The act of microblogging mainly consists of posting short and immediate posts onto a platform as few or many times you want to. Many platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr have taken over the blogging scene, eliminating the need for lengthy research, writing time and audience attraction by adapting the same chatty style, unifying hundreds of updates into one timeline and reducing the need to promote your work to gain traffic. Blogging platforms such as Blogger, WordPress and Blogspot have always been free blogger favourites, but the up rise of microblogging has taken over much of the blogshpere world.
Although many of Twitter’s 316m users will embrace the platform for its cathartic ranting benefits, the social media platform has also seen a rise in the journalistic world and news sharing. On a personal level, I would use Twitter as an easy method to record my thoughts and views, achievements and downfalls, but on a work and professional level, the use of Twitter and the sites that are linked to it, has broadened both my knowledge and reach when looking at the news.
With a quick look at Twitter and Facebook followers in comparison to newspaper readerships, it is easy to see that online popularity is on the rise.
As a microblogging platform, Twitter has many advantages:
- The reach
In my experience on Twitter, it is more often the content of your tweet that brings in traffic than your actual following. Some tweets published can gain high numbers of impressions (how many people have read or seen the tweet) and low engagements (how many people have clicked on, retweeted, voted, liked the tweet), whereas others can have low impressions and high engagements. Having a high number of engagement suggests that the update reached a large audience, a great feature of the platform. As there is very little restriction as to who can see and share your updates, tweets allow anyone to openly voice their opinions on specific matters and have them read by a wide audience. The analytics tool created by Twitter also helped me to tailor my tweets so I could reach the biggest audience by posting them at the right times throughout the day.
- The extra features
When using Twitter in my work, I have found its extra features set the platform apart from other sites. The ability to hashtag in a tweet, or search for specific information through hashtags is one of the best ways to narrow down the information available to you. Not only does it do this, but it also allows others with similar interests to see your updates and be involved in what you say. The retweet function of Twitter has also been of great importance in my work. The feature allowed me to share with my followers, tweets and information which I deemed interesting and important, as well as being able to share my opinion whilst doing so. I was also able to retweet information that was key to my Storify articles, allowing me to easily find and source the updates when coming to curation. Finally, the poll feature (which was recently added in September 2015) allowed me to gain important opinions and trends for my work. I asked my followers to answer questions which directly linked to my articles, which helped me to gain insight and an accurate angle for my work.
- The diversity
Because of its easy to use concept, the diversity of the updates that can be published on Twitter is endless. Its immediacy allows users and journalists to create fast, snippets of information that can contain images, videos, sounds, links, hashtags, mentions, other articles or polls, as well as mixing up the content that they create every day. By producing diverse updates, an audience are more likely to stay interested in the news, instead of reading the same words every time, they are attracted by images and videos that can now be added. This versatility also helps journalists to produce their story quickly. I found that when I was tweeting about a story that had just broken, Twitter was the easiest way to get my updates across without having to wait for the full story, this couldn’t be done on a blogging platform as it would look incomplete and probably messy.
Although Twitter is a great tool for microblogging, it does come with its drawbacks. As discussed in my other posts about Twitter, obviously a main disadvantage is the limit on characters when writing updates. It’s short snippet way of working can become easily restrictive if you add mentions, videos, hashtags or photos, which all take up characters when writing tweets, but it is also this restriction which makes it different from other platforms. I personally never found a problem with keeping my updates under 140 characters, but if I did, I would add in a link to contextual information in order to help condense it. There is also the risk that your update will not even be seen. With the constant publishing of updates, tweets can be easily lost in the noise of the timeline- this is why I would include hashtags and mentions in my tweets, so even if it was lost, it could easily be seen when making a specific search.
Through my personal experiences on Twitter, I have definitely found that the platform works well as a standalone, but also goes hand in hand with other news sites and blogging platforms too. Because of the vast world of online content that is being produced constantly, Twitter is the perfect place for people to express their views in a succinct way, without necessarily needing to expand on their thoughts. Although I love Twitter as a site and a tool, I still hope that microblogging does not overtake blogging as a form, as from experience, I have found that there is still a need for blogging that can’t be fulfilled by 140 characters.