Lessons from microblogging on #Twitter

Rachel Carroll ✨
5 min readJan 6, 2021

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How my live-tweeting experience attracted attention from celebrities and gained over 80,000 impressions…

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Microblogging, like multimodality, has changed the way we share and consume news. Instead of waiting patiently for the headlines at 6 pm, microblogging sites like Twitter have allowed social media users, like me, to access breaking news stories immediately. And what’s better, the 280 character limit means information is given in short, quick-fire updates, cutting out all the waffle from traditional news that goes into more detail and gets straight to the point.

But, how hard is it?

Surprisingly, not as bad as I thought. In fact, I have unconsciously been microblogging since I joined Facebook at the age of thirteen and I am 99% certain you would have at some point too. But, microblogging about my day at school is very different from microblogging about the news and current affairs. For example, tweeting about COVID-19 and the government's inept handling of it attracted a variety of opinions which was not all pleasant. But this experience taught me that not everyone is going to agree and share the same views as me which is good because if everyone did it would be boring and there would be no room for learning. That is why Twitter is an effective platform because it provides people with the freedom to express their own views which encourages discussion.

On top of this, I also conducted several polls, posted news updates, replied and quoted tweets from other Twitter accounts, promoted my blog posts, and experimented with live-tweeting, all of which proved valuable. But, it is my experience with live-tweeting that really opened my eyes to the power of microblogging.

I decided to live-tweet the first episode of Loose Women in 2021 because the panel was discussing relevant issues, such as whether or not children should be going back to school (this was before the news of national lockdown) and the danger of online trolls body-shaming celebrities which is rife in celebrity journalism. Before I discuss the successes of this experience, let me first address the hiccups I encountered.

The challenges:

Keeping up with the conversation

Because this was my first time live-tweeting, I wasn’t aware you could schedule your tweets ahead of time. According to Lindsay Kolowich Cox, this is vital if you want your live-tweet session to be successful as you will, and I quote, “be running around like a chicken with your head cut-off” if not. Whilst I was not exactly a headless chicken, I was stressed because the presenters spoke at an extremely fast pace and the quick transition between debates took me by surprise and knocked me off guard. This caused me to fall behind at times, especially when searching for the presenter's names to mention in my tweets. As a result, my tweets were not always in time with the conversation and this impacted my followers' and other users' engagement. Moreover, because I was rushing, I forgot to include the hashtag #LooseWomen in every tweet which is not good because it meant my thread was inconsistent and inaccessible for other users to join. Therefore, next time I will definitely schedule my tweets and plan ahead.

Accuracy

Due to some of the topics covered by Loose Women being sensitive, such as Grease the movie facing a backlash because people described it as ‘homophobic, racist, and sexist’ on Boxing Day, it was vital that I got each tweet right in case I offended somebody. Luckily, I could pause and rewind the show when I needed to, giving me time to hone my tweets and check my punctuation. But if I was present at the show, this would have been extremely difficult.

What I gained:

Increased confidence

Live-tweeting was new to me and very much out of my comfort zone but after this experience, it is safe to say my confidence has improved and I am excited to do it again. I actually impressed myself with how I tweeted critical and articulate viewpoints under pressure with a strict word-count. For instance, during the school debate, I agreed with Linda Robson and suggested that teachers should be made a priority for the vaccine because schools are an essential service and the quicker teachers are vaccinated, the quicker schools can reopen. This tweet received two likes.

Stronger appreciation for microblogging and Twitter as a platform

During the break of the show, Loose Women presenter Kelle Bryan engaged with my thread by liking and quoting one of my tweets onto her own page:

Her tweet then got retweeted by Love Island winner Amber Rose Gill which made my thread reach thousands of users, gain over 80,000 impressions, and my account obtained 4 followers. I never imagined at the start of my live-tweeting session that my tweets would get noticed, let alone responded to by celebrities. This made me look at Twitter in a completely new light. I no longer see it as an app for sharing news and keeping people informed, but as a vital tool for journalist’s to communicate and interact with people in the public eye. With celebrities, politicians, footballers, and even the prime minister all on Twitter, conducting interviews and gathering insights has become a whole lot easier.

Moreover, if a small account like mine can get this reaction to a single live-tweeting session, can you imagine how effective it could be if I did this regularly?

In turn, my experience of microblogging has been life-changing and no, I am not being dramatic. It allowed me to connect with celebrities, boost my confidence, challenge my own views, and become more informed about current events. And now I have learned my mistakes with live-tweeting, I will make sure this does not happen again.

I hope my experience with microblogging has been useful and for more tips on how to live-tweet check out Tony Tran’s blog post.

Thanks for reading and if you would like to follow my Twitter it is: @RCarrollJourno

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Rachel Carroll ✨

Well hello there and welcome to my blog that explores topical and broad issues around #journalism. I hope it stimulates you 😆 Twitter & Insta: @RCarrollJourno