I have always thought myself a Twitter skeptic. And I was – until now.
After having to create a Twitter account and be active for more than a few hours like the first time I signed up for Twitter, I really began to realise the benefits this piece of social media offers us. Yesterday afternoon, Alex Solak spoke about Twitter on Wired-In, a special edition of the Lunch Box on CHSR (produced by me and hosted by Sam Kamras and Alex Vietinghoff). He says that things like Twitter and Facebook are used as tools to complement our individuality in every-day conversation.
And while I’m not obsessed nor by any means a Twitter worshipper, after only four days as a Twitter user, I’m starting to believe what Alex – and many others – is saying.
1. Twitter has already made an impact on my work as News Editor of The Aquinian. The STUSU election nominations, campaigning and voting have been going on these last few weeks at STU. TheAQ has been on this since the beginning, but things have been changing every day. It’s been really hard to keep up with things actually – trying to coordinate with my reporter on different articles and interviews and controversies that came up. How has Twitter helped me exactly? Well, when I couldn’t make it to the second round of speeches, what did Twitter tell me? “Michael Manning withdraws” from presidential running. And we were on it right away. Thanks for that, Twitter.
2. Another great thing about Twitter is that surprisingly, you don’t need to have a crazy data phone (although I should probably have one anyway as news editor) to send or receive Tweets on-the-go. Soon after she signed up to Twitter, Sam told me about her mistake of sending all her tweets to her iPhone. Apparently that got to be a bit much. So from her mistakes, I learned to only forward a few people to my phone. And then I started to filter them out. Turns out, news organizations aren’t always the best tweets to send to your phone that does not have a data plan because they often only have links to their articles. But it can be really great to have specific people (who may be as informed as these news organizations or who may comment on them specifically) tweet to your phone. It’s just like a text message – making you feel a bit more popular than you are – and keeping you informed.
3. One of Alex Solak’s big points is that Twitter is only as useful as its user. If Twitter is supposed to be a tool to help everyone participate in a virtual conversation, then you have to be part of that conversation. Sitting along the sidelines and watching time go by (like life, no matter how lame that sounds) you’re not going to absorb anything. It’s just going to turn into an overhwelming info mess – which leads me to the next Twitter lesson.
4. Don’t try to read everything – it is overwhelming and honestly, utterly useless. As journalists, most of us want to stay as informed as possible. This is crucial to our profession. But there is a fine balance. Information overload is never a good thing. We know this when writing articles. But if I was to try to read – and absorb – every little thing BBCNews tweets, I’d get no where. That’s part of the reason why I’m following specific journalists or people is more useful because they generally have something more specific to say.
5. The last Twitter lesson tells me to be creative. I initially started following the regulars – CBC, BBC, the New York Times – but I soon realised that wasn’t enough. I realised that I have to explore Twitter in order to really get involved in the conversation. I have yet to explore this idea to its full potential, but I know I shouldn’t stick to just everything I know. I know my interests, so I should try to follow someone I’m not necessarily familiar with. If I don’t like what he or she has to say, then I can just stop following him or her – simple.
I can sometimes be a bit of an optimist, but I’ve already learned a lot of things about Twitter, things I always thought were conformist and ignorant. But I’m not always right.
…I think I could get used to something like this…