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Storytelling on Twitter – A Guide for Journalists (Part One)

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In this three-part series, we’re focusing on how to use Twitter to drive readers to your news, update the public in real-time and significantly raise your ability to engage readers with some easy steps.

    • You’ll learn how to start up a Twitter account.
    • We’ll talk about how to unpack your journalist’s toolbox on Twitter to ask your community engaging questions and share compelling stories that link directly to your news site.
  • Lastly, you’ll take your social media prowess to a new level by understanding this platform’s analytics so you can see first-hand what works and what falls flat.

Let’s get started.

Go to and follow a short series of prompts to enter your name and email address.

What’s in a name?

Once you sign up, you’ll need to select a username. What’s in a name? This is actually very important in your role as a trusted member of the media.

Your username on Twitter, also known as your “handle”, is your byline on Twitter. With this, you are creating a clear view to who you are and with which media outlet you are associated. That way, readers know they can continue to look to you for updates on your unbiased, breaking and in-depth coverage.

Here are some examples of usernames:



Of course, if you set up a personal Twitter account, remember, when posting work-related content, you should state that you are affiliated with your employer and link the coverage to your news site. This will help your readers and followers to understand the difference between what is your individual account and what is an official Mail Tribune tweet.  We’ll talk more about how to tweet and what to tweet in a bit, but first, let’s get you set up.

About you

So let’s talk about you. Your bio on Twitter is a brief description that blends your professional profile with who you are as a human being.

Consider using keywords, such as journalist, reporter and your employer in your bio. Link to your news site. Your beats and geographic coverage area will also help people find you when they are searching for the information you champion. Also, list any awards or proudest achievements, which add to your credibility. Then, let readers relate to you in a way that humanizes you without sacrificing your journalistic integrity.

Here are some examples:

As you’ll see in the examples above, the concepts about your bio also transfer to your profile and header photos. Keep it professional and realistic, and add something personal to you.

But, this is not a one and done deal. You can change your bio and photos over time to see what works. We’ll talk about how you can peek into your success rate by learning more about analytics in our third Twitter installment.  

For today, let’s focus on the basics of setting up not just a Twitter account, but setting up a solid news forum for hard-hitting and respected news backed by intentional actions which foster high quality reporting.

For more on getting started, go to Twitter Basics.

Help is never far away. Twitter’s Help Center has more on customizing your profile.

In the meantime, read Twitter accounts run by people and organizations you respect (and even get a laugh in at Overheard in the Newsroom). Follow key people and organizations in your coverage area. Look out for more this week on how to drive traffic to your stories on Twitter, and the ethics of engaging readers on Twitter.