Dear Star Tribune,
Welcome to Twitter, it has been fun having you in our playground. It is great having people with connections giving us some insight and some breaking news once in a while. In fact I've really enjoyed following the Favre, Rubio, and the Twin's collapse sagas over the last few weeks.
But here is the thing, you're doing it wrong. It's great that you are with us, but, with the way you are currently doing things it's not going to work. Here are a few of the reasons.
- The number one reason you're doomed to fail is your avatars. You're a media company and as much as I know you hate to think it, to succeed you need people to want to listen to your people. No one really trusts the Star Tribune, yeah you have some cred, but most people are likely to take the word of Lavelle E. Neal, Judd Zulgad, or Sid Hartman over the faceless paper. So having them tweeting is great, and yeah I can look at their names and know whom I'm reading. However, I don't use Twitter like that, and I bet 90% of those who follow you don't either. We look at the avatars to see who is tweeting, currently all I see is Star Tribune, and this just doesn't excite me. Let me know who is tweeting without wasting my time by making me read the name. Let your writers put their face up. You could even use a Star Tribune badge in the corner of their photo so your branding is still there. I guarantee we would all appreciate it.
- Second, your use of hash tags is a problem. Hash tags are great; they give context to tweets and make searching quite a bit easier. But your insistence of putting "strib" in front of whatever your tweeting about is accomplishing nothing. When your readers tweet about the Twins we hashtag it #twins, you have your writers hash tag it #stribtwins. Now what happens if I search for the #twins, well your writer’s tweets don't show up, and if I search for #stribtwins other tweets don't show up. Kind of a pointless endeavor, you would be better off avoiding hash tags all together.
- You should also try and have your writers interact with the public a bit more. A quick review of four of your writer’s last page of tweets showed only seven tweets with @ mentions. Most of those go back to their fellow writers. Most readers understand writers aren't going to be able to interact with all followers, but giving it a try will help develop a relationship that you can capitalize on later.
- Finally, you should make it easier for readers to find your writes twitter feeds. I spent a few minutes looking for this information on your site and it wasn't easy to find. If nothing else, a link to their Twitter page should be included on their profile page right next to their email address.
I hope that you take a few of these ideas and try to improve your use of Twitter. I'll be the first one to say Twitter isn't going to solve all your problems and you also can use it how you want But, if you are going to use a tool, at least use it well.
P.S. I have noticed you are using hashtags without the strib added to them. Keep that up; we appreciate it.