Sharon Wheeler (keeping Lynne Patrick's seat warm)
When I got a Twitter account, I was a tad surprised by all the buzz among people I knew about what celebrities they followed. It hadn't particularly occurred to me that I might want to do this. But hey, I'm a journalist – I'm paid to be nosy.
Stephen Fry was getting all the publicity at the time as the top celebrity Tweeter. I followed him for about a day before deciding it was a definite case of 'so what?' (and I'm generally an admirer of Fry as a rule). Simon Pegg (well, he's a Gloucester boy and I adored Hot Fuzz) lasted a couple of months, mainly because I was enjoying the saga of him walking his dog (OK, so I like off-beat …)
I still follow Claire Balding, the TV presenter, simply because she seems incredibly sane, clearly loves her job and I'm genuinely interested in what she has to say. And a couple of crime writers – Stephen Booth and Val McDermid – have survived various culls. Both of them are low on BSP and high on engaging their followers with interesting articles or snippets.
What always intrigues me is how people view and use Twitter. Whatever some of my students seem to think, it's not constant news stories at the drop of a hat, or a quick way of getting an interview with your favourite actor. And why does it suddenly validate your life if an actor tweets back to you? Hanging around celebrities won't get you stories – it makes you look like some sad git who thinks they're in with the cool guys.
I use Twitter pretty much for work purposes, so it's largely journalism-based, with occasional forays into crime fiction, sport, music and general ranting. I've found a reliable core of media commentators who I trust and who provide me with up-to-date industry news. Twitter works best if you keep it simple and don't treat people like idiots or ram homilies and your business down your followers' throats.
The indefatigable @Bloggerheads has the ghastly MP Nadine Dorries in his sights and does a fine job of highlighting her outrageous claims. The wonderfully eccentric @Loveandgarbage combines law, Scottish politics, cult TV and a well-developed sense of the absurd – this is the man fixated on finding out how Barack Obama pronounces the word 'scone.' My awesome former colleague @PaulBradshaw is the go-to guy for everything on social media and probably deserves royalties from me for the number of times I direct students to his links! The sane and sensible @newsmary has her finger on the social media pulse.
For a textbook way on how to use Twitter, though, you can't beat @Pompeyccupolice, who are rapidly developing a cult following, even among people who live nowhere near the UK's south coast island city. For those who haven't been keeping up with the escapades of the boys and girls in blue as they chase Portsmouth's scrotes through Gunwharf Quays and down Commercial Road, you've missed a treat.
SARGE (always in capitals) and his team (not forgetting Ni-Nah, their transit van) are more entertaining than The Bill and all the Law and Order franchises put together. Their Tweets combine action, humour and serious messages. They were the well-deserved winners this week of the award for the top police Tweeters in the UK.
In the words of the splendid @LurcherBoy, who thinks they're #bestpoliceever, they deserve a #biglurchersnog!