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Posted by Tom, November 5, 2011

Twitter

I see that at some point, probably yesterday but I’m not sure, follower numbers for @nosycrow topped 5,000 (of course, because, like investments, Twitter following may go down as well as up, this may no longer be the case!).

I think that I set up the Twitter account once we’d finalised the Nosy Crow name (which will be the subject of a future post, by the way), but I actually started tweeting as @nosycrow on 22 February 2010, which was the date that we announced the existence of Nosy Crow.

I had a – seldom-used – Twitter account under another name already, so I was sort of familiar with the mechanics of Twitter, but, to tell the truth, I was a bit scared of what using it might mean for me professionally. I am not always awfully good at knowing when (or how) not to say things. It’s got me in to trouble as a corporate employee more than once, and it seemed positively dangerous to amplify this problem by being able to broadcast views to anyone who followed me. I worried that I would not be able to be me and be an employee simultaneously.

But as the founder of Nosy Crow, I was freed from the concern that I might offend or inaccurately represent an employer… because my employer was me.

There are some things – personal things, family things – that I choose not to tweet about (and that’s about the privacy of the other people involved, really, as well as the fact that my personal life is not particularly gripping), but I don’t spend time thinking about whether I am tweeting as Kate-Wilson-the-person or Kate-Wilson-the-professional (and anyway, that’s often a pretty meaningless divide for me nowadays).

Tweeting as @nosycrow is part of my effort to make Nosy Crow as transparent and approachable as it’s possible for a business to be.

I certainly tweet about books and apps that Nosy Crow is bringing out, and I retweet comments and reviews about what Nosy Crow is publishing and making. However, I am absolutely happy not to present a super-shiny, always-positive professional facade. I’m in the USA at the moment, and rather rushed and tired (on Tuesday I racked up 14 meetings in four different locations in New York). I tweeted to acknowledge that this was impacting on my judgement: I’d done at least two really quite stupid things in the previous 14 hours. I’ve also tweeted about procrastination, saying once that I’d chosen to check my children’s hair for nits on a Saturday evening rather than get down to the piece of work that I knew I needed to do that weekend. And I have a weakness for wordplay hashtag games that have no bearing on my professional life (#Shakespeareanfood: “It is the yeast and Juliet is the bun”, for example).

Other people at Nosy Crow tweet too. We use @nosycrowapps to talk to people about our apps; let them know when there’s a price promotion or a giveaway going on; and to connect with people who might be particularly interested in that area of Nosy Crow’s activities. And there’s a Twitter list of other people who work for and with Nosy Crow. There’s also a Twitter list of authors, illustrators and other creative people that Nosy Crow works with.

In my 20 months of Twitter use, I’ve found Twitter a terrific way to find things out. It’s been my source of world news: I was in an airport motel in Australia when Osama Bin Laden’s death was announced, and Twitter was how I found out about it. It’s a great way to find opinion pieces, surveys and news about the rapidly changing publishing and apps businesses. We’ve used the opinions we’ve solicited on Twitter to inform our publishing decisions, as this blog post on what girls draw indicates. And when I’ve found out something interesting through Twitter, I use Twitter to offer it to other people.

If I go to a conference, I often live-tweet it – combining my own note-taking with letting other people have a sense of what are, in my view, the most interesting things being said.

And perhaps most importantly, in these ridiculously busy early days of starting up a company when my life is pretty much my work and my family, Twitter has been a way for me to keep in touch with people that I know in the real world, including some of the authors and illustrators Nosy crow publishes. It’s been a way to find new contacts too: there are people I have met through Twitter who I’ve subsequently (and often as a result) met in the real world. There are also several people with whom I have regular Twitter conversations but who I have never met in the real world.

I use Twitter because I like it. I find it fun, undemanding, informative and reciprocal.

If you follow me, thank you.

And thanks to the 1000+ people I follow too.

If you use Twitter, why do you do so?

If you don’t, why don’t you?

Do please comment.