One year since jumping onto the Twitter bandwagon, I have to say, it’s been really, really good to me. Yes, people wonder what could be so good about a bunch of free flowing status updates–but Twitter (as everyone who actually uses it knows) is so much more than that. Gigs, contests, networking, coincidences–here are the 5 most awesome things that have happened to me thanks to this crazy social network micro blog called Twitter.
5. Tickets to The Story Prize ceremony
Indie bookstore darling McNally Jackson had a contest on Twitter to win two tickets to The Story Prize ceremony at the New School. The Story Prize is a relatively new literary award that focuses on outstanding short story collections of the year. The ceremony includes readings, interviews, and then the announcement of the winner, who gets a ton of money and a neat silver award bowl. McNally Jackson said they’d give the tickets to the first person who replied with the name of the first ever Story Prize recipient.
While my quick sleuthing provided the right answer (Edwidge Danticat), I wasn’t first. Wellington Square Bookshop (@wsbookshop) was. Looking at their Twitter page, I saw that they were an indie bookstore in Exton, PA, which is right near where I grew up. Oh! I thought happily, a new indie bookstore in my hometown! I sent a tweet paying them accolades; they wrote back a thank you; I told them I’d pop by the next time I was in PA; they promised me a good macchiato (something I couldn’t find on my last visit home, which they found out on my blog, linked to on my Twitter page). Then the bookshop sent me a Twitter message to say, hey, we actually won’t be in New York for the Story Prize ceremony–do you want the tix? You bet I do! The sweet people at McNally Jackson hooked it up, and my all-time literary date Camille and I were delighted to attend (for free!)
4. Writing gigs
Lots of people end up networking on Twitter–it’s terrific for finding and making contacts lickety split. Queer blog Out About Brooklyn approached me through Twitter when they saw (through Twitter!) an article I’d written for The Queerist about the Brooklyn queer party scene. When band Renminbi (now Magnetic Island) noted on Twitter that all the best-albums-of-the-decade lists lacked females, I whipped up a blog post counting all the girls on these lists. (There weren’t many.) My best writing-gig-through-Twitter, though, would be the tip off I got that Spinner was paying freelance writers $50 a pop to interview bands performing at SXSW.
This info came in the form of a tweet from @AlinaSimone, who’s music I’ve never heard, but who I follow on the recommendation of @AmandaPalmer. While it didn’t work out that I could interview Alina Simone for Spinner’s project, I got to interview five other rad bands (and crossed that line from freelancing-for-free to freelancing-for-cash, an oh-so-sweet and important rite of passage).
3. Fundraising for The Awkward Turtles
Through awesome sites like Kickstarter, fundraising in small bits far and wide is now a snap. When the band I co-coached for rock camp, The Awkward Turtles, began practicing beyond this summer, Willie Mae Rock Camp was keen on providing them with band coach mentors, and wanted to be able to compensate the band coaches for their hard work (something we volunteers, who sweat and show up for rock camp every summer, never get monetarily). I floated the Kickstarter page on my Twitter feed and got an impressive amount of support–my cousin, @moidem, who follows me on Twitter, gave to the project; comic writer (and husband to one of my bosses) @BrianWood gave to the project and generously re-tweeted it to his over 5,000 followers, who also re-tweeted it. The project fundraising ended 2 weeks after it began, with over $1,200 raised (well over our goal). [Sidenote: The Awkward Turtles have been KILLING IT as a band, performing at BAM, The Knitting Factory Brooklyn, and winning the praise of Kathleen Hanna).
2. An invite to the exclusive Perez Hilton SXSW party
Oh, this is a good one.
So there I am in Austin, desperate for an invite to the Perez Hilton party (Ladyhawke! Little Boots! Yelle! Rye Rye! Margaret Cho! Secret Guests!) My friend has an invite through her friend, but can’t finagle one for me.
So I turn to my new Twitter account: I tweet, “Anyone have an invite to the Perez Hilton party? I will make you pancakes/write your memoirs/love you forever.”
I send this out into the Twittersphere the day before the event, then a similar plea the day of. That afternoon, an e-mail from a total stranger, Harold Rogers, shows up in my inbox: I saw your Twitter plea for an invite, he says. I’m going and I have a plus one–no strings attached, I’ll meet up with you there.
A gentleman of real southern hospitality, Harold worked in websites and promotion and on those accolades had gotten onto the list. He saw my tweet when he was searching Twitter that day for clues as to who the secret guest would be. After checking out my profile (my avatar, a photo of me at the beach, lead him to think that anyone with a typewriter tattoo must be badass), he decided I was awesome and not a psycho killer (oh, the internet!) We met in the parking lot of the show, got our wristbands, and proceeded to have a bang up awesome fucking time. (No pancakes, memoirs or unconditional love needed, despite my offer.) Secret guests included not only The Indigo Girls, but also Kid Cudi and Kanye West. I stayed out until 4am and was one of the diehard dance kids there for when Yelle performed in her awesome French rap star way into the wee hours of the morning–and I did it all for free.
1. Free round trip Jet Blue tickets, for myself and all of the teachers at my school
Last week was Jet Blue’s 10th anniversary, and as they advertised Wednesday morning in blog posts, Facebook announcements, and, of course, Twitter, they’d be giving out free round trip tickets at secret locations in Manhattan. Around noon that day, I see on Twitter that they’re at their first location, Broadway and Dey, and that if you bring them a birthday card, they’ll give you a ticket.
Hmm, I think, Broadway and Dey? That sounds familiar. I Google Map it, and sure enough, that’s two blocks from my pre-school.
I stood up from my desk, grabbing for paper and a marker with which to make a birthday card. “Soooo, Jet Blue’s giving away free tickets two blocks from here?” I say offhandedly to my boss and another teacher who’s in the office, while throwing on my coat. “…I’ll be right back.”
I take off down the street, over to Broadway, and–yes. There are about fifteen people in Jet Blue shirts cheering. I run up to them with my birthday card. “Am I too late?” I ask. “No!” they cheer, handing me an envelope. “Congratulations!” On the sidewalk, I open the letter and scan the contents–this voucher…free round trip…anywhere in the United States or Caribbean. Then I call my boss.
“Tell everyone to make a birthday card and get over here!” I tell her. My boss, who is awesome, hung up the phone and turned to the two teachers on their lunch breaks, directing them to drop what they were doing, make a card, run to get a free ticket, then come back to let two more teachers go. Like that, in shifts, all the teachers of our tiny downtown preschool won free round trip tickets that afternoon.
When the teachers came back from getting their tickets, there was jumping, smiles, and lots of high fives. I was pronounced Best Employee of Forever. “How did you know about this?” one of the teachers asked, baffled.
To which I shrugged, grinning. “Twitter.”
Who I follow, who I’ve mentioned here: