A Philly anchor’s recent twitter tease about a real life shootout and the hit show “Breaking Bad” has set off a lot of discussion. In this case, I am going to look more closely at creative ways to tease on Twitter, without potentially crossing the line. Fact is, teasing is not most journalists strong suit as it is. We have a series of articles dedicated to help write teases for newscasts. Now let’s talk Twitter. The 140 character limit makes it even harder to get the message across clearly. But I am about to reveal a secret that shows, Twitter teases are actually less difficult to pull off.
Teasing Guidelines for Twitter:
Coming up – BIG no no
The number one mistake I see in Twitter teases is using the term “Coming up at.. (show listing)…” as a first line. Never start a tease this way, period. Even on Twitter. It is a throwaway cliche line that really turns off the audience. You need to get to the sell, which frankly is the reason you want to tease the story. That is your first line, you can say when to watch after that.
The sell of the tease, is the human link, or what some consultants and managers call the WIFM or viewer benefit. So, if there’s a character in the story, introduce that. If you found ways to save viewers a ton of money, say that. If you have kick butt video say that. The best part about Twitter, is there’s an intimacy to it. You frankly do not have to be as ‘colorful’ a writer as you do in newscasts. (Here’s the big secret reveal!! ) People on Twitter, are looking for interesting information. The expectation to be entertained is not as much of a given. They are looking for facts, and people’s reactions to those facts. The human link needs to be simple and direct on Twitter. A lot of the work is already done for you. People are seeking out your information, instead of you desperately trying to draw them in and keep them. Think long and hard about that one. It really fundamentally changes the way you need to tease, and should eliminate some of the pressure to ‘relate’ the story to a trend (or dare I say, a TV show).
Also, many visual TV journalists forget to use the simplest, yet most effective technique: an image. I am guessing I am far from alone, when I say the number one way to draw me in on Twitter is to include a picture or a link to something. My natural instinct is to click to learn more. Don’t forget the very famous line “a picture is worth a thousand words.” I encourage using images to build your Twitter fan base anyway. When you tease, pictures are exceptionally effective because few people do it. Show a scene setter. Show the person you are centering the story around in an action shot. Heck, showing an image of a document has suckered me in before. A shot of a document would not work for a TV news tease. But it can work for a Twitter tease. Again, that’s because people on Twitter are actively seeking out information. You do not have to sell as hard. They want to learn more, see more and experience more. Provide links to images, and you will sell your stories and/or newscasts.
Finally, remember that the best way to link up with Twitter followers is through hashtags. Use them in teases to draw more people in. Look for “local” hash tags and use them when you can. I really suggest using established hashtags more so than creating a unique one for your tease/tweet. There are people who mine these hashtags each day looking for information on particular topics. Again, they are waiting for you to deliver the information, a captive audience! Use that. If there are no good local hashtags for your market, talk with your managers and possibly promotions about creating some that your station can consistently use to draw in audience. These hashtags are very effective marketing. Frankly, they’re often more effective than any clever tease you attempt to write. Consistency is key with the hashtags. They are a simple trick with potentially huge gains.
So now you know some guidelines for teasing on Twitter. The secret is out! Twitter followers want to hear what you are going to showcase. They want information, pictures and links. They are actively seeking them. Link an image, or a human element and your tease will work. No need to rack your brain to really “suck them in.” Twitter followers are a captive, willing and, frankly, enthusiastic audience grateful for the chance to read what you have to say. So be straightforward and you will win big fans!