online publication best practices

Why Every Online Publication Needs an Editorial Calendar

editorial calendar An editorial calendar is essentially the plan for the next month, or even several months, of what's going to be published on your site. The length will depend on how often your publish, but even those who don't publish every day or every week can still find value in an editorial calendar. Here's why every blog or online publication needs an editorial calendar, whether your publish four times a day or four times a month.

It Forces You to Come Up with Article Ideas in Advance

Consistency is huge when running an online publication. Miss a day or two and your audience will notice that something is going on. The more often you publish, the more consistency matters and the harder it is to deal with writer's block or getting something out in a time crunch. This is where the editorial calendar comes in. If you need an idea, then simply refer to the calendar. If you release a new post every Wednesday, then all you need to do is look at the calendar on Monday or Tuesday and get writing. No longer will time be wasted scrambling for an idea because that time would have been spent beforehand coming up with all sorts of ideas to fill your calendar.

Note: This doesn't mean that you can't do something in response to breaking news, or a post on something you thought about that day. The editorial calendar and impromptu writing are not mutually exclusive. This tool is there so you don't have to waste time staring at a blank screen coming up with an idea. You have a whole list of ideas to choose from.

It Can Help Attract Advertisers

If you are making money from your blog or online publication, or want to start making money, then think of the editorial calendar as a way to attract advertisers that match the content you will product as well as your audience. For example, if you are a tech blog, and you are going to spend a week in October entirely on apps, then you can use your editorial calendar to show potential advertisers some of the topics that you are going to cover. If you are going to have an article or two about health apps, then potential advertisers might want to advertise on that day or week. They may also want to contribute sponsored content that adds an additional perspective, as a such a topic will interest very specific brands. The revenue is not only valuable to you, but the advertisers benefit from targeting that's based on who will read that article, and not just who will read your overall site.

It Can Be More than Article Ideas

The most basic editorial calendar just has topics or blog post titles listed when they are supposed to be published. That's great, but the editorial calendar can also include much more information than that. Below are some good ideas to include on your template (or use this one from HubSpot, which is really good).:

  • Category/Type (ex. Recipe, How-To)
  • Tags/Keywords
  • Photo/Illustration
  • Author
  • Status
  • Publication Location (if you have multiple blogs or often guest post)
  • Note
  • Deadline
  • Reception (keep track of how many tweets, likes, or pins the post got)

If you don't want to create your own or use the one from HubSpot, then Wordpress has two really good editorial calendar plugins: Editorial Calendar and Edit Flow. Anyway, the point here is that it can be for more than post ideas. Use it to come up with your tags and keywords prior to writing the article. Use it to track the success of your articles after the fact. It's also a good tool if you have several writers on staff, so that you can manage what all of them are doing and what progress they are making with a little more ease.

Overall, the editorial calendar is an incredibly handy tool. Even the solo blogger who is writing for fun can benefit by saving time and reducing the stress of what should be a hobby and stress-relieving activity. There aren't many reasons why you shouldn't use an editorial calendar.

Related Links:

How to Write a Press Release for Your Blog

Why Every Online Publication Should Have a Style Guide

How to Treat Your Blog as a Business


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Determining a Conflict of Interest: An Introduction

determining conflict of interestIf you're just blogging or writing an online publication on your own, then you don't have to deal with a conflict of interest all that often. It's easy to recognize within yourself, and you could perhaps use your conflict of interest as part of your branding, as part of building the business, and as part of the message you want to communicate. However, if you have a team helping you with your blog or online magazine, then you need to be able to determine conflict of interest so that you're team doesn't sacrifice the best interest of the publication for their own goals or gain. A conflict of interest is defined as, "a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgement or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest." In publishing, determining a conflict of interest involves figuring out if a story, or a source, that you're going to use or to publish is influenced by these secondary interests, such as money, connections etc. Essentially, you don't want to publish or use a source that isn't there based on its merit or its value, but because the writer was paid on the side to cover that topic or is covering something out of personal bias or gain. Here's a quick start to determining a conflict of interest and how to handle one that could jeopardize your blog or magazine.

