This time last year I was sitting down to a series of lectures in a Masters in Broadcast Journalism – a course I wouldn’t complete. Despite dropping out, my four months in the course were incredibly informative and gave me the confidence to pursue this career off my own back. But during one of the earlier lectures, we were instructed in one thing that has stuck with me ever since: start a Twitter account.
Now, I had Twitter back in its earlier years, but after wasting many hours scrolling through endless memes, “hot takes” and the iconic Twitter vitriol, I decided that it wasn’t worth my time and purged myself of it, along with other forms of social media. However, I was committed to this career, and the severity of this instruction urged me into starting an account which directly linked to this website: @WatchPlayType.
In those early weeks, I followed all the big sites and users. Empire, GamesRadar, IGN, Gamespot, Mark Kermode and so on. Quickly my timeline was being filled up with reviews, news updates and intrepid rumours. But then I started to take advice from the suggested follows. Since I only followed these film and gaming sites, the suggested was filled with editors, writers, and producers of said websites which immediately led to a glimpse of the film and games journalism bubble, with people tweeting out on pay issue, mental health, work life balance, productivity and a ton of the dreaded “discourse”.
Now everything that I had hated about Twitter was and is still present, with a constant flow of negativity that at times becomes a bit too much to continue reading. Yet as I continued to follow these journalist, and checked out their bios – seeing by-lines, products and more – I started to work my way down from the major sites to the smaller and smaller, until finally I started to find the sites that I that I personally felt confident enough to pitch for – and additionally sites that specialised in starting out writers.
So now you’ve found the places to pitch to and discovered your journalistic peers, what else can you get out of Twitter? Well, being an incredibly shy tweeter, for the longest time I simply scrolled and never really interacted with any site or user. This was a mistake. Get involved; respond to tweets, strike up conversations. Since upping the scale of my posting, I have seen a greater interaction from fellow gaming journalist, and even seen an slight increase in followers, from a massive 72 to 117, I know crazy!! But some of those followers are established journalist and editors.
Of course, take from this what you will, as I am obviously small scale. I don’t have masses of followers; I don’t get a ton of replies to my tweets. But what I have gotten is new connections, a sense of the industry hierarchy, insight to hidden job offers and it gives any potential future employers a direct glance into who I am as a person and a content creator – and all of that in the palm of my hand.
In case it needs to be stated, this is not any slight on university learning, as those courses offer up a different kind of insight that, dependent on person, can be invaluable. What it is, however, is a request to revaluate your standpoint on Twitter if you see it as the meme-machine, or stereotypical timewaster that social media can be viewed as. Instead, start to look to Twitter as the incredibly valuable tool that it is. Whatever my standpoint professionally may be at this moment of time, all I know is that I am further along because of Twitter. So get it downloaded, start tweeting, oh, and give me a follow while you are at it.