The Wisdom of Crowds

Last weekend, I asked a question on twitter, Google Plus, Facebook and here, in preparation for a presentation to journalists on using social media. For the record, the question and the answers I received are gatered below. The answers are not always in agreement, and some of tem flatly contradict each other, but according to The Wsdom of Crowds, aggregating information from groups can provide answers which average towards the truth.

I’m conducting a quick survey. What advice would you give to newbies (in particular, journalists) dipping their toe in the social media pool for the first time? Should they blog, open a twitter account, or would Facebook be a better option? Is G+ a ghost town, or an exciting new development? Is LinkedIn worth it, or a haven for Make Money Fast spam?

What Does G+ Think?

Eileen O’Duffy

LinkedIn is great for building a network of contacts. I don’t use it for anything else as I find the updates are flooded with (usually boring) automated Twitter feeds. G+ is not a ghost town. It is the most engaging exciting interesting network to date. There are always conversations, debates and discussions going on. It’s important to find and follow the right people. I’m lucky to have found a fantastic group.

Micheal Walsh

I’ll plus one on what +Eileen O’Duffy says about G+ .

In my opinion, LinkedIn is your on-line CV only, facebook is friends & family (holiday snaps and boozy party nights) while G+ is developing into a quality forum for sharing and discussing.

Mike Spillane

similar to what’s been previously said. LinkedIn for job seeking/ expanding business network, facebook for sharing with people who I only know in person. Twitter, might be the best for a newbies, easy to start with and you can quickly strike a conversation up. As for G+, some of the best content and conversation is to be had on this. I’m particularly interested in cycling and cyclists really seem to have taken G+ to heart.

David Molloy

Twitter. It’s tricky to set up a network you like, but at this point it’s likely many of their peers are on it and the mechanic is almost identical to SMS, so it’s easy to grasp.

I think +Micheal Walsh has the right end of the stick with the way people mentally divide networks into ‘fun’, ‘work’ and ‘quality’. In my humble opinion, Twitter and G+ fall both fall into the latter category, because of their ability to build highly customised networks with strangers and to search.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, should be the last one a new social user should tackle. It’s not fun, it’s not intuitive, and it’s not really social. It’s social media’s ‘conference’ setting.

What Does Facebook Think?

Teresa McTigue

Linked In seems only worth it in certain career fields, but journalism may be one of those fields.

Laura Coates

Public twitter for joining in the ‘conversation’; private Facebook for your mates and those drunken nights out; blog if you really have something interesting to say about an area you’re passionate about, be it politics, steam trains or stamp collecting.

Gerard Cunningham

Laura, do you really think anything on Facebook is private?

Laura Coates

Mmm not if you’re really looking for it. But maybe casual professional acquaintances shouldn’t have immediate access to photos of you dancing on a table at 3am. If they go on a dedicated mission to find them, you’ve got other issues there!!

Una-Minh Caomhanach

Twitter definitely a must for journalists. Start interacting with others and sharing your thoughts, build up connections and still offering others your personality along the way.

Facebook, not really, more for friends instead of building up useful connections for journalism. G+, definitely a ghost town at the moment. LinkedIn never helped me really except that it holds my CV details and recommendations.

Donnacha DeLong

Definitely Twitter for professional promotion and engaging (you need to promote yourself first to collect enough followers to engage with). And I’d suggest playing around with Twitter journalism – reporting on events or talks.

Linkedin to network with professionals – lots of major journalism groups there (including the growing NUJ group). Facebook’s losing its sheen for professional stuff – I’d say keep it personal and lock down your privacy settings.

Adam Maguire

Twitter a must for conversing, finding/sharing stories & generally being in “the loop”; blog great for long-form thoughts that twitter won’t allow, expanding on ideas, as a portfolio etc,

FB not much of a journalism tool IMO – I keep mine relatively personal rather than professional, linkedin worth having a presence on but very low value IMO, G+ is currently useless.

Conor McHugh

Certainly worth having an account in all of these sites – and teach yourself, in the first instance how to use them and get as much as possible out of them. So many journalists, who really should know better, refuse to engage in them. Truth is, that’s where the news is.

Mark Coughlan

Re investigations; LinkedIn is the best one. Re work contacts; Twitter. It’s good for developing a personal brand. FB largely useless.

LinkedIn takes a lot of work, a lot of effort, but a lot people are on it that aren’t on other sites and they’re on it in their professional capacity so it’s not seen as so intrusive to try contact them there (whereas on FB it could be considered an attempt to invade privacy).

A lot of people have mobile numbers on their LinkedIn too, if you’re investigating something and need to get to someone to talk off record without going through an office or PR consultant it can be invaluable.

Twitter is useful as its so public, it makes you more contactable. FB is only really useful for examining who knows, or might know, who.

Adam Maguire

That’s a fair point from Mark about LinkedIn – I was trying to find contact details for a load of Irish business people recently and it helped many times… even just finding out what company/companies they’re involved with through LinkedIn helped me narrow down my search elsewhere.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.