Twitter has completely changed journalism. One tweet can sometimes give you information that is as valuable as that source you’ve been cultivating for months. But it has also changed the way they get their work done.
Every journo is now, at least to some degree, responsible for promoting themselves, their work, and the publication their work appears in. Saying that tweeting is one of the most effective ways of doing so is a bit like saying you’ll get wet if you take a walk in the rain.
Thing is, you have to do it right. In order to figure out what that means, Twitter analyzed thousands of tweets from more than 150 news brands and individual reporters around the world, determining four specific areas of focus. The four best practices, it claims, “can help you increase follower growth and engagement on Twitter”.
1. Tweet your beat
Tweet what you know. One of the best ways to increase Twitter engagement is to tweet regularly about the subjects you cover. The social network reckons that follower growth is 50% more than average (1.5x) for people who post a concentrated number of tweets in a short time span. Live-tweeting or posting updates about a news event related to your beat is one way to grow followers and increase interaction.
2. Use hashtags for context
This is pretty damn obvious when you think about it. Hashtags organize conversations, help gather feedback, and allow journos and publishers to identify and engage with Twitter users discussing a particular topic. Tweets with hashtags can increase engagement almost 100% for individuals and 50% (1.5x) for brands.
3. @Cite your sources
When tweeting about or to a Twitter user (individual or brand), include their Twitter handle. Think about it like this: you wouldn’t cite a source in a full-length article without providing some context. Using their handle in a tweet provides a similar kind of context without having to stretch your 140 character limit too far. Brands that tweet 20% fewer URLs and 100% more @mentions grow followers 17% more than average. That suggests you should mix up your tweets so your feed isn’t just links to your stories. Post tweets that include URLs, but also share tweets with @mentions, and tweets with no links at all.
4. Share what you’re reading
Twitter reckons that news accounts receive 100% more active engagement on a high-performing tweet when a URL is included. To really push engagement, you should mix it up a bit: when individuals share URLs to non-company sources, they experience a bump in follows.
Use the retweet button as a tool to curate content for your followers. Individuals with above expected follower growth send 200% more retweets compared to people with below expected follower growth.