If you use twitter, and are wondering how to effectively integrate it into your student paper newsroom, take a look at this extensive tutorial over at the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism’s Knight Digital Media Center.
Note: The Knight Digital Media Center also has free tutorials related to podcasting, video journalism and other kinds of information that would really benefit your organization in the digital media era. If you’re looking for a starting place to learn, these tutorials will help you amass some very useful tips, tricks and techniques to improve your skills in these areas.
The above Twitter tutorial will help you broadcast to your campus community, engage with audiences and generate story leads and sources. In turn, engaging with Twitter will help you better know what’s happening on your campus, what your audience wants and give you a strong tool to promote your paper’s brand.
Although heavy tweeters may not find the explanation of the various different Twitter-related jargon useful, the vast majority of non-users will find the explanation incredibly illuminating. At replies, mentions, retweets, lists — all of the nomenclature is there, clearly explained for even the most bewildered novice.
Want to know the difference between so-called “old style” retweeting and new? They’ve got that. Want to know how to scan and monitor certain subjects using Twitter’s powerful search functions? The KDMC offers instructions on hashtags, and how to search them out. Want to learn how to scope out breaking news and engage with on-the-scene eyewitnesses? That’s there too.
Even though many of us use social media platforms like Twitter, often we don’t know the best practices to integrate them into our careers/journalism. It’s easy to throw a funny link on Twitter, or just link back to your paper’s particular issue. But when properly used, services like this allow you an ability to quickly find out the scuttlebutt on campus, find what you want to lead and promote your paper news product.
Learning the rules of Twitter, though, is only the first step. You have to practice incessantly. Like anything, practice makes perfect. Using social media professionally is like exercise — by constantly doing it, you build up your social media muscle. And that will help you find sources, generate story leads and provide your readers with news as it happens.
Some important info after the jump
- Follow people in your community, even if they don’t follow back
Don’t just follow your writers, editors and volunteers. Follow people by scouring through people’s lists, find people tweeting under your particular school’s hashtag. If your school has a twitter account, follow their followers. Even if they don’t follow back, they can be a very useful source of information. This also means finding people who like to tweet on issues related to your particular field of interest; this can include post-secondary publications like Maclean’s On Campus (@MacOnCampus).
- Create/link to valuable content
Don’t just link back to your stories. The greatest Twitter feeds like Slate (@Slate) not only link to their own copy, but other interesting and relevant stories that’s (theoretically, at least) relevant to their readers.
Huh? What’s that mean? Simply put, it means finding information (and maybe even things like questions) by asking your audience. Nothing is more powerful at finding obscure information — or finding and pointing out your errors — than a group of human beings.
CBC parliamentary blogger Kady O’Malley (@kady) turns to the “Twitter hivemind” whenever she’s confused or needs clarification on some obscure parliamentary rule or government info. Almost always, she gets a response quickly — which is helpful in ANY deadline-driven newsroom.
But, there’s a corollary to that: make sure you get confirmation. Misinformation can just as easily slip through, so be sure you get independent confirmation.
- Solicit for contributions
People want to feel engaged with their news and help contribute to it. It’s one of the reasons why CNN’s iReporters are so prevalent. People want to help contribute in all sorts of different ways. Even if they don’t know they do Want to fill a big photo spread? Send a missive to Twitter as a way of getting people to submit.