Figure Out the Two Interests

A conflict of interest cannot exist if there isn't two competing interests. Of course, there are some conflicts i.e. the need to make money versus the desire to tell great stories that aren't all that bad and don't need to be investigated or vetted. Both of those interests are generic, and can work together. The point in figuring out the two interests is if the two conflicting interests cannot be compatible at all.

For example, if one of your writers wants to write about a particular company, and it comes to your attention that the writer currently works for that company, then there's a conflict of interest there that needs to be evaluated. The fact that the writer works at the company could skew the story that's written i.e. it could be overly positive because the writer wants to keep his/her job at the company. In this case, you would need to decide if the company should be covered at all (by another writer, of course) or if the story should be dropped. It's possible that the writer only wants to do the coverage because he/she supports the company, or knows that something will come from that relationship if the story gets published and produces good results for the company.

In this case, these two interests cannot work together. The writer cannot fulfill the interest with the company while fulfilling the interests of the online publication. One needs to be somewhat sacrificed for the other, and it looks like the interests of the online publication would take the hit. Therefore, this is a conflict of interest that needs evaluating and needs to be handled appropriately.

Finding the Conflict

Sometimes, finding the conflict of interest takes a little investigative work. In the previous example, it's unlikely the writer would disclose that s/he works for the company. If s/he does, then that makes things easier and you can decide to have someone else cover the story to ensure that there isn't an overly positive overtone or bias. If the conflict isn't disclosed, but you suspect one to be there, then you might need to ask a few questions or do some additional research. In a future post, we'll go over a few techniques to find hidden conflicts of interests as well as good questions to ask to find these conflicts before the story is written.

4 Ways to Catch and to Prevent Plagiarism

catch and prevent plagiarismNobody wants plagiarism on their blog or online publication, but it can be tough to prevent and harder to catch. It's tempting for some to plagiarize with the ease and wealth of information out there, and a misunderstand of what plagiarism is can mean false positives (and false negatives) upon your editorial review. To make this process as painless as possible, here are four ways to catch and to prevent plagiarism.

Use Google Instead

Instead of relying on those services that not only cost money to use extensively, but aren't as reliable as we need, use Google and search engines instead. Not only is it free every single time (and it probably searches more sites than those services), but it's also a lot easier to check for attribution, to check if the text even needs attribution, or to see if the text should remain as is (such as a direct quote or a definition). It's also easier to check for those other forms of plagiarism, such as taking another's idea and passing it as one's own.

Encourage Writers to Create Original Stories

If  all your publication is doing is rehashing the news and stories of others, then you risk more plagiarism then you may think. As we said our introduction to plagiarism article, just because the text doesn't match anywhere else online doesn't mean that it's not plagiarism. If you're writing about a hot topic, and simply reciting the analysis of others, that is plagiarism unless the ideas are properly cited. To avoid this problem (and to avoid looking like you need to piggyback on everyone else's news stories to build an audience), encourage your writers to find their own news stories, or to come up with their own angles and analysis to current news. It may feel like you need to content out there as soon as possible, but doing that doesn't mean anything if it's just the reinvention of someone else's content and ideas in the first place.

Trust Your Writers

If you make it known that your going to screen every article that comes through, only to send it back because one sentence happens to match another somewhere online (or it includes a phone number or a book title, both of which these services will catch and mark as plagiarism), then you risk scaring away good writers who do good work but are afraid of being accused of plagiarism. You will then be stuck with the writers who will game the plagiarism-catching services to make sure the content passes, or you will get writers who write so poorly that it's not anywhere online (it's so bad that no one else would take their work)  Also understand how easy it is to game the plagiarism software. All one needs to do is change every third or fourth word and it passes. If you trust your writers to do the right thing, then you'll get the writers that are worth trusting. Of course, if you suspect something, use Google.

