A Journo's Intro to Twitter


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A basic how-to for journalists who want to learn how Twitter works and how it can be effectively used to gather and share news.

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A Journo's Intro to Twitter

  1. 1. A Journo’s Intro to Or: Yeeeahhhh, can you fit all that news into 140 characters? With a picture? And make it SEO friendly? By @jamieg, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 2009
  2. 2. Twitter is… • Breaking news as it happens. • Keeping up with breaking news and tips. • Quick opinion polling. • Story sharing. • Source finding. • Ego building. • Gossip following. • Sometimes incorrect — fact-checking still matters.
  3. 3. Write short. • Sacrifice AP style: Only 140 characters! • Good: Taking thought into multiple tweets. • Bad: Letting a thought get cut off in a single tweet because you wrote more than 140 characters. • Shorten links: Use a URL shortener — copy in the URL, paste in the new, short one. (Twitter will use Tinyurl for you. Other services are even shorter.) Examples: Tinyurl.com, Is.gd, Tr.im, Bit.ly
  4. 4. Twitter identity • Pick a short, descriptive, memorable username. It can be changed, but it’s confusing if you do it after establishing yourself with a different name. • Unless it’s a group account or you’re Tweeting as the voice of a company/organization — AJC, for instance — use a real photo of yourself. • Link to your blog/Web site in your profile. Unless your account is ALL personal, state where you work. • Remember: Most won’t separate or understand Work You and Real You or Online You and Real You.
  5. 5. Be smart. • Unless you’re doing something fabulously interesting, don’t answer the question “What are you doing?” • Interesting to you? Probably to others, too. • Post links. Give credit. • Be real. Are you newsy? Topical? Snarky? Friendly? Local? Funny? – Whatever you are in real life, be a more concise version of that on Twitter.
  6. 6. Engage. • Twitter is (usually) a waste of time if you post without responding or talking to others. • To get, you must give. Users must trust you before they’ll reach out to you. • To gain followers, start following people who interest you, or who mention similar topics. • The more you follow/are followed by the easier it is to get info. • Talk. Help. Share. Argue. Agree. • Don’t like someone? Click “Unfollow.” Done.
  7. 7. Who can see me Tweet? • Unless you’ve protected your updates (Twitter.com>>Settings>>Account), everybody can see your tweets. • “Block” means a user can’t follow you, but can still see public tweets. (Block spammers!) • Everybody can see/search your @replies. • If you send a direct message, only the person you are messaging can see it. You can’t send DMs to people who aren’t following you. • Tweets can be deleted, but generally not from clients like TweetDeck, mobile clients etc.
  8. 8. Twitter glossary: abbreviations • RT: Retweet • OH: Overheard • DM: Direct Message • IRL: In Real Life • FTW: For The Win* • IMO: In My Opinion * For the Win: Yea!
  9. 9. Twitter glossary: symbols • @username: @ shows a specific Twitter user is being addressed, or credited. Shows up in @replies column. • #hashtag: # denotes a tag to ease searching for specific topic, conversation or event. Remember #iranelection, #atlgas or #socon09?
  10. 10. Twitter glossary: terms • Tw- prefix: Tweeple, Twitterati, Twaffic — people will say or type these things to signify Twitter-specific terms, but it’s not really clever or charming anymore. Do it • Fail Whale: The sparingly, if ever. image you see when For real: not cute. Twitter is overloaded or broken.
  11. 11. Update via browser: Twitter.com That’s me, @jamieg. @ signifies a messages to me that all can see. Direct messages are those only I can see. More options: Twitterfall TwitterFox
  12. 12. Updating via Browser • To update on Twitter.com, just login, type your 140-character-or-less message and click “update.” • “Home” shows the tweets of everyone you follow. “Profile” shows your tweets. • Want to customize your Twitter look? Go to: Twitter>>Account>>Settings>> Design
  13. 13. Update via client: TweetDeck Not your style? Try: DestroyTwitter Tweetie More than one? That’s cool. Try: Hootsuite Splitweet New applications are in the works all the time! Folks I follow:Journos, People talking AJC mentions: Links, thanks, pals, sources, locals, to/mentioning me: PR complaints, rumor, gossip. businesses, nice people. lady, local blogger, journo, AJCer, little sister.
  14. 14. Updating via client • Twitter apps like TweetDeck allow easy searching and constant updating, which makes it easier to keep an eye on news and subject searches. • TweetDeck streamlines updates by giving the option of linking to Facebook status updates and including a URL shortener.
  15. 15. Update via mobile device: Apps! Cell phone: Go to Twitter>>Settings>>Devices, enter your cell phone number. Program 40404 into your cell phone. Text it to post to Twitter. You can also set your phone to receive updates and direct messages. iPhone BlackBerry Free: TweetDeck Free: Twitterberry $2.99: Tweetie Free: UberTwitter $4.99: Twittelator QuickTimeª and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. $4.99/$9.99: Free/$4.99: TweetGenius Twitterfon
  16. 16. Updating via mobile device • When updating via text message, remember that most text messages can be 160 characters, but Twitter only accepts 140. • Other services allow you to post links to cell phone photos via your phone, but not Twitter itself.
  17. 17. More Twitter Tools • Search: Search.twitter.com • User search: Twitterholic, Twellow, Mr. Tweet • Photos: Twitpic, yfrog, Flickr • Music: Blip.fm • Shutting people up: Twitter Snooze • Updating FB status: Facebook app • Helpful/gratuitous Twitter apps: Squidoo list
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