He sent his first tweet in September 2009 while taking the Publishing on the Web class in the Digital and social Media Professional Certificate program at SDSU. One year later, he had tweeted more than 7,000 times, earning 1,300 followers. We asked @EnviroEdwhy he decided to make Twitter a habit.
You’ve been an active Twitter user for one year now, what do you like about it?
I get story tips, breaking news and follow enough people and organizations to create my own wire service. I find some news items are reported on Twitter before they appear on newswires in some cases.
How did the digital media class help you learn how to use Twitter? Would you have picked it up on your own?
The digital class clearly explained how to set up the account, how to use it, and why. I probably would have waited until my employer urged me to begin using it, but during the class I realized the potential to drive traffic to our website when tweeting links to my and my coworker’s stories.
How has Twitter changed your reporting practices?
I tweet nearly all stories I report, write, and produce for TV and radio. When I work as a news anchor, whether morning or afternoon drive, I tweet what lead story is upcoming on the next newscast with a link to the story or where we stream the audio on the KPBS website. I also tweet when I am in the field covering a story. For example, I tweeted from a California Coastal Commission meeting on an item they were considering that I was there to cover. Not only do people interested in the item get updates, but when I returned to the office to produce a radio version, I simply copied my tweets as a starting point to write the story.
Has Twitter helped you get ideas for stories?
Yes, through the people and organizations I follow – more information flowing in from many sources creates more stimulating thoughts, generates ideas, and provides background and additional context.
How did you get so many followers?
Just lucky I guess. I’m sure, like me, not everyone following reads every tweet. My tendency is to tweet or retweet about environment topics, but I do sprinkle in a few other subjects on occasion including breaking news or sports. The recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill connected me with a lot of people following that story even though I’m not in that area. I may tweet too often (mostly retweets) according to the popular Twitter wisdom, but then, I must be doing something that works since I’ve picked up 1,300 followers in a year.
Any advice for media professionals who haven’t started tweeting yet?
I would create an account even if you don’t plan to tweet or even retweet often. You can choose to follow a selected group of individuals and organizations simply as a source of information or story leads. Twitter doesn’t place a demand on your time. It’s really your choice how to use it. It’s a simple tool.