Also understand that having a sentence or two in one article match another's content somewhere out there isn't going to hurt your search engine rankings and isn't going to get you blacklisted. Your site isn't going to make anyone mad by doing that. Relax, and worry about providing awesome content to your readers instead of pleasing the search engines. Search engines don't read your articles or buy your products anyway.

Set a Policy and Make Your Writers Aware of It

It doesn't help if only you know what plagiarism is and your writer's don't. This will only lead to misunderstandings. If you don't yet have a policy on plagiarism, set one and let your writer's know what this policy is and what counts as plagiarism. If you do have one, then make sure this is something everyone understands and is held accountable for when they join the team. Not holding people to the policy is just as bad, if not worse, then not having one at all.

Plagiarism 101 for Blogs and Online Publications

catching plagiarismPlagiarism is the cardinal sin of online writing and publishing. No one wants it to happen on their website because it ruins credibility, quality, and search engine rankings. It's understood to be a huge ethical problem. However, with the Internet, it's easier than ever to plagiarize while being just as difficult to catch it or to stop it. Here's what every blogger or online publication needs to know about plagiarism, and what constitutes plagiarism:

So, What Is Plagiarism?

According to Wikipedia, plagiarism is:

"the mere copying of text, but also the presentation of another's ideas as one's own, regardless of the specific words or constructs used to express that idea". Meaning, in order for text to be considered plagiarized, it needs to be a copy or close copy of the text AND lack attribution to the original author or source"

Yes, I copied and pasted that definition verbatim from the Wikipedia. But it's not plagiarism as I attributed the definition, placed the definition in quotes, and provided a hyperlink to the very web page I pulled the definition from. A mere word-for-word copy is NOT plagiarism, I repeat, it is NOT plagiarism. It only counts if it is not properly attributed and the author is trying to pass the words and/or ideas as one's own. There are many times when a word-for-word copy would be perfectly appropriate, or even preferable, such as a definition (especially a long or technical one), a direct quote, or a set of statistics.

Why are Plagiarism Detection Services Bad?

This distinction is important to remember because many plagiarism detection services can only detect blatant word-for-word copies of text and don't take those nuances into account when looking at a block of text. Services like Copyscape and Plagium would say that most of the above paragraph is plagiarism, despite the fact that I attributed the definition, quoted the definition (showing that I didn't write those words and that I am 'quoting' someone else), and provided a link to the exact web page I found the definition.

The word-for-word copy also doesn't account for another form of plagiarism: taking another's idea without attribution. I can take someone's public policy idea, change around enough words to pass these services, and then write about the idea as if I came up with it all on my own. It's also possible to pass these services by changing every third or fourth word, so with plagiarism detection services, it's important to exercise human judgement and intuition when evaluating an article. It's also important to let your writer's know that passing these services isn't enough, and ought to know the difference as well.

In our next post, we'll offer a few ways to catch plagiarism. In the meantime, you need to exercise your judgement by knowing that needs to be credited and what doesn't. Knowing this will make easier to

What Needs, and Doesn't Need, Credit or Attribution

Here, then, is a brief list from the Purdue Online Writing Lab of what needs to be credited or documented:

  • Words or ideas presented in a magazine, book, newspaper, song, TV program, movie, Web page, computer program, letter, advertisement, or any other medium
  • Information you gain through interviewing or conversing with another person, face to face, over the phone, or in writing
  • When you copy the exact words or a unique phrase
  • When you reprint any diagrams, illustrations, charts, pictures, or other visual materials
  • When you reuse or repost any electronically-available media, including images, audio, video, or other media

Things that don't need documentation or credit, also taken from the Purdue Online Writing Lab's page on plagiarism, include:

  • Writing your own lived experiences, your own observations and insights, your own thoughts, and your own conclusions about a subject
  • When you are writing up your own results obtained through lab or field experiments
  • When you use your own artwork, digital photographs, video, audio, etc.
  • When you are using "common knowledge," things like folklore, common sense observations, myths, urban legends, and historical events (but not historical documents)
  • When you are using generally-accepted facts, e.g., pollution is bad for the environment, including facts that are accepted within particular discourse communities, e.g., in the field of composition studies, "writing is a process" is a generally-accepted fact.

