NBC 10's Tracy Davidson On Twitter Value

It’s not just for sharing pictures of your food. Twitter keeps us in the loop, no matter how many twists and turns there may be.

“Tweets, by their nature, seem trivial, with little that is original or menacing. Collectively, however, the tweets can create a personality or environment that reflects the emotions of the moment and helps drive opinion.” 
New York Times columnist Noam Cohen

My name is Tracy, and I’m a Twitter-aholic … an obsessive tweeter … a 140-character voyeur. I’m in the business of information, so whatever gets me what I need quickly, that’s for me.

What sort of information? Take, for example, one of my top Twitter regulars, @mainlinewife. A few weeks ago, she tweeted: “Will one of you young ’uns take #mainlinehusband shopping? He thinks a fleece jacket w/ a corporate logo is proper Sat nite attire.” 

Granted, that’s not the sort of information I really need. But it is information I want. It’s the sort of stuff that makes me laugh out loud—and I do that quite often with @mainlinewife’s tweets.

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It isn’t much—140 characters. On the other hand, it’s often just enough. Twitter’s immediacy and reach can be intoxicating. On the night of May 2, 2011, a Pakistani man in Abbottabad used Twitter to express his frustration over the helicopter noise keeping him awake. It turns out he was referring to the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. Raise your hand if you tweeted—or read tweets—about the presidential election. Just look at that forest of arms. That’s what Twitter is all about.

From Bala Cynwyd to Downingtown, the local Twitter nation is abuzz with restaurant and shopping news, parking tips, fashion and family advice, and much more—all of it arriving so much faster than the trains that once carried Philadelphia’s elite to their Main Line country homes decades ago. And with Superstorm Sandy still a vivid memory, we truly know that Twitter can be much more than a diversion. It’s how power outages are reported, a crucial way to get help to those who need it, and a godsend for family members and friends in times of crisis, no matter how great the distance between them.

It makes perfect sense that a region clamoring for information—whether it’s about the world at large or what’s going on closer to our well-manicured lawns—would be exploding with tweets. I try and read as many of them as I can, every day. I seriously do.

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Did you know that CNN’s chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi, lives on the Main Line? He’s also a Twitter enthusiast, who, at the end of his weekly show, Your Money, vows to read every tweet. And everytime Velshi tweets, the amount of people who see it could fill Lincoln Financial Field more than three times over. (I have to plead a bit of Twitter envy here.)

Cynics may contend that Twitter has “trended,” but that doesn’t matter to Paoli’s Melissa Angert, who recently gushed: “The Boden Catalog arrived this week. *Cartwheel* I love Boden. They are stylish, classic, flattering and last forever.”

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Following her friends’ lead, Angert began tweeting as @AllThingsChic in 2009. She now does so daily, using it to grow her blog. Her favorite Twitter story, however, revolves around her family. She and her son were stuck in a Jamaican airport when, in desperation, she tweeted @AmericanAir. With Twitter’s help, she made the final flight of the night. Sure beats sleeping on the airport floor.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter (of course you do) knows that it’s an extension of the work I do at NBC 10. It’s such a powerful resource—a way to connect with the public to an even greater degree. I love following Tracey Welson-Rossman (@TWelsonRossman), who encourages young women to fully utilize the power of  technology. As chief marketing officer for Chariot Solutions in Fort Washington and founder of TechGirlz.org, Welson-Rossman has had to learn as she goes. Now, she can anticipate the sort of world the next generation of working women will have to negotiate and show them the way.

Guiding people to their next jobs has been a passion of mine since the start of the recession, which is why I follow @cornonthejob. Rich DeMatteo serves “cornheads” from his Wayne office,
offering everything from cutting-edge search advice to much-needed pick-me-ups for those struggling: “Dream jobs exist! It’s a matter of making yours come true.” Check out his weekly Twitter chat on Mondays at 10 p.m. “Twitter has been a phenomenal resource,” says DeMatteo.

Ultimately, the tweets I look forward to are the ones that captivate me, make me laugh, make me think, and make me laugh again. Polonius had it right when he told Laertes, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

For the record, that’s 26 characters—still plenty of room to update friends on the latest gossip. Busybody that he was, Polonius would’ve made a great tweeter.

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Tracy Davidson anchors NBC10 News at 5 p.m. and is the station’s consumer reporter. You can always find her on Twitter, where her handle is @tracydavidson10.

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