Inside the Twitter Archive, Or How I Learned To Love the Twitterverse

Twitter recently opened up the ability for every user to download and access his or her Twitter archive going all the way back to their first tweet. I highly recommend taking the time to do an retrospective on your or your brands’ accounts. Looking back over my archive, it was interesting to see how I developed my use of Twitter from an introspective anger machine to being part of a community. [...]

I’m Not a Robot: Engaging Local News Readers on Social Media

Next week, the Digital First Interactives team is heading to Connecticut to do a training extravaganza at the New Haven Register. Data Editor Tom Meagher is giving training on data journalism, Video Editor Yvonne Leow on video and video strategy, and Curation Editor Julie Westfall on breaking news workflows and storytelling. I’ll be giving some focused training on social media – particularly on making it more, well, social.

I’ve had many an editor begrudgingly admit there’s a recurring problem with their reporter and newsrooms Twitter accounts being a little too….robotic. As in, they mimic an RSS feed with a full stream of headline-and-link tweets. No retweets, no questions, no fun.

So I’m looking for some fresh examples of tweets sent by individual local reporters and newsroom accounts that really seek to engage readers around the news. I’ve been collecting some examples in the Storify below, but I’d love suggestions of [...]

WaPo arrives late to NATO story on social media

On August 6 around 2 a.m. local time, a NATO helicopter carrying U.S. Special Forces troops crashed in eastern Afghanistan.

The Washington Post had a reporter in person and on the story – but it took a long time for anyone to notice on its social media channels.

A student from my summer social media class at Georgetown University, Katie Bridges, made the following Storify about what happened for a class assignment. I wanted to highlight it here as a lesson, of sorts, to see how social media is still being figured out at news orgs of all sizes.

[View the story "WaPo's coverage of the NATO crash..." on Storify]

What should we learn from this? For one, that someone should always be assigned to watching the Twitter feeds of staff reporters (even on weekends). Since that isn’t always possible, at the very least there should be a behind-the-scenes communication [...]

Interacting with the audience as a news brand

Last week I went over a few tips for setting a social media strategy and persona for your news org’s branded account(s) and tips for using those accounts as a brand. Today, let’s get into audience engagement on social media tools. These tips have served me well as both a brand and as an individual, helping me to establish great relationships on the old internets.

Audience Interaction in the Social Sphere

Responding: I’d suggest you try to always respond to those who reach out to the brand on Twitter or Facebook with questions, criticism and tips. You can respond via private direct message (if they follow you) or outward replies. If you’re squeamish about public replies, remember: Unless a Twitter user is following both parties, they will not see this interaction in their streams. If the reply is something you think other followers may be interested in, you might want [...]

Training: Intro to mobile journalism tools

Last week, I taught a mobile journalism workshop as part of APME’s Newstrain seminar at the Newseum here in Washington, D.C. While I’m not a mobile journalist per se, I am a journalist that loves my smartphone. The class was aimed at those who are new to most mobile news gathering, reporting and publishing apps and practices – with and without smartphones.

We got into:

Using Twitter to report breaking news via live tweeting Gathering eyewitnesses and media from Twitter sourcing and Twitter searches Live reporting from a scene using streaming video and live chat apps Tools for capturing and editing great photos, audio and video from phones Mobile publishing using Tumblr and other blog tools, quick publishing by email

As part of the training, I gave out a handout of entry-level mobile tools for gathering media, reporting news, publishing and being productive on the go. I gathered these from [...]

There’s a whole Internet outside of Twitter, so don’t forget it

Pew released a new study on Twitter demographics today that found only 8 percent of Americans on the web use Twitter. Of that 8 percent, only 2 percent use Twitter on a typical day. Keep in mind that about 74 percent of American adults are internet users, meaning that the Twitter users make up about 6 percent of the entire adult population.

This news shouldn’t be surprising, but maybe it is to those who live in the Twitter echo chamber.

When all of your friends, your coworkers, your spouse and the media you consume are on Twitter, it may seem logical to believe a great deal of America is as well. This is a dangerous assumption for journalists and media organizations to make – and I know I’ve been guilty of it from time to time.

