Diversified Twitter Strategies for News Sites

This week’s Sysomos study of the 5% most active users on Twitter includes a list of the top 25 users (with more than 50,000 followers) ranked by average tweets per day.

@foxnews tops the list averaging 135.85 tweets per day. @nytimes and @time also made the top 25, averaging 39.25 and 29.22 tweets respectively.

Is 135.85 tweets a day too much? It certainly seems excessive, but the 99,703 followers of @foxnews don’t seem to think so.

While I wouldn’t go to that extreme, it does emphasize the point that just like everyone else, news organizations can use Twitter however they see fit, and Twitter users can choose to follow or not follow them accordingly.

With this in mind, it is beneficial for news and content sites to take a diversified approach to Twitter, offering a range options for users to subscribe to. While the variations are limitless, the main opportunities include:

  • Content Broadcasting – this is essentially RSS feeds on Twitter, used for simply pushing out links to new content. A main profile can be set up as well as separate profiles for site sections or specific topics. While the opportunity for engagement is limited, these types of accounts do tend to attract large numbers of followers and the links do get retweeted. So there’s no reason not to set up them up as a foundation building step.
  • Brand Ambassador / Personality – a person or persona that officially represents the company on Twitter. It’s a more humanized approach that offers much greater opportunity for direct engagement with users. Some sites give this responsibility to a specific individual, others create a persona – @ColonelTribune is good example of this approach. The advantage of using a persona is that multiple people can share the work, and it’s easier to make a transition when the people behind it move on.
  • Individual Journalists and Bloggers – participation by the editorial staff offers a great way to engage users on a more specific, personal level. Letting readers “behind the curtain” by sharing insights into the story development process, soliciting input and providing previews or exclusive tidbits (such as additional information that didn’t make it into a particular article) is a great way to build relationships and gain a loyal following. There should certainly be policies in place to prevent missteps in this area, but there is a big upside to encouraging editorial participation.

Of course the PR and marketing staff should also play an active role in your Twitter strategy, and company employees of all kinds should be considered in the overall social media plan. But for the purposes of sharing news content and interacting with users, these three approaches offer a great start for news organizations looking to get more traction from Twitter.

Comments

  1. Agreed re: working behind the curtain. The trick, I think, is to develop a voice that puts the audience first and highlights the type of content you think they should be interested in, and the type of news you KNOW they should be interested in.

    Using one voice, whether it’s automated or not, to crank out random stories does nobody any good. If one’s fans/followers/etc know there’s a person behind a persona, it can be a very powerful thing.

  2. Promoting press releases and communicating company news is another benefit that Twitter provides. Twitter is also useful as an internal communication tool. This can be an effective way of sharing key information in a dynamic way between employees and their supervisor.

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