The business media needs to improve its Twitter use

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Twitter

The business media use Twitter as a promotional tool and are not building an online community, according to research presented Friday by two Virginia Commonwealth University professors.

Vivian Medina-Messner and Marcus Messner found that the top business media outlets need to use Twitter as an online social network, not just another publication platform. “More attention needs to be paid to community building — use of hashtags, handles, retweets,” the wrote.

Their research was presented Friday at the 11th annual “Convergence and Society” conference at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. The conference, which is organized by the USC College of Mass Communications and Information Studies, this year is focused on business journalism.

The professors studied tweets, retweets, headline tweets, Twitter handle use, hashtag and link use by media and frequency of retweets by audience for nine major business media outlets between July and September. The business media outlets were the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times business section, CNBC, Fox Business, Bloomberg, Fortune, Businessweek and The Economist.

Of those media Twitter accounts, The Economist has the most followers with more than 2.3 million, while Fox Business has the least with 105,000. However, Bloomberg News uses Twitter the most, while Fox Business uses it the least.

However, nearly 45 percent of all business media tweets are simply headlines, and 99.8 percent simply link to internal links. Only one out of every six business media tweet uses a hashtag, and  only one out of every eight is a retweet.

Fortune magazine retweets (one-third of all of its tweets during the study time) the most, while The Economist does no retweeting. Fox Business Network uses hashtags the most, with more than half of its tweets having hashtags. It also tweets headlines the least of all of the business media.

On average, readers of The Economist Twitter feed retweet the most, or about 126 retweets per tweet, while followers of The Wall Street Journal Twitter feed retweet the least, with an average of 3.6 retweets per tweet.

Medina-Messner and Messner suggest that in-depth interviews with social media editors and reporters at business media could help better understand why some business news organizations use Twitter more than others.