Twitter

How college media uses Twitter

We recently complied a list of student media in the Twittersphere. This is an analysis of how those outlets are using Twitter and what we can learn from those who are doing it right.

For simplicity, I tried to group all variations of Twitter use into five basic categories.

The above chart is the breakdown of 50 student media outlets on Twitter (via the CICM list). It excludes Twitter accounts that have made very few updates or haven’t updated in months. Below are the categorizations for reference:

Mostly or entirely RSS feeds to articles (e.g. Twitterfeed, Twitter Tools)- 40%

nevadasagebrush
TheTriangle
thealligator
MiamiHurricane
dailyorange
nycitynews
badgerherald
cornellsun
michigandaily
kentnewsnet
the_corsair_pjc
TheTigerNews
ChronicleOnline – (plus livetweet games)
gwhatchet
dennews
georgetownhoya
middblog
swatgazette – (can tell they’re transitioning to more convo)
TheManeater
hpuchron

RSS feeds + minimal conversation – 6%

dailyemerald
thetemplenews
mustangdaily

No RSS feeds, but also no conversation – 24%
leeclarion
studentprintz
TheRebelYell
ThePittNews
brandingironz
LCTV13
dnsports
OUDaily
blazeradio
recordersports – (great live blogs of games)
dailypenn
buLariat

No RSS feeds, some conversation- 12%
TheRecorder
UCast
Gtownvoxpop
thesnews
CUA tower
lariatnews

Converstation, web-only updates, retweets, @replies, hashtags – 18%
reflectoronline
DailyTarHeel
MUjournal
hurricanesports
GMUStudentMedia
TuftsDaily
connect2mason
chroniclesports
OnwardState

Twitter is praised for its ability to sustain mass conversation, yet it appears that many college newspapers are forgetting how to maintain that conversation.  Speaking on my own behalf, I always feel guilty neglecting our Twitter (@mustangdaily), but sometimes it’s hard to be active when I’m constantly tweeting on my own account.

“Restructure” is a word I use often and it’s important. If you have the resources, hire a social media person or a community manager to manage your Twitter (and Facebook, and forums and whatever other communities you have).

How to start conversation
If you can’t hire someone new, here are a few simple ways to get conversation going:

  • Actually respond to questions and @replies– let your audience know you’re listening
  • Is there an interesting stat from your analytics? Anything out of the ordinary? Tweet it!
  • A lot of conversation going on over a particular article? Bring that conversation to Twitter
  • Are your editors holding a meeting? Be transparent, tweet what’s going on (people will care)
  • Do you do a “word on the street” feature for print? If so, Tweet that same question and retweet good responses
  • Pay attention to followers. If they say something interesting, talk about it (especially if it could become an article)
  • DON’T start conversation by saying “thanks for the follow”

Notable uses of Twitter

  • Livetweeting of events/games/breaking news: brandingiron, ThePittNews, ChronicleOnline, hurricanesports,TuftsDaily, OUDaily
  • DailyTarHeel: Remarkable example of using Twitter to break news, @replying, hashtags (#uncbomb during a bomb threat), retweeting, etc. Check out their feed for a good example of how newspapers should use Twitter
  • The CUA Tower asked followers to submit news tips via Twitter: “got news for us? email news@cuatower.com or tweet us.” They remind followers to submit news tips using the hashtags #cua #cuatower. You should tweet a similar message and establish a hashtag for your college

Did I leave you out? Add your student media outlet to the comments and to the CICM master list by filling out this form.