Twitter has become a new method of communication for many of us in the social media, technology and even marketing space. And, while the microblogging service hasn’t exactly gone mainstream, fascinating stories are emerging involving the platform. There are also more and more mainstream media coming to the fold as well. Carlos Granier-Phelps is documenting traditional media members on Twitter here. Harry Hoover at MyCreativeTeam is doing the same both here and here. It’s nice to see more and more realizing the power of the communications tool.
At the Social Media Breakfast in Cincinnati Tuesday, Albert Maruggi led a discussion about Twitter, media, journalism and more. Albert likened Twitter to the new version of a police scanner. It dawned on me this is the way we should sell it to newsrooms. The only difference is that the media, in effect, can cut out the middle man and get the here-and-now updates from the people experiencing it, not the person manning the police, fire and EMT CB radios.
If the newsrooms in Louisville had been listening to Twitter on April 18, they would have gotten a variety of first-hand accounts of what people felt, heard and the like instead of looking at each other on set saying, “Did you head for a doorway, Jim?” “No, Alice. I thought I just had gas. Bwahahahaha! And now for the weather.” Michael Schnuerle of MetroMapper.org summarized it all well from the Louisvillian perspective.
The national media could have jumped on the story quicker as well. CNN.com reported the earthquake with a banner on its home page 37 minutes (by my own count) after the first Twitter reports were made. When their story finally appeared, it was time stamped several minutes before, giving the illusion they were more on top of their game than they really were. They could have had that banner in place 20 minutes earlier if their “scanners” and “wire services” included real people chatting on Twitter.
The knee-jerk thing to do is whine about how the media doesn’t get it, they all need to get with the program and use social media tools to tap into what their audiences are doing, saying and, yes, even interested in. But that serves no purpose. If they don’t get social media, they aren’t reading my blog. So here’s what we must do: We must reach out to them, offer to come by and show them a new scanner-like web service that will help them cover the happenings in their community. (Use the term “DMA” instead of community. Most local news folks don’t get the latter.) Then set up an appointment with an assignment or news editor, show them Tweetscan and GroupTweet, and show them how to subscribe to Tweets of certain keywords (start with the city name). Then look at some other media outlets using Twitter to give them an idea of how they might use it as both a push and pull mechanism for information. Finally, offer to answer any questions about it should they need help.
The only way social media and its tools will go mainstream is if we dedicate ourselves to teaching the mainstream how to use them.
The Queen City
A note or two about my visit to Cincinnati for the Social Media Breakfast is in order. Shawn Morton and I made the trip, as did fellow SMC Louisville member Roger Bauer. It was great to see Krista Neher from Photrade again and to meet all the great folks there. I’ve been a fan of Kevin Dugan‘s for a long time and finally got to be in the same room with him, even if we didn’t have a chance to chat. The discussion was so good, we went over time and both of us had to get back to work. Albert Maruggi’s podcast is a gem, so meeting him in person was nice as well. And I was able to connect in person with digital colleagues Daniel Johnson Jr., and Michelle Lentz (and her husband, Kevin Gerl, who is buddies with my college pal Jason Griffey), as well as meet Cincinnati Enquirer social networking maven Mandy Jenkins, Chris Bergman (also of Photrade), Debba Haupert, Andy Osier, podcaster extraordinaire Cliff Ravenscraft, Aaron Forgue (of GroupTweet) and Chris Ainsworth.
And the above paragraph is not just a gratiuitous link fest, but recognition of hand-raisers and social media leaders. These folks are carrying the same passion and enthusiams for using social media to connect people with both ideas and one another that I am. It was an honor to be there with them.
Trish Monaco (@freeepeace) became my 1,000th Twitter follower on Wednesday night. It was certainly sheer luck for her and dumb luck for me, but sometimes that’s how you get where you are, isn’t it? I’m honored to be thought of as informative or entertaining enough for people to choose to see what I have to say. But my 1,000th follower milestone shouldn’t be about me. It should be about Trish and the other 999 folks.
Trish is a singer-songwriter with some good music on her website. Click through and have a listen. You might just find a fellow Twitterer you can add to your MP3 player. When she chose to follow me, she had 10 followers and was following 16 people. She had made 65 updates since first trying Twitter out on Feb. 11 of this year, so she’s a relative noob in the Twitterverse and we welcome her with open arms.
A few days before, I half-jokingly Tweeted that I would profile my 1,000th follower here on SocialMediaExplorer.com. But, as smart people like Rachel Luxemberg pointed out, profiling No. 1,000 sort of gives newcomers the credit for building up what the old crowd made. So, I wanted to find a way to thank each of the 1,000. While my intent was to link to the chosen website of every single one of them, Twitter doesn’t make that easy and there are a handful of spammers in there. But, I want each of them to receive at least a token of my appreciation. A link to each of their Twitter profiles will have to do. Browse below. Find someone interesting you don’t follow and follow them. You’ll be better for it.
If you’ve ever wondered what 1,000 followers looks like, here it is:
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[tags]Twitter, journalism, media, social media, tools[/tags]