Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tweeting when you don’t want to invest much time

The headline and premise of this post seems counterproductive to the nature and value of Twitter. You get more value out of Twitter with the more time you invest.

Many people don’t recognize this philosophy and some journalists let their accounts lay dormant soon after creation. They fill out some basic information, send out a few tweets and fail to gather a following. Thus begins the hibernating account. It doesn’t need to be this way.

The following are seven tweet styles that will add a layer of transparency your job and should elicit a response from followers. This isn't a starter's post. Consider these suggestions after you've filled out your profile information and followed Twitter profiles relevant to your beat. Think of this post as the next step.

1. Tweet for story ideas.

It doesn’t hurt to ask your followers for suggestions or ask whether they’d like to see another angle covered on an ongoing issue.

2. Tweet about the stories you’re working on.

Obviously, don’t tweet about a scoop or big investigation. But most stories are on common topics and you can always be vague enough to allay fears of other media outlets swooping in before publication.

3. Tweet for sources on a story.

It shouldn’t take the place of working the phones, but it doesn’t hurt to leave a virtual post-it note for help.

4. Tweet about noteworthy interviews.

Ask your followers what they would like you to ask the interview subject. They might be interested in learning something you wouldn’t have thought to ask.

5. Tweet links to other stories you are reading within your beat.

If you’re interested in the story, you followers might be too. Make sure to use a URL shortener.

6. Tweet links to your published work.

When you send out links to your stories, make sure to think of the tweet like a lede. Be specific, use proper nouns and use a URL shortener.

7. Answer questions.

While it’s not necessary to read every tweet from everyone you follow, it’s absolutely critical to monitor when you’re Twitter name is mentioned. Answering reader questions lets followers know your human and builds rapport with readers.

There are many directions to go when using Twitter to improve your reporting. These seven suggestions should help in the beginning as you better learn how to integrate it into your daily routine.