How to Determine What Your Audience Needs to Know

what your audience needs to knowWhen covering news stories, whether they are niche news stories or general interest stories, it's important to be able to determine what your audience needs to know versus what they want to know. The easy way is to write about anything and everything that will generate clicks, sell ad space, and be shared online. We're not saying that strategy doesn't work, and it's an okay strategy if you want to be come a tabloid or a gossip magazine. However, if you want to be better than that, and to write about news that matters with tact and professionalism, then understanding the difference between needing to know, and wanting to know, is crucial. Here's how to determine what your audience needs to know:

Determine Your Audience

No, you actually don't want everyone in the world who has Internet access as a reader. There's no direction to that, and you can't please everyone all the time. So, make it a point to determine your audience and to create the persona of your ideal reader. This makes easier to figure out what your audience's needs are, and what they need to know. Sure, there's a lot of things they want to know, and there are also a lot of things that a lot of people want to know, but not necessarily your audience.

For example, St. Louis-based Delux Magazine does a good job of this. Their ideal reader is the affluent African-American, or the AAA, who is into luxury and lives a high-end lifestyle. These are people who aren't necessarily concerned with Kim Kardashian, Grumpy Cat, or Rush Limbaugh's latest comments. However, they do care as to what Nick Cannon and Nelly are up to, as well as the latest fashion and the hottest nightclubs in St. Louis.

Newsjacking is Okay

Newsjacking is the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself. Therefore, Kim Kardashian by herself may not matter to Delux Magazine's audience. However, if she's shooting a cool commercial with a hot brand in St. Louis, that'll make a difference. If she's showing up to a Delux Magazine event, then that's okay to cover as well. If you can tie a hot news story into your target audience, then by all means make the connection and publish it. Be careful not to stretch it, like when American Apparel used Hurricane Sandy to advertise its sale, or when Kenneth Cole used the Arab Spring to promote its new spring collection.

Don't Go Overboard with the Juicy Details

Running with the Kim Kardashian example, keep juicy and private details out of the story. Let's say that she is coming to your town, or is participating in a major event relevant to your audience. Do you really need to tell your readers where she is staying, and what's in her hotel room, and who she's staying with? Do really need to investigate where she's going and what she's doing before and after the event? Probably not, even though everyone in your audience would love to know. It's important to consider personal privacy when determining stories to write about and the details to include in those stories.

The Kardashian example is easy. How about topics that are a little more difficult, such as a gay bar destroyed in a fire. Do you release the names of deceased patrons? What if you learn a homemaker in the community had been a prostitute many years earlier. Do you run it? If a local judge rents a porn video, is that news? These questions are obviously a lot a tougher, so rushing to publish them because you might be the only one too publish it, or because people will flock to these stories, may be shortsighted.

5 Ways to Maintain an Awesome Social Media Presence

social media presenceJust like with any other type of brand or business, a blog or online publication needs a great social media presence in order to build a solid audience. You can't rely on great content and SEO to get you there, as you need to amplify your content through social media. If you need help building and maintaining a presence your audience will love, here are five ways you can maintain an awesome social media presence for your blog or online publication:

Don't Just Share Your Own Content

I know, I know, you built a social media presence for your blog or online publication to bring people to your own content. We're not saying you shouldn't share your own content. We're saying variety is the spice of social media, and that it's totally okay, even beneficial, to share something other than your latest articles. You could share insights or statistics that you audience could find interesting. You could ask them a question, or have them fill in a blank in a sentence. You could even share articles from a partner site or something that you read that day that you found interested. Just because you're sharing something other than your content doesn't necessarily mean that you're driving people away.

