Research 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).