What it is: Twitter is an online social networking tool that allows users to send messages, known as tweets, and share photos and videos. Each tweet can be no longer than 140 characters.
Journalists use Twitter to report the news, such as road closings and weather alerts.
They also use Twitter when covering events, such as city council meetings and concerts.
In both of these cases, they share information and upload photos and videos from the scene.
Readers who follow the reporters see their tweets, photos and videos. Many times, readers learn of breaking news on Twitter, then go to more institutional sources (like ydr.com) for story depth, context and analysis.
Reporters can use the # symbol, called hashtags, to mark keywords or topics in a tweet. Readers can use the hashtags to search for content on Twitter.
Often, a news organization decides what hashtag it will use in reporting an event. For example, #Yorkfair might be the hashtag it uses for the York Fair. Any reporter who tweets from the fair would include this hashtag in their tweet.
If a reporter were tweeting from the scene of a barn fire, he/she might use the hashtag #springettsfire in their tweets. People would then be able to search “#springettsfire” on Twitter and find all of the tweets containing this hashtag. The hashtag is a way to bring people together who are interested in the same topic. The hashtag makes it easier to find the content. Caution: Don’t abuse hashtags. It’s better to have strong keywords than appended hashtags. Note that if I use #PSU in a tweet, people will find my content if they just search for PSU.
Some of the hashtags used during recent emergency news events included: #Empire (for Empire State Building shooting) #aurorashooting (for movie theater shooting in Aurora, CO.)
- Set up your account. Go to https://twitter.com to get started. Enter your name, email, and a password. Click Sign up.
- Select a username. This is the name that others on Twitter will know you by.
- Click on the Create my account button. Congrats! You’re in.
- Sign in at www.twitter.com with your login information.
- Refer people to your Twitter account by sending them to http://www.twitter.com/yourusername.
- If you want, Twitter will help you get started by suggesting people to follow. You can skip this by clicking on the skip this step link.
- Twitter will also give you a chance to see if some of your friends are on Twitter by checking your online address book. Enter your email address and password and it will scan your address book. If you don’t want to follow a particular person, de-select them.
- Twitter will also ask to prompt your contacts that are not on Twitter. Hit skip at bottom of the screen.
- Go to your settings. Go to the Twitter home page. Click on the Settings link. You should see the Account tab on the left. Set the time zone.
- Do not check “Protect my updates.” This is for folks who only want those they approve of to be able to get their updates. Make whatever other changes you want and then click the save button.
- Now click on the Profile tab. Upload your photo. A photo tells people that you are not a spammer. Most spammers don’t have photos.
- Enter the rest of your information, including your location, website or blog (if any), and a brief bio.
- You can also connect your Twitter account to Facebook on this page. I personally don’t do this, but if you want to, go ahead. You can change it later. When you’re done, click the Save button.
- Setup your smartphone. Under setting, click the Mobile tab on the left. You can either download the Twitter mobile app or set up your account so that you can tweet by sending a text message. Most people download the mobile app.
Some basics for using Twitter on desktop:
1. Hover over the bottom of a tweet. You will see a Reply, Retweet and Favorite buttons.
- If you want to reply to the tweeter, click reply.
- If you want to retweet (share) the tweeter’s post with your followers, click the retweet button.
- If you want to read it later (perhaps it contains a link to an article that you want to read but don’t have the time right then) you can click the favorite button and it will save it for you to read later.
2. To send someone a private message on Twitter, Use “d” before their username. So: “d @buffyandrews” This will not show up on your public tweets.
- Make sure you verify a fact before running with it (or even re-tweeting it).
- The Internet is public and permanent. Everything you say – even what you think is private – can be found and documented. Act accordingly.
How to build followers:
1. Tweet frequently
2. Have something interesting to say
3. Livetweet events and breaking news
4. Find and follow people who share your interest
5. Join the conversation. Engage. Don’t just promote
6. Join Tweetchats and Tweetups
7. Be yourself
8. Retweet others
8. Use Twitter Advance Search to find people in your community. Then check their accounts and follow their followers.
9. Use hashtags to find people with shared interests ie. if you are going to tweet about a new cookie recipe you tried, include hashtags #recipes #food #cookies
Some best practices
1. Using @mention in tweets helps people notice you. When you include someone’s handle in your tweet, they’ll see it in their “mentions” feed. If you’re lucky, they might click on your handle to find out more about you and follow you back. Twitter is all about connecting. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect.
2. Check to see if the hashtag you’re considering is one that’s used. For example, lets say you want to tweet a link to a story you did on child abuse. You can check to see if #childabuse is widely used by putting it in the search bar. You might find that it is along with #domesticviolence #negligence #abuse etc. You can then include these hashtags in your tweet.
3. Quickest way to find someone Twitter handle is to use Google. Its search function is better than Twitter’s. Just google “person’s name” and “Twitter” and you should find what you’re looking for.
4. There is a difference between at @reply and @mention. When you start a tweet with @buffyandrews, only people who will see this tweet is the sender, @buffyandrews and mutual followers. To have this tweet seen by everyone, add “.” before name. ie. .@buffyandrews
Some Twitter tools:
This tool will analyze your account and based on your followers tell you when the best time to tweet is. You might be surprised by the findings. I know I was.
This tool gives you a free report of any Twitter hashtag. On the day I checked #digitalfirst, it showed that 17 tweets with that hashtag generated 35,231 impressions and reached an audience of 32,969 followers in 24 hours.
This tool is also a great way to find people to follow (check @mention in tweets)
A great place to find experts on Twitter in particular fields.
Use this tool to check Retweet stats.
Enter Twitter username and get a bunch of cool stats. Also will show you your tweet cloud and hash cloud, just for fun:)
6. Followerwonk: https://followerwonk.com/
Tool used to find, analyze and optimize for social growth.
7. Twiangulate: http://twiangulate.com
Tool used to graph/compare Twitter networks
- @Username – your name on Twitter
- Tweet – the 140 character update you post
- RT– Retweet
- D M – Direct Message
- # – Hashtag to track topics ie #Yorksnow
- Tweet-up – a real live human to human meeting of Tweeple
- Favorite – Star Icon –these will save certain tweets
- Mention – this is when someone “mentions” your @username in their tweet(s)