Twitter Tips for Journalists

It’s hard to remember a time when our phones didn’t beep, jingle or vibrate like a miniature pocket earthquake at us 24 hours a day.

First it was just a text or phone call. Now it’s an alert for Facebook, Twitter, email, Google or a gazillion other ways for people to reach us.

Twitter flew into my life like a fat city pigeon early into my journalism career. It didn’t feel slick or smooth to me; it felt restrictive with its 140 characters.

And then folk like Roy Peter Clark pointed out the beauty in brevity. The art of painting a thousand pictures with just a few words.

His book How to Write Short is a great read for journalists looking to pick up a few hints and tips on how to wield their Twitter brushes with creative flair.

For example here’s an offering to the online Twitter realms that was chosen by Stephen Fry as the ‘most beautiful tweet’ at the 2010 Hay Festival:

“I believe we can build a better world! Of course, it’ll take a whole lot of rock, water & dirt. Also, not sure where to put it.” – Marc MacKenzie, 41, Canada.

As a self-confessed technophobe however, I have also had to discover other fabulous little tools to help manage the Twittersphere.

They are by no means the penultimate ones to have in your toolbox, and I’m as far from an expert in this area as you can get, but they’ve been useful to me so I thought I’d share a couple of them.

Firstly, we have Hover Me  which although not completely accurate, can be a helpful guide for verifying Twitter sources.

Just install and hover over a Twitter profile photograph and it will show you if the person is on LinkedIn, Facebook or YouTube and will also show their Klout score, which measures online influence.

Getting to know other search tools can be invaluable when surfing through masses of online information.

Also, if you haven’t tried Tagboard yet, you might want to swing by and pay it a visit. Just type in your city to see what people are sharing online in your area.

It pulls in Twitter and Instagram hashtags in the main and I’ve used it a lot in the past when covering mass public events like gigs or marathons.

For a more technical list of Twitter Tips, this list by Journalism.co.uk is pretty good and worth going through:

Ten technical Twitter tips for journalists

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