Week 4 & 5: Twitter

4twitterRequired New Media Apps this Week:

You will need a Twitter account. If you have not done so already, create a Twitter 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.


If you are new to Twitter, Professor Chen provides an interesting read, “You’re on Twitter, Now What?


Let’s take a look at different techniques journalists from the national newspapers and television affiliates use for reporting breaking news. You’ll also see how they use TweetDeck and Vine on Twitter

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 Time magazine’s 140 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, the Twitter rules from the Associated Press 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 …”

When you are asked to live tweet an event (and you will be asked to do so in this class), please recognize how to live tweet an event.

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:

    1. Create a new post. Share your thoughts about an event that relates to your beat. You should first provide us with a synopsis of the event, then share your reaction to the event.
    2. Create a second post, but this time you determine the content.
    3. Finally, we will add a Twitter button on Thursday.