journalism, news, socialmedia

Journalists: get more value from Twitter – tips, tools and ideas

Updated, 22 November 2012: Twitter is such a simple newsroom tool, but with a few tweaks and additional tools, journalists can get even more value from Twitter as part of day-to-day workflows.

A relevant starting point, by Q and A with Liz Heron on Her Share-worthy Strategies, includes some good basics and thinking on Twitter strategy from the director of social media and engagement at the Washington Post, @lheron on Twitter.

A sample quote, some advice on starting out on Twitter:

Casey Capachie: Q: What would you say to a reporter looking to get started with social media?

Liz Heron: A: For somebody who is new to social media and is a journalist, I really encourage them to just start following at first. To think of it as something to consume before they put any pressure on themselves to put themselves out there.

Apart from obvious uses: tweet a breaking story, your web story+link, asking for eyewitnesses, feedback, comments, assistance with a story your working on, share an interesting/relevant link; here are dome other ideas/tips (by far from complete, feel free to constructively critique or suggest more)…
  • Retweet your big stories for later in the day to capture a different part of your audience, use ‘scheduling’ tool in Tweetdeck or ‘publisher’ Hootsuite to time a similar tweet (you can use them within your browser, Chrome or Firefox but not Internet Explorer, never IE). (Note, Twitter doesn’t like identical tweets, a minor edit or rewording should solve this). But, be careful what you tweet and retweet, some legal examples and advice also by me.
  • Aside from live tweeting an event, court case, arrange a twinterview, if it’s suitable for the public to view/join in? Related: Tips for twinterviewing by Steve Buttry  (@SteveButtry) & @DeannaUtroske.
  • The Buffer app, is a similar tool, which will schedule and spread out your tweets according to times chosen to maximise number of viewers, Firefox extension and Chrome extension can help do this without leaving Twitter.
  • Use Twitter lists to organise: local politicians, official sources, all other news sources within your geographical patch, more tips on using Twitter lists/Twitter tools by Steve Buttry.
  • Tweet an archive story if it’s relevant or adds background to a current story, e.g. some people may not have read a big story from the weekend.
  • Cite your sources, thank (@ mention) users for genuine tip-offs and comments, doesn’t have to be immediately, but it visibly shows you are listening and will encourage others that it is worth engaging and adds transparency to your work.
  • Verification remains key to journalistic integrity, but there are new challenges using social media: How to: verify content from social media – journalism.co.uk has a good list of expert tips
  • For verifying images: try Tin Eye or Google’s Search By Image to track the source of an image sent or tweeted.
    also: Useful Links: Verification Tools – EmergencyJournalism.net, 16 Oct 2012: tips on checking people, places, images
  • Don’t just tweet a web headline, add adjectives and keywords to capture interest, make it more likely to get noticed in a sea or flood of tweets.
  • For local council/political coverage and especially live tweeting, choose an appropriate hashtag – we use #pborocc at the Peterborough Telegraph – make sure all newsroom staff use it, so users can follow a meeting/event. These could then more easily be turned into a Storify story. More hashtag tips by Steve Buttry.
  • If you’re not sure about which term or hashtag to use for an event or issue, try comparing at google.co.uk/trends to see which is most popular in searches, and obviously searching Twitter to make sure your hashtag doesn’t clash with an existing one.
  • Ask a question-based headline or add a request for opinions at the end to engage your followers and encourage a conversation or debate.

Worth noting:
Gaining more followers is useful, particularly in the early days,and it’s difficult to ignore the follower count as it’s there for all to see on profiles, but don’t focus too much on that one metric:

An general mantra/message for getting the best out of Twitter:

In short, be useful, interesting, relevant and people will follow, recommend and be more likely to interact with you.

See also, the initial inspiration for this post, a fuller list of tips: ‘20 simple ways to get more retweets on Twitter‘ by Chris Lake

Plus, for more inspiration and discussion, @SarahMarshall3 at @journalismnews has put together: 100 Twitter accounts every journalism student should follow, and you can subscribe to the ‘key list for j-students‘ on Twitter.

See also: Best practices for journalists from Twitter themselves.
More resources: from Mashable post

General social media:

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