Do Share Things Regularly

The last thing you want to do is create your profiles and have them collect dust. Even if you only blog once a week, make an effort to share something on social media at least twice a week. It shouldn't be too difficult to find content to share if you're publishing every day or multiple times a day, but with that it can be hard to find the time to post. Use tools like Hootsuite or Facebook's scheduling tool to have things post while you're away, or make it a point to share something as soon as its published.

Tip: Take this one step further by doing more than just posting the link. You could either add something to the link, like a question or a hint as to what the article's about to get folks interested in reading it. You could also post the article as a picture, instead of a link, since pictures have been found to garner more clicks than links.

Fill in All the Blanks

Make sure to fill in all the form fields for any social media profile, or at least all the ones that apply. We grant that as a blog or online publication, you might not have hours of operation or an "industry", but that doesn't mean the email or the description should be left blank either. Filling in all the blanks does more than inform your readers, but it also makes your profile look cared for, as if you took the time to put together that presence and think about what you want to present, instead of something you slapped together because you were told that you needed a Facebook page or a Twitter feed.

Make Your Content Easy to Share

Every single article should have social media sharing! How do you expect people to read your content, and to widen your audience, if you don't make it easy for your current readers to share your articles with their network? Too many blogs and online publications for get this one. You don't have to include all the social networks (it's recommended that you don't either), so at the very least include Facebook, Twitter, and email. You might want Pinterest if you're a fashion or lifestyle blog, and perhaps LinkedIn if you are a business or industry online publication.

What else is required for an awesome social media presence? What do you do to maintain your social networks? Let us know in the comments!

Covering and Publishing on a Beat

covering a beatIn journalism, there's something called a "beat." A beat is a specific topic that a reporter covers, like education, religion, crime, or small business. A beat is similar to a niche or a realm of specialization. When diving into journalism on your own accord, either as a blogger, and online publication, or a company doing brand journalism, you need to determine your beat or niche. Although a beat narrows your range of topics, it makes it easier to cover those topics in the long run. With a beat, you can nurture relationships with your most valuable sources, like the school superintendent for education, or the police chief for crime. With a beat, you can utilize any previous research that you've come across, and eventually tap facts and figures from memory. With a beat, you can develop your blog, online publication, or company as the go-to place on that topic and attract the attention of others.

A beat can be general, like the ones I previously mentioned, or specific such as one particular company or sports team. If you're a business doing some brand journalism, then obviously, your company would be your beat. However, you may want to include your industry in that as well.

Something to keep in mind when working on your beat is to provide stories that are in the best interest of your reader, not simply those of interest to the source or company. This might mean showcasing the other side, asking the tough questions, or taking a different angle. Also keep in mind that when covering a beat, stick to the beat as much as possible. It may be tempting from time to time to cover a big breaking news story or another trending topic, but doing so does not serve the readers. The point of a beat is to cover a topic others aren't covering, or to cover it in a way that others aren't, providing a unique value or perspective. Covering something everyone is talking about, simply for the sake of sales or page views, goes against that purpose.

The point of a beat is to find stories rather than follow them. As a blogger, an online publication, or a company wanting to write and to produce news, finding stories is not only good journalism, but it allows you to find a story that hasn't been found before. A beat fits perfectly into today's growing need of valuable content tailored toward the interests of readers. Improve yourself and your blog or online publication with a beat today.

Twitter Strategies for News Agencies

twitter strategiesResearch from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism found that 93% of tweets from major news organizations contain a link to their own site. Only six percent of tweets didn't have a link, and a dismal one percent contain a link to another news site. The study looked at over 3,600 tweets from 13 news institutions in a one week period, finding that their use of Twitter is primarily to disseminate their own information and content. Although this isn't a bad way for news agencies to use Twitter, the microblogging tool can be more than a soap box for your own news stories. Here are a few additional Twitter strategies for news agencies, so more of those tweets aren't just links to articles:

