It’s not just for posting pictures of your ahi appetizers or finding out about Britney Spears’ rainbow hair extensions. Twitter has emerged as a useful tool for journalists all over the world. In fact, it’s largely due to major news stories that Twitter grew in its early stages. For example, the L.A. fires, Iraq protests, and the World Cup all contributed to spikes in Twitter users. The Arab Spring, Tsunami in Japan and Occupy Wall Street recently revealed led that Twitter continues to be a power tool for journalists.
Users turn to Twitter during times of crisis for updates that come far faster and much closer to the action than more traditional channels. It’s essential that new media journalists not only know how Twitter works, but also build followers and attach to communities that will benefit from their reporting. It doesn’t matter if you’re reporting on weddings, weather or war; Twitter needs to be in the toolkit of an effective journalist.
1. Report breaking news. It’s been proven time and again that Twitter can be the fastest conduit to emerging news stories.
2. Identify trending, newsworthy topics.
3. Test story ideas. Many journalists use Twitter to float ideas out to readers. A landslide of response can mean a topic is worth pursuing.
4. Connect directly with newsmakers. Sometimes a Tweet or Direct Message through Twitter is the easiest way to contact people making news.
5. Readers can follow the progress of a story if a journalist Tweets updates along the way. It builds interest in the story and lets readers tell reporters what they’d like to know.
6. Connect with other journalists.
7. Elicit quotes from followers on a subject. Adding “via Twitter” has become commonplace in new stories.
8. Build a following, personality and, most importantly, credibility as a journalist through Twitter. It takes an investment of time to interact with readers directly and become a trusted news source, but once a reporter is established on Twitter, he or she will be the place readers turn to during a crisis or to get the real story.
9. Share a competed story.
10. Receive direct feedback from readers.