By Nikki Burdine, LEX18
No, it’s not the new #planking, #owling or #horsemanning. This is actually work appropriate. (Although my coworkers and I have been guilty of horsemanning and planking in the newsroom.) I didn’t come up with the concept, but I think the title is new. Kind of like Chick-Fil-A, not inventing the chicken, but the chicken sandwich. But I digress.
Through my years of tweeting, I’ve become increasingly obsessed with the site, originally posting just for fun what my friends and I were doing, but then my use for Twitter evolved into more of a work/networking tool. Now, I use it to engage viewers.
I’m not the only anchor who does this, or the first one. Check out @TVAmy, @rosemaryCNN, @fredontv,
@tjholmes, just to name a few. The master of live-tweeting is @TVAmy. If you aren’t already following her, get on it. You will learn a lot about how she engages viewers. These anchors all tweet during their shows. In between commercial breaks, sound bites, etc. So I followed suit and began twanchoring. But there are a few challenges and tricks of the trade to successfully twanchor. I’ve had a few other fellow anchors in different markets reach out to me about how to twanchor, so here are my tips.
Obviously, what you do on air is most important, so don’t let twanchoring become a distraction. To juggle both, I find writing teases ahead of time and copying and pasting them into a clipboard for future use works best.
Write a tease for the next package you’ll be showing, for what’s up after the break, what your meteorologist is teasing. All of these tweets can be drafted ahead of time, so when it’s time to tease them, simply copy and paste.
Always start with what viewers can expect to see in the show. I usually post a story on our website, “Coming up on LEX 18 News,” and tweet the link. People love the feeling that they are in on some inside secret, like they have a look into what’s happening before everyone else.
If the story you’re teasing is done by a reporter who is on twitter, include them in the tweet. “@ReporterXYZ will have more after this.”
I also write little mini-versions of the stories and tweet them during the show. For example, you have a VO about a new intersection that will be opening up the next day that will affect a lot of people. Post a little 140 character tweet—an abbreviated version of your VO in Twitter.
I always tweet the forecast as well. Here’s an example:
“Tonight: Isolated showers before11 pm. Mostly cloudy, low around 60. Tomorrow: Partly sunny, high of 78.”
Or something generic: “It’s going to be a great sunny week. Only a slight chance of rain mid week! Even a bit cooler!”
The purpose of twanchoring is to engage the viewer. So the best way to do that is to respond to tweets! And while you don’t have to follow-back, I suggest you do, especially if you want to gain followers who will come back for your twanchoring.
Also make sure you get the word out that you’ll be twanchoring. Post it on your Facebook fan page, work page, and Tweet it! If your station is open to the idea, you can even mention it during the show. I usually write something like this: “Folks! I’ll be live-tweeting during the show…so join me at @nikkiburdine! Look forward to chatting with you!”
Give the viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the show. Twitpic your view from the desk, your teleprompter, something funny the sports guy is doing during the commercial break. Feeling ambitious? Upload a video to TwitVid!
After the show, always post a link to the newscast posted online. “In case you missed us tonight, get caught up here!”
The only downside to #twanchoring: You will tweet a lot. This annoys some tweeters. I try to tweet something like “Your timeline is about to blow up as I live-tweet during the show. Apologies to non-Kentuckians.”
But a nice bonus: You get lots of new tipsters.
Maybe I should copyright #twanchoring?
Nikki Burdine is the weekend anchor and general assignment reporter for LEX 18 News in Lexington, KY. Follow her twanchoring at @NikkiBurdine.