A Focus on Twitter: Basics to Understand Before Your Live Tweeting Assignment (Blog Post #6)
Know the basics. @username, #topic, and RTs (retweets).
Establish a voice. There is a lot of noise out there. To get engaged and get noticed, you’ll need to decide what “face” you want to reveal to the Twittersphere.
- For @Anna_Rader, one of our guest speakers, her voice is “NPR junkie, music lover, cinephile, Wyomingite, nerd. Digital Media Coordinator @WYPublicRadio and Digital Producer of @HumaNatureShow. Opinions are my own.”
- Brainstorm about your Twitter voice.
Once you have a voice and identity in mind, find similar people to follow. To engage with a like-minded community, search for people to follow at “Who To Follow.” Twitter will suggest some people after you write your identity summary and begin posting.
Share and gather information. For professional use, you can use it to quickly share and gather information real-time (e.g., promote events) with people interested in your writing, journalism, company, etc. Retweet relevant information to your field as well. Retweeting builds followers.
Brand management. You can use it to hear and address praise and complaints about your writing or company. Search for your favorite (or least favorite) companies to see how they’re using Twitter and Facebook.
- For example, Southwest is known for their fantastic customer service. Twitter and Facebook only help that image.
Contribute to the community. Actively search and share information related to your field. Followers will be happy and more informed. And they may retweet, which brings you more followers.
- For example, AEJMC (a nonprofit mass media association) shares valuable information about journalism, multimedia, public relations, and advertising to followers.
Start a story and use visual writing. Live events can be tweeted and facebooked while on the scene. Stories you’re working on can be previewed with tidbits and snippets of writing. Direct people to the full story. Use strong verbs, adjectives, and visuals.
- For example, Joanna Smith, a Toronto Star reporter covering the Haitian earthquake, wrote a series of earthquake-related tweets. She created an unraveling narrative through each snapshot.
- “Was in b-room getting dressed when heard my name. Tremor. Ran outside through sliding door. All still now. Safe. Roosters crowing.”
- “Fugitives from prison caught looting, taken from police, beaten, dragged thru street, died slowly and set on fire in pile of garbage.”
Engage with the community. There are live chats via Twitter. It can be a learning environment. Retweet all relevant information to your field.
- For example, there are live chats on Twitter about journalism. Search for #journchat.
- For example, ask questions relevant to your field. Laurel Papworth (@SilkCharm) asked, “Dear #PRChat PR people how is #BigData affecting your industry relationships with journalists? #Journchat #RunningScaredYet? :P”
State your opinions, but be professional. Everything you say on Twitter can be retweeted (unless you have your settings on private). Facebook profiles can be viewed (and I assume that they can be hacked too). Everything lives forever online. All of your tweets can be searched (see SnapBird). Be paranoid about that.
- For example, one student was tweeting about dislike of a professor’s course and the professor engaged the student to suggest what the professor should improve. You be the judge about the conversation tone.
- Student Tweets: (1) UUUGGGGHHHHHH She is working my nerves!! I hate new professors!! (2) I swear [professor’s name] is too much for me! (3) Soooo I can’t talk too bad about my professor on twitter anymore…because now we have to follow her ass!!
- Professor: @StudentName After reading your multiple tweets about your disappointment in my teaching style, what would you recommend I do differently?
- Her follower responded: Double yikes! I hope your student realizes you are also followed by PR execs who make hiring decisions…”
Think people don’t get fired for what they post on social media? Think again.
What’s an example of a story you are familiar with where somebody got in trouble for thier Twitter posts?
Represent. One tip from Intel Corporation’s social media guidelines:
- “Perception is reality. In online social networks, the lines between public and private, personal and professional are blurred. Just by identifying yourself as an Intel employee, you are creating perceptions about your expertise and about Intel by our shareholders, customers, and the general public-and perceptions about you by your colleagues and managers. Do us all proud. Be sure that all content associated with you is consistent with your work and with Intel’s values and professional standards.”
Crowdsource. Use followers for information. Make a call or solicit them for information.
- Find anecdotes and exemplars for stories. Denver Post did this to find the human face to their story on parents stealing their childrens’ identities and then raiding their credit.
- Collect data using Google Docs to create a Google Form. Then, share link on social media for quick, informal surveys. Denver Post used this technique to find people live-blog their responses to the first 2012 presidential debate in Denver.
Social Media Management. Monitor social media across Twitter and other platforms with the following tools:
- TweetDeck: You can schedule tweets and monitor lists.
- Bitly: Shorten links for Twitter use and monitor how they performed.
- Twitter Analytics
More Advice from Twitter Experts at the BBC Journalism Academy: Below is a summary of the best tips.
- Keep tweets simple.
- Promote your content and work. Ask a simple question and link to the content. The idea is to intrigue, not give away all the content.
- Avoid “clickbait” which is perceived as a marketing ploy and game to people.
- Do not tweet too much of one side of an argument. It appears as if you are promoting them. Be balanced, even with Twitter content and attention.
- Do not use too many hashtags (limit to two). It drowns the message.
- Use images and videos if they add to the content. No stock photos or mundane photos.
- Be helpful, open, honest and authentic. Be funny (in a professional and clever way) and social.
- Think dialogue, not monologue.
- Don’t retweet without reading and checking the retweeted content first.
- Check the grammar and spelling!
- “The don’ts? Don’t tweet angry, vengeful or drunk. Always be yourself.” — @tomfordyce, chief sports writer @BBCSport
We will practice live-tweeting another speech: Emma Watson’s speech about gender equality to the UN.
Report from a journalistic point of view. Type out your tweets and try to keep them less than 140 characters.