Digital transformation

3 easy ways to make Twitter work for you

We all know social media is a great way to find new people to read our stories, but we have a million things to do. Here are a few best practices to make sure you’re making Twitter work for you:

1. Tagging people: Be sure to use the “@” symbol with someone’s Twitter handle if you want to be sure they see your tweet. So, if you Tweet something you want me to see, use @jeanhodges.

If you are posting directly in Twitter and you start typing @jea …, Twitter will offer suggestions. But if you are sharing something online from a story you read, you don’t get any suggestions.

For people and organizations you tweet about a lot, you’ll probably memorize their Twitter handles. In the meantime, keep a list of local newsmakers and organizations, and be sure to share it newsroom-wide. The list will save you from having to look up sources’ Twitter handles.

One Twitter feature that saves you a few characters is the opportunity to tag people in pictures. Pictures draw people to your Twitter posts, so be sure to use them and the tagging feature if there are people in the picture.

Why to tag people and groups: First, you want people to know when you are writing about them and their organizations. They are likely to engage with you and read a link you post. Second, they also will probably favorite or retweet your post about them, which exposes your post to far more people. Also, if you ever cover someone who is famous, or even just famous in your local town, that person is likely to bring you some serious views to your story. For example, the Rockford Register Star has been covering a local singer, Abby Alton, who was on “American Idol.” When Abby retweeted a post about her, rrstar.com saw a huge increase in traffic on her story.

2. Live tweeting: You’ve probably done your share of live tweeting, but what are best practices?

– Tell readers beforehand that you will be live tweeting from an event to give yourself an audience. Live tweeting is hard work. Make sure people are with you. You can include the information in a preview of the event and tweet about it ahead of time.

– When you arrive at the event, take a photo and set the scene in a tweet. For example, Jeff Kolkey (@JeffKolkey) covered a hearing in Rockford about a dispute between the police chief and the union. Here’s an early tweet.

– Describe the action, but be sure to let people know what it means.

– Retweet followers who are commenting and respond to them when appropriate.

– Let people know about breaks and when the event ends.

3. Twitter analytics: My colleague Nicole Simmons has blogged¬†about Twitter analytics, so I’ll just encourage everyone who uses Twitter to check it out. You’ll find out what works and what doesn’t. Any time you can get your hands on data to help you do your job more efficiently, jump on it.

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