Twitter – why bother?

Mar 9, 2010, 2:45 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

Why bother? I get that a lot. I answered the question again yesterday, when I spoke on a media panel at the Seattle Twitter Conference. (Ironic that it lasted all day, when Twitter messages are limited to 140 characters?)

Twitter is not a bother for me. I love communicating with people in any form, and especially through Twitter because it’s very similar to what I’ve always done – radio broadcasting. The thrill of radio news is being able to instantly tell you about something I think is interesting. I do that with Twitter too. And both mediums, radio and Twitter, are at their best when they are interactive. I want to learn about the person on the other side of the radio or computer. What’s going on with you, what are you curious about in the community, what have you just discovered? Twitter, for me, is a tool to build relationships and it’s just as important as my microphone.

During yesterday’s panel discussion with Monica Guzman from the SeattlePI.com, Jenni Hogan from KIRO TV, and Cliff DesPeaux with the Seattle Times, we talked about how we use Twitter to interact with readers, viewers and listeners.

Twitter conf pic 3

We reassured those in the audience that we do not report information we learn from Twitter without verifying it first. Rumors run rampant on the social media site, especially during breaking news. And we even promised we would not sell our tweets as Kim Kardashian does – reportedly earning $10,000 per tweet. Monica’s instant reaction was that she would never be beholden to advertisers or others who wanted to buy her words. We all agreed, but, wow, 10K for a 140 character message, that’s not bad.

There are many of case studies on how journalists use Twitter. Here’s the best recent example I’ve read which examines the breaking news coverage when a small plane crashed into a building in Texas.

While people at the conference were highly interested in Twitter, there are many people (possibly a majority) who think of it as some kind of freaky social media thing that will fade away. Even if Twitter is a fad, real-time communication is not. If not Twitter, there will be something else that allows anyone and everyone to share ideas, thoughts and information easily.

I also hear from radio and television broadcasters from around the country who say, “Who cares what I think? I don’t have anything interesting to say on Twitter.” My response, which got an “Oooooh! Ahhhh!” from the crowd yesterday: Then maybe you don’t have anything interesting to say on the radio or TV either.

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Twitter – why bother?