New Twitter Tricks From An Old Publisher

Jan 22 2014, 6:25am CST | by

New Twitter Tricks From An Old Publisher

I’m a small publisher in both budget and manpower. As such, I must work smart. Everything I attempt to do must be purposeful and efficient. One of the greatest insights I have come upon to move my business forward is to know when to lead and when to follow. More succinctly, I let the big publishers spend their budgets and use their time to figure out how to do certain things and then I follow.

In the Wild West of the internet, it doesn’t matter big or small, we’re all trying to figure out the best way to promote, publish and monetize our content. I feel fortunate that so many other publishers are willing to share their wisdom—high tide raises all boats. Chief Product Officer of Forbes Media, Lewis DVorkin, regularly opens up the playbook for others to follow; and earlier this month, Michael Roston, staff editor for social media at The New York Times shared their best Twitter practices based on data collected using a third-party tool SocialFlow. Here are five Twitter tips courtesy of The Gray Lady:

Share the tweets of your writers. The New York Times (@nytimes) has many talented and connected journalists and they often break stories or share insight within their beat. The social media editors found a lot of success in retweeting information from their own team of professionals. Since I work with many marriage professionals, I have been doing the same for years and have found equal success—well, in proportion. One tip not mentioned that I employ is to include the Twitter handles of the author and sources within a published piece. This almost always results in extending the reach of the original tweet since most people want to share their published work and/or publicity.

Be responsible. When the Boston Marathon bombings happened, @nytimes followed best journalistic practices and avoided the egg-in-the-face speculation that others succumbed to. In the end, their followers and readers trusted the source, and five of the 10 most clicked links in 2013 that came from @nytimes were to their coverage of the Boston bombing. Even on Twitter accuracy matters.

Regardless the platform, publishing is better with editors. In 2013, The New York Times added three editors to the social media desk and asked for greater involvement from others. When the Twitter feed wasn’t going through all the checks and balances they found some errors would appear. In one example, Roston highlights a tweet congratulating English tennis pro Andy Murray (he’s Scottish) and how it quickly snowballed out of control online and took several hours to calm down. Had an editor taken a look, Roston is confident the error could have been avoided. Aside from errors, editors can also apply creative liberties to headlines which can make or break the success of a tweet. One example is this tweet, “The Rock ’n’ Roll Casualty Who Became a War Hero” using the headline from the newspaper, which garnered (as of this publishing) just over 70 retweets and 50 favorites. An edit to the tweet was made later in the evening to read, “He got kicked out of both Nirvana and Soundgarden. Then he became a war hero,” which is approaching 600 retweets and has 325 favorites.

Tweet it again and again. Like the early years of television, if you missed a show when it originally aired, you’re out of luck. The same goes for the live Twitter stream. (Yes, I know there are tools that allow for archived material, but that’s not how most consumer Twitter). Don’t be afraid to send out your tweet multiple times to reach your audience—and don’t be concerned with your readers seeing a story more than once. In particular, the @nytimes account found great success and got more average clicks per tweet when they reposted something on Saturday and Sunday. Their rule is if it works during the week, it’ll likely work on the weekend when readers have more time on their hands to click and read.

Be straight. The social media editors found that when they clearly told readers what they were going to get on the other side of a link, they were more likely to click through. Every once in a while they were able to garner intrigue and get the click while being coy, but overall it was the straightforward tweets that performed best. I have found the same with my tweets, as well as headlines in e-newsletters.

What works for you on Twitter? Please leave a tip in the comments below.

Source: Forbes Business


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