Channeling the news brand on Twitter and Facebook

The other day, I mentioned that I’ve been transitioning TBD’s social media channels to a new team and doing some basic training in how to communicate as a news brand. I got into how news brands need to have a planned persona and strategy in place to effectively manage a presence in social media. Today, I’ll pass on the tips I’ve been giving to the new brand managers for you to try out in your newsroom.

These tips assume that you don’t want a stiff headline feed for your news accounts and you will be devoting some manpower – either a set staffer or a group sharing duties – to maintaining a personalized social media presence.

Tweeting as the News Brand

1. Think curation instead of broadcasting. Your goal is to find the most immediate, informative, interesting, re-tweetable news in as conversational a manner as is possible/appropriate.

2. Use your best news judgment when you decide to tweet. Some stories that come across your desk may not be ideal for the brand’s Twitter account. If you have a set strategy for your coverage area and topics (and you’d better, son), things like link roundups, uber-niche coverage, out-of-coverage-area stories or, frankly, old news, won’t be very useful to your followers.

2.5 If you do want/need to tweet a roundup post, highlighting an individual segment works well for Twitter interest.It’s way better than saying “Today’s news in X” or, god forbid, “link roundup on X”.

3. Timing is everything. I found over time that the best times for TBD to tweet are generally in the morning, over lunchtime and in the late evening. It may be different for your brand. You can find this out by checking the incoming traffic to your site from Twitter – or by tracking how often you get replies at certain times of the day (many analytics tools do this). You may also opt to schedule some tweets to hit spike times that are not staffed.

3.5 Space non-breaking tweets out to avoid flooding people’s streams too much. And remember, silence is OK. You don’t have to tweet for the sake of tweeting.

4. Tweeting something more than once is OK. Besides, rewording an old tweet makes it sound new.

5. Sometimes the headline on the story just isn’t right as a tweet. Turn on your best inner copyeditor to write a tweet that’s informative, descriptive and short enough to be re-tweeted.

6. Be selective when re-tweeting. Re-tweet good information, breaking news alerts, news tips, reactions, but be sure to stay relevant. Also, make sure it’s easily understood if the information is verified or not.

7. Stick to your strategy. Remember the mission, intended audience, scope and topic area for your Twitter account. You DO have a strategy, right?

 

Special notes for breaking news

  • If news is breaking fast, don’t wait for a link to tweet.
  • BUT Linking is a priority: If you have info to send a lengthy tweet, we have info to quickly copy and paste into a very short post to update later. Missing a link is missing page view opportunities as the news is retweeted. Perhaps more importantly, it also makes it harder for the follower to get more information on the story if they see it on a re-tweet later in the tweetcycle.
  • Updates: When a breaking news post is updated with notable info, tweet about it again with the new info and include the same link.
  • Exclusive news and scoops: If information is exclusive to your site, you may want to save the information for a quick blog post so a link can be tweeted with the breaking news. Why rush it to Twitter if you can have more information out there from the get-go?

 

Facebook is not the same as Twitter

Facebook should generally be updated far less frequently and with a different kind of story than Twitter. You don’t want your brand to be the friend that updates too often.

Story choice: Think about which kind of stories you’d share with friends on Facebook. Consider if this is something that could start a conversation.

Timing: For TBD, Facebook activity is heaviest in the morning, around and just after lunch and in the evening after 7 pm. Check the analytics on your Facebook page to see when your busy times are. You might want to start out by sharing a link in the morning, one or two over the course of the day and one or two in the evenings. Think about when people actually use Facebook, and post when they’re on. (Don’t forget weekends!)

Cross-posting with Twitter: If you do want to share updates between Twitter and Facebook, do not set it up to function automatically from one to the other. They aren’t built similarly and it shows when news orgs try to do both at once. Facebook users shouldn’t be seeing Twitter names and hashtags – and Twitter readers shouldn’t be seeing tweets that are too long coming from a Facebook stream. Use a service like Tweetdeck, Seesmic or Hootsuite to cross-post to make it easier and faster.

 

Coming soon: News brand guidelines for audience interaction