Twitter advice from a journalist turned social media guru

Less than three months ago, Mark Luckie left The Washington Post to become Twitter’s journalism and news manager. One of his first tasks was to work with Twitter’s Platforms and Analytics team to study tweets by journalists and other news media. Their findings may surprise you.

What did they want to know?

  • What tweet types lead to retweets?
  • What tweet behaviors lead to replies?
  • What actions lead to a growth in followers?

What did they find out?


  1. When sharing the tweets of others, retweeting the entire message via the retweet button tripled the resulting engagement from fellow tweeters. That’s 3 times as many subsequent retweets as opposed to those who merely quoted text.
  2. Tweet what you know. Journalists who sent tweets in the genre of their typical coverage area had the highest level of engagement and the greatest growth in followers.
  3. Share the love. Posting the content of others in addition to your own will garner a higher overall engagement with other tweeters.
  4. Call on your Twitter neighbors using @mentions. As opposed to using URLs alone, the use of @mentions will grow both your followers and traffic at a higher rate. For example, instead of “Dan Pink,” use “@DanPink.”
  5. Tweet LIVE! Journalists suspected they would lose followers by the overshadowing of Apple’s iPhone5 announcement; in actuality, those who performed live tweeting of the announcement boosted their follower growth by half.
  6. Use hashtags, #but #be #careful #not #to #overuse #them. Using hashtags for live events makes them easily searchable, and can boost tweet interaction by 100% for journalists. Brands who use hashtags can experience a growth in engagement by 50%. Luckie used CBS Chicago’s use of the #drewpeterson hashtag during the Kathleen Savio murder trial coverage as a great example of this technique. He said, “They really ended up being the big authority for the trial by establishing the hashtag. Other news organizations started using it as well as people at and interested in the trial.”