I’ve never told this story before.
Around 2007 was the year when the economy began to creak. I wasn’t sure how to survive the downturn since most of my writing was for print magazines at the time.
The relentless pursuit of perfection was something I wanted to end. In 2001 I began my journalism career. Although thousands of articles were published, most of these articles were intended for magazines. Unfortunately, many of these magazines have since closed down or moved to online publishing.
Twitter was a tiny app that I had heard of. This app was intended to help you share your activities, as well as geographic locations.
For a year I forgot about it, which was a terrible idea when your job involves explaining trends and innovative ideas.
I’ll admit I didn’t really understand the value. I wasn’t alone. People who are familiar with Facebook and Twitter when they first started around the same time as them know how they were far too young, untested, and weird to be anything. It’s crazy to think about now, but I remember signing up for Facebook the first time around 2007 as well. I didn’t like it. After a while, I was bored to death and deleted my account. A friend saw me in person around this time and laughed about how I was “testing” Facebook and how it didn’t last long (he noticed I had deleted my account).
Twitter made it even stranger. I decided to sign up around 2007, but I didn’t like that platform either. I found it strange that people shared personal information through a brand new app, like Twitter. This was long before the platform became mainstream. It felt pointless. After only a handful of posts, I was ready to delete my account. It was a relief at first. Then something unexpected happened.
It was interesting to see how other journalists linked to my articles. Many journalists stopped tweeting about where they were going for lunch and what city they are visiting. Instead, they used social media for other legitimate purposes. Journalists were among the first people to discover the benefits of social media beyond just sharing information or making food recommendations. It was fascinating to me all over again. I signed up on Facebook Twitter againI started to share my links.
This was an exciting time when I set the goal of 800 followers on each platform. This seemed like an awful lot. I realized I would have to do more so I joined Sprout Social (an app that no one else had heard of).
It was off to the races. Every time I published a column I shared a link to my social media accounts. Then I watched as the retweets, mentions, and shares grew. The Sprout Social App helped me track my progress. Daily posting was my goal. More important was the time when an author mentioned it.
Mark Cuban and an article that I once wrote about are two of my favorite tweets. This opened the floodgates. I wrote semi-sarcastic commentary about why he shouldn’t run for office, as he is great at entrepreneurship. I can’t find the tweet anymore but the article still exists. The tweet that Elon Musk sent me when he linked back to my article is my favourite.
My career was saved by social media during this period. The economic crises of 2008/2009 really hit everyone. I started sharing links constantly and still do; every once in a while, a luminary shares a link to one of my columns here and it’s always fun to see the engagement, discussion, and even the banter back and forth. Because of the burgeoning trend of link-sharing on social media, I became a columnist.
I’m not sure how I would have survived without social media becoming a conduit for people to discover my articles and columns. I’d probably still be trying to use email.
Social media may have saved me too from this terrible situation.