The O’Colly is heeding the Call… to Tweet

Starting Monday, the Daily O’Collegian will move from strictly RSS feeds, to a more personalized way to communicate the news.

First, we will tweet all of the new articles of the day by 9AM. It’s important that we allow for a straight link to the articles so they can be read each day. Our most important objective is to link back to the OC website and increase traffic there.

Next we will take the stories and try to relate them to our readers. For example, if there is a story about summer fun at the lake, we might tweet about the story and suggest a pair of sun glasses to wear while at the beach. Something that will not only get them to read the story, but also take it a step further.
For opinion articles, we would link back the the discussion forum so others can get their opinion heard.
We are going to tweet sports scores as soon as possible.
And most importantly, get user feedback from the readers for ideas on stories.
Through out the day, we will use twitpic to take pictures of interesting things on campus. Like if the Union was a zoo, or an exceptionally good sidewalk chalk.

Here’s what I’d like from you…the students, the “gurus”, and the pro’s.
Email me other suggestions. I really don’t want this to be as bad as most newspaper twitter feeds, but I need to know what you want. We will consider everything, because we want this to succeed. My email is william.reinier@okstate.edu

Thanks a mil – Will.

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3 thoughts on “The O’Colly is heeding the Call… to Tweet

  1. The most important element of this endeavor is that this tactic support the larger strategies, objectives and goals of the Ocolly. Keep us posted.

  2. In your post you say “Our most important objective is to link back to the OC website and increase traffic there.”

    If this is the objective, using Twitterfeed is not necessarily a bad tactic. Twitterfeed insures a constant stream of fresh links back to the OC website. Because the RSS feed is (already) fairly sparse you won’t be flooding your twitstream and it allows you to focus on only the “personal touch” instead of manually tweeting links. The reality is that Twitterfeed will prolly be more timely and consistent that you will be manually. Like any tactic, Twitterfeed is not inherently bad – most bloggers that tweet use Twitterfeed (or similar) to automatically interject links in the Twitstream.

    I do see two big “cons” with Twitterfeed. 1.) It repeated everything from RSS so you need to make sure it’s the “right” RSS feed(s). For example, the Ocolly tweets links to comments left on ocolly.com – I’m not sure this is what followers want. If a particularly good comment is left, you can manually tweet a link with your own “personal” introduction, but it’s likely not all comments are “tweet-worthy”.

    2.) Twitter feed can have a significant delay after publication. If you have some script kiddies on the Ocolly staff they could prolly hack together a more responsive posting system using the Twitter API. This is not a big deal – even big town media (Tulsa World, Fox23) are using Twitterfeed – but it’s sad when Twitter is scooped by an RSS reader.

    It seems that you’ve already made the big decision: to engage or not to engage… you’ve clearly decided to engage. That’s great, but fight the compelling urge to broadcast to your followers – that’s not real engagement. Actually follow your followers and @reply to them asking for more detail or offering feedback, focus more on providing value to them instead of on trying to get attention for the OColly – this is counterintuitive but critically important. Be prompt to respond to DM’s and @replies to the OColly. Search for mentions of the Ocolly and OSU related stuff (beyond your followers) and be sure to engage with these online posters. There’s lots of debate about whether to engage online detractors (and there probably will be some) – I say engage them, quickly and professionally. It’s the best way to shut them up and may even convert them to promoters.

    When you do tweet about yourself, try to make it valuable to the follower… announce upcoming stories and ask for feedback, provide breaking news first on twitter, etc. Unlike a personal account tweets like “Finishing up a story and heading home.” don’t work well – especially in achieving your stated goal.

    That said, be respectful of your followers’ twitstreams. Remember that @replies don’t show up for all followers (depending on their preference) so you can be much more generous with tweets when interacting with others (though @replies). When not @replying keep in mind your tweets shows up for everyone – so make it count. If you want to be verbose, perhaps fall back to your personal account until the urge passes.

