Write, upload, retweet. My personal experience and analysis of microblogging and what I have learnt as a microblogger.
Fiander describes microblogging as:
“the general term for the concept of posting very short status updates as popularised by services like Tumblr and Twitter. Twitter was originally conceived of by its creators as a medium: a way to share quickly where one is; and what one is doing; thinking or feeling. It is still used that way, but like any human communication channel, it has become conversational.”
Essentially, microblogging takes a lot less effort in allowing you to say what you want to say. Microblogging can be particularly successful within the marketing industry as companies can create short and concise posts and receive instant results. Within our digital age, it would seem that people are developing a shorter attention span. Within a recent study published by The Guardian and held by the University of Denmark, they suggested that the collective global attention span is narrowing due to the amount of information that is being presented to the public.
“It seems that the allocated attention time in our collective minds has a certain size but the cultural items competing for that attention have become more densely packed.” — Professor Sune Lehmann
Microblogging is therefore an effective way to keep viewers engaged and interested, as only a small bit of information is delivered. A microblog differs from a ‘traditional’ blog, alike to this one, as writers are challenged to condense their thoughts, opinions and ideas into under 300 words.
Twitter is the most popular platform for microblogging- did you know you owned a microblog? The Twitter microblogging system began in 2006, with now over 330 million users, the platform has developed into a worldwide phenomenon. Although ‘tweets’ have been extended from 140 characters to now 280, this still makes the platform a perfect example of a way to microblog. Twitter allows you to ‘follow’ other Twitter users, therefore creating your own personal feed, communicating bite-size chunks of information regarding particular topics. An advantage of Twitter is that the news and information on the site is relevant and current. This immediate response to certain events is also known as ‘live tweeting.’ For example, a current affair that we are all experiencing is COVID-19, I found that tweeting about this and hash-tagging the pandemic, gave me more statistical engagement as other users were engaging within and discussing the topic also. By conducting polls, hashtags and replying to relevant accounts, I found that my engagement within my Twitter account increased as I got more familiar with the platform.
My experience as a microblogger:
Firstly, I properly began to understand what microblogging meant and how it could be beneficial to my journalism journey. After discovering my Twitter analytics, I discovered that the more features I used from the social media platform, the more engagement I encountered. Gaining knowledge from my experience of using Twitter in a professional way, I am now more confident within the field of microblogging and will continue to use what I learnt in future practice.
Feeling like somewhat of a pro(ish) in microblogging, I thought I’d condense my learning into my 5 top tips to help you start a microblog:
- Live tweeting. One reason as to why microblogging is so successful is due to its relevance to current affairs and topics. Within my experience, I found that starting and joining in discussions around topics like the pandemic, education and politics make my microblog relevant to current affairs. Relevance = engagement.
2. Hashtags, polls & replies. In terms of all the features on the social media platform, I found that hashtags gave me the most followers and engagement as other users were searching the same relevant topics from the breaking news online e.g. #COVID19. I also found that creating polls for my followers to answer started discussions and ultimately proceeded to further communication between myself and other users. I found myself reaching out to people by replying to their tweets and this helped me gain more followers and enabled users to discover my profile.
3. Link sharing & retweeting. Similar to replying to tweets, I found that retweeting helped keep discussions going and I could also contribute my opinions towards them. By sharing my blog link consistently throughout my tweets, I noticed that my blog received more views overall. This is another benefit of a microblog.
4. Consistency is key. In order for people to stay interested in your blog, you need to keep posting! Nobody is going to want to follow an account who seemingly disappears for a couple days. News is fastmoving and you need to stay on top of it.
5. Following the right people. I found that following the right people for the specific news I was searching for, made a huge difference. Ultimately, the accounts you follow will determine your personal feed. I created a list within my account which can be viewed through my Twitter- if you’re struggling take a look!
An overall reflection:
Whilst this experience within microblogging was an overall positive one, I definitely found it hard to completely ‘switch off’. As my notifications were turned on for my Twitter account, every time my tweets had some interaction, I was forced to look at my phone. Then of course we all know that once an app is open, it is easily to go further down a ‘rabbit hole’ regarding news and social media. Being constantly told “put your phone down”, I found this one of the hardest aspects of microblogging- how do I determine the difference between work and leisure? Another aspect I encountered during my overall reflection of using Twitter as a microblog, is that not all sources are always reliable or true. As Twitter has the ability to be opinionated, it can become difficult to tell what is real or fake news, and as a practising journalist, one of their main duties is to report the truth and be reliable. Check your news sources! The final thing I found challenging was that news and information is constantly changing. I had to make sure I was always on top of the latest news to be able to report it, and I quickly learnt that news is forever changing. Keeping up with current affairs is a crucial aspect for journalists, so I made sure to turn my news apps notifications on and regularly check my Twitter feed, alongside my other social networks. The consolidating thought I took from my experience of microblogging is to remember: sometimes less is more.