  1. Enhance Reporting by Asking Questions - Twitter is full of experts, and full of ideas. If you need help finding sources, or finding story angles, then let the Twitterverse in on it. This can save you a lot of time and headache if yo're stuck , or add more quality to your stories by finding more sources with personal experience related to your topic. Of course, Twitter shouldn't be a replacement for good 'ole legwork and talking to people in person. But, it doesn't hurt as as supplement.
  2. Listen - Make sure to listen to your followers and get a sense of what is going on. You may be able to find a few things to report on, or make contacts with your reporting or your news in the long run. A good way to listen is to consider what your followers would like you to write about, or to ask them for story suggestions. Another way is to look at trending hashtags, or see what sort of stories they are tweeting. Perhaps you could do something that ties into those hashtags or popular stories. Either way, you know you'll be delivering a product that your readers will actually want.
  3. Encourage Your Writers/Journalists to Use Twitter - It's important for news organizations to showcase a personal side as well, and your writers and journalists are some of the best people to do that. Let them share their stories (and the stories of other journalists and news organizations). Let them share tidbits from their lives and to have conversations with followers over the platform. Not only is this a little more personal, but it's also one more way for your followers to engage with your online publication or news agency. Make sure to encourage them to do more than just tweet their own stories, but to engage with their followers and to share the content of others as well.
  4. Have a Strategy - Simply tweeting links for the sake of tweets and having a presence isn't going to help you. It's easy to get carried away with tons of accounts, and tons more tweets. You need a bigger purpose than that. What sort of news will you be tweeting? Who are your readers? Who's your competition? Will you have other Twitter accounts working in conjunction with this one? Answer those questions, and then you can tweet with purpose.

If news agencies and online publications make a switch in their Twitter strategies and make an effort to include follower engagement, then they could pull ahead of the pack on social media. Social media is not longer perceived as an untrustworthy source, as something that only jokers and teenagers do for fun. Social media sites like Twitter provide a lot of opportunity for news agencies and online publications to find news, to improve the news they deliver, and to deliver the news of others (news that otherwise wouldn't have been covered by your organization).

Top 5 Biggest Hyperlinking Mistakes Online Publications Make

hyperlinking mistakesA hyperlink is that underlined blue (or whatever color) text in an article or web page that when clicked on, leads to another article or web page. As simple as that sounds, many blogs and online publications get hyperlinking wrong, or don't do it as effectively as they could. Here are the five biggest mistakes in hyperlinking, why they're mistakes, and what's the right way to do things:

  1. Poor Referencing - Ever click on a link, and have it take you somewhere different from what you expected? Or come across a hyperlink that seems nonsensical? Either of those are the result of poor referencing. Hyperlinking should be used to reference a web page or an article, so make sure that it leads the reader to a source or a complimentary web page. Too many blog and online magazines hyperlink for the sake of building internal links, so these links go to web pages that may not necessarily benefit the reader.
  2. Linking to Useless Wikipedia Pages - Many also hyperlink to Wikipedia pages, which should not be done unless you are referencing that page as a source for information. There's really no need to reference the Missouri Wikipedia page, for example, just because you mention the state. Most people know what Missouri is, especially if your target audience is Missourians or St. Louisans. As an alternative to hyperlinking to the Wikipedia page, hyperlink to another article of your own that's about that topic. So, instead of the Missouri page, a previous article that was about the state or referenced the state would be much more beneficial to readers while boosting your own internal linking.
  3. Too Much Hyperlinking - This mistake is committed in two ways: by hyperlinking big chunks of text, or by having too many hyperlinks in one article or web page. Too much hyperlinking is bad because it looks horrible, and it lessens the value of each individual hyperlink. Never ever hyperlink more than a a sentence, although phrases (especially keywords or phrases) are more preferable. Keep the number of hyperlinks to one or two per paragraph. This keeps the paragraph readable, and the hyperlink interesting.
  4. Poor Anchor Text - Anchor text are the words that are hyperlinked, and "click here" is some of the worst anchor text out there. It's not all that descriptive of where the link leads. Also, poor anchor text is bad for search engine optimization, as you waste a valuable opportunity to hyperlink a keyword or phrase. No one ever types "click here" into the search engine box. Even if someone did, it would be tough to have whatever page is linked to be considered a relevant result for that keyword. And similar to number three, really bad anchor text would also be a full quotation that's a few sentences long. Hardly anyone ever searches several sentences or full paragraphs.
  5. Incomplete Anchor Text - This is another mistake that simply looks terrible. Incomplete anchor text is when the anchor text doesn't include all of the word, or include the space at the beginning or the end of the text. Bloggers and publications may do this for the sake of SEO (in order to hyperlink an exact key phrase), but it just looks sloppy and unprofessional to the reader. Yes, SEO is important, but shouldn't come to the detriment of the reader experience.

