Twitter’s research into how journalists can best grow their followings uses data to confirm what you’ve probably been told at a dozen social media seminars: Be a firehose of information about your beat, use hashtags and @ mentions as much as you can, and share what you’re reading.
Twitter will announce the findings, which follow a six-month study of 150 journalists and news organizations, at the Online News Association’s conference in San Francisco Thursday. The company’s Mark Luckie and Erica Anderson briefed us via phone beforehand.
One surprising finding, Anderson said, was that accounts using old-style retweets grew followers more slowly than those who retweet using Twitter’s built-in button. She cited BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray as a particularly adept user of this feature.
Here’s a little more detail on the study’s recommendations.
“Tweet Your Beat”
Be a source of info for people who follow what you cover — sounds obvious, right? But posting a “concentrated number of tweets in a short time span,” what Luckie calls “tweet burstiness” — live tweeting an event, for instance — can increase your engagement 50 percent more than your expected baseline. Sara Ganim’s Twitter feed during the Jerry Sandusky trial is a great example of this, Anderson said.
Those can double engagement for individuals, the study found, pumping their tweets into a conversation that might be taking place outside your immediate circles. Fox News and The Washington Post do this well, they said.
Mentioning people you’re citing by Twitter handle can help in the same way. “Brands that tweet 20% fewer URLs and 100% more @mentions grow followers 17% more than expected,” Luckie says in his presentation.
He cites this Guardian tweet as a good example:
— The Guardian (@guardian) June 17, 2012
Share what you’re reading
“Individuals receive 100% more (2x) active engagement (on good tweets) when a URL is included,” Luckie’s presentation says. It’s especially important to link outside your news organization’s content. “When individuals share URLs to non-company sources, they experience a bump in follows.”
Retweeting helps, too. People with larger than expected Twitter followings sent three times as many retweets as people with smaller than expected followings.
On our call, Luckie encouraged journotweeters to “really sort of be what journalists are, which is a repository of the best news.”
Related training: Erica Anderson on advanced Twitter for journalists