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Twitter's conversation bubble

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Stitch, Nov 14, 2011.

  1. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    An interesting story on how newspapers use Twitter for self-promotion. (Shocking, I know). Should Twitter be just about posting links or more about fostering discussion?

  2. TheHacker

    TheHacker Member

    This is something I've been wondering about recently, as I've watched our number of Twitter followers increase. I keep thinking that there has to be a way to take advantage of that, but I guess I'm not alone in not knowing the best way for us to make the most of the digital frontier.

    At my place, I think what most people want out of Twitter is quick, basic information. I see a lot of people retweeting our scoring updates, and that's part of what's led to a steady increase in followers. People see our tweets being retweeted by their friends, and then they come to us and follow.

    We don't often have people engaging us via Twitter, and when they do it's always because they're looking for basic info: They want to know if West Bumbling Ass beat East Bumbling Ass. Nobody comes to us trying to get into a conversation/discussion.

    I think part of that might be because a lot of our followers are high school kids (we cover high schools exclusively). And it's probably for the best that they don't try to talk to us. Every so often, just for shits and giggles, I go look at the Twitter feeds of the kids who follow us ... they are a foul, profane, racist, sexist, bunch of teenagers. Makes me glad there was no Internet when I was in high school. Thankfully my digital footprint is very small.
  3. rpmmutant

    rpmmutant Member

    I try to respond via Twitter to people who message me or mention me in tweets. Now that football playoffs have started, I am starting to get more questions about teams people aren't familiar with. Twitter is a new frontier for a lot of people. Engaging followers is part of the process now.
  4. BB Bobcat

    BB Bobcat Active Member

    I think the true benefit for media outlets of twitter is to push traffic to web sites with links. However, I think one of the best ways to build an audience is by interacting with readers. If they feel they can ask you a question and you'll answer, they'll feel more "invested" in you, and be more interested in what you have to say in other forums, I think.
  5. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    It's a really interesting "both" answer, and I guess the best find the right balance.

    I've been told interactivity is the most important thing -- and I've been told providing links for readers to go to someplace interesting is important.

    I know that automated links are pretty much considered insulting and worthless. But in my own feed (843 followers!) I try to put a few personal thoughts in there without going to far into the banal and inane. (Just had a peanut butter sandwich for lunch! Hmmm mmm!)

    I did a minor political tweet the other day, and got two, "Stick to sports."

    So I simply don't know, basically, just keep trying different things.
  6. I think there's no harm in journalists branching out, as long as followers can always answer the question, "Why am I following this person?"

    I don't think anybody should hesitate being a person, if a journalist wants to use Twitter as more than an extension of his/her duties. Minor political tweets (presuming it doesn't conflict with the job), food recommendations, movie reviews, TV commentary, links to articles/videos you enjoyed, etc., are all harmless. In fact, if you're a good Internet person* and can happily interact with all sorts, people will become more invested in you, the journalist, because they like you, the person. They will be happy to send business your way. That's a big part of the tweet/retweet/link cycle.

    You might inadvertently rankle a segment of your followers** from time to time. "I don't care he's at a concert," they might think, but they'll probably follow it with, "at least his [TEAM] tweets are good, or I'd unfollow his ass." As long as that's the case, there's wiggle room.

    (*Some people are not good Internet people. They don't adapt quickly to technology, don't have a thick skin, or they can't pick up on sarcasm, language or memes, etc. They're better off keeping it simple.)

    (** "Stick to sports" is the "MUST BE A SLOW NEWS DAY" of real stinging Twitter insight. I've often found that when you check out the profile of somebody who says "stick to sports," they're usually playing Twitter police for tons of other people.)
  7. mediaguy

    mediaguy Well-Known Member

    I think Twitter is best when it's interactive. Lots of automated feeds that spit out a headline and the first 40 characters of a story or something robotic like that. The ones that get a lot of followers have personality, exchange information with followers, retweet smartly, all that.
  8. lantaur

    lantaur Well-Known Member

    Funny part is you can do both. You can interact, etc., but also set it up so Twitter sends out links to your stories (to help drive traffic). Best of both worlds, perhaps?
  9. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member

    One season on the beat of a fairly high-profile program, all of the conversations and interactivity I had with readers severely limited the conversations I could have with players, coaches, administrators, etc. -- the people whose insight and information gave me something to say in those all-important conversations with readers.

    If you're not careful, the "dialog with followers" -- whether on a blog or on Twitter, or in all platforms -- can take over your life, and soon you'll be talking a lot but having nothing of substance to say.
  10. TheHacker

    TheHacker Member

    Are you saying the tweeting and blogging gets in the way just because it's time consuming? Or do you mean there were repercussions for you in working the beat as a result of things that players/coaches/administrators saw you say via social media? We all editorialize and probably try to be humorous in those settings, and I wonder how that comes across to people, especially the people we cover.
  11. crimsonace

    crimsonace Well-Known Member

    We use Twitter extensively on gamenights to push scores (and by extension, promote our small-fry high school sports webcasts).

    It has led to a HUGE increase in awareness, both locally and for our brand, because the major score farms retweet us.

    I'll interact when it's there, but it's rare. But we primarily use it to promote and push traffic to our site during the week, and then post updates during the game (while we're again promoting the "you can listen to it live by clicking on this link" angle). We get retweeted and pushed by a lot of high school kids and interested parties in the community.
  12. mash4077

    mash4077 New Member

    I had a freelancing gig recently where I had to tweet regular updates during the course of the event. At first they wanted me to tweet using their handle, but then they realized I had more followers on my personal Twitter feed and had me tweet off of that instead while mentioning their handle in each tweet.

    In the normal course of things as a freelancer, I'll occasionally let people know what things I tweet about - mostly sports of interest to me, and sports I cover, with the sampling of current events and local stuff from where I live.

    I think it's a good place for getting short bursts of information out quickly, and I've found that by posting the occasional pic and audio tweet, it can help in the reporting process, at least for me.
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