Twitter Strategies for Local News Publishers

5 Best Twitter Strategies for Local News Publishers

Facebook’s recent decision to prioritize family and friends over publishers in its News Feed is causing many news organizations to re-think their social media strategies. With an expected decrease in Facebook traffic comes a renewed interest in Twitter strategies for local news publishers.

Although Twitter is a fraction of Facebook’s size—the network accounts for just 3% of referral traffic to content publishers, versus 23% coming from Facebook—it still plays an important role within the larger information ecosystem. Twitter is most popular among highly educated Internet users, and 74% of its users get news from the site. That number has increased significantly in recent years, up from just 52% in 2013 and 59% in 2016.

Putting more resources into Twitter, and other social networking platforms means less reliance on Facebook for referrals, which puts publishers on more solid footing regardless of which algorithm changes Facebook decides to implement in the future.

Below, we’ve put together a list of the best Twitter strategies for local news publishers.

1. Be creative with article promotion.

It’s not enough to just copy and paste an article headline and link into a tweet anymore. The competition for attention across social media is too great. For maximum clicks and engagement, writers need to get creative in thinking of ways to promote their own work. A few ideas:

  • Paste the subhead from the article into the tweet, instead of the headline.
  • Tweet an interesting quote or an excerpt from the article.
  • Tag anyone who is mentioned in the article.
  • Pose an enticing question with a link for followers to find out the answer.
  • Include trending hashtags, just so long as they’re relevant to the topic.
  • Ask readers a question that’s related to the article.
  • Send a tweet asking for reader comments on a newly-posted article.

2. Schedule multiple tweets for each article.

The secret to generating traction on an article is repetition, especially on a platform like Twitter, where news can easily be scrolled through and missed altogether. Instead of repeating the same tweet multiple times, have writers promote each of their articles in several different ways. Try using the creative suggestions above as inspiration.

Here’s an example of how a single article might be promoted in three different tweets.

      • The first tweet about could be the article’s subhead and a direct link:
        “How every Senator voted on ending the government shutdown
      • The second tweet could include an excerpt from the article:
        “The Senate advanced a temporary spending bill that would end the government shutdown.
      • The third tweet could be an enticing question for readers:
        “How did your Senator vote on Monday’s spending bill?”

3. Repurpose multimedia content.

Text-on-screen news videos and other forms of multimedia content originally intended for Facebook and Instagram should be repurposed for Twitter whenever possible. In addition to video, publishers should utilize images, GIFs, and polls in their tweets to maximize engagement.

A tweet that is sent without any visual content attached is a missed opportunity. Tweets with images have three to four times higher engagement rates than those without. Images that combine text layered on top of a photo or design perform the best, since they tend to slow users down as they scroll through their feeds.

4. Take advantage of Twitter’s speed.

The best thing about Twitter is how quickly users can send messages. Encourage writers and editors to tweet live during breaking news events (including city council meetings) or give instant updates as they’re working on interesting stories. Twitter is the least time consuming of the social networks, from a user’s perspective, making it a great place for writers to share tidbits and behind-the-scenes anecdotes from their reporting that might not otherwise make it into print.

5. Use Twitter as a promotional tool.

At least once a day, send a tweet that encourages followers to sign up for an email newsletter or become a paying subscriber. Promotional tweets can be short and simple, but they should ideally include an image to attract attention and a direct link to a landing page or sign up form where readers can take further action.

Compared to some of its peers, Twitter is a much more straightforward social networking platform. That means writers and editors should be able to utilize it multiple times during the course of each day’s work. Gaming the system truly isn’t necessary, so long as digital news organizations are following the most widely accepting Twitter strategies for local news publishers.