Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein observes that, despite Facebook’s unassailable dominance in social media, Twitter remains the social media platform of choice for journalists. To get an idea of how journalists use Twitter, check out MuckRack, where not only will you find some interesting stuff, you’ll also be reminded that journalists are the smartest and funniest people around.
But back to Klein, who makes some solid points about why journalists are drawn to Twitter on his Wonkblog site:
Yet journalists — and, quite often, the organizations that employ them — clearly prefer Twitter. They put enormous effort into building Twitter brands and coming up with Twitter strategies. That’s the impression the social-media vendors get and the social-network employees get. It’s true for every journalist I know, and it’s true for me, too.
The reason, I think, is that Twitter is simply more useful for our jobs. For better or worse, it’s where news breaks today. It’s also where a lot of real-time reporting happens. The bulk of Robert Costa’s shutdown reporting happened on Twitter. For weeks on end, he managed to dominate the top political story in the country in 140-character bursts. As a journalist, if you wanted to stay on top of much of the best reporting you simply have to be on Twitter.
The fact that so many journalists are on Twitter has made Twitter incredibly professionally valuable to journalists. Tweeting your articles ensures they’re seen — and discussed, and retweeted — within a community that includes not just your friends and peers, but the people who might hire you someday. (Costa, for instance, will be coming to The Washington Post in January!) That’s much less true on Facebook. It’s readers, not colleagues, who dominate Facebook.
That’s created something of a collective-action problem in the media sphere. It makes sense for each individual journalist’s career to put the bulk of their social media effort into Twitter rather than Facebook. But it makes sense for journalism outlets to have their writers putting the bulk of their social media effort into Facebook rather than Twitter.
So what does this mean for public relations types? get on Twitter and follow the most influential and active journalists there. I took a cue from New York Times’ (well, until today, when he announced he’s leaving for, gasp! CNN.com) media columnist Brian Stelter and just use my personal Twitter account as a news feed. I don’t post to it and I don’t follow anyone who’s not covering news.
It’s perhaps not the most social approach to social media (in my description I tell people not to follow me), but it’s a great way to stay up to the minute with breaking news and commentary.