Tag Archives: Writing

Can Twitter make you a better writer?

When it comes to Social Media, of all the things I find that clients are apprehensive about, Twitter is probably the most intimidating. Maybe it’s because it has its own vernacular, or because it is so often referenced in the news.

Twitter can be a world wide megaphone. So, for those who take special care with their words, it can seem daunting.  Once your words are out there, they can be seen by millions.  But Twitter is more than a quick way of disseminating information. It can also be a method to learn clear concise writing.

No really.  Twitter allows the writer to comment about What’s Happening in 140 characters or less, including spaces. While some take the opportunity to use awkward abbreviations and word choices, others have taken to the format with literary aspirations.

I can validly say that Twitter has made me a better writer. When it comes down to it, Twitter requires using writer’s best practices such as avoiding unnecessary words, using descriptive verbs, and not burying the lead. Twitter has made me learn to use effective language that gets to the point fast.

As a rule, I avoid using abbreviations, and cutting corners with punctuation. (I will however use standard Twitter codes such as RT, and #FF.) It becomes a challenge, a game against myself to see if I can do it. Also, since most Tweets include an abbreviated link that takes up 20 characters, it means I have even less space to get my message out. Repeating this practice over and over has bled into my blog writing and journalism work.

So give yourself the challenge of using Twitter as a tool to learn concise writing. You might be surprised what you can convey in 140 characters or in this case, just over 300 words.





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Filed under Consulting, Journalism, Tools

Missing Links

After editing a book review recently, I returned the piece to the writer with a note asking about links. He replied,

I don’t always think about it when I’m writing a review, but have done that kind of thing in several reviews in the past.

The thing about using links is that they are multi-use and multi-faceted little pieces of code that can really bring your online articles to life. Here’s just a few ways how:

The Plug – If you are writing about a specific organization, company or project, you always want to be sure to link them on the first instance of their name in your article and once again at the end. A link that is simply part of the sentence, such as “for more information visit their website,” be sure you are putting the link on the most logical word. Also take the time to link the exact location within a site that you are referring to. That extra attention to detail will be appreciated all around.

Subtext – For many bloggers, this one included, links can often be subtext to what the writer is writing about. Let’s face it. We have a limited amount of time to catch a reader’s attention. There’s not a lot of space for lengthy descriptions about what you are writing about. Often much of that back story can be achieved by using links to direct readers to what you had in mind when you wrote the phrase, “recent disappointments.”

The Inside Joke – Using funny links can add a measure of humor to your writing that also helps create a connection with the reader. It’s a way to invite the reader into your head, giving them insight to what motivates your writing. Making that connection with readers is what will bring them back to your site over and over again.

Reference – If you are writing a blog or news, the use of links are a good way to reference things you have written before. If you are quoting an article, obviously link to the entire article that you are quoting from. If you are writing as part of a group project, links are a good way to create continuity between contributing members.

When writing for the internet, it’s always a good idea to think in terms of where you are taking your reader. The internet, and especially social media facilitate multiple ongoing conversations. And just as is if you were in a room floating from person to person to hear what they have to say, you would be more likely to return to those with whom you connect with, make you laugh, or give you something really interesting to think about. By missing an opportunity for a link, you may just miss that opportunity to connect.



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Filed under Journalism, Tools

Twitter as World Wide Show & Tell

There is no doubt  that Twitter is now a primary source for news and information.  Recent traffic that tallied an average of 3,440 tweets per second following the death of Osama Bin Laden, confirms that when we want to find out what’s going on in the world, we don’t turn to CNN, we glance at our smart phones. And through Twitter we have what is the equivalent of a World Wide Show and Tell.

By The Local: Fort Greene / Clinton Hill

Twitter it seems knew this might be the case as far back as November 2009, when it changed it’s question from “What are you doing?” to “What’s happening?” In that one change, Twitter became less about me and more about us and our surroundings.

The technology is also encouraging us to engage in Show & Tell.  Most of us are now have phones equipped with camera and video capability, making everyone a kind of storyteller. In fact there are even a number of apps available to enhance that capability.

But beyond Show and Tell, some of us use Twitter as a way to engage each other which is what happened yesterday when discussing the new role of the Tweet for News gatherers and readers alike:

@acarvin: And if you use social media well, you get both. RT @mahmood: Bob Woodward: the key to journalism is the human being, not technology. #wpfd

@clarisaclarity: @acarvin, Twitter confirms that we value information as seen through the eyes of each other; it doesn’t replace journalism, it adds to it.

@AntaReportNews: @ClarisaClarity @acarvin for me, twitter is the largest news agency on the planet.

@clarisaclarity: @AntaReportNews Twitter more powerful than Journo or just telling the story in a different way from multiple perspectives?

@TVSassone: @ClarisaClarity @acarvin We also value a little shared social commentary w/our news.

@ZaarlySF: @lizmartinezg @ClarisaClarity @acarvin Twitter is a place for news, real-time and unfiltered. Journalism is a place for information, crafted

This could be a defining moment for the role of Twitter in Journalism. With Twitter we find out what’s happening.  For those of us who are inclined, we take those reports to form a summarizing narrative.  An then the cycle continues.





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Filed under Journalism, People, Social Media, Tools