Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How News Orgs Use Twitter

The Pew folks have a report out this week about how news organizations use Twitter.  The Pew analysis finds Twitter is used "in limited ways-primarily as an added means to disseminate their own material. Both the sharing of outside content and engagement with followers are rare."

For fun, I looked at Pew's own Twitter feed.  There are a lot of "Pews" (Pew Research, Pew Forum, etc.) and I'm not going to go all methodological and do an in-depth analysis, but of the first 10 Pew tweets I examined, nine point back to their own content.  One references a Census report.  Going deeper, none really have "engagement with followers" and probably 95 percent point back to their own stuff.

Just saying.

Which is fine.  I'm only mildly picking at Pew, which does amazing work and whose data I use constantly in my own academic research.  For me, Twitter is an RSS feed, a way to keep up with breaking news (AP, NYT, etc.), with journalism-oriented stuff (Pew, Poynter, etc.), and with some social media stuff (Mashable, etc.).  Twitter is crap for "engagement."  Conversations die quickly, unless they're heated flame-wars. 

The report also notes news orgs don't use Twitter all that often to hunt for sources or stories.  That's true, though I do see it.  The AJC in my backyard, for example, has terrific tweets (maybe the best in the biz) and also will, at times, put out a call for someone to chat about their issues with driving or whatever the story of the day is.

So am I just being persnickety with Pew?  Yeah, in a nice way. But when I saw the report, it struck me as funny since, best I can tell, this is exactly how Pew uses Twitter.  And there's nothing wrong with that.

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