Like Am Addicted to Twitter
The Beginning: The Force Was With Me!
The first weeks of my life in the Twitter-verse were a roller coaster. At first I was all excited and would have been pretty directionless, had not Kathy held her hand over us to give this jabbering market of strangers some order. I tried to read all updates I received, which worked alright for the first week while I followed less than twenty people. By now the number is over 200.
The News Junkie Phase
As we began following official news sources, following all updates became hard, but somehow I still managed until I followed about 50 people. I was amazed by all the information I could gather through Twitter without having to visit news pages or rely on RSS. However, I soon got frustrated, because I could not possibly keep up with all the information any more. Many newspapers and other official news sources provide an amazing amount of information and their headlines on Twitter, which is great to keep up to date, but also makes it hard to follow any of them on a regular basis. I also lost a little bit of interest in Twitter due to its inability to show images, although I tried to substitute that by following photography sources.
At this point I tried Tweet Deck, which brought me back to Twitter as I could filter the incoming tweets in groups. However, I was basically back at the same level of use than in the beginning, trying to read all the related tweets (in groups of related sources). At this point, I spent at least one to two hours on Twitter everyday, trying to catch up.
Information Overflow and Management
As I got more and more interested in Digital Journalism, I researched local as well national journalists and experts in media issues through a snowball system. At the same time I tweeted and retweeted many news related articles and information that I had found on the web and wanted to share not just with the class, but with other people.
The number of people I followed (and who follow me) suddenly skyrocketed and while I got connected to more and more journalists active on Twitter, it became less efficient as a source of information. Only after I reworked my filters on Tweet Deck and introduced searches among my friends, I managed to regain some order. Now I have categories for local journalists, my favorite national journalists in Germany and the US and for searches on topics I am most interested in at the moment.
Take Small Bites And Chew Them Well
Even though I have a very selective filtering now, the big amount of people has changed my habit of using Twitter as well. As many of the Tweets evolve around the same topics with the people I follow, it makes sense not to read all of the updates, but to take a peek every once in a while to see what is a new trending topic among my friends. Rather than trying to catch everything, I take out small bits – usually links – that seem interesting and then read the information provided or try the new service. This proved to be much more profitable than trying to gather all the information However, I do like to tune into the flow of all posts every once in a while to “keep my finger on the pulse”.
The Twitter “Expert”
As a frequent user of Twitter, I talk to friends and peers about it and have become the go-to person for social media, especially Twitter. Recently, I have met several young founders of start-ups or young growing companies who were thrilled when I told them how they could use Twitter for their business or cause. Similarly, I’ve introduced people to Twitter as an information source for their particular interest. For one of them, I even prepared an account that would aggregate the kind of information most profitable to the profession and then handed it over. If done professionally, this could become an online business model.
Once you managed to filter the information according to your needs, Twitter is a useful tool for journalists both as a news source as well as a connection to others in the profession. Moreover, it can be used to utilize the Twitter crowd as a reporting resource and to let others know about your work.