When the Twitter Scavenger Hunt assignment was initially assigned I panicked. Yes I’m a communications student, but the thought of walking up and talking to total strangers terrifies me to no end. Then I find out I have to ask some of them for pictures too? That was a big old NOPE from me. I debated putting off the assignment for as long as I could (procrastination is pretty high up on my list of skills), but after being partnered with someone I had just met I realized putting this off wasn’t an option anymore…urgh group projects.
We agreed that because our posts were limited to only 140 characters and we had to pack so much information into these tweets it would be smart to incorporate signs into our pictures. Team #DanandJessy got participants to write down their name and program onto a piece of paper which they then held up in their attached picture. This saved us room for longer quotes, funny descriptions and gave our account a creative edge (#bonus).
When I worked up enough courage to ask my first participant for help it surprised me with how eager they were to not only give me a quote, but to have their picture taken. This was actually what got people the most excited. They were mildly stressed out over coming up with “the perfect quote” but when I mentioned the picture it was like a whole other level of panic. What is it about our generation that even just the presence of a camera can get us all riled up? “Okay just let me go check my hair” and “Are you sure I look okay? Or can we do this tomorrow so I can wear something nicer?” are two of my favourite responses I got.
The most effective technique when using Twitter, or social media in general, I’ve found is to keep it short and sweet with a hint of humour. I like to laugh and am more inclined to retweet/favourite/like a post if it managed to get a giggle out of me. Pictures help a lot too. Adding a graphic to a post attracts more attention and increases users’ interaction with the tweet because they’ll want to see what the picture is. People say that “a picture is worth a thousand words”…that’s definitely more than Twitter will ever allow in a single tweet.
I had some limited experience with Twitter before this assignment, and to be honest I was not excited to head back to the social media platform I had given up on years ago. But I made a new account, got everything set up, and then Jessica and I split up the tweets we had to go for.
Thankfully, only one of my tweets required human interaction so that made it easier to get going. But that also made it more difficult to fit my tweets within the 140 character limit, since I couldn’t put information within the picture (we decided that people we talked to should write their name and program down and include it in the picture, to save our precious characters.) By the way, that 140 character limit is much smaller than it sounds.
Getting the photos was easy: FallFest was hard to miss, the fifth floor of building nine is one of my favourite place to relax on campus, and I love to spend time in the river valley. But finding someone to share their experiences was more difficult, and I didn’t end up getting a photo, but she was willing to be quoted.
Now that we’re done though, I understand how Twitter can be such a useful media tool. It’s much easier to follow people and stay up to date on Twitter than on Facebook, because Twitter’s feed is chronological while Facebook employs some kind of voodoo algorithm that I can’t figure out. Journalists/businesses/emergency services are much more likely to reach their audiences with this format, and in a breaking news situation Twitter would be infinitely better in getting out important information and alerts quickly.
I’ve expanded my following list to include multiple journalists, news agencies, and government officials, and it is really a new news source. You can get a ton of information and commentary in simple messages, and you have more options to seek out the stories that appeal to you, as compared to looking at the front page of a news site. At the moment I usually head to reddit when some big world event is happening, but now I’d be more comfortable going on Twitter in addition to that, one for the news and one for the conversation that follows.
I may have under appreciated Twitter before, but now I think that it will be an important part of my studies and career going forward.