So, it’s been a long time since I touched this blog. Since I last posted, I was hired as the local editor for Redondo Beach Patch. I later also became the editor of Palos Verdes Patch. I ran the two sites largely on my own until I was laid off, along with hundreds of my colleagues, in January 2014.
Since then, I’ve launched My Redondo Beach, an independent hyperlocal devoted to Redondo Beach, Calif., as a project to keep my skills sharp and provide Redondo Beach residents with a daily news source that reports on city government, crime and business, among other areas. I started the site first as a Facebook page, and when it became clear there was an interest, I launched myredondo.com.
The following post is a version of a comment that I posted in a Facebook group dedicated to hyperlocal news startups in response to a question about using Twitter to promote websites. I felt it was worth republishing here.
Six tips for Twitter that require only 20 minutes per day (and a bonus tip that takes longer)
I love Twitter. Unfortunately, I haven’t invested too much time in it because I was focused on the Facebook page, but it’s honestly a great source of clicks and interactions. I feel like the ROI on Twitter, at least for me, is much greater, but I’m not in an area where it’s the No. 1 social network. (Now, Phoenix was amazing. Like six different types of Friday night tweetups per month.) A couple of tips for developing your Twitter presence without just automatically following everyone*:
- Don’t just post links on Twitter. Seriously. People want to see interaction. They want to know there’s a human there. Retweet great photos with compliments; post behind-the-scenes thoughts; let people know what you’re working on; Tweet breaking news; answer people’s questions. Be a human, not a robot!
- To continue from No. 1, be proactive. Reach out to people; ask questions of all your followers. Don’t just use @ replies. (Note: if you’re tagging someone at the beginning of a sentence, and it’s not directed at them, put a period or other symbol in front of the @ sign, like so: .@notblue. Tweets that start with @ will only be seen in the feed of people who follow you and the person you’re mentioning. People will see it if they look directly at your timeline… but nobody really does that. Ever.)
- Use hashtags. If you can fit it, use your town/area name. Search hashtags using twitter.com/search to figure out which one people in your area are using. (For example, when I worked in Phoenix, the preferred hashtag was #phx.) People who search that hashtag will then see your tweets in it.
- Don’t go overboard with the hashtags. Tweets like “Man #murdered in #Anytown, #USA. #AnytownPolice are #investigating” just look dumb. Use hashtags that people are already using, unless you’re creating one for a specific event, like a live blog.
- Using photos with Tweets increases engagement. Caveat: This does not apply to Instagram photos, because Twitter does not embed them in tweets.
- Don’t be afraid to ask people to retweet (“RT”) big news. Missing kid with photo? DEFINITELY add the “Please RT!” at the end. Got a list of polling places on Election Day? Go for it. Story about the city balancing its budget? Probably not.
- Get in touch with your town’s influencers on Twitter and have coffee. Ask them for advice, and follow what works for you. That was the absolute best move I ever made in Phoenix. This 1) shows them that you genuinely want to improve your presence; and 2) gives them an ego boost, so they’re more likely to not just skim over your tweets. They might even put out a #FollowFriday or other tweet directing locals to follow your account. (Needless to say, it can also give YOU valuable insights.)
*It’s OK to follow people. It’s good, even. Just be careful—you can only follow 2,000 people until you have 1,800 followers, and then the limit increases as the number of people following you increases. Follow accounts that will provide value to you. I tend to avoid the celebrities and such on my news accounts, unless they’re local. My rule of thumb tends to be to follow people you’re engaging with (in case they want to send you a DM); people and businesses in your area (sorry, but a car dealership 200 miles away isn’t relevant 99.9 percent of the time); and other media outlets and reporters (you’d be surprised at how this can help). Don’t just automatically follow back, or else your Twitter feed will become full of stuff you’re not interested in.