Don’t twit where you tweet … and other tips

09Jul11

When is news still “breaking”? When is ALL CAPS appropriate? Do your readers want to know you pierced your nipples?

I’ve compiled my own rules of twitter etiquette over the last couple of years based on my own experiences as a tweeting journalist and through reading more than 100 other local, statewide and national reporters posting their own tweets.

Below are some of the most common issues I’ve seen. Full disclosure: I’ve been guilty of a couple of these myself. Here’s your chance to learn from my mistakes.

Breaking Bad

Breaking is easily the most overused word in the reporter’s arsenal and, like any other overused word, loses its impact over time. Use it sparingly, if at all.

After the Casey Anthony verdict, “Breaking” tweets were still popping up hours later. I’ve even seen “Breaking” tweets pop up as many as 18 hours after the news happened. That’s not breaking. That’s broken.

I’ve used it a couple of times and after each time swore I wouldn’t do it again. I just haven’t found the right time to use it. So when is the right time?  At least make sure of three things: It’s news people care about, you’re one of the first to report it and it is indeed breaking news.

Don’t twit where you tweet

I don’t have a problem with reporters sharing personal stories on twitter, but I strongly suggest you create a personal account if you’re going to make a habit of it. I made this mistake early on and quickly realized many of my followers just wanted to know the news. Those who wanted more followed me to the personal account.

Now if you’re apt to tweet about your bar crawl exploits, your break-up or piercing your nipples (yes, this really happened) you might even consider a private account. Your credibility hangs in the balance.

RT Hearty and duplicate posts

Whenever one of my coworkers starts tweeting for the first time I typically RT their first couple of news tweets and only occasionally after that in order to let my followers know they’re there or that they have a good story.

I won’t RT my coworkers all the time. Why:

  • People following both of us are going to get annoyed. Yes, it’s a first-world problem, but people don’t like duplicate tweets. If I keep doing it one of us (or both of us) is going to get unfollowed.
  • I want people to have a reason to follow both of us. If a reader knows I’m going to RT everything my buddy writes, they don’t have a reason to follow my buddy.

ALL CAPS

Not only does it make you look like you had too much coffee, it could cut into your credibility. Walter Cronkite didn’t shout into the TV. Don’t shout the news on Twitter. Just like in real life, you want to look poised and professional.

These are just my tips. I’m even more excited about reading your tips and hangups about journalist (and non-journalist) tweets. Let ‘em fly. Even if they’re about my tweets. Feedback is good.

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One Response to “Don’t twit where you tweet … and other tips”

  1. Great tips, Andy! Thank you, or should I say THANK YOU !!!


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