Twitter’s Luckie talks strategy for journalists

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As a way to develop better social media engagement strategies, journalists should treat Twitter and other outlets as an extension of their interaction with people in their personal life rather than as a separate entity, said Mark Luckie, manager of journalism and news at Twitter in a conference call with Forbes writers from New York this week.

Luckie outlined ways for a journalist to optimize Twitter, and stressed the importance of having a personal voice as well as a professional one. In this way, a journalist is able to create an identity that people want to interact with and follow.

“People connect with people, not robots,” Luckie said. “You will get more eyeballs on your content if you share with people things about yourself. As a general rule, tweet 50 percent about your beat and 50 percent about things that just interest you.”

Journalist also need to determine who their main audience is and devise the way to best reach them and add authority to their tweets so that the audience will follow back.

Extension of Everyday Interactions

The first tip that Luckie provided Forbes’ writers was not to be “an egg,” which is a pictureless account on Twitter that is often associated with robots and spammers. Before following anyone on Twitter, Luckie said that completing a Twitter biography and providing a photograph provides legitimacy to accounts, stating where you work and what differentiates you from other users.

“Having a voice is different from having an opinion,” Luckie said. “Do you have a quirky personality? Are you authoritative? Happy? Communicate that voice through Twitter.”

Luckie told a story about a reporter from BBC reach out to a potential source on Twitter but had not completed her profile yet, and because of not having a completed identity, the source didn’t believe in her legitimacy as someone from the news network.

After creating your identity, immerse yourself in the conversation of Twitter by not just listening, but participating in the conversations and creating new conversations. By creating this dialogue, a journalist is best able to source, attract followers to his or her content and generate buzz of his or her own.

Raising your journalistic profile

“Think about what you want to do in your reporting and how Twitter can be the vehicle for this,” Luckie said during the conference call. “If you’re asking questions on Twitter, respond back to people as well so they know that you’re listening to them.”

It’s important to engage people in your tweets by including the Twitter handle of sources you’ve talked to or crediting an organization that you received information from for your story. This helps both to increase follower growth and boost engagement. Furthermore, people like being mentioned on Twitter and interaction is the key to gathering a following.

Below is an example:

Using hashtags in a post can increase engagement by almost two times for journalists and one-and-a-half times for news organizations. For business journalists, in particular, a good strategy to reach the investors, analysts and their core audience is to use a cashtag, which for Apple would be $AAPL.

Social media is becoming increasingly visual, Luckie said, and tweets that have media attached receive three to four times more engagement than posts without visual aids.

Luckie said that news organizations and journalists are currently underutilizing the power of visualization and noted that infographics do exceptionally well on Twitter as opposed to something like a long-form story. Many Twitter users don’t have the time to sit down to read an entire story, so communication through media works well and attracts followers.

Additionally, acting as a crowdsource for your followers can work well, Luckie said.

“I may not follow every political journalist, but if I follow one who retweets other political journalists a lot, then she acts as a news curator for me.”

Researching Topics through Twitter

Journalists should also use Twitter as a way to research stories in addition to attracting followers to their content.

Creating lists and searching for lists that other people have made can make it easier for journalists both to find people on Twitter and organize the people they follow into groups. For example, if a journalist is working on a story and he or she wants to organize all potential sources into one play, then a private list can be made specifically for that project, meaning that no one aside from the journalist will be able to see it.

Additionally, using Twitter search and the advanced filters can help a journalist narrow down to specifically what he or she is searching for, and provide information on what others are saying about a topic.

Advanced search, for example, can allow a journalist to see images that are being tweeted from specifically one zip code, which, for example, could have been informative to follow the election visually in different cities across the U.S.

Finally, Luckie helped illustrate the key differences for the uses of Facebook and Twitter. He acknowledged that longer form pieces are better left to Facebook, while Twitter is best for breaking news or quick tidbits.

“Facebook is for people you know and Twitter is for the people who you want to know.”