Like most people I have a presence on social media; indeed it would be hard to maintain credibility as a media professor if I didn’t.
But I’m not on every platform out there, and not terribly active on some where I do have an account. That includes Facebook, where I rarely post and often forget to even check in and read it. Often I don’t find anything interesting or valuable when I do, something other people have observed also and even blamed on changes Facebook has made in constructing the news feed.
The medium I find most interesting and valuable is the one may people find most confusing and frustrating, which is Twitter. The past couple of mornings have shown why.
Mostly I use Twitter for “business” reasons rather than personal items. A majority of the people and organizations I follow are journalists/news organizations and people or organizations that research and write about social media, digital media, emerging forms of journalism and similar topics. While I have been known to post the occasional cat photo or image of my son’s band performing, the vast majority of my tweets are on the same topics I follow, of course including retweets of people and organizations I follow.
This morning I made retweets or original posts about Twitter possibly considering changes to its algorithm, how an NGO is hiring a journalist, ideas for implementing a “teaching hospital” model for journalism and a blog post with terrific ideas about storyboarding and data journalism. A couple of these were favorited and retweeted multiple times. An RT of the storyboarding tweet by someone with about 15,000 followers garnered 20 favorites from among his followers.
One of my tweets was favorited by a journalism professor from Great Britain, who also was kind enough to follow me back. (I’m not certain, but am pretty sure she found it through an RT by a friend who’s a professor in Arizona.) That resulted in a direct message conversation between us and an exchange of emails that likely will result in our meeting in person when I take a planned school trip to London in January. A few other people also followed me and I followed some of them them back, too.
Nothing quite as interesting as a new international contact came out of yesterday morning’s Twitter activity, but I did post or retweet about a new hyperlocal journalism site, dismal recent results for print advertising, and Twitter “best practices” that I plan to share with students in the fall. These came from some of my favorite places to get news and ideas about digital media and journalism: PBS Media Shift’s Idea Lab, Nieman Lab and JournalismUK.
But that morning I did have brief conversations over Twitter with the publisher of a Pennsylvania newspaper (where I worked 30 years ago) about a crowd-sourced project he had tweeted about, and with another UK contact whom I know only through Twitter about the meaning of the American football term “playbook.” I also stashed away links to seven interesting items for possible use in class.
These experiences illustrate the value of the social in social media, Twitter in particular, adding to the value of time spent there.