Twitter for Journalists: How Twitter can help you get a story
There are 500 million tweets a day.
Think about that. That is 500 million messages that carry a potential article idea behind them. Granted most of them are about the #gameofthrones or #thebachelorette, but if you really dive deep into the Twitterverse, you’d be pretty surprised about what you can find, and how you can use it as a starting block.
There are some great tools and strategies available for using Twitter to gain sources, scoops and ideas. The key is, figuring out which of those work for you.
The Search Feature
I cannot stress enough how many times I was able to find stories by searching for key words on Twitter. Because I am based in the Phoenix market, my Tweetdeck (we’ll get to that in a minute) has a couple of key search engines running constantly. At any given time, I have the words “Phoenix” and “Arizona” as search words on Tweetdeck. I give each one a column and occasionally will scroll through the columns to see if anything is worth looking at. Granted, most of the stuff is irrelevant, but in every box of Cracker Jacks came a toy.
The best way to keep yourself organized on Twitter, as you start to follow more people, is lists. On my account I have lists for major news outlets like the New York Times, Newsweek, Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, and another list that is following ESPN Chicago writers (I’m a diehard Chicago sports fan, so it makes it easy to track). The key is organizing the lists based on what works for you.
Some people like to do it by industry, for instance they’ll have technology bloggers, industry members and other journalists organized into one list and so on. I set up my Tweetdeck account to send me push notifications when anyone on my “News Outlets” list sends a tweet. The last two stories I wrote for the Phoenix Business Journal, regarding JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America’s investigations about mortgage-backed securities, came from seeing one of these tweets.
I’ve mentioned the app several times in this article already, and I really can’t speak highly enough about it. For journalists, Tweetdeck is hands down one of the best apps for Twitter. It’s a free download on the App store (and online for non mac users), and it allows you to monitor multiple accounts, lists, search words and pretty much everything else, all in real time. The big downfall that I have on Twitter.com is the constant need to refresh. Seeing something in real time, versus being five minutes behind because your screen didn’t upload could make the difference from being first or second on a story.
Constantly be communicating on Twitter and other social media platforms, and I don’t just mean pushing out your content. It’s important to market your work on these different mediums, yes but it cannot be the only thing journalists do. The most important thing to do on Twitter, Facebook, Google or whatever else you use is to respond and engage. I regularly retweet, respond and follow people, one) with the hopes of possibly finding a story or topic and two) because it helps your search engine optimization on these sites as well.
These are simply some of my ideas and tools that I use on Twitter to get access to different scoops. How do you use Twitter?
About joemartin2014J-student at Arizona State University, and pursing a minor in business as well.
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