Recently, with Pitney Bowes as the guest host, I was the guest #PrintChat moderator for the topic “Unlocking The Power of Higher-Value Communications.” If you don’t know, #PrintChat is a popular discussion of all things print and integrated marketing that happens every week at 4pm EST on Twitter.
While I’ve been a #PrintChat participant since 2014, and have even guest hosted in the past, the experience made me think of the milestones in my Twitter history.
I set up a “private” Twitter profile to keep up with artists, scholars, authors, and news. To this day, I have significantly more follower requests than approved followers to this account.
January 12, 2010: After the Earthquake
Prior to 2010’s devastating earthquake in Haiti, I used Twitter a few times a week and often less. After the earthquake, I used Twitter to get reports and rumors from people in Haiti about what was happening. During the terrible times that followed, including waiting for news about relatives, I developed new media consumption habits and my Twitter use became more frequent.
2011: Business Development
After noticing the Twitter activity of prospects I wanted to do business with, I created my public-facing Twitter account. I’m still “me” on this account, but my more circumspect public persona allowed me to create or uncover opportunities while making professional contacts and new friends. In addition, I would also begin managing unrelated accounts for businesses. These threads in my Twitter usage would expand in the years to follow.
2012: Stayed for The Comedy
During the months after my daughter was born, I often read tweets late at night with my phone held under my baby’s crib. She would wake up and I would remain at the foot of her bed for unknown stretches of time until I could walk back to my bed without her fussing. One night (really early morning), I read a tweet by Tracy Clayton (@brokeymcpoverty) that made me break into loud laughter that I could barely stifle. It was something weird involving a “fish titty.” Anyway, I followed her, laughed some more, and then became a daily Twitter user as I found more people I wanted to follow and interact with.
Prior to this time, I used Twitter to obtain information or for work. After crossing the “fish titty” threshold, I began using Twitter for no particular purpose other than interacting with other humans and what our cultures produce.
2014: To The Printerverse and Beyond
In 2014, I identified a social media community of professionals influential in print and integrated marketing. The hub of the community is Print Media Centr (printmediacentr.com) with participants and activity spread across LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, publications (e.g. Printing Impressions), associations, and real-world events (e.g. GraphExpo). At the time, I was working with a company that made software for print buyers and they had no connection to the people their product was ostensibly for. I set out to change that, and after lurking for a bit, I jumped into #PrintChat just in time for International Print Day. This was a good decision.
I’ve cultivated many friends and professional relationships through #PrintChat including Deborah Corn, the Intergalactic Ambassador to the Printerverse and the mind behind PMC. Through those relationships, I’ve launched myself into the print and integrated marketing space and uncovered new opportunities. This part of my experience has allowed me to enjoy the benefits of maintaining a strong professional identity and public persona independent of companies I work with. Before entering the #Printerverse, I did not use social media with enough consistency in the right places to do that as “Andy Solages” online. Yes, I've always maintained "side hustles" and ventures separate from my day jobs, but this is different. Now, my friends and I have managed to keep opportunities coming within a professional space that have nothing to do with the company that exposed me to that particular space. Besides writing for PMC every month, I’m working with an AR technology provider I met through the community and I have a few other things I would like to spin up. Still need more, but I like this.
In parallel, I’ve also used Twitter to stay abreast of discussions and publications related to history. I’m a member of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS) and I keep up with a number of interesting #Twitterstorians. Through Twitter, I’ve even been able to lightly engage with some of my favorite historians and writers. That’s been so dope.
On to the next.