My first year on Twitter

Until just over a year ago I thought Twitter was a place celebrities go to announce what they’ve had for breakfast. That’s certainly the impression I got from newspapers.

I can’t remember what prompted me to take a look at Twitter for myself. I suspect it was something to do with Communities of Practice, but I can’t be certain.

I signed up for a Twitter account mid-December 2010 and – having lurked for just over a week – plucked up the courage to actually tweet shortly before Christmas. My first tweet (to my 0 followers) was:

It never occurred to me that Twitter was going to become an invaluable tool that I’d use every day. During the course of the year I came to use it frequently for:

  • breaking news
  • research
  • finding and sharing tools and techniques
  • tracking topics (via hashtags)
  • conversations with people I’d never met (and some that I had)
  • finding out about, and publicising, events
  • asking questions (even sometimes attempting to answer questions asked by others)

I certainly didn’t imagine that I would tweet nearly 1500 times in one year (admittedly, many of these would be retweets, not my own stuff). I’m still amazed that over 300 people find my tweets sufficiently interesting to want to follow me.

A quick look at how I use Twitter:

My working day tends to start early – I’m generally in the office around 7am, prior to which I take the dog out, walk several miles to the train station, and consume at least one really good cup of coffee.

I’ve adapted my routine, and now combine the early morning coffee and Twitter, so my tweets often start at around 5am during the week and finish by the time I reach the office. I try and catch-up again around lunchtime and during the evening. At the weekend, or when I’m on holiday, I spend more time on Twitter, and dip in and out all the time. I might also throw in some more personal stuff and include the odd photo.

As well as checking my timeline I use saved searches to follow topics I’m interested in. As I’m currently working in local government these include variations on the local gov theme including:

  • #localgov
  • #lgcomms
  • #localgovweb

I’m very interested in open and linked data, so also have a saved search to combine several related hashtags into one stream: #opendata OR #opengov OR #linkeddata

I also keep tabs on events I’m interested in  – current / recent examples include:

When I find something interesting I will normally mark it as a favourite so I don’t lose it. If it’s really good or likely to interest others then I’ll share with my followers. I sometimes also forward via email to colleagues who aren’t on Twitter and therefore might not be aware of it. As there isn’t much room for detail in a tweet, the good ones usually link to something else. I will often bookmark the link in my browser as well for good measure.

In my next post I will have a look back at some of the tools that have impressed me over the last year.

By Mark Braggins

Walking, usually with my two ex-racing greyhounds. Interested in lots of stuff. Work: Business Development and Research at Drawnalism


  1. I share your delight and surprise at the way that Twitter as become an indispensable part of my daily routine
    Twitter’s ability to quickly break news stories is phenomenal – yet I know Journos (Fleet St and Echo) who don’t use it. They either think Twitter is ‘Facebook light’ or else that their titles subscription to the news wires is good enough.
    Interesting to hear how during the Oxford Street stabbings the Sky News team used twitter to locate the incident and during the RHCH fire last month both the Echo and BBC south were using Twitter to appeal for footage.
    Twiiter users can be as well, if not better informed, than the MSM!

  2. Thanks for commenting Stephen. There are still examples of journalists using photos and video obtained “from Twitter” as if it’s a person, rather than crediting the source – the same applies of course to You Tube and other SM. I think it was @pigsonthewing who took the beeb to task for that and received an apology.

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