Occasionally on my blog I've shared an update regarding @whatsuptucson, the Tucson local news / info Twitter I've had since 2009.
I'm not the person who gave birth to this Twitter account. The credit for that goes to a fabulous woman named Leesa, who shared things in the beginning like beautiful photos she would take of sunsets from Gates Pass and local Tucson events and info.
She moved to California five years ago, and at the time I was a big champion of Twitter on my other account @kencarr. I was even teased by a number of my co-workers at Journal Broadcast Group here in Tucson for believing that Twitter was going to be a significant player in the social media world. In case you're wondering, no one makes fun of me anymore. (These were the days when Ashton Kutcher and CNN were in a race to be the first to hit one million followers - now there are 85 accounts with over ten million followers).
At the time that Leesa handed over the keys (so to speak) when she was looking for someone who loved Tucson and wanted to keep it going, @whatsuptucson had a couple thousand followers. As many things do, it has evolved into a project that has helped a lot of people maneuver around traffic accidents, avoid speed traps, find lost pets, raise money for relative's funerals with car washes, alert people when large parties are going to be broken up, share info and photos of fires and floods, the list goes on. I know it's also become a helpful resource to newsrooms at the TV stations like KGUN 9, newspapers like the Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Weekly, and the dozens of reporters and assignment editors who keep an eye on breaking news in Tucson. The followers of @whatsuptucson share photos of what they see in their neighborhoods and streets, and essentially crowd source the info that they feel is important and I retweet as much as I think people will find interesting and useful. I also monitor the police / emergency scanner as often as I can (outside of work) to continue to 'feed the machine'. It's a pretty time consuming hobby.
Today, @whatsuptucson reached another follower milestone: 25,000 followers. That's like the size of a small city! I think it's pretty amazing for a locally focused Twitter that's primarily grown through word of mouth.
Here's a little gift in celebration of 25k -- I'll answer a few questions here that I'm frequently asked about @whatsuptucson:
"Will you ever put this on Facebook?" -- I won't ever say never, but there are no plans to do it at this point. Facebook's news feed is a fail (they have it designed to attempt to make money on their site so I can't trash it completely... I get it) and it's search is useless. There are more people who use Facebook but it's much less useful for my purposes.
"How do you get all of this info?" -- It's Tweeted to me by followers, and I monitor the scanner when I can. I also pay attention in general, some things pop up in other places.
"How do you make money from @whatsuptucson?" -- I don't. I raised $500 with a gofundme drive earlier this year to buy a new emergency scanner. That's the only dough I've ever received.
I do a five minute segment on Thursday mornings on 104.1fm KQTH radio which is fun -- where I do a weekend events calendar for Tucson. Since I used to be a radio dj, it's enjoyable to do and it promotes @whatsuptucson as well.
If you follow on Twitter, a big thank you for clicking the follow button at some point and for believing in the time / effort / work that goes into @whatsuptucson. I hope you find it useful. 25,000+ people now do so far. It's humbling and I'm grateful.