Article by Cherry Radford
Believe me, I was never going to do Twitter. Like everyone else who isn’t on it, I’d spit out the word Twitter with disdain for the bird-brained, puffed-up twidiots promoting themselves and tweeting their damn croissants. But that was before I fell down a rabbit-hole and found myself in Twonderland.
I was pushed, of course. Just before my first novel Men Dancing came out, my publisher at the time hauled me in for an emergency Twitorial. A young bunny of a creature made me a profile photo by using the book cover, with its sassy salsa woman; was that a good idea? On the other hand, I’d been given the Twitter name @CherryRad, which sounded like something you’d use to polish an old table. She gave me a handout and said it was all set up. My spot in this hideous cyber car boot sale.
I’d been told to attract Followers by clicking Follow next to everyone claiming to be an avid reader or dance fan, in the hope that they’d reciprocate and maybe buy my book. I groaned a lot but set to, occasionally amusing myself with some pointless following of top flamenco artists, enjoying their praise of fellow performers and pre-show plates of tapas.
Then ‘Bunny’ emailed to say well done, but now tweet; you-are-a-writer-after-all. Uh. I started nervously putting out thoughts about the usual things I bang on about, using the hashtags I’d been shown.
Something happened. A host of characters started to emerge – I felt like I’d fallen down a hole into an extraordinary world. Yes, a few of my ‘followers’ had inexplicable motives (war veterans and female porn stars), and there were people shouting about their novel or working their way through a book of quotes. Can’t like everyone; worlds are like that. But I also started to enjoy the company of people with whom I have more in common than many of those I call friends. Occasionally someone says they’ve bought one of my books, but that’s not the whole point anymore.
My 5 reasons to be on Twitter
So here they are, my five reasons to be on Twitter:
- DRIP-FEED OF DELICIOUS INFO
If you follow your favourite people or organisations you’ll be kept up to date with Strictly Come Dancing, the local RNLI, Lindt chocolate new flavours etc.
- NEWS UPDATES FOR THE LAZY/NEWSPHOBIC
Be informed – by whichever source you choose – as much or as little as you want.
- PROMOTION OF BUSINESSES, CAUSES…
That’s your own and those of your friends; Twitter is all about sharing. Don’t expect lots of direct sales; it’s more about growing yourself a network of people with similar interests.
- INFORMATION AND QUICK RESPONSE
It’s brilliant for getting sense out of unhelpful airlines, car rental firms etc.
Yes, you might get some of these from Facebook, albeit with more waffle and your cousins watching. But only on Twitter will you get:
- AMAZING NEW FRIENDSHIPS, AND POSSIBLY MORE…
Friendships with people you would never have got talking to – because they live far away, they are older/younger, the opposite gender and in a relationship, or (as with one of my friends) too famous.
You get to know people without pre-conceptions or expectations, and after months of sharing a sense of humour, reactions to news and articles, and eventually more personal events via direct (private) messaging, they truly feel like part of your life – friends in your pocket. Three out of four of my close Twitter friends are now ‘real life’ ones, and all of them agree that meeting for the first time just felt like continuing a conversation.
The most extraordinary of my Twitter-started friendships must be the one with guitarist Josemi Carmona. After 20 years in the hugely successful Spanish flamenco fusion band Ketama, he’d come out with a solo album. I’d liked clips of it on YouTube, but, unable to get it on Amazon, tweeted to ask how I could buy it. A year of tweets, emails and Skypes later, I was in Madrid on a bilingual radio show with him, talking about how I’d taught him English via Twitter! Our unlikely friendship is one of the inspirations for The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter. The novel follows a lighthouse keeper and his penfriend before his mysterious death in 1982, and his tweeting, present-day daughter. Two stories of communication: the hilarious mistakes, the painful misunderstandings, and the miracle – or tragedy – of finding someone out there with whom you have an unforeseen, irresistible connection.
FINALLY, ANYBODY LOOKING FOR MORE THAN FRIENDSHIP… use the hashtag #wemetonTwitter and see how many Twittermates have ended up married!
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Cherry Radford is published by Urbane Publications.