by Mardee Handler, managing editor

For those of you who say you don’t have time to add Twitter to your municipal research toolbox, I beg to differ: you’re the ones that can potentially benefit the most from it. For those of you who say you don’t know where to start, here are basic tips to set you on the path to targeted municipal research, news and information.

The Detroit bankruptcy… tax reform… public pensions… credit downgrades… credit updates… budget shortfalls… demographic shifts… economic trends… Municipal research encompasses them all – and more.

The Internet has created a powerful but often overwhelming phenomenon: so much information, and so little time to digest it all. What if there was something out there that could help you filter through municipal-related news, events, announcements and updates that interest you most, allowing you to selectively tune in for more details if you so chose?

There is such a tool: Twitter. And it can be a really powerful addition to your municipal research toolbox.

Dispelling Your Twitter-Related Myths

If you are among the 80 percent of adults* not yet harnessing the power of Twitter, let’s talk. I’m guessing you can relate to one or more of the reasons below. And, with due respect – in an effort to help you realize the value of this undervalued social media tool – I’ll tell you why you’re wrong.

  • “I don’t have time.” Tailoring your Twitter account to your interests can actually increase your efficiency by calling your attention to articles, news updates, events and commentary that you might otherwise miss. While that may seem counter-productive (“More stuff to read?????” you say), Twitter’s constant stream of up-to-the-minute briefs acts as a sort of news ticker. Read what you want; skip over what doesn’t interest you. If a post grabs your interest, click through the link (if the post includes one) to read about it in more detail.
  • “It’s not for me.” If you have any interests – personal or professional – Twitter is for you because you hand-pick the people, organizations, companies, cities, news outlets (for starters) that interest you.
  • “I don’t know how to use it.” Can you access the Internet – from a computer, mobile device or tablet? Then you have a short learning curve ahead of you. And you’re in luck. Read on for a quick lesson on how to begin your Twitter travels.

Getting Started … Twitter 101

The first step in adding Twitter to your municipal research toolbox is to set up your account.

1.  Visit