Twitter bird logo photo by عبدالإله بن محمد الشمري

Twitter bird logo photo by عبدالإله بن محمد الشمري

The days of eagerly awaiting the daily newspaper and the 6 o’clock news are long gone.  With online social networking services like Twitter, the way in which we learn of the world’s happenings is changing.

There are countless benefits that Twitter contributes to the world of journalism.  My personal favorite perks are its ability to cater to each user, and its capability to provide information which is updated in real time.  Twitter users have the freedom to “follow” whomever they please.  This way, they can decide which types of news and interesting facts they are exposed to.  Also, if a Twitter user is interested in one particular topic, they can simply search for the topic and read everything that everyone in the Twitter world is writing about it at that exact moment.

While Twitter has a lot of benefits to offer, it is imperative to remember to be cautious while using any online social network.  First and foremost: be safe!  Don’t divulge any personal information that could potentially jeopardize your safety.  Common sense tells most of us to protect ourselves from danger, but sometimes it is hard to remember to consider your audience.  While you might post something with the intent of it reaching only your close friends, if you’re not careful, your employer or potential future employers might be able to see it.  As an aspiring journalist myself, I have two Twitter accounts: one for personal use (which has all of my tweets protected), and one for professional use.  I recommend this strategy to everyone because this way you can use social media to your advantage.  You can control what the public sees, and you can focus on sharing things you want an employer to see.

If you are planning on using Twitter for journalistic purposes, you must remember to keep your posts simple, to the point, and catchy.  Your maximum allowance of 140 characters has to pop out and grab your potential readers.  This is how you build your audience.  Another convenient tool for modern day journalists is Muck Rack.  Muck Rack helps journalists pool their best work together while presenting it to others.  This is a fantastic way to build your following, connect with other journalists, and to scope out your competition!

Professionally speaking, Twitter can either be your best friend or your worst enemy.  It’s up to you to decide which.