Top 10 Reasons Why Citizen Journalists Should Use Twitter
1. Posse power. Twitter allows you to develop your own personal “posse” - people who are interested in what you’re doing. If you cultivate a quality posse, it can help jumpstart your citizen journalism. Your posse can send you relevant leads, reports, observations, feedback, and more. They can answer questions, provide support and encouragement, and help out if asked. They can also help spread the word about your projects. Think of your Twitter posse as an important extension or subset of the community you’re trying to serve with your citizen journalism.
2. Speed. Whether you’re looking to gather information or share it, you’ll get faster results on Twitter than almost any other kind of online media. Also, once you find a good collection of people to follow on Twitter, chances are you’ll hear about breaking news through them first.
3. Efficiency. When you’re limited to 140 characters at a time, brevity and clarity rule. If you choose to follow interesting people who use Twitter well, you’ll receive a steady stream of good information that you can scan and use quickly.
4. Simplicity. Most citizen journalists are not techies. Twitter is simpler to use than almost any other online communication tool. This makes it appealing to a broad range of people (not just geeks), which leads to the next point.
5. It goes where you are. Twitter works well on mobile phones. Even if you don’t have a phone that can browse the Web, you can participate by just sending and receiving text messages. So if you’re on the spot when news breaks, you can publish live coverage right from your cell phone.
6. People you know (or want to know) are probably there. According to recent research from Compete.com, Twitter currently attracts about 1.2 million unique users per month - and a quarter of these are “heavy users” who post multiple times daily. So chances are good that whatever community you wish to connect with, at least some of them are using Twitter.
7. Your community will expect to find you there. Since Twitter has become so popular, more and more people expect others to be there. It’s getting to be like e-mail - if you don’t have an e-mail address these days, it seems odd. Expect the same to happen with Twitter.
8. It’s under your control. When and how you get Twitter messages is entirely up to how you configure your account and which extra Twitter tools you use (if any). If you don’t want Twitter to interrupt you, it won’t.
9. It plays nice with others. Since Twitter allows access to the computer coding that underlies it, Web developers have created lots of great third-party services that provide useful extra features - like TwitterLocal (which finds Twitter users in or near a geographic location).
10. It’s free. Well, almost everything is free on the Web. But with Twitter, that’s just icing on the cake.