Twitter was the topic of my Reinventing the News class this past Tuesday. Twitter, and more specifically how to use it as an effective reporting tool, is a relatively new concept to me.
I only created my Twitter account (@gailwaterhouse) about four months ago, and I still hadn’t taken the time to explore all its features. I saw it mostly as a glorified Facebook status updater, and while I follow a few news organizations, I hadn’t really thought about the possibility for Twitter to assist actual reporting.
That changed this week when I got the assignment to follow 10 or so Twitter feeds that are related to my blog beat for a day. Initially, finding baking twitter accounts was easy, because there were so many. Finding accounts that were interesting and relevant to my blog, however, proved more challenging. Eventually, I narrowed it down to a list of 13 feeds, which can be found here.
In just one day, I learned a lot about using Twitter for more than just witty statements and funny pictures. Although some baking bloggers do post tidbits about their daily routine or things not related to baking, it was easy enough to skip over the less relevant posts because they’re only 140 characters and not an entire blog post.
I was able to find a lot of other interesting baking and cooking twitter accounts through the tweets and mentions of the people on my list. To me, this is where the “networking” aspect of social networks comes in: Through just one feed I’m able to find five more people with specific interests I’m looking for.
The best part of the experience for me was all of the recipes that were posted. Bloggers posted links to recipe posts they had recently made, but also to others that don’t appear in their blogs. Today alone, I found a recipe for dark chocolate chunk cookies and one for homemade thin mints that I never would have found unless I was specifically looking for them. This type of recipe posting beyond the 10 or so blogs I subscribe to definitely helps me discern what’s trendy in the baking world, and helps me decide what might be worth trying out here on this blog, and what should just be skipped.
Additionally, @wearenotmartha posted information on two classes they’re teaching at the Boston Center for Adult Education that I wouldn’t have found out about otherwise. I think I might sign up for one of the classes, Promoting Your Blog.
I followed approximately three journalism-related food twitter feeds: The New York Times Food & Drink, Boston Globe Food and Epicurious. I was disappointed that the Times only tweeted links to their blog posts and no other information. The Globe feed didn’t tweet anything today. Epicurious, on the other hand, posted a few interesting and relevant recipes from their website, and even a quiz testing dessert knowledge. Perhaps they’re more involved in Twitter because they’re an online-only site.
Overall, my experience with Twitter was a good one. Whether its getting more recipes, networking with more bloggers and potential sources, or discovering trends, Twitter definitely has the possibility to enhance my blogging.