How many of you still read printed newspapers?
They’re a thing of the past for me, but I remember reading The Des Moines Register not that long ago. As the media relations manager of a hospital I’d start my day by reading (OK, skimming) the Register, looking for stories – or angles to pitch stories – about the hospital, physicians or clinics. I also reviewed multiple web sites, weekly papers and a few monthly publications every day, which took me about 30-45 minutes at the office.
Fast forward to today where I’d get that same information – and a whole lot more – in about 5-10 minutes via Twitter. I’d have access to it 24 hours a day, seven days a week from virtually anywhere, as long as I had a phone, tablet or computer. It wouldn’t matter if I was at the office, in my car or at my son’s soccer game; I’d be in the know!
That’s why Twitter is my top news source and should be yours too. Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to use it effectively, so they sign up, but never return. Here’s why and how I use Twitter as a news source.
Twitter is efficient for gathering news and information
What I like most about Twitter is that I choose the source(s) of my content. And my choices are seemingly endless due to the vast amounts of individuals, companies and news affiliates sharing content on Twitter. Moreover, because Twitter limits user posts (unlike Facebook) to 140 characters, it’s like reading headlines. If something catches my eye or I want more information, there’s often a link to a blog post, article, video or photo. Finally, hashtags make it easy to find and sort information.
Twitter can be anything YOU want it to be
Think of Twitter as a collection of your favorite websites, experts, interests and news sources all in one place. You select the source, categorize it and the information is delivered to you. All you have to do is tap the icon on your phone to access timely, relevant (because it’s based on your sports team(s), your hobbies or your profession) and, likely, objective content.
Here’s an example to help put this into perspective. I’m a huge Iowa Hawkeye fan! I used to visit several Hawkeye websites regularly for scores and highlights, player stats, recruiting news, schedules and a whole lot more. Today, I follow 49 experts/companies on Twitter who I view as “in the know” about the Hawks and regularly share content. When I need a Hawkeye fix, I pull up my list on Twitter, sit back and take it all in. I have similar lists for technology, social media, local news and more.
The secret to using Twitter – organizing your content
To make Twitter a useful source of information, you really need to sort and organize your content. To do this:
1) Create a Twitter List for all your interests – it only takes a few seconds to set up a list and is, by far, the best way to organize your content. View 6-second Video to Learn How! Or use Twitter’s advanced search feature to refine your search.
2) Use Twitter Search to find content – again, it only takes a few seconds to search by topic, name, keyword or hashtag. View 6-second Video to Learn How!
3) Search and sort by Hashtag – consider searching by Hashtag to find content as well as people talking about that content. View 6-second Video to Learn How!
Anyone can leverage the content on Twitter
I believe everyone should be on Twitter. It’s simply an efficient and cost-effective (i.e. FREE) way to access information from all over the world – on the topics you care most about. So give it a try! Your customized newspaper is just a click away.
Why do you use Twitter? Do you have any tips or tricks to pass along regarding Twitter or Twitter Lists? How else are you using Twitter to gather intelligence? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so drop me a line in the comments or on Twitter or via LinkedIn (add LinkedIn link).
For more information, check me out on Twitter, where I regularly share social media tips, advice, trends and more, including how to build your business with social. Follow me at @jonferchen.
Insurance products and plan administrative services are provided by Principal Life Insurance Company, member of the Principal Financial Group® (The Principal®), Des Moines, IA 50392.
© 2014 Principal Financial Services, Inc. | PQ11576L t1407070418