These Widow's Shoes

Experimenting with Twitter

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I am almost at the end of my ‘Melanoma Month’ project – my first foray into the weird world of Twitter.

Quite late in the evening on 1st May, when us Mummies should have been sensibly heading off to bed, my friend and I were still up chatting about Ben’s blog and ideas for keeping it alive. She came up with the idea of using the official designation of May as ‘Melanoma Month’ as a hook for my own Twitter campaign – tweeting one of Ben’s posts for each day of the month. I loved the concept, and having no time at all to procrastinate (it being 10.30 by this point), I quickly signed myself up to Twitter, sent out my first tweet and announced my grand plan to the Facebook world.

Now it’s almost over I feel glad that I did it, although it hasn’t always worked out exactly as I’d expected and I’ve been through a gamut of feelings about it since that night.

I started off very excited – I had no followers so I was immediately on a mission to find the right sort of people and organisations to follow so that I could hopefully coax them into following me. After a few days my excitement was taken over by a gloomier mood – I didn’t like the fact that I was now spending all my free time reading cancer blogs and looking at cancer charity websites – it was bringing me down. So I tried to step back from it a little. While my ‘campaigning’ efforts did reap a few rewards, with some key organisations following me (MacMillan, Pilgrims Hospices, British Association of Dermatologists, AIM at Melanoma), I was getting very few retweets and it wasn’t having any significant impact of blog traffic.

Meanwhile the tweets were also coming up on Facebook. After the first day or two’s excitement I started to worry about the fact that all my friends on FB were seeing these tweets – maybe they’d had enough of this already and it was making me seem pitiful and obsessed. I decided to put that worry to one side, especially as I could see that the blog was getting regular hits via Facebook. From the likes and comments I could see that some people who had read it before were grateful for the chance to read it again, but a little each day rather than being faced with the whole thing all at once. Plus there were some new readers – people I’d befriended since Ben had died.

So although as a ‘Twitter campaign’ it hasn’t really worked (I don’t feel it’s helped to get it ‘out there’ in any major way), it has meant that the blog has had visitors every day (around 20-30 on average), several them reading it for the first time.

And I’ve learnt a bit about Twitter and can keep using it now and then to publicise blog-related stuff. So not a waste.

The most unanticipated impact of the Twitter project has been on me personally. Every day at breakfast time I load up the computer, read the next post and then try to come up with a punchy little tweet to sum it up. Day by day I have been rereading and reliving Ben’s last ten months, and as the end of the month has approached I have felt a sense of sadness and foreboding, knowing what is to come. It feels as though by sharing his story again in this way I am bringing about his death all over again. Often I have woken up early and read through and thought about the post while waiting for Saskia to wake up, or been thinking about it through the night. Sometimes a post has preyed upon my thoughts throughout the day.

I think I will feel relieved when the month is over – it has been emotional and sometimes a darker experience than I’d predicted – and I’ll be glad to be on the other side.

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