Perfect Twitter for journalists? Take a masterclass from @ITVLauraK
is an actor, writer, comedian and social media consultant
There. It’s always important to come out and say that at the start of any blog/support meeting. To try to justify all the time I spend online to my family, I’ve now started a company called Th@t Lot with professional tweeter David Levin (yes, there is such a thing as a professional tweeter).
One of the things we do is go into businesses and brands and empty out our bucket of Twitter tricks and observations. Even though I’m mainly a writer of jokes online, the same principles seem to apply whatever the sector (I’ve even exchanged a Twitter coaching session for five years free boiler servicing from the people who put in my boiler).
We give tips on obvious things like making sure you keep it short (personally I aim for around 100 characters rather than 140) and keep sounding like a human being, whatever your account (be short and human, like a jockey - that’s my top tip). And we advise on more advanced techniques like Twitter formats and live-tweeting.
As a news junkie myself, journalists are among my favourite follows (I can’t believe I just wrote 'follows' as a noun. I’m *so* 'new media' - see also my use of asterisks there. By 'follows' I meant, of course, 'people I follow').
A lot of journalists, especially those who write comment pieces, can be themselves as much as they want - @caitlinmoran or @fleetstreetfox, for instance - both of whom present themselves to us warts and all (where 'warts' include flair, controversy and occasional drunkenness).
But it’s easier for these ‘commenteers’ than for hard news journalists, especially those who are expected to be neutral. Just look at the furore that erupted back in August when Nick Robinson dared to tweet the following:
So it’s a very fine line to tread as a hard news journalist who’s first and foremost a provider of content on Twitter. Which is why I’m such a fan of Laura Kuenssberg (@ITVLauraK for just a while longer before she rejoins the BBC next month on Newsnight).
My theory on good Twitter writing is that whatever your account you should write as if you’re emailing a friend (bearing in mind this email can be read by anyone). From following @ITVLauraK I know nothing about her real life. But, even though all she’s doing is sharing hard core news facts, the way she writes makes you feel she’s your pal.
For all I know she spends 40 minutes honing each tweet, but there’s a relaxed spontaneity to them that gives the impression of a mate telling you something they’ve just heard. It’s perfect Twitter.
Take this tweet for instance:
“Blimey - Clive Adamson admits FSA knew of Rev Paul Flowers conviction from 1981 but stands by decision to approve him as Coop chair”
“Morning - uncomfortable sessions in store for FCA on Project Verde and Gatwick on travel chaos - both up in front of MP s on what went wrong”