Week 4 & 5: Twitter

4twitterRequired New Media Apps this Week:

You will need a Twitter account starting this week. You may create a new account just for this class or you may use an existing account. Whether you are a Twitter veteran or just beginning, please look at Twitter’s User Guide.

Required Readings this Week:

  1. Twitter Guidebook from Mashable
  2. Read 10 Ways Journalists Can Use Twitter
  3. Steve Buttry’s Twitter Tips for Journalists
  4. Erica Anderson’s 6 Tips for Journalists on Twitter. She will discuss TweetDeck. If you are unfamiliar with this app, please consider using it.
  5. Read and familiarize yourself with Twitter Lists.
  6. Read about the difference between Retweet and Quote Retweet.
  7. Finally, please read about proper Twitter Grammar.

If you think the number of hashtags you use does not matter, the time you Tweet is irrelevant, or whether you abbreviate “RT” for “retweet” makes no difference, think again.



Please be cognizant of effective use of hashtags. As you see in the infographic above, more than two hashtags has a tendency to reduce engagement. 

You should also know how to write a good tweet. The tweet on you left had believing Cher died, but the original hashtag really referenced Margaret Thatcher.



Let’s take a look at different techniques journalists from the national newspapers and television affiliates use for reporting breaking news.

I read the news several times each day, and this is how I kept up with reports of a ship stranded in the Antarctic, far from civilization.

  • Research shows that it might be good to have more followers than you are following.

    1. High frequency of others retweeting your tweets (good)
    2. High frequency of informational tweets (good)
    3. Too many “broadcast” tweets not directed at anyone in particular (bad)
    4. Too much negative sentiment in your tweets (bad)
    5. A detailed profile description or “bio” (good)
    6. Profile has a URL listed (good)
    7. “Burstiness” of your tweets, or the peak rate of tweets-per-hour (good)
    8. High ratio of followers to following; here is the “Golden Ratio.” (good)
    9. Lots of tweets with positive sentiment (good)
    10. Cramming too many useless hashtags into your tweets (bad)
    11. Use of long, fancy words (good)
    12. Your tendency to follow-back those who follow you (good)
    13. Profile lists your location (good)
    14. Poor use of grammatical conventions (bad)
    15. Using the default “egg” or a cartoon as your avatar (bad)

Take a look at the best Twitter feeds to follow. Consider following some who will help you cover your beat. 

Before I turn you lose with hands-on reporting, I’d be remiss not to insert my words of caution.


don’t be Justine Sacco. She worked for the PR firm InterActiveCorp, when she tweeted this “joke” while on a family vacation to Africa. She was fired with 24 hours.


Second, adhere to the Twitter rules from the Associated Press, which requires journalists to refrain from injecting personal opinion in their tweets and retweets. Please form your own opinion on this topic.

Third,  please be aware about the debate over retweeting unconfirmed stories (which are synonymous to rumors) as it may ruin your credibility if the story turns out to be untrue. Many journalists lost credibility after they retweeted a story from a fake Twitter account about Piers Morgan. You can phrase your tweets by saying something along the lines of, “X is reporting Y, but we haven’t been able to confirm this information yet.” Or send a couple of tweets saying: “We are working on this story and will tweet updates as soon as we have them” or “Here’s what we do know …”

So now you are ready to tweet your news beat.  Here are the best practices you should incorporate when covering your beat. Please also keep in mind the readings for this week as to help you put theory into practice.

New Media Assignment Week Four

Twitter is the most dominant, powerful reporting app to drive traffic to your blog and to establish a following. As such, each of you will be required to maintain a professional presence on your Twitter feed for the next two weeks. The assignment will begin on Thursday. You may find the assignment here: Twitter Assignment

Lab Assignments Week Four, Day One:

    1. Create a new post. Share your thoughts about an event that relates to your website topic. You should first provide us with a synopsis of the event, then share your reaction to the event.
    2. Add a Twitter button on Thursday by navigating to dashboard>>settings>>social media follow buttons. Make certain to set the buttons to look and function properly, and also that the buttons appear on all your pages and posts.

Lab Assignments Week Four, Day Two:

  1. Now let’s focus on your blog. Go to your dashboard and create a new page where readers may ask you questions pertinent to your beat. Zachary Zane has labeled his page “Questions?” However, you may use any page name you wish: Q & A, FAQ, Questions and Answers, etc. Add the new page to your menu.
  2. Next, go two classmate’s sites and ask him/her a question about the beat topic. Ask a question in the “comment” area of his/her newly created “questions” page. The question you ask may could be about anything related to his/her beat. Remember, please ask a question of two classmates; if you see that a classmate already has two questions, then please find another classmate’s site.
  3. As comment moderator for your own site, please answer the questions you received about your own beat. Moderate any comments that may have been made.

Lab Assignments Week Five, Day One:

  1. In class today, find 5 new Twitter accounts you want to follow (I suggest that Social Media Today and Mashable should be 2 of the 5 accounts). Share these 5 on a post on your website. Then, on each of these accounts, find what you think is a great tweet. Share it by creating a screenshot then posting the screenshot on your website. Answer these questions about it: What was its main use? Was it creative? Did it generate any comments or shares?
  2. Create a new post on your website and share some fun and interesting facts related to your topic. Your word count should be approximately 300 words, so maybe you can achieve this word count by citing 4 fun and interesting facts, or perhaps you might need 10 fun and interesting facts to reach this word count — the choice is yours.

Lab Assignments Week Five, Day Two:

Over the weekend I will be grading your website progress. Aside from the articles you should have written, below is a list of where you should be with your website layout and design. If you are not, please, today, address as needed.

  • Avatar picture
  • Bio
  • Tagline
  • Proper website title
  • Unique hashtag for your site used on all social media accounts
  • Social media icons (Twitter & Facebook) on your page.
  • A clearly labeled menu
  • A link to our course homepage on your menu
  • Proper colors and easily readable fonts
  • Pictures that are labeled, captioned, and non pixelated
  • Questions posed to you on your site have been answered
  • Remove all unused widgets
  • Ensure pictures are placed in areas of your website as dictated by the theme