Basic Best Practices for Journalists on Twitter
By Justin Sablich
You’d be surprised by how many professionals, including journalists, use Twitter but are unaware of some simple, yet crucial best practices. The following tips can help you set a solid foundation for which to build an effective social media presence on.
Check your collective bargaining agreement for your company's social media policy
Before you post anything, you need to know what not to post, should you be representing your organization. Otherwise, you could get into some serious trouble with your employer. (Of course, contact your union representative should an incident arise!)
Most traditional newsrooms take a conservative stance when it comes to what it allows its staff to post on social media. But others are much more flexible, depending on the tone or focus of a publication. Whatever the case, make sure you know what the policy is, and make sure to consult your local representative should you have questions regarding the policy.
Keep it short (still)
Only use the space it takes to get your point across. The most effective tweets are still the ones that can convey a strong point in as few characters as possible, even though Twitter recently doubled the amount of space available for posting from 140 to 280.
“Keep in mind that brevity, along with strategic use of photos and videos, will continue to help you stand out; there's no need to use all 280 characters in every post,” writes digital media strategist Sree Sreenivasan.
Have an effective profile bio
Brevity is also key when writing your profile bio. There isn’t enough space anyway to list all of your accomplishments and every job you’ve ever had. You’re better off sticking with a few main points, like your area of expertise, your current job title, and something fun that shows some personality.
Another tip is to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing.
“If you do a quick check of the people you follow, there’s a good chance you’ll find basic clichés and humble brags. You’ll find lots of coffee, java, caffeine and bacon. You’ll also find that just about everyone is a maven, junkie, guru or enthusiast. Those words are all overused and dilute the effectiveness of your bio. Leave off the junk. Get rid of profile flotsam,” writes marketing expert Neil Patel.
Know the different ways to engage
Being able to instantly connect with readers and potential sources is one of the most useful aspects of Twitter. Just make sure you know the differences between a reply, direct message and a quote tweet. Replies can be seen by anyone on Twitter and direct messages are private. But you can only DM someone who follows you and vice versa. As a reporter, don’t be shy about asking someone to follow you so that you can send a private message.
For general posting, you’ll be adding much more value to the Twitterverse if you quote tweet rather than retweet. A quote tweet allows you to add commentary to someone else's post.
“You should quote tweet whenever you can, so people understand why you are sharing something,” writes Sreenivasan.
#Hashtag #abuse #is #a #serious #turnoff
Hashtags are a way to connect a large grouping of tweets, turning it into one really long conversation. They can be useful when you’re trying to reach a specific audience or join in on a trending conversation. But their effectiveness only goes so far.
“Using too many hashtags devalues the strength of the hashtag and makes each additional one more meaningless than the last. It could lose you followers and permanently cheapen your brand’s social media reputation,” claims this helpful infographic by The Huffington Post.
Twitter recommends using no more than two hashtags in any one tweet. But really, there’s no need to use any unless you’re part of a specific campaign being organized by your organization or if you’re weighing in on a trending topic.
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