In this digital age, journalists and writers are increasingly having to focus on producing content online, be it the long-form feature stories, the news articles or the opinionated blog posts. Producing content online is becoming a significant—if not exclusive—source of income for many. As such, it makes sense for the journalists and writers, science ones included, to market and promote themselves online. A really good way to push your name (i.e. brand) online is through social media, especially Twitter.
On Twitter, those 140-character long tweets you produce are basically 140-character long blurbs. What you say on Twitter reflect your areas of expertise, your personality, your enthusiasm and much more about you. And if they aren’t already, you can expect editors and potential employers to routinely scan through your Twitter feed to see if you’re a good fit for what they have in mind. It’s therefore a good idea to make full use of your Twitter account.
Over at Poynter., Kelly Fincham has very good advice about use of Twitter for young journalists. Here are some of them:
- Assume that everything you tweet is public, even from a private account;
- Tweet with a purpose and be professional;
- Add value with each tweet & see the bigger picture;
- Give credit;
- Be respectful and responsive.
One advice that Fincham missed is to build and converse with a network of your peers and people in your sphere. As an early-career science writer, you should follow and connect with the science twitterverse. Start building your network by following this Twitter list of early-career science writers and the interesting people these writers follow. Then converse with your network by sharing thoughtful and interesting perspectives and eliciting discussions. Chances are that people will notice you sooner rather than later.
Liz Heron, director of social media and engagement at The Wall Street Journal, has some further advice for the more emphatic journalists on Twitter. As part of a Q&A by Casey Capachi, Heron answers such questions as:
- If I write that retweets are not endorsements in my Twitter bio, will that help make it clear?
- How can you utilize social media to find sources?
- What would you say to a reporter looking to get started with social media?
- How do you get people to follow your account?
Twitter is not only a promotional tool. It’s a journalistic tool as well (although one can argue that promoting content is a necessary skill for the present-day journalist). You can use Twitter to research stories, search for sources, crowdsource for ideas, keep informed with the latest news, stumble across valuable content. You can even use Twitter to turn your stories into conversations.
These two faces of Twitter—as a promotional and journalistic tool—are perhaps what makes it such an important tool. Since it has the potential to help produce and promote content, Twitter is by the journalist’s side from beginning to end.