Twitter is a very important tool for journalists.
You absolutely MUST be a tweeter. Here is why:
1). It is very easy to get people to reply to you. I’ve been able to talk directly to editors of national magazines and newspapers just by sending out a tweet (you’ll soon find emails are nearly always ignored).
2). By getting followers you’re building a public profile for yourself without masses of effort. It’s the quickest and easiest way to self promote. This means that when you are writing stories and tweeting your links you’ll reach a wider audience so will gain popularity and (if you’re writing entertaining/good things) respect. This makes you more credible as a journalist.
3). As a frequent tweeter you will be more approachable. By engaging other users in conversation you’ll appear friendly and people are going to be more likely to give you stories. Also, if you’re popping up on someones news feed every now and again saying interesting things or posting links to your blog you’re on their radar and next time an article needs to be written about your field of expertise or a job comes up that you could be perfect for they might get in contact, or your application will go straight to the top of the pile because they already know a few things about you.
4). Contacts. How many times have you heard how a journalists address book is their most important tool? Twitter makes keeping yours up to date very easy. You can keep in contact with new people you’ve met (a friendly reply every now and again to a tweet is not as stalky as an out of the blue email and still keeps your name in their minds) and build new contacts by making conversation with people you’ve never met, or as a way of breaking the ice before meeting.
5). By checking twitter a few times a day you’re always aware of what people are talking about wherever you are. 140 characters is a lot easier digest than an entire news article, a quick scan on the train means you’re in the loop and you never know when something you’ve read will spark up a conversation with an editor, work colleague, friend and you’ll come away having made a good impression or even with an article idea.
– Tweet links to news stories, blogs, funny videos but most importantly inane but entertaining details about your day and engage with other users.
– Make sure you follow your followers and when following people think quality over quantity. Are you a wannabe hack? Follow journalists, editors, fellow wannabes, don’t clog up your news feed with updates from loads of celebrities (they mainly tweet pictures of food and say I LOVE YOU GUYS XOXO, useless).
– You can also create lists, so you can categorise the people you are following. For example – you can create a list of newspapers, so when you get up in the morning and just want to read about the news you can load up your list and it’s all there without having to sift through everything else.
– Another great tool is Buffer app. Spend about ten minutes every morning (or longer if you’ve got it), load up 5-10 tweets of links to stories (in date), blogs or things you’re doing. You’ll get new followers every day just by remaining active. Don’t be a constant news reel though, still make it sound as if you are there, and supplement the buffer tweets with whatever you feel like saying throughout the day.
– Don’t tweet an article idea before you’ve written it, sold it and printed it – someone might nick it.
– When tweeting editors to pitch ideas or ask people for quotes tweet to ask them to follow you, then send a Direct Message with details about what you’re after (again, a competitor might get wind of what you’re up to, exclusivity is the difference between a yes or a no).
– Have a constant sieve in your mind, is it appropriate? Would you be comfortable with a prospective employer reading that? Or your granny? Are you going to embarrass someone, rub them up the wrong way or is there a possibility that HILARIOUS tweet might get the wrong interpretation? Self moderate.
– Don’t be private, with that little lock thing next to your name that asks people to validate. You need to be easily contactable; if an editor or someone needs something quickly and they have to go through several links to contact you they’ve already given up and moved on to the next best thing. There isn’t anything to be scared off. Twitter isn’t going to kill you. You might get tweeted a link from a half naked person every now and again, don’t panic, just don’t click on the link and block them. Easy.
The most important lesson of all is this: