What Can You Learn from the New York Times about Twitter

Whilst thinking about ways to save time on Twitter, I came across this article written by Michael Roston (@MichealRoston) of The New York Times’ social media desk. And I figured that if you’re going to get tips on using social media, you might as well get them from the best!

NYT-blog-imageThe NY Times (@nytimes) has obviously done some extensive analysis (in part using SocialFlow) on what works well and what is less successful on Twitter. The article contains some very useful and interesting information, that anyone using Twitter for promotion, can take onboard.

Re-tweet Trusted Sources

One of the main findings of the article is that by re-tweeting updates from trusted sources they can maintain a strong following that is literally hanging on their every word. They are taking on the role of curator and moderator for their own followers, presenting them with a single stream of accurate and informed material.

Of course, we are not all in the position of needing to report on current events every minute of the day; however, by selectively retweeting posts from other experts and commentators we can give our own followers the benefits of knowledge from multiple sources, relevant to them because the filtering and assessment has already been done.

Automation Caution

Another important finding was how problems had occurred with automated tweets that would not have happened at times when the stream was being monitored. The errors were mainly to do with badly worded or inaccurate content.

When looking for ways to save time on social media, it’s easy to think that automation is the answer to everything. However, the lesson here is to make sure that what you have scheduled is accurate and will still be accurate by the time the tweet is actually sent. Of course, double-checking spelling and links goes without saying. The crime of sending out dead links, in particular, could cost you followers especially if you’re not around to make the correction.

Clarity Beats All

Being writers and journalists, the NY Times staff pride themselves on being able to pull a clever headline or two out of the bag. Interestingly, however, their research has shown that on Twitter the clever headlines aren’t always the ones that get the best response. The article indicates that, in fact, it is clear, straight forward writing that gets the most retweets and click-throughs.

Re-sends Work

Another nice point made by the article is that a tweet that received a good response from followers in terms of retweets and clicks is more than capable of re-producing that success when sent again at another time. Their example shows that a tweet sent mid-week can pick up a different but equally significant audience when sent at the weekend.

This must be heartening for anyone trying to save themselves a little time, and confirms that going to the effort of generating good, solid content pays off and can work harder than we at first imagined.

I strongly recommend reading the full article and taking note of their many examples.
Unless you’re working for a large corporation, it’s easy to shy away from comparing your own business to something like the New York Times. However, since they’ve done all the leg-work of analysing a huge amount of their own data, we can take advantage of their findings; cherry-picking the ideas and concepts that apply to our own social media goals and on a scale that we can manage.

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