(or we could always tweet about talking…)

For Business of Journalism (NNS 525) with Kathy Vey, Ryerson University

Steve Ladurantaye, head of news and government partnerships for Twitter Canada, was last week’s guest speaker in NNS 525. Through this position, he helps politicians, ministries, non-profits, newsrooms, and schools with their digital content strategies on Twitter. He had some great ideas for how users can get the most out of their 140 characters.

This was great timing for me, because a few days later, I found myself live-tweeting a weekend-long summit at Ryerson. As a team member on RU a Changemaker, the student committee for Ryerson’s social innovation initiative, one of my responsibilities is social media. The weekend event was called the Social Innovation Summit, and it was the single best opportunity I’ve had so far to promote RU a Changemaker in the digital sphere. I put many of Steve’s ideas to practice, as can be seen below, and the result was an enormous increase in user engagement (retweets, favourites, replies) as well as almost forty new followers on Twitter.

Steve Ladurantaye’s Top Pieces of Advice for Successful Tweeting:

  1. The best time to tweet is during primetime television. Among 284 million active users, 80% of user engagement is mobile—meaning a tweet is more likely to be read when people are simultaneously watching TV and catching up on their phones.
  2. Take advantage of the free information provided by Twitter Analytics. This data informs users about what is working for them, what isn’t, what moves their follower growth, what their followers are interested in, and follower demographics.
  3. Tweets are best received when they provide concise, smart, and often funny pieces of secondary information that people didn’t already know.
  4. Pay attention to what gets retweets. According to Steve, including photos boosts retweets by 27%. I tested this theory with an unappetizing photo of hummus:

I also made sure to use more photos at the Social Innovation Summit. Based on the responses, the visual element works for increasing user interaction. It helped that a professional photographer was shooting and emailing me high-quality photos throughout the event!

Steve also recommends including videos in tweets, as Twitter has made strides in improving video integration. Video boosts retweets by 15%, he says.

Meanwhile, hashtags give a 14% increase to retweets, and help users attract new followers. This ties into the option of live-tweeting — another great way to increase a follower base. Steve shared that the best approach to live-tweeting is to treat Twitter as a notebook for sharing something exclusive or newsy. The organizers of Social Innovation Summit announced that the hashtag for the event was #SISummit2015. As I live-tweeted throughout the weekend, I ensured that every tweet included the official hashtag, as well as common ones like #SocEnt and #SocInn. Not only did it allow delegates to find and share my content, but it was also a useful tool for engaging with other hashtag users.

Additionally, retweets increase by 25% with quotes. During keynote speeches especially, including one by Free the Children’s Marc Kielburger, I listened for quotable content. I wanted to share what I knew delegates would try to remember — the key takeaways.

5. If a tweet worked once, send it again. Something that gets a solid reception from the Twitter audience will benefit from sharing more than once. Ideally, the audience will grow each time.

6. We’re all one tweet away from getting fired. Take care with what you share. Twitter is a fantastic platform for live, public, conversational, widespread sharing, so use it for good content.

Many thanks to Steve for sharing his knowledge of Twitter best practices. Applying much of what I learned in class at the Social Innovation Summit allowed me to have more meaningful interactions with RU a Changemaker’s followers — including one Olivia Chow. (Surely I’m not the only one who gets ridiculously excited by shout-outs like this…)

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