lizjonessomalia’s 172 tweets raised £25000 in 2 weeks

In the last few weeks social media has taken a battering but at the same time a great case study for how social media can be a force for good was born.  @LizJonesSomalia the Twitter account parodying Daily Mail reporter Liz Jones’s trip to Somalia has raised almost £25000 with nothing more than comedy and timing.

Liz Jones, better known for her insightful writing on such varied topics as 'If you're too bolshy to put on some lippy, why should any firm give you a job?' and the unforgettable 'If face creams really beat ageing, I wouldn't have had a facelift' was sent to report on the devastating famine in Somalia, from a refugee camp in Kenya. Understandably, almost every free thinking person thought this somewhat crass, but only one person channelled their energy for good.

Through the @lizjonessomalia Twitter account, over the duration of her visit, the wit of the Daily Mail’s own parodier @DMreporter kept 8500 followers amused with some of the darkest satire I have seen. The tweets are so cutting they are should read them from start to finish, but here are my top five:

  • I'm speaking English slower. I'm speaking English louder. Still these people don't understand me.
  • I saw a man with a solid gold machine gun today. I wanted to take a picture using my Hipstamatic app but Aasiya told me to leave him alone.
  • People in Somalia take Ramadan very seriously. Let's hope it ends soon, I can't bear to see people not eating.
  • Very hard to get quotes on the record. Most people too weak to talk, or too distressed to be comprehended. Frustrating.
  • The refugees are lovely too. One little girl said how sorry she was to hear of the difficulties I was having selling my house. At least I think that's what she said. There was a lot of coughing.

Obviously famine is not funny and the spoof writer commented “I’ve tried to be really careful about never making famine, drought or death the target of the joke. This account is not about that. It’s about highlighting the crisis in East Africa and opposing the staggering crassness of sending a crossbreed of Glenn Beck and Anthea Turner to Somalia to cover it”.

The audience was engaged by comedy but also propelled to do something more by the references to a JustGiving page resulting in almost £25000 raised in just 2 weeks.

I think the quote from @DMReporter sums it up best "Isn't there something perversely brilliant about Liz Jones being sent to Somalia inspiring a charity drive in opposition to her? If that doesn't send her a message about her value as a journalist then nothing will".

The bottom line:

  • Two weeks
  • 172 tweets
  • Grew an audience of almost 8500
  • Almost £25000 raised for the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal

The learnings:

  • Timing is everything – this worked because the timing was right
  • Content and message – great writing is critical, but so is balancing the serious message so people willingly share it

I was really heartened to see social media used in this way, what do you think? Please comment below.


Why not donate?



For those with a strong stomach (the writing as much as the subject) then you can read Liz Jones’s final article.

Killer Twitter stats

The Twitter blog revealed some staggering stats yesterday:

  • Users on Twitter are now sending 200 million Tweets per day, compared to January of 2009 when users sent 2 million Tweets a day, and one year ago when they posted 65 million a day.
  • Every day the world writes the equivalent of a 10 million-page book in Tweets or 8,163 copies of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace.
  • A billion Tweets are sent every five days.

#themeet140 Aberdeen, Monday 12th July, Musa, Aberdeen.

A guest blog by @johannabasford

When the rumour started circulating that #themeet140 might come to Aberdeen, I knew this was a hashtag we had to grab onto with both hands. Having enviously scanned the happy tweets following Tweet-ups and previous #themeet140’s ‘down South’ I was determined we had to bring this most Social application of Social Media to Aberdeen and host an event in the Granite City.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure how strong the Twitter community was in Aberdeen, I suspected there would be a lot of heavily corporate accounts, but not so many of the seriously cool individuals whom you stumble across randomly, then wonder how you survived without a daily dose of their life. ‘What the hell’, we thought, ‘we’ll give it a go and see who turns up’.
With heavy support from the cycling accountant @ali_mcgill, we teamed-up with social media Mad Hatter Mark and planned the first #themeet140 at the re-launch night of Aberdeen restaurant, gallery and live music venue, Musa.
We tweeted and plugged the event relentlessly for 2 weeks. Then, we waited…
The response? Around 40 people squeezed their way up the Musa stairs and made a little part of Twitter history! What began as a slightly nervous little gaggle of excited people, exchanging hellos and handshakes, quickly evolved into a sprawling mass of chatter and hearty laughter. With no room to move, the handshakes were quickly abandoned and a relaxed, merry swarm of Tweeters appeared.
The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming, helped along by a wee dram from John at Glen Garioch and of course a plentiful supply of BrewDog – thank you to you both. There was also the much anticipated arrival of the Blue Cheese Ice Cream … did you love it or hate it?!
The characters who turned up were everything we could have hoped for and more; friendly, warm, open people, big personalities, hugely generous with anecdotes, a light undercurrent of eccentric and all with a passion for meeting and speaking to new people. It cheered my occasionally weary heart to see just how many exciting and inspiring Tweeters there were in our little corner of the world. When it comes to social media, it would seem the Aberdeen community is strong and rapidly expanding – a fact which both delights and excites me!
Following the marvelous (yes marvelous) success of the first #themeet140 Aberdeen, we’d love to host another. What do you think?

Some photos from th evening are here.