Twitter for storytelling

Twitter (https://about.twitter.com) has revolutionised global news delivery and consumption.

In a relatively short span of time, the service has influenced how news breaks and shares, how celebrities and brands communicate with their audiences, and how the power of a crowd can amplify an individual’s voice.

On top of the Twitter Milestones that have gone down in history and thousands of Memorable Twitter Images, Twitter often breaks news before mainstream media can report it.

It is not hard to think of situations where social media has spread breaking news faster than any traditional news distribution vehicle could have.

Some of that news is created by citizen journalists — the tech consultant named Sohaib Athar who inadvertently live-tweeted the raid in which US soldiers killed Osama Bin Laden is a perfect example.

And other news is shared by professionals — journalists and media personalities whose adroit sourcing of grassroots social media posts and their willingness to share reported information almost in real time gave us what often feels like front-row seats to the evolving events defining our times. For more on this check out our Twitter News Scoop examples that show the power of citizen journalism, plus the business strategy behind using Twitter to share major news. (link to Twitter News Scoop file)

The explosion of Twitter as a means to both publish and share news means that, for the professional journalist, the citizen journalist and any storyteller, understanding how to use this social media tool both to source information and share news with a wider audience is essential.

What is Twitter?

It’s a free service where people post short messages (140 characters) on the web.

For Twitter explained by Twitter take a look here: https://twitter.com or watch Twitter in Plain English http://vimeo.com/757146

Who uses Twitter?

Ordinary people, political representatives, experts, celebrities, organisations, local councils, community groups, radio and TV shows – anyone can have a Twitter account and engage in the news sourcing, publishing and sharing process as much or as little as they like.

Unlike Facebook, anyone can read your tweets and you can see anyone’s tweets.

Just like you can subscribe to a magazine, you can ‘follow’ a person on Twitter. Then you automatically see their messages called ‘tweets’ on your Twitter page.

Key Twitter Terms to Know

Username (also known as Twitter handle): Used to identify you on Twitter for replies and mentions; created when you create your account, your Twitter handle is unique and contains fewer than 15 characters, starting with the @ character

Hashtag: Brief search term or keyword, starting with the # character.

Interactions: New followers, favorites, retweets and other user activity related to your Twitter postings

Mentions: Direct mentions and @ tweets directed to you (“@StoriesWT, I agree with you”)

Tweet, Tweeting, Tweeted, Retweet: The act of posting or reposting a message, or “tweet,” on Twitter

API (Application Programming Interface): Contains all Twitter data, including tweets and basic user information; used by developers to build applications, such as HootSuite, that access and manage tweets

One of the most powerful aspects of Twitter is its mobile-friendly interface. The majority of Twitter’s users are mobile — which means that a majority of the millions of tweets sent daily originate from and are viewed on mobile devices.

In the U.S., according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, one in five smartphone owners (20 per cent) are Twitter users, with 13 per cent using the service on a typical day.

For Best Practice tips for twitter check out our Twitter Top Tips but the following are five kinds of Tweets you need to get your head around.

1. What’s happening?

You write a thought, an opinion, a question, a funny comment, a link to a website or a photo.


2. Reply

You read someone’s tweet and write a response or you want to get someone’s attention. Make sure you use their Twitter handle at the beginning

Here is an example:


3. Mention

You write a tweet that mentions a person or organisation. Rather than write their real name, you use their Twitter username.


4. Retweet

Have you read a tweet you like and want to share it with your followers? Then retweet it.

Twitter allows you to include other people’s tweets in your timeline. You can also add your comment to their tweet.

Here is an example in our timeline:


5. Direct Message

Is a private message to someone who follows you.

Tap the envelope icon. …

Tap the new Message icon to create a new Message.

In the address box, enter the name(s) or @username(s) of your followers you wish to send a Message to.

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