How newsrooms tend to butcher Twitter parlance

How newsrooms tend to butcher Twitter parlance

With the integration of social media into the news cycle, reporters have become increasingly responsible for promoting their own work. Attempts to imitate the creative services departments’ hard-sell strategies for 30-second news promotion have, however, led many journalists to corrupt the natural language of social media.

My personal pet peeve is when stations turn their own name into a hashtag.

In Twitter parlance (twarlance?) the @ symbol always precedes a name and the # always precedes the subject, in our case the subject of a report. It is especially important because when someone clicks an @ link, they have the opportunity to become a follower. # links primarily shows a viewer everyone ELSE who wrote about that topic.

Try doing a search for the hashtag of a reporter’s name or the hashtag of TV station’s name. You’ll find the only people using it are those who work for the station or, on rare occasions, members of the public who’ve retweeted them. The result, I think, is a narcissistic appearance that betrays the fact that most TV stations don’t really know how to work across platforms.

The exceptions, and there are always exceptions, tend to be for something like a sports team that are both the topic and target of a sentence. For example, look at the New York Giants. People talk to them, but also about them and their players.

Newsroom marketers try to mimic the buzz generated by a franchise sports team with international recognition, but forget that the #nyg community would survive even if @giants decided to stop contributing. Organic growth like that over a marketed brand is rare in the Twitter world, and not something that can be instigated.

I believe that reporters are better served by joining the topics of conversation that they can contribute to, not trying to start conversation strings about themselves.

The key to brand success on Twitter is not to create your own conversation alone in a corner, but rather to join and become trusted in the circles that evolve naturally.