Breaking News…On Twitter?
Twitter’s good for a lot of things. Pithy snark, company updates, content sharing, etc. And amid all those walnuts, any active Twitter user’s stream will also likely contain some news-related Tweet. Does that make Twitter a good source of news, however? Some say no; others say yes. Let’s look at the arguments for and against, and what all of it means for marketers.
For: It’s Faster
According to Fast Coexist, Twitter broke several stories before news wires did: news like a car bomb exploding in Oslo, Norway, and Google announcing plans to acquire Motorola Mobility first broke on Twitter. Specifically, Twitter was faster when it came to breaking news about “sports, major disasters, and sometimes riots.” The article also says that Twitter can transmit local information that the press would probably overlook, such as “a robbery in downtown Boston.”
For: Richer Perspectives
And nowadays, with the rise of citizen journalism, Twitter can be a crucial tool. It can be a great way of spreading information where traditional news outlets aren’t allowed. Just look at the way Arab Spring unfolded. Thanks to Twitter, Egyptians had easy access to news about the liberation movement. They could learn new things, even when the government had restricted the mainstream media. Thanks to grassroots reporting like this, Twitter users can hear many voices and see news from different angles.
Against: Sometimes the Wrong Perspective
However, there is a problem with credibility on Twitter. With so much misinformation floating around in the Twitterverse, keeping up with all the different reports could make a person’s head spin. Granted, cable news and print news outlets aren’t without their fair share of mistakes, either. The problem with Twitter, however, is that misinformation can spread like wildfire. Slate writer Farhad Manjoo recommends ignoring both Twitter and CNN when you’re tracking a developing story; he recommends just opening up a newspaper in the morning and just reading that instead, to avoid all the misinformation and pundit commentary. To rely on Twitter as a sole source of news would be a mistake.
Against: Limited Audience
Another problem I see with Twitter as a news source is that it doesn’t have the same reach with some people as traditional news outlets do. While some may Tweet every day, others may check their Twitter only once every six months. For the people who fall in this category, they’re probably more likely to get their news from other sources.
Twitter as a News Source for Business
So what does all of these arguments mean for marketers? There are three main things to consider.
Tweet and ReTweet Carefully
One takeaway is that while Twitter can be an excellent source of information, you should be careful when you’re Tweeting or ReTweeting current events. If you want to be considered an expert, you don’t want to broadcast information that isn’t accurate. Be sure to double-check any news source you read against other sources. And, if it just so happens that you use a reliable source and it turns out that they were wrong, Tweet the updated information.
Speed vs. Accuracy
Another point is that you’ll need to decide which matters more to you: speed or accuracy? On the one hand, you may want to share content as soon as it breaks. On the other hand, however, there may be some value in taking a step back, waiting to see how things develop, and curating news based on that. It may all depend on your industry—but whatever you do, make sure your Tweets are in good taste. Of course, speed and accuracy aren’t always mutually exclusive, but checking to see where a source is getting its news from is always a good idea.
Sharing Your Own News
Finally, as a marketer, you may want to consider harnessing the immediacy of Twitter to share your own content. Press releases are good for spreading detailed news about your company to journalists, but if you want to quickly announce some exciting news within minutes? Twitter’s your friend. Mobile Marketing’s Vanessa Horwell suggests Tweeting your announcement, then including a link to the press release.
Twitter has changed the way the world shares information, with items being shared within a matter of seconds. While this has had a considerable impact on the way news is reported and spread, it doesn’t mean Twitter’s news nest is perfect. As marketers, in order to maintain followers’ trust, it’s important to rely on other sources of information and be as accurate as possible. At the same time, however, the same thing that makes Twitter questionable—its speed—is the same thing that can make it great for sharing accurate news. Marketers can take advantage of this and make announcements with a few keyboard strokes.
How do you feel about using Twitter as a source of news?
photo credit: @Doug88888 via photopin cc