This is a part of a special series looking at how social media has impacted the lives of its users. This week, the story comes from Graham Todd.
Social media means many things to many people and for some it can mean terrible things. Bullying, politics and wars and probably the next recession will be blamed on it.
But I won at social media.
I got something amazing from it and I spend my life using it and showing people how great it can be.
I run an online marketing agency – but I?m not going to tell you about that.
I?m going to tell you a story about me, a humble van driver with a smartphone.
From Whine to Wine
Years ago I didn?t really amount to anything.
I left school half way through my A-Level English course and I bummed around in dead-end jobs and lived with my parents until I was 23. Nothing really remarkable there.
I then scored a job as a van driver that would propel me into the world I now live in and help me escape from the life I thought I was trapped in.
I was a van driver. I delivered wine for 11 years, and I guess I thought that I was going to do that forever.
But one day I went to a stuffy wine dinner and heard from an equally stuffy wine merchant that he was in fact smashing it on YouTube.
?YouTube? Him? But this business isn?t even on Facebook!? I thought.
I decided, right there, that I needed to do something about this.
The wine merchant I worked for were very traditional, so online marketing was not on their radar. Their digital output was? well about as up-to-date as their overused fax machine!
So I put them on Twitter. I signed them up and I tweeted as them for three months before admitting they were indeed ?online?. ?At that point they asked me how much each tweet cost.
At first I failed because I tried to sell wine. But when I finally got that idea, I shared the wine merchant?s story and journey. People really liked it.
[clickToTweet tweet=”People want you, not a fabricated version of you. Truth from @SocialMediaTodd #socialmediastories” quote=”People want you, not a fabricated version of you. #socialmediastories”]
I became a local person to tweet. As a van driver, I knew what was going on and I was able to give people guidance for the town of Warwick and also for Twitter.
Thanks to this pedestal I was first in line to help organise the first ever Warwick Tweetup (a real life meeting of people on Twitter). It was the first of its kind in the area and sparked a trend for many more.
And then something happened.
From Online to Offline
I still remember to this day when I laid eyes on Jo.
She had a very attractive profile image (she was wearing a tight fitting dress with a pink top and every red-blooded man wanted to know who she was).
She signed up to come to my first Tweetup and I was excited to meet her. I was, actually, besotted with that digital image.
But she didn?t show.
She bottled it and didn?t come. (I later found out that she did that a lot.)
The first Tweetup was a great success and the radio and local paper were interested in what we?d achieved. But I had a day job. So I went back to that and carried on.
Months later we held another Tweetup. It was also a great success and we raised money for charity.
Jo didn?t make that one either.
So to meet Jo I had to make the excuse of delivering wine to the advertising agency where she worked. And, I can say this now, I stole a bottle of wine from the back of the van and delivered it as a ?sample? for her business.
They did then buy wine from us after that, far outweighing the ?stolen? bottle of wine, but I didn?t really care about that.
I just wanted to meet the elusive Jo.
It was an awkward meeting, and a quick one, but I met her? the lady from my phone.
When Things Are Meant to Be
After that we exchanged tweets (as we had done before) and although we were both spoken for (married) we continued to chat and work on local projects and community stuff.
We became close friends but we both knew it was only for business, community and stuff like that. Nothing would come of it.
? I didn?t know it yet? but I?d met the woman of my dreams on Twitter.
On the eve of 2013 I found out that my now ex-partner had been less than faithful for a number of years. I suddenly realised that actually? I wasn?t stuck in this life that I had.
I left. Right there and then.
The first person I called was Jo. She always knew what to do and the first person to tell me everything would be ok was Jo. She still is.
Fast forward a few very tricky months. I?ll keep that part off the internet! Suffice to say that after that time, we were both single.
In July 2013 I won an award for my community work on social media and I went to the awards night with Jo.
On stage in front of 300 local businesses I thanked her and told everyone, without spelling it out, that we were now ?Todd and Jo?. In my haste I forgot to mention much else.
The Monday after that Friday night ceremony we started our business together. At first I joined Jo?s business but then we set up our own company as a new venture.
Two years on we?re running a very successful agency and loving every minute of it.
And They Say Social Media Isn’t “Real”…
Jo followed me on Twitter back in 2011. Now in 2015 we run over 20 social media accounts and spend all day (and night) together.
They say that relationships are being ruined by social media and they?re right ? sometimes.
But social media also makes great things happen.
Jo is ?the one?. She?s the person I?m meant to be with and we just work so well together. She gets me. I get her (most of the time) and we both love what we do.
I love writing – funny for someone who quit A-Level English, but because of my writing, or more importantly my bad spelling and grammar, Jo found me. She?s a proofreader and when I consistently made the your/you?re error she noticed me (for all the wrong reasons).
But she noticed me.
Social media has changed my life. It got me the girl. The girl in the hot pink and grey dress in the photo?
Social media is a very important part of my life? because it gave me the most important person in my life.
Thank you, social media.
About the author: Graham?Todd (known as Todd) is a social media trainer, speaker and co-owner at Spaghetti Agency. Spaghetti are a social media and online marketing agency based in Warwickshire, UK, helping business and brands to get found online.
Todd is a passionate, vocal and unstoppable fan of Twitter, Facebook and blogging and can be found mostly tweeting as @SocialMediaTodd (may contain selfies)