So how does Twitter work? Social Media Conference Part 1

Somehow it’s already been a week since the Social Media Conference, but Chris and I wanted to share our reflections on last Saturday’s sessions and discussion. I’ll talk about the first half of the sessions, which included discussion of twitter and video production, and Chris’ll cover the second half. Dick Howe already did a great rundown of events, so I won’t recap, just reflect.

Dick Howe stands in front of a list of Lowellian Twitter handles.

Dick Howe stands in front of a list of Lowellian Twitter handles.

The first session of the day was Emil Kuruvilla (Merrimack Valley Sandbox), Yovani Baez and Liz Smith talking about the basics of using Twitter. I have an account, but I haven’t really figured out Twitter, so this was interesting for me. I’ve been using it mostly passively, following a bunch of local stuff. The best tidbit of advice I heard about using it that way was “don’t follow 100 people, follow 1,000”. Essentially, Twitter is a noisy place, and you aren’t meant to be interested in everything you see there. The idea is to spark interaction and connection.

The video session, lead by Danielle McFadden, Caroline Gallagher, Phil Lupsievicz, and Jessica Wilson was interesting partly because it wasn’t unified. Danielle McFadden, of the Chamber of Commerce, was of the opinion that video should be easy and accessible, and you don’t need anything special to do it. On the other hand, the other three were encouraging, but focused, sometimes a little pleadingly, on how to make  videos more professional. They suggested getting involved with LTC to take some basic classes on production and editing, and maybe investing in some inexpensive equipment. Video’s not my cup of tea (I HATE being on camera), so I can’t say I have a strong opinion, but I do think it’s a good option for people looking to reach out.

Twitter panel Liz Smith, Yovani Baez, and Emil Kuruvilla.

Twitter panel Liz Smith, Yovani Baez, and Emil Kuruvilla.

One thing I wanted to mention is that two of the social media I use the most, Reddit and Tumblr, didn’t come up at all. Tumblr’s a lot like Twitter but more image based, and it tends to be organized around politics and fandom. Although there are exceptions, it doesn’t tend to be as local as some forms of internet connection, so it doesn’t surprise me that it doesn’t come up much in discussions like this. Here are a couple examples of Tumblr in action for the curious: images tagged “Lowell MA” and the Tumblr for the City of Boston Archives. I would encourage anyone who takes photos to consider setting one up, it’s a great way to connect with people.

Reddit’s another animal altogether. Reddit’s basically a million message boards, and it can be a great source of local info. For whatever reason there isn’t  a great Lowell forum there (yet!) but r/Massachusetts and r/Boston  are pretty active, and Lowell pops up on both with regularity. Here’s a thread about eating in Lowell that shows how the site can work. And another one about the latest snow parking ban.

I’d love to hear feedback from people if anyone uses those sites and has good ideas for making them better local spaces. I think it’d be especially good if we could get a subreddit just for Lowell active, but I’ve never started one, so I’m wondering if anybody savvier than me wants to spearhead an initiative.

Find Part 2 here.


5 thoughts on “So how does Twitter work? Social Media Conference Part 1

  1. I love taking pictures (and that’s mostly what my social media feeds consist of) so I’m interested in hearing more about Tumblr. I’ve definitely browsed Tumblrs in the past, but I have to confess that I just don’t understand it at all. I don’t really get how to interact or how it works. Do you have any tips? (I’m a huge fan of Instagram and was really active on Flickr for a long time.)

    • Sure! So I think of Tumblr as a collage. Some people make super focused ones on a specific theme, while others just grab anything that catches their eye, even though that means sometimes a shrill political statement ends up next to pretty pictures of shoes. For my money, the best ones have a clear focus or sensibility. It’s very image focused, but people also make text posts, which can often be very twitter-like.

      When you post a picture, people can respond to it in two ways. They can “like” it, which doesn’t show up on their page, or reblog it, in which case it does. When you reblog you can add a comment, so it’s not uncommon for a dialogue to emerge there, as people toss ideas around or argue. Rebloging is the only way to comment, at least most of the time. The dialogue shows up with a series of vertical lines with the oldest comment at the top.

      I especially like Tumblr because, unlike many areas of the internet, it skews female. It’s full of radical little 15 year-old girls, and I think that’s awesome. Let me know if you have other questions! Also, I like your blog a lot, you seem way cool. Let me know if you want to get coffee sometime. Though after the holidays!

  2. Thanks for posting, Aurora! I will share this through LTC’s networks, too. I also think Reddit’s a great one that hasn’t seen much (public) discussion at our social media gatherings. I sometimes feat introducing too many social media options to students, because so many people seem to be suffering from sensory overload and I don’t want to overwhelm them further. Although, I think to the echo chamber point some others made, maybe trying a different platform would help us find some new conversation partners.

    • Reddit’s a really good forum, but it’s most popular areas can be really unpleasant or dumb. I think it can be hard for new people to figure out how to connect to the useful and cool areas. Here’s one of my favorites, for instance. And the local forums are really often great, but they have to reach a certain critical mass. We should be there, numbers wise. I have hope!

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