By ELIZABETH DE ARMAS
I never realized how much Tweeting can impact your journalism career until I experienced it first hand – on Black Friday.
As everyone was talking over turkey, cornbread and mashed potatoes with family and friends, I was mentally preparing myself for what would be one of the most eventful nights in my life: Reporting from Dadeland Mall for The Miami Herald.
I had experienced Black Friday before, but as a shopper — not as a reporter and that makes all the difference. I had to find a way to talk to people who were busy trying to find the best deals at 1 a.m and Tweet about what was happening at the mall.
Although talking to people was hard at first, because no one wanted to spend a few minutes answering questions when they could be spending those few minutes finding their next pair of new shoes, I finally learned what it meant to be an avid Twitter user as a journalist.
I got to the mall at 11 p.m. and began Tweeting about parking and lines outside of some stores. At that point, I had 186 followers.
But as the night progressed and I kept tweeting about stores not opening, wait times to pay, good deals, advice, alerts and updates – I left the mall at 4:30 a.m. with 216 followers.
In nearly six hours, I gained 30 followers just because I was tweeting about things that people were interested in knowing. Many Twitter users began asking me questions and I would answer them. I was their way of knowing what was going on.
Creating that engaging environment between yourself and your followers is critical. Users don’t want to follow someone that isn’t going to answer their questions or take their concerns into account.
I always knew that Twitter was valuable, but I never knew it could reach such a big audience. It is an essential and critical tool journalists need to have in order to create a connection with their readers.
Journalism is evolving and for the journalists who don’t see Twitter as a useful tool, I have to say — they are wrong. Twitter has proven itself to me and I am glad I have now learned how to reach out to people.
It does make a difference.