October 1, 2009

6 Twitter tips for journalists

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JD LasicaI‘ve produced two new printable handouts for the annual conference of the Online News Association this weekend: 6 Twitter tools for journalists (PDF, also at http://bit.ly/6twittertips) and 8 ways to use social media in the newsroom (PDF) — see the accompanying post.

While the PDFs are spiffy-looking, they’re less than optimal for search engines and for the disabled, so I’ll mirror the handouts here in html.

6 Twitter tips for journalists

Create a Twitter dashboard

tweetdeck21Organize and manage your Twitterverse by selecting an app to work with throughout the day. Your top choices are two downloadable desktop apps — Tweetdeck or Seesmic Desktop — or Hootsuite, a configurable Web-based app. All allow you to customize your Twitterstream into groups (or, if you prefer, beats).

Find local tweeps

twitter-local2Twitter’s a great way to connect to the local community. A handful of tools let you suss out who’s in your area. First try Twitter’s advanced search feature. Go to search.twitter.com/advanced, enter a city or zip code into the “Near this place” field and choose a search radius. The results are based on the location people enter in their Twitter bios. Other tools worth a try: TwitterLocal.net, NearbyTweets, Localtweeps and various iPhone apps, such as Twinkle, TwitterFon, Tweetie and Twittelator Pro. Happn.in is a new local Twitter app that lets you track trends and conversations in specific metro areas. We also like Twellow (and a href=”http://www.twellow.com/twellowhood”>Twellowhood) — the Twitter Yellow Pages — MrTweet and Justtweetit, three tools to help you discover folks relevant to your interests.

Follow breaking news

Waterfall on flickr by tokyogoat3Use Twitterfall to follow the real-time Web. Create a custom search to follow topics you specify — and save them for later retrieval. Type in an address into the geolocation panel to see what people are discussing in that area. Use this app to follow breaking news stories. You may also want to follow hashtags on topics of interest, like #health, #obama, etc. BreakingTweets is a site where reporters curate and organize news stories around Twitter. TweetBeep lets you receive hourly
email alerts of topics you specify. (Image: Waterfall by tokyogoat)

Measure your magnificence

bitly_logo_top4OK, at some point you’ll want to take account of how you’re doing in Twitterville. Fortunately, there are lots of tools to asses your Twitter chops. Type your Twitter ID into Twitterholic (you can also see the most popular Twitter users in your city), Twinfluence, TwitterGrader, Twittorati or Twitalyzer to see the power of your profile. Use Retweetrank, Tweetmeme, Twitturly or Retweetist to measure how often you get retweeted. For metrics, Bit.ly and TweetStats are good ways to see how many Twitter followers have clicked the url shortener to read that story you polished to a sheen.

Find a source

haro5@helpareporter connects journalists with more than 100,000 news sources. Peter Shankman (@skydiver) posts tweets with instructions on how to respond. Journalists submit queries using an online form, and sources can get up to three emails a day with 15-30 queries per email.

Report on location

twitcam6Twitcam, a new service, combines the simplicity of Twitter with the ability to stream live video, thanks to a partnership with Livestream. You could report live from the scene of a speech, a fire, a protest or another breaking news event. Chat with your viewers via Twitter right from your broadcast page. All Twitcam sessions are archived and can be embedded on your news site.

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JD Lasica, founder and former editor of Socialbrite, is co-founder of Cruiseable. Contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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