While I still think it is very important for journalists to use Twitter, the [...]

TBD’s big moment and a view from behind the coverage

Sept. 1 was a big day for TBD – and for me personally. When a gunman burst into the Discovery Channel headquarters in Silver Spring and took three hostages, we sprang into action and, in turn, were propelled into the spotlight for the first time since our launch. [...]

How we did it: Securing an occupied Twitter handle

It can be tough to be a new brand these days. Locking down namespace online is a huge part of a brand build – but much like potential mates, all the good ones seem to be taken.

We ran into that when we started building the brand for the soon-to-launch TBD. It’s a popular acronym, as everyone knows, so securing that namespace in social media was quite challenging. Though we’ve been tweeting for nearly two months as @TBDDC, this week we finally acquired @TBD. This is how it went down.

We wanted @TBD from the start, but it was occupied by a private, dormant account with zeroes across the board – no followers, no follows and no tweets.

Obviously, the first step in this scenario is to try to contact the handle owner. From my own account, I requested to follow this user to see if they were checking their [...]

Making Twitter Work for Reporting

Despite its reputation, Twitter is not just to tell people what you had for breakfast. Journalists willing to learn the tool well can also use Twitter to:

Monitor the activities and interactions of people you cover Crowdsource stories by asking your followers for ideas or info Quickly find people who witnessed or experienced an event See what people are talking about right now Live report from the scene of a news event Drive traffic to your content So, how do you do that? Tweets you might send: If you want info, say so. Simply tweet: “Trying to find someone who…” or “Anyone out there know…” Ask for re-tweets. Tweet out links to your work or links to other content you find funny, interesting or relevant to your beat that you’d like to pass on. Keep readers abreast of what you’re working on. Share what you are doing or where you [...]

Data mining information from Twitter

It’s downright amazing what you can find out from Twitter’s formidable search engine. Here’s just some of what you can do with Twitter’s publicly available feeds:

• See what’s happening on your beat: Basic, but no less awesome. Follow the Twitter feeds of any agencies, officials and other contacts on your beat.

• Find people on the scene or read reactions to events: Twitter has an excellent built-in search engine that allows you to search by keywords, location, date and more. It’s a gold mine to the journo who takes the time to search correctly.

More: Even if you aren’t searching for a particular topic, a Twitter search is a great way to do a fishing expedition for events (try searching for crash, fire, hurt, etc.). Also be sure to try common misspellings in the keyword search.

• Search for someone at a particular place: Use the Twitter search with [...]

Need-to-Know Twitter Tips for Journalists

As we’re hiring new staff members for every position from web producers to listings editors and transit reporters, a lot of my job at TBD will be devoted to bringing all those new hires – plus some of our existing staff from News Channel 8 and WJLA – up to speed on social media tools and practices.

I don’t think it’ll spoil anything to say we plan to use social media quite a bit in every aspect of TBD, so that training will be very important both before launch and as we go into the future and technology changes. Some of our staff, I imagine, will already have a rich background in social media use, while others may not be as comfortable just yet – so many levels of training will be vital.

I’m in the process of officially updating all of my documentation, so I’m in full resource re-evaluation [...]

The new kid in the downpour of fresh ideas

When you’ve spent your entire professional career in a newspaper’s newsroom, it’s pretty easily to get your mind blown at a startup. I can attest to that firsthand in my first few days on the job at TBD.

Instead of shoehorning some new media approach into a centuries-old tradition, we’re building something so new, it’s still somewhat intangible – and that’s the fun part. It’s also sort of terrifying.

Because we haven’t launched yet, there are no deadlines, per se (which is a tough adjustment from my last few years working in breaking news). Our deadline for now is launch – and then infinite thereafter as we continue to add new features and tweak tools.

Right now, there are no rules, but I wouldn’t call it lawless, either. All of us currently involved with TBD have extensive experience in news and/or the social sphere. We know the framework of what [...]