If there is one trend that journalists should pay attention to right now, I would say that it is the microblogging platform Twitter. Why? Because its snowball affect is coming quickly, and you have the chance to be a part of its evolution, instead of playing catch-up with other platforms like social media, video, blogging and podcasts. Twitter is a conversation, and you should be a part of it.
Steve Outing has this advice for journalists:
“News professionals can’t understand the transformation in media consumption if they don’t live it themselves.”
Enter Twitter. Here is Jeremy Osborne’s description of Twitter:
“In essence, twitter is an instant messenger that connects you to the rest of the world. It’s like getting the opportunity to speak to the universe, know that the universe is listening, and even sometimes have the universe speak back to you.”
Jeremiah Owyang describes Twitter’s value to journalists:
“Because ideas and news spread faster on MicroBlogging networks, journalists can move faster, keep their finger on the pulse of their industry and rapidly contact individuals for perspectives.”
J.D. Lasica suggests how a journalist can engage their community during the reporting process:
“A beat reporter could enlist a dozen or two dozen passionate, driven readers to serve as a kind of Twitter posse. Whenever she was about to tackle a big story or difficult interview, the reporter could begin a mobile dialogue with her posse members, who could pose questions”
As Mark Glaser points out, it is becoming a world where everyone is reporting, anywhere, anytime.
Darren Rowse lists the nine ways that he is using Twitter to engage with his audience online:
- Research Tool
“The beauty of Twitter is that it’s quick, is used by a wide variety of types of people and because of the 140 character limit to messages it keeps interactions concise, manageable and productive (usually).”
- Reinforce (and expand) Your Personal Brand
“…it can be used to expand your brand or to show a different side of you. Some of the people that I enjoy following the most on Twitter inject humor into their Twittering that I don’t see on their blogs. There’s also something a little more personal about many of the people I follow on Twitter (even if they Tweet on a ‘professional’ topic – their voice is often more personal than on their blogs).”
- Promote Content
“Twitter had become an alternative subscription method for them. Plus it actually caused these readers to read the blog on the blog rather just in their feed reader – creating increase page views/unique visitor counts.”
- Extend Audience – Find NEW Readers
“One challenge that bloggers who’ve been around for a while in their niche can face is that they reach a saturation point… My encouragement to this type of blogger is to think about where potential readers might be gathering that they’re yet to tap into. I’ve found that this has happened for me with Twitter.
” I find it difficult to put this one into words, but there’s a certain camaraderie that develops when you read what someone’s written every hour or so throughout a day (and know that they’re doing the same with you). For me it’s something like that feeling that you get after spending a couple of days with someone at a conference – you know each other on a whole other level.”
“Last week on a couple of occasions I released exclusive little previews to Twitter followers of information that I hadn’t yet posted on my blogs… he result was that when the post did go live on the blog on the front page it already had comments and a good discussion. I also found that three people had already linked to it. It also helped some readers to feel a little special to get a Twitter exclusive…”
“While Speedlinking is something that has worked reasonably well here on ProBlogger… I’m actually finding the medium of Twitter to be well suited to it also.”
- Story Gathering
A number of times this past week I’ve heard of breaking news in my niches via the Tweets of others… due to the immediacy of Twitter I heard them just minutes after they broke.
- Find Out What People REALLY Think
“…it gives you a sense of what people are really thinking on a topic. This helps you to get to know them on a new level but also helps you keep your finger on the needs and feelings of your potential readers.”
And Jeremiah shares tips on how to attract a large Twitter following:
- Have a clear objective that adds value to your network.
- Don’t treat Twitter as a separate medium, “integrate throughout your online experience.”
- Ensure you follow people on Twitter, and not just use it as a soapbox.
- Ask questions.
There is a “bigness” to the idea of the idea of listening to and speaking to a community anywhere, anytime, via your mobile phone. Yet, there is an immediacy and comfort to it as well. You are never alone.
Other new services have people experimenting with social networks within your physical proximity.
The common thread: the growing importance of the phone for non-voice communications and workflows.
John Dickerson, via Twitter, has a concise view of Twitter’s place in journalism:
“Recovering from blow by journalism prof. who fishslapped me for using Twitter. Sending him a feather quill pen and Windex for his monocle.”
Here is a New York Times profile on John’s Twittering from the campaign trail.