Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The power and need for social media

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Google+, Pinterest. With so many social media platforms, it’s hard to keep up with who is where and which platform is best for you. A lot of people choose to stay off social media entirely.

Don’t. Here’s why.

Like it or not, social media is where people go to for real-time information. Although it’s called “social” media, it’s no longer just a place to keep up with friends, family and people you never even talked to in high school.

Twitter has become the place where news organizations, government agencies and other sources post their information first. In fact, a lot of news is derived from tweets posted by President Trump, who uses the platform more than any world leader before him.

The Trump administration issued an information lockdown for government agencies, limiting what they can reveal via press releases, tweets, etc. In result, many agencies have been relatively absent from Twitter.

KMTV in Omaha, Neb., is reporting that although many agencies are tweeting significantly less since Inauguration Day, a few agencies have been tweeting more. Leading the tweet surge is the Department of Transportation. USDOT tweets are up 72 percent, followed by the Government Accountability Office in a distant second at 24 percent. It may not be coincidental that Trump promises a major infrastructure bill, and GAO is to investigate issues raised by Congress.

Among the agencies tweeting less are the Department of Education (down 77 percent), EPA Water (66 percent), and Government Services Administration (51 percent). According to KMTV, some of this decline could be a typical result during a transition period.

It is important for government agencies to tweet freely and without fear of consequences. Half of people ages 18-49 get their news online, more than any other medium. Restricting online content greatly limits the audience being reached.

Even though a lot of the content going through Twitter pops up on websites, a lot of accounts provide real-time content exclusive to social media. At Land Line we post major traffic disruptions as they come across our desk, something you may not read about in our daily stories due to time sensitivity of road closures. We also ask you questions. Trust me, we see the answers and use that information. The tweet embedded is a good example.

Twitter is also great for information from people who are at the scene. Think about any major event you have been to. Chances are many people were on their phone tweeting what was happening. Because of this phenomenon, regular Twitter users know about the news before it comes out. Consequently, news outlets use these tweets (after verifying, of course) for their stories. I do it frequently with weather-related stories, like this one.

We live in a new digital world and the holders of information realize this. More focus is being driven toward digital, mobile content as those who still latch onto television and radio begin to dwindle in size.

People were resistant to television and radio news when they were in their infant years. It’s time to embrace new technology or get left behind.

Don’t forget to follow Land Line on Facebook and Twitter. ;)