Bloggers and online publications need to understand that their readers are their customers. If they don't put their readers first, then they won't last very long because a blog or an online magazine isn't much without readers. These hyperlinking mistakes ruin the reader experience, and will drive them away instead of engage them in your content. Fixing them, and doing what's best, will improve the reader experience, keep them around longer, and attract new readers in the long run by building a quality reputation.

5 Annoying Things that Online Publications Do on Twitter

Twitter best practices Twitter is an amazing tool for online magazines and publications. It's a great way to share your latest articles, to find out what is trending, and to do some networking with sources and other online publications. however, there are online magazines who are using Twitter incorrectly, or are tweeting in a way that drives followers crazy instead of engaging them. Here are five annoying things that online publications do on Twitter, and why they drive followers nuts:

  1. Tweeting 20 Times an Hour - That's once every three minutes! Even if you have that many articles coming out per hours, tweeting more than two or three times an hours clogs up the feeds of your followers. That's annoying, especially if your followers are looking for things to retweet or just want to see what's going on with the people/companies they follow. Pushing so many tweets in a short period of time makes it hard for your tweets to be relevant to your followers, or even get any attention as their competing against each other as well as against competitors.
  2. Tweeting a Headline w/o Context - This one drives people crazy because just tweeting the headline and the link to your article doesn't make the reader interested or engaged. Why should I care about your headline and article when a lot of online magazines are pushing their content the same way? To make  your tweet stand out, start by asking a question, or revealing a startling fact or statistic from the article. It provides a context that the reader could consider or relate to. It gives them a reason to read your article.
  3. Blatant Advertising - Without naming names, there is one online publication who constantly tweets "check out our website," "like us on Facebook", "share our web page". And that's it. It doesn't tweet articles. It doesn't tweet updates or questions or anything other than advertising. It doesn't give any reason why this Facebook page or web page is worth checking out or sharing. Non of their tweets provide anything useful to readers and followers. That's annoying, and will lose you followers instead of gaining them.
  4. Using Meaningless Hashtags - Hashtags are a way to categorize your tweets. This makes them findable by those curating content or looking for tweets related to a certain topic, like #solarenergy or #contentmarketing. However, some like to throw in all kinds of hashtags just to make their tweet show up in more places. Yet, some of these hashtags are useless and meaningless, such as #like, #alternative, #loving, and #this. Those hashtags cannot possibly describe any tweet well, and their use is only meant to file the tweet in more places in hopes of getting a few more eyeballs. Irrelevance is low quality, and using meaningless hashtags only ruins any value your tweet could possibly have.
  5. Tweeting Without Links - I've actually seen an online magazine do this, where their tweets ask people to check out an article or their latest issue, or they tweet about an event coming up, and provide no link to it! Granted, not every tweet should contain a link, but if you're going to tweet about an article or an event, then a link adds value to the tweet by giving followers a chance to read that article or to learn more about that event. No one is going to take the time to search the web for that article or event after seeing your tweet without a link. Make it easy for followers to engage. Do yourself a favor by giving people the links so they can actually visit your site or attend your event.

Twitter can be indispensable, but it won't do anything good for your online magazine if you do any of the five annoying things. These five annoying things irritate your followers, and will only drive them away or stop people from following you in the first place. However, stop these bad habits, and put good habits in their place, and you'll see a real difference in the results.