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Twitter basics

Kirsten Smith, MLIS


October 2011

Twitter basics
Kirsten Smith Oct. 2011

What now?
Twitter is a microblogging site Allows you to publish real time information called a tweet Posts can only be 140 characters, including spaces and punctuation

Twitter was created in 2006 Micro really tiny. Blogging is an online document that is updated regularly and displays chronologically and tends to be a mix of personal views of the blogger and information on the web. Its a hybrid between the totally personal and the totally professional such as a newspaper column. According to Wikipedia it has 200 million users who send 200 million tweets each day Yes Twitter is full of inane chatter about celebrities and links to photos of rainbows and kittens but there is more.

Twitter basics
Kirsten Smith Oct. 2011

Tweets are:
Information Observations Links to websites Photos
Remember: every tweet is public

Twitter works this way. You create an account with a picture and a sentence of biographical information Then you start tweeting. To build your audience and gather followers (similar to Facebook friends) you need to follow other people on Twitter. There are private accounts and locked tweets but for the most part that is rare since the basic principle behind Twitter is everything out in the open. There is one way to have a private conversation in Twitter. If you follow each other, you can direct message each other.

Twitter basics
Kirsten Smith Oct. 2011

Why we care about Twitter


More and more people turn to Twitter for breaking news, as a second screen Treat it like any reporting tool, like a directory or police scanner It can build the brand and drive traffic to websites

Couldnt find stats of twitter spikes during natural disasters or political events. Andy Carvin of National Public Radio in the Middle East was tweeting hundred of times a day during the Arab Spring and become the go to voice of authority for real time news. Online Journalism Review article using shooting at Discovery Network in Washington in Sept. 2010. How Twitter helped follow events, find sources. http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201009/1887/ Steve Buttry has many excellent blog posts explaining why journalists need to be on Twitter, especially the recent newsroom curmudgeon and Twitter piece. BBCs 3 roles for social media in newsrooms: news gathering, audience engagement; platform to promote content.

Twitter basics
Kirsten Smith Oct. 2011

More reasons to care


Use Twitter to find eyewitnesses Ask the Twitterverse for help, story ideas, tips Provide live coverage of an event Connect with our readers

Search tips will help you find the witness to an event BBCs 3 roles for social media in newsrooms: news gathering, audience engagement; platform to promote content. You can search Twitter without having an account.

Twitter basics
Kirsten Smith Oct. 2011

Getting started
Sign up Upload a profile pic and write a brief bio Send out your first tweet Follow people Watch tweets from your followers fill your timeline

Jack Dorsey, who created Twitter sent out the first tweet in March, 2006 just setting up my twttr Bill Gates joined in January 2010 with Hello world Use a variant of your actual name since you want to build a brand and be easy to indentify. If you want a personal Twitter, you can give yourself an obscure handle. Many attach PN to their name somewhere. For professional use, Twitter is all about the brand. Important to use a photograph to identify yourself. Say no to generic egg.

Twitter basics
Kirsten Smith Oct. 2011

Tips for tweets


Dont use all 140 characters Leave space for retweeting & hashtags Avoid redundancy and wordiness Use abbreviations &, %, HofC Use hashtags where ever possible. #goodthing Tweet regularly

As one of the tweeters of @postmedia news I spend a lot of time editing your tweets or news alerts to get them down to 140 characters and insert hashtags. Whats a hashtag? It is a keyword that becomes a hot link with the # sign is in front of the word. If you click on the hashtag you will see all the other tweets that use the same keyword. Users who have subject searches set up will see your tweets even if they dont follow you. Hashtags can be simple like #Ottawa #cdnpoli, #Libya, #POTUS Hashtags can be silly things that express a sentiment like #thankgoditsfriday or #tigerblood

Twitter basics
Kirsten Smith Oct. 2011

Twitter etiquette
Find a balance between tweeting links, news and personal observations Do retweet others, just be sure to give credit using h/t (hat tip) or via @kismith Dont insult other tweeters. Remember every tweet is public Reply to tweets if you can Monitor your @mentions

The purpose is to build and audience and engage with followers. Replies to valid questions just like the old fashioned letter to the editor. Retweets are when you forward an interesting tweet to your followers. This says hey this person said something interesting and I think you should read it and by keeping their Twitter Username in the Tweet they get extra profile. @mentions is a stream where you can see what people are saying about your or which of your tweets other people found interesting enough to retweet. To speak directly to another Twitter user just send a tweet with their name in it. Example @popforecast. You collecting lottery money today/

Twitter basics
Kirsten Smith Oct. 2011

A few tips specific to journalists


Make sure there is balance in those you follow. They are on public display Mistakes are public. Be transparent, admit it, deal with it Thank people by replying or direct message

Everyone can see who you follow so if you use your Twitter account professionally, have a balance of voices in the Tweeps you follow. Mistakes are public and reaction to them is instant. Gordon Lightfoot anyone. @DavidAkin wrote a blog piece detailing how he tweeted that Gordon Lightfoot died. Read his blog here http://davidakin.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2010/2/18/4459652.html BBC article:http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2011/09/ibc_in_amsterda m.html by Kevin Bakhurst. Conversation -> engagement.

Twitter basics
Kirsten Smith Oct. 2011

Finding followers
Search for interesting/familiar names Search for a topic, see who tweets about it Read their profiles to see if they are worth following Check other peoples followers for ideas Follow an agency you find interesting Websites often provide Twitter addresses Easy to unfollow
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Twitter is all about relationships and public sharing. Searching for tonyclementCPC follower has exampled of locked accounts and private tweets. Rick Mercer is a better example for interesting followers including verified accounts. Example of agency is Canada Border Services Wait times twitter accounts for each border crossing. http://www.cbsa.gc.ca/newneuf/twitter-eng.html Finding Twitter addresses on web Daily Beast. Explain a verified account To follow someone means everything they tweet will appear in your timeline. You can other things like import your address book. Twitter will match email addresses and names for you. You can block people if someone is particularly annoying and you dont want them to see your tweets. 10

Twitter basics
Kirsten Smith Oct. 2011

Shortening a link
Why? Because they hog valuable characters Twitter.com now shorten links, but messy looking Use http://bitly.com/ or http://tinyurl.com/. Fast & easy If using a third party app like Hootsuite.com or Tweetdeck, link shortening built in

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Bitly

Twitter basics
Kirsten Smith Oct. 2011

The art of the retweet


Retweeting is sharing someone elses tweet because your followers might be interested as well Twitter.com retweet button does not let you add your own content to the tweet Other apps lets you add comment to a retweet. I like to add comment or hashtags

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Retweeting shares information around Twitterverse It gives credit to the orginal tweeter. It is considered bad form to tweet something and pass it off as your own idea. (just like journalism) A retweet exposes the original author to a broader audience. Twitter is all about following people and being followed by people.

Twitter basics
Kirsten Smith Oct. 2011

Search basics
Toss word or phrase into search box on Twitter.com Search hashtags Saving searches Advanced search is very powerful

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Good example for advanced search is #concussion. Then narrow by nhl or hockey or football. Search hashtags for keywords Show my saved searches.

Twitter basics
Kirsten Smith Oct. 2011

And thats the end


This the part where I says thanks and any questions?

@kismith Facebook/postmedianews

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