KFP Column: Welcome to the Twitterverse, y’all

by Bryan Hanks
Managing Editor

So … you’re finally on Twitter and you’re trying to wonder just what the heck the fuss is all about?

Well, allow me to help you.

Social media has come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. Only a little over a decade ago, the only way to interact with someone over the Internet was in a chat room; next came instant messaging.

Following that was the onslaught of MySpace and Facebook; while MySpace has gone the way of the (Internet) dinosaur, Facebook remains the king of social media … for now.

The next great wave of social media (and my personal favorite) is Twitter. It’s cleaner, shorter (only 140 characters per “tweet”) and – in my opinion – more personal.

Virtually every TV or movie star, athlete and politician has a Twitter account, too — if you want to see what your favorite talking head in Raleigh or Washington has to say, jump on Twitter and follow them. The beauty of Twitter is this: the person you want to “follow” doesn’t have to “friend” you, as they did in Facebook or MySpace; although they can block you if they don’t want you following their account.

Locally, there are some intriguing folks and organizations to follow – here is a list I follow every day on Twitter, with their handles in parentheses:

Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy (@BJMurphyKinston): His account is virtually a one-stop shop for everything happening in and around Kinston. If you’re on Twitter, live in Kinston and you’re not following the mayor’s account, you’re cheating yourself of some great knowledge.

Kinston Public Services and Kinston Department of Public Safety (@KinstonPublServ and @KDPS_info): If it’s snowing, sleeting or a hurricane, the KPS feed is invaluable. The city did a fantastic job keeping us in the know during Hurricane Irene with both feeds.

Current UNC basketball player and former Kinston star Reggie Bullock (@DaBully35): Reggie’s not your typical jock – the young man delves into philosophical thinking at times and is an intelligent young man. While you’re at it, follow his Tar Heel teammate, point guard Kendall Marshall (@KButter5), who is the smartest college athlete on Twitter, in my opinion.

Kinston girls’ basketball head coach/assistant football coach Hubert Quinerly (@CoachQ_07): He’s alternately hilarious and inspiring. It’s also neat to see how he interacts with his players on his feed.

South Lenoir sports dad B.J. Davis (@BJ_Davis23): If there is a sporting event going on at South Lenoir High School, B.J. is probably there — and providing up-to-the-minute updates. One of my favorite Twitter feeds.

WITN morning anchor Heather King (@HeatherKingWITN): Extremely intelligent, very insightful and cares for her followers on Twitter. A must-follow in our area.

Jacksonville Daily News interactive editor Amanda Hickey (@AmandaWrites): Her feed is interesting on multiple levels – she’s shared her battles with cigarettes and weight loss in recent months on her feed.

Former Free Press sports editor and self-described “reformed newspaper man” R.L. Bynum (@RL_Bynum): Arguably the smartest man on Twitter; outstanding observations on everything from sports to current events.

Burlington Times-News Editor Madison Taylor (@tnmadisontaylor): Arguably the second-smartest man on Twitter; an extremely prolific tweeter and former Jacksonville Daily News editor who makes me laugh with his observations at least twice a day.

Soon, The Free Press is going to have a “landing page” of all the Twitter accounts of our reporters, photographers and sales folks. You can follow all the paper’s tweets @KFPress. Here are a few from out staff who are pretty active that you should put on your radar and follow:

Columnist and author Jon Dawson (@JonDawsonColumn); veteran local government writer David Anderson (@DavidFreePress); crime and courts reporter Wesley Brown (@KinstonCrimeSpy); education reporter/Jones Post senior staff writer Justin Hill (@mjhill); Greene County/health reporter Jane Moon (@janemoonpie); photographer Janet S. Carter (@janetscarter); and sports editor Ryan Herman (@KFPSports).

And of course, you should follow me on Twitter (@BCHanks). Like the mayor, I keep my feed full of Kinston-centric material, but I also like to delve into other areas, like sports and politics (local, state and national).

Go ahead and start following some of your favorite Free Press personalities – in February, we’re going to have a tweet-up at The Free Press office, where you will be able to meet us and win prizes.

See you on the ‘Net!


Bryan Hanks’ column appears every Sunday in The Free Press. You can reach him at 252-559-1074 or atbhanks@freedomenc.com.