    All of this, of course, doesn’t matter if you don’t have a lot of followers. In general I’m not a fan of getting followers at any cost, but the reality is that in order for @ocolly to make a measurable dent in your ocolly.com traffic, you need lots of followers. So the question becomes, how do you get followers while being respectful and ethical. (Hint: the answer is NOT follow as many people as possible and hope they reciprocate.) Unlike most twitterers, you have (for the most part) a well defined target market that shares a small geographic area and a similar demographics. Think about offline advertisement of @ocolly – like flyers pinned to every bulletin board on campus that simply say “follow @ocolly”. Beyond that you might think about your secondary market – alums. You might join the OSU Alum groups on Linked In and announce the O’Colly’s foray onto Twitter. Ask people to post to their own Twitter and Facebook networks. Make sure everyone at the Ocolly mentions it on their blogs and on #followfriday (like every Friday) and, of course, make sure it’s mentioned prominently in the print and web versions of the paper. – The thing to keep in mind is that you promotion for @Ocolly doesn’t have to be limited to Twitter. (BTW, you failed to mention the O’collys Twitter name name and/or a link to http://twitter.com/ocolly in your post.)

    Using Twitter to drive web traffic is a lot like a traditional sales funnel – you need lots and lots of followers to get a significant number of click throughs to your website.

    This brings me to my last point – don’t forget to measure. Luckily web traffic to a particular site is an easy thing to measure. Find out what web analytics are available for OColly.com. You want to know overall traffic status as well as where people are linking from. You’ll want to get measurements now before you get rolling. You’ll also want to track the number of followers you have on at least a weekly basis (I think there might be services that do this.) Perhaps a better statistic is how many followers you lose (there are services that do this and it’s almost impossible without them). As you try things and experiment you should watch your stats closely – once you establish a bit of a baseline you should be able to spot what works and what doesn’t pretty quickly by watching the dials.

    Finally, I would respectfully disagree with Bill about the most important element of this endeavor. I think it should be to have fun learning as much as you can. Remember to enjoy yourself, it will come out in your work.

    I hope this helps. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know everything, so be skeptical of everything I’ve said (and what everyone else says) and find what works for you. Don’t be afraid to do exactly the opposite if you feel strongly that it’s the right approach – this stuff is new to everyone.

    Let me know how I can help. I’ll be following.

    Best of luck.

    -Matt

  3. Matt, thanks for your input. I had planned to chat with Will but I think you covered most of the basis. I want to reinforce one element you focused on, measurement. Proving the value of Twitter and any sm the Ocolly introduces will be vital. Many folks will be hesitant to use these tools simply because they are unfamiliar with them and might look for the first opportunity to exit their uses.

    This leads me to one other point. i will respectfully disagree with Matt’s respectful disagreement of my most important element. I don’t disagree you should have fun and enjoy yourself. Heck, that mantra has been a driving force in my life and I fully agree we should all have fun at work. But your new found job with the OColly is just that, a job. You and your role are part of a much larger organization, management team and newly developing business model (those of you in JB 4520 should take note of what the Editor shared regarding convergence media and the evaluation of the current OColly structure) and you need to keep this in mind. No man (or tweeter) is an island and you need to make sure this tactic “supports the larger strategies, objectives and goals of the Ocolly.” The OColly will be around much longer than you (hopefully) will be tweeting for them. And, like all things, your role as master tweeter will be turned over to another at some point.

    A few other random thoughts (as I have others I will simply digress in class and share them on the fly):
    Do good work
    Be mindful of others’ (your audience) time
    Think before you tweet
    Don’t over think before you tweet
    Be a guide and leader of sm strategy for the OColly – not an agitator (you can catch more flies with honey…)
    Don’t rise to the occasion
    Measure everything you can get your hand on, even content analysis of your past tweets (do a 30/60/90 day evaluation and tweek your tweeting as needed)
    Don’t ever forget your PR background/training and use this knowledge for good and not evil šŸ˜‰

    Thanks Matt Galloway (@mattgalloway) whose advice is always appreciated, well thought out and sage! If you aren’t following him on Twitter you should be. He keeps good company there including Tulsa’s Mayor, Kathy Taylor!

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