In the last few weeks I’ve seen a surge of journalists throughout the metro area creating Twitter accounts.  Some are using the accounts.  Some are letting them sit stagnant.  To my fellow journalists who have now decided to at least take a look at Twitter:  Welcome.  This post is not meant to be a lecture, but more of a friendly, “here are some tips.” 

I don’t know why the sudden surge from several media outlets from newspaper to TV (broadcast, public and cable), to radio, has been happening.  For some it seems as if maybe you’ve wanted to try for a while, maybe even created your account months ago, but you are just now starting to use Twitter.  For others it seems like a company mandate has come down, or not as harsh at least a push, to start Twitter.

Whatever your reason, please know this: what you do on Twitter will brand yourself and your organization.  Always be aware of this.  Think of Twitter, or any other social network, as tools you are using.  These tools are for marketing and journalistic resource efforts.

Just as every marketing campaign has a plan, you need to have a plan for how you are going to use Twitter or other social media.  I hope your organization has a plan, or at least goals for using social media.  If so, fall in line with that plan (while being willing to push boundaries and experiment.)  If not, I implore you, please come up with your own goals and plans.  I promise if you do, you will have success in ways that you won’t if you just go willy-nilly. 

I know that you may view me as your competition, but more than competition I am a journalist who works every day to advance our industry in ways to connect to current and potential news consumers.  What I do is not about me.  If you’re willing, check out some of what I’ve written about my experiences On the News Desk and with Journalism in a Social Media World.  I would rather help my competition then see our industry lag behind or hear you ridiculed among the social media circles in the metro area. 

The metro area is alive and full with news consumers going first to social networks.  They watch, critique and discuss what we do.  I have open relationships, virtual and in person, with many of our area social media influencers.  I hear about it when I, our news organizations, other journalists, or you succeed or fail.  I want us all to succeed.

I hope when you figure out something that works for you that you would be willing to share it with me and other journalists for the exact same reason: future of news.

I must now do a little schooling about Twitter.  Some of you have blocked me from following you.  You haven’t stopped me.  There are many ways around the block.  I am following you, just as you should follow me and every other journalist in our area. 

For competition alone you should be following all you can.  Someday another favorite C word may come into play, Collaboration, which I believe is an important part of our industry’s future.  I don’t mean pool situations.  I don’t mean we give each other everything so we all have the same newscast.  This is one of my radical, disruptive, ideas that I’ll save for another post.

Unless you have a private account, I have gotten around your block and am following what you are doing on Twitter.  If you have a private account I implore you to change to a public account.  Unless you are using Twitter for personal reasons only and do not associate yourself as a journalist or with a news organization, you need to have a public account.  A private account makes you look like you’re doing your own censoring, makes others wonder what you’re up to that requires you to be private, and overall is a big #FAIL.

Ways to get around the block, which I admit are flaws in Twitter:

If you are listed, I can follow that list and in turn follow you.  What! You exclaim!  This isn’t supposed to happen, but more often than not I check lists and am able to see the tweets of someone who has blocked me.  Sometimes the block works and your tweets in that list don’t show up.

In case Twitter is working properly and I can’t see you in a list, I am following you through a one of my many personalities.  Your tweets show up in that feed, which I in turn monitor all the time through applications like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or Seesmic.  You and I may have even tweeted each other and you’ve not known it’s me.

If I think you may get suspicious of my alter ego I use yet another identity to list you in a private list.  You don’t even know you’re in this list, which again I’m streaming at all times.

Finally, even though I’m blocked again Twitter occasionally lets me outright view your stream by simply checking out your profile.  Yes, this is another Twitter #Fail.

There is truly much more to Twitter.  Even if you think I’m being pompous in writing this note, I hope you at least keep these C words in mind when using Twitter, all important and in no particular order:
• Competition
• Collaboration
• Conversation
• Content
• Chat
• Creative
• Consistent
• Community
• Character
• Commitment