File this one under "News you can use". Those people over at the world's leading 140 character-based social platform have some thoughts about how journalists can better improve their tweets.
Writing on the official Twitter blog Mark Luckie (formerly of the Washington Post), offers four practical tips:
1. Tweet your beat
2. Use hashtags for context
3. @Cite your sources
4. Share what you're reading
All sensible stuff although it's likely that any social-savvy journalist is doing much of this already. Luckie's list, put together with Twitter's Platform and Analytics teams, comes with some impressive figures on how this kind of behaviour increases engagement: retweets and follows (from people, one assumes, rather than bots).
For what it's worth, I put a similar list together a few years back based on my own experience of working in newsrooms. The gist of the piece was that there was more to Twitter than just a glorified RSS feed of your own organisations stories.
Among the recommendations, I suggested you should use it as:
- A sounding board
- An ideas factory
- A vehicle for news gathering and trend spotting; and
- A window on to the newsroom
Much of this feels obvious now but it was less obvious in the middle of 2009. But I was wrong about Twitter as a stream of self-produced stories — sometimes (especially from an organisation's main account) that's wholly appropriate.
In a separate piece of digital largesse, Google is about to introduce a new way to tag stories. News_keywords has been developed with Google News, the aggregator, in mind. According to a blog entry posted yesterday:
Similar in spirit to the plain keywords metatag, the news_keywords metatag lets publishers specify a collection of terms that apply to a news article. These words don’t need to appear anywhere within the headline or body text [my emphasis]
Keep in mind that this metatag will be one signal among many that our algorithms use to determine ranking. The news_keywords metatag is intended as a tool — but high-quality reporting and interesting news content remain the strongest ways to put your newsroom’s work in front of Google News users.
Some people remain very sniffy about search engine optimisation believing it destroys the essence of good journalism, headline writing in particular. But if it's used as tool to aid discoverability rather than something that dictates news agenda it seems pretty benign to me.
Whether this new tag will allow for more playful headline writing remains to be seen, however. "It doesn't mean news outlets can suddenly start using print headlines on the web again," Mary Hamilton, deputy SEO editor at the Guardian, told Journalism.co.uk.