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Can you remember life before Twitter?

Twitter celebrated its fifth birthday today and it got me thinking about how it’s become an integral part of my working life. I’m not sure I can remember a time without it.

That’s a lie of course. When I first became a trainee newspaper reporter at the tender age of 18 in rural England, we didn’t even have the internet. Or email! Obviously, I’m not that old, it was  just a very backwards newspaper publisher…

These days, I do struggle to remember how it used to work. Where did I get my best stories? From my contacts, be they police, councillors or local gossips. Why did I get the best stories and tip-offs? Because I cultivated and strengthened those important relationships. In some ways, Twitter’s the same. It’s all about relationships, connections and influencers, just online. Not to say that I don’t continue some of these relationships offline, IRL (in real life) too.

On this auspicious five-year anniversary, I thought I’d give you an idea of how I use Twitter every day. When I log onto my computer each morning I check three things: email, Twitter and backend.dynamicbusiness.com, in that order. I know a large proportion of my almost 4,000 followers are readers (small business owners), PR people and people who want to be in the magazine/on the website. So yesterday, for example, I used it to ask if any small business owners were using social media for lead generation. I got several replies, they emailed me, I gathered their opinions and incorporated some of them into this story. I published it today and then used Twitter to share a link to it with my followers, giving a shout out to the Twitter users quoted in it.

Last week I used Twitter to try and find some journalism interns. I got more response in a couple of days than another colleague did in three weeks of contacting universities.

Today, when I’m on annual leave (I know, so why am I writing this blog?!), I’ve used Twitter to keep in touch with (no, not check up on!) my team in the office about important issues such as what I may or may not be bringing to our Harmony Day lunch tomorrow.

I’m not ashamed to admit I use Twitter to follow and keep an eye on what our competitors are doing. Who wouldn’t? Although I learned a lesson on this topic the other week. After mentioning a feature I was writing on Twitter, a PR friend let slip that a writer for one of our competitors was sourcing talent for the very same feature. Coincidence or otherwise?

Last but not least, here’s what I love Twitter for most: engaging with our readers. I pride myself on being approachable and available (in as much as my busy workload allows) in an age when most editors can’t be bothered to speak to PR people*, let alone (shock, horror) readers. I absolutely love hearing what they think of the magazine, what they want to read more of, even what they don’t like. So keep the feedback coming.

If you didn’t already know, you can find me @jenbishopsydney

*Dear PR people, I know I don’t always answer your calls, but I would answer a lot more if I had the time. Forgive me?