“If content is king when it comes to news publishing, then distribution is queen and she’s wearing the pants,” says Twitter Canada’s Steve Ladurantaye.
Ladurantaye, a former Globe and Mail Media Reporter who joined Twitter in late 2013, spoke at the recent INK+BEYOND conference about how social media is changing the news publishing model.
Twitter Canada currently employs roughly 2,500 engineers who are constantly working to develop new products for publishers. In his role as head of news and government partnerships, Ladurantaye travels to newsrooms across the country to get a better understanding of Twitter can help media drive more traffic to their sites and increase brand recognition.
Ladurantaye has worked in a lot of different newsrooms over the years—including stints at the Kingston Whig Standard, the Peterborough Examiner and the Ottawa Sun—and understands the challenges and opportunities facing the industry.
Unlike the traditional broadcasting model, media companies are now having multidirectional conversations with their audiences. Over half of Twitter’s active users turn to the social media platform to view breaking news and three quarters of them are accessing content via a mobile device.
Twitter has similar usage flow statistics as most online sites. Usage spikes at 7:00 PM which means it’s important for newspapers and reporters to continue to tweet and engage with readers into the evening
People follow brands on Twitter for a variety of different reasons: to access discounts and promotions, see exclusive content, and stay informed about the activities of a company. Newspapers have been experimenting with selling subscriptions through Twitter and targeting promotional conversations.
According to Ladurantaye, Twitter helps media to detect, report, distribute and engage. “As a professional journalistic tool, it’s quite an extraordinary asset,” he says. Reporters can use the platform to scan for breaking news, monitor shifts in public opinion, verify information and communicate directly with readers.
And there is still plenty of growth opportunity on the platform for Canadian media companies. “We are about three years behind the U.S., with 2 to 5 percent of all website traffic coming from Twitter,” says Ladurantaye.
So how can Canadian newspapers optimize and expand their presence on Twitter? Live tweeting is one of the best ways to build followers. Those who post a concentrated number of “newsy” Tweets in a short amount of time see follower growth increase 50% more than expected.
Newsrooms must find the time to actually invest in nurturing and maintaining their account(s), says Ladurantaye. Manual updates are far more impactful than automated tweets and will help your publication to appear more authentic which leads to more retweets, more followers and improved engagement. Robotic headlines are not as compelling as real human interaction. Tweets with photos are 27 percent more likely to be retweeted notes Ladurantaye. Similarly, he recommends incorporating hashtags, direct quotes, numerical digits and videos into your updates in order to gain more traction.
Ladurantaye suggests that all news organizations use Twitter analytics to monitor their account activity. You can see how each tweet performs, measure follower growth, and learn about the people who follow your publication. Visit analytics.twitter.com to get started.
Twitter Cards are another useful tool to boost your Twitter presence. These little packages of information are displayed under each tweet and link back to content on your