“How do you know this guy?”
“He’s my Twitter friend.”
“What does that even mean? Is it like that?”
“No, it’s not Like That.”
Ever met up with a stranger who follows you on Twitter? Neither had I, until last night. Neither of us are sure who made the first move when it came to following each other, but @EdwardJamesH and myself (@fakebananas) had a few months of back and forth; replies, retweets and favourites.
I suggested a pub in central London – suitably neutral. I was nervous that he might be slightly arrogant – after all, if your impression of a person is when they are on “broadcast” mode, you never know if that might also be the case in person. I was nervous anyway cos he was a Random Internet Stranger, the sort you’re warned against when you’re younger. I wore trousers with my geeky stripy socks showing so he would know we were friends from Twitter not Tinder (hey, women move in mysterious ways, don’t judge me). He was in a suit, straight from work. As it turns out, we got on really well and had more in common than I would have expected from a Random Internet Stranger.
So why did our paths even cross in the first place? Truth be told, I can’t actually remember. But the two of us do have overlapping interests, especially copywriting and online marketing. Both of us had been doing what you’re supposed to do on Twitter to get more followers, which is that we helped each other out. Which led to more conversations. We borrowed each other’s content, and offered each other industry-specific advice. Recently Edward even tweeted the link to a cover letter I wrote, to support my job application. We weren’t afraid to ask for each other’s help – after all, “it’s only Twitter”. No biggie. 140 characters of effort.
Something that took me by surprise and I was really pleased about was that we’d both really listened online. I had provided feedback on Edward’s blogposts, he said he found the articles I tweet really interesting, and we talked about some of them in detail, made recommendations and… Well, it struck me that we had exactly the sort of conversations that brands would love to have with their customers. Taking it from 140 characters a pop to nearly two hours of animated chatting. A great experiment for two people in the online marketing world.
In keeping with the blind date feel to this piece, I’ll tell you the gory details: I insisted on paying for the first round (Ed understood, he’s big on equality and all that!), we walked to the station together, but there wasn’t really a chemical spark. That wasn’t what I was looking for anyway. And it turns out you can’t tell from Twitter that I’m 6’1, so the major height difference was a lot more noticeable offline!
This post also appears on BuzzFeed Community.