As stated by Lindgren (2017), “the Internet and it’s platforms have evolved during the last 20 years into increasingly social directions.” In my opinion, the most social of the major new media sites is Twitter. Murthy (2018) discussed how Twitter’s design “provoked users to post and respond,” and described this aspect as “the power of Twitter.”
I agree fully with Murthy, and, working in the horseracing media, I honestly believe Twitter is the most powerful tool I have. My first major media appearance came after a Sky Sports presenter noticed an in-depth analysis thread I tweeted and invited me onto their show, my first television appearance came through posting videos onto Twitter and the majority of my freelance work offers come through my Twitter DMs.
Without Twitter, I don’t think I would have a career, as I wouldn’t have been provided any sort of platform to share my views and my work, or make any of the contacts that I have over the past two years. This fits closely to the idea of “democratisation,” another key aspect of Twitter discussed by Murthy, and allows individuals who may have encountered boundaries into breaking into traditional media the chance to showcase their knowledge to a wider audience.
I also agree with Murthy’s point about the importance of self-presentation on Twitter and the need to “constantly curate the profile.” I take a great amount of care to ensure my professional Twitter is non-controversial, inoffensive and stays generally focused solely on racing. To a degree, I also think that this can link to another Murthy’s points, about “para-social” relationships. The people I primarily interact with on my professional account are either fellow professionals or racing fans, and therefore I think it would be accurate to describe the formation of relationships between “media personas.” This contrasts to my personal account, which is only followed by people I know in real life and doesn’t directly affect my work, so whilst I wouldn’t say I play a character on my professional twitter, I am perhaps a more sanitised version of myself and only share my opinions about the sport.
Smith & Gallicano (2005) found that “engagement activities were impulsive” amongst Twitter users, which links to Murthy’s theme of “eventfulness.” Twitter users are generally bombarded with a large amount of information to process and therefore effective Twitter content has to be immediately attention grabbing. The “like” and “retweet” act as a filters to enable “electronic word-of-mouth,” ensuring popular content is showcased to as large an audience as possible.
However, I disagree with Murthy’s statement about “homophily” on Twitter, and think his point may be more relevant with a distinction between personal and professional Twitter usage. I would argue that those working in the media benefit from following a wide range of opinions, as involvement in debates help to stimulate the engagement necessary to grow their accounts. This is important, especially for freelance creators such as myself, as an increased follower count makes me a more attractive proposition for websites or companies looking to direct traffic towards their site.