Twitter for journalists

Posted April 28th, 2013 by in


Last week I had the privilege of attending a workshop at News Ltd which focused on the effective use of Twitter for journalists.

In an earlier post, you may recall I wrote about how Twitter was the number one online tool for journalists. I still think it is. I use it every day to engage with my followers, share news and find stories.

We were fortunate to have experts from Twitter present the workshop. Twitter’s Director of Market Development Mike Brown and Twitter’s Manager of Journalism and News Mark S. Luckie shared some valuable tips on how journalists can use Twitter to build their following, improve their engagement, and effectively share information.

Here’s what they shared:

‘Tweet your beat’
When it comes to sharing information on Twitter, journalists should connect with their beat, or news rounds, to ensure information shared is relevant to followers. “Journalists are the experts in topics they cover, and should bring that same knowledge to Twitter,” says Luckie. This doesn’t mean journalists shouldn’t tweet about things that don’t fall within their beat or news rounds – but data has shown that journalists see the highest level of engagement and growth in followers after sharing tweets that relate to their core coverage areas.

Live-tweet events
Live-tweeting at events such as meetings, conferences and forums, where interesting information can be obtained and shared with your followers, is a great way to boost engagement. Journalists who post a concentrated number of tweets in a short space of time see follower growth increase by 50 per cent.

Develop a story ‘out loud’ on Twitter
Consider sharing a developing story with your followers to encourage conversation, generate sources for stories and use it as part of your newsgathering process. You don’t have to give away the ‘punch’ or sensitive information – think of it more as writing points in your notepad. It also allows you to build a readership as the story develops and create an audience who is already primed for the story.

Share your multimedia
Tweets with media (images, video etc) receive, on average, 3 to 4 times more engagement than those without media.

Use Twitter handles or @mentions
Using Twitter handles or @mentions in your tweets increases engagement and encourages follower growth. Luckie says it shows people that you are using Twitter in a native way and that it’s a great way to expand the reach of your story or information, as mentioned users could respond or retweet your tweet to their network of followers.

Twitter chat
Initiate a chat on Twitter to encourage interaction and conversation with your followers. Sometimes, these can be planned ahead if you know you are going to interview a sports star, celebrity or industry expert who can answer questions on Twitter for a specific period of time. This will give your followers access to valuable information while showing that you have expertise in a particular area. “Twitter allows you to not only promote your work but have conversations,” says Brown.

Use hashtags
Using hashtags can increase engagement almost 100% for journalists, and 50% for news organisations or brands. Hashtags not only allow you to categorise tweets or put them into context but also give you the chance to be part of the same conversation by using a common hashtag. For example, when Australians engage in a conversation about politics on Twitter the hashtag #auspol is commonly used to indicate they are part of the same discussion. “Use hashtags to have your message be part of a broader conversation,” says Brown.

Use the re-tweet button
Tweets that are re-tweeted in full using the automatic Retweet button are shared three times more than tweets that are quoted.

Share content other than your own
Twitter is not just about self-promotion. Share what you’re reading with your followers. Chances are, they’ll find it interesting too. Journalists who share content from sources outside their own organisation see higher engagement levels overall.

Know your market
Do you know when your followers are most active on Twitter? This can determine when you should be sharing information and engaging with your followers. Perhaps they check Twitter at 8am on their morning commute to work, during lunch breaks, while watching television late at night or on weekends when looking for updates on sports games.


 “Think about what you’re already doing on Twitter – it should help you do the work you’re already doing.” – Mark S. Luckie.


For further tips on how to use Twitter effectively follow @TwitterForNews or visit

Are you a journalist, writer or someone who works in the media that uses Twitter? Do you have any more helpful tips on how to use the social media channel more effectively?