Unraveling Social Media One Tool at a Time
Ann Tatko Peterson, the Bay Area News Group’s Digital Features Editor recently put together this handy list of Twitter tips for growing your audience. They are good reminders. Do you have some of your own? Add them! Here’s an edited version of her advice. Thanks Ann!
We keep hearing about how social media can benefit us, from cultivating sources to lobbying for more online clicks for our stories. Practical how-to knowledge is great but equally beneficial is tips from those who have found the most success.
So, I tapped the minds of Jim Harrington, our music critic Karen D’Souza, our theater reviewer and Chuck Barney, our TV writer for their advice on getting the most out of Twitter. I’ve pooled their advice and sorted it by category. My thanks to all three for their help — and if you have any suggestions to share, please do.
Time and effort
- Consistency can be a problem. You go strong for a while and then forget it for a few days, or whatever. Twitter falls off the radar. Gotta stick with it.
- Be generous about retweeting other people and they pay you back. Retweeting can broaden the audience that sees your tweets. And when you retweet your friends and colleagues, they are more likely to return the favor.
- Follow back — as Jim notes, follows are like currency on Twitter. One of these new follows may tweet something that can help with a story or lead to a retweet that helps you pick up even more followers.
- Have a good profile. Let people know why you are the expert in their area of interest. Give them a sense of who you are.
Find your audience
- Use hashtags (such as #brucespringsteen or #oscars) to target an audience. You may quickly find fans of one hashtag will become your followers. Also, make sure you have the right hashtag (sometimes it changes during an event).
- Target the big names on your beat and interact with them; it’s fun and it builds your following.
- Take the time to find the correct twitter handles (such as @sfballet or @zagat) — don’t just guess or use the hashtag. Even though it can be time consuming, it pays off. I’m going to borrow from my husband’s experience on this. He covered the Girl Scouts centennial in Pleasanton and used @GirlScouts when he tweeted. By the next day, he had picked up 90 new followers and had two story ideas (surprisingly, neither of which was Girl Scouts related).
- Try to get on as many lists as possible. Try to find (and then subscribe) to lists that make sense for you. By clicking on a list, you can see the stream of tweets, without having to follow all members of this list.
- This is a chance to take readers into places they may not be able to go, such as concerts and shows.
- This also is a chance to create a sense of community with like-minded people. “American Idol” fans want to see what Chuck has to say as the finales are happening. Karen does it with the TV shows “Supernatural” and “Smash,” not for work but just as a fan.
- Advertise. Tell people in advance that you are going to be live-tweeting, put out the word at least two or three times.
- Remember, it takes a while for people to trust you will continue. As Karen noted, she started on Twitter at Halloween and it took her five months before everyone on her beat knew she was serious about it.
- Post frequently with news and tidbits from big events. Even if you don’t want to live tweet, check in right afterwards or during breaks. Chuck has picked up a considerable following during TCA events. His followers know he is their eyes and ears inside the event.
Final bit of advice, don’t be afraid to experiment. There are no hard and fast rules in social media.