Teaser Tweets: Treat Them Like the Lede

As if researching, writing, and publishing a story isn’t enough work, we have to promote them, too. It’s easy enough with social media, especially if you have a social media guru in your newsroom. But it’s also easy to get caught click baiting on Twitter. Noam Cohen of The New York Times wrote about the Twitter account @HuffPoSpoilers this week, which tweets summaries of Huffington Post stories, which are usually tweeted with vigor — and lots of buzzwords. Often, the story isn’t as interesting as the tweet.

Don’t fall into your publications tweeting traps. Let them tweet what they will, but take matters into your own hand, too. 

Whatever your platform, I think what comes before the link should be treated with as much care as your lede and 140 characters should suffice. 

  •  Remember the 5 W’s and the H. It’s hard not to bait your followers, but don’t make me wonder where, say, that earthquake hit. If it’s so far away from your target reader that they may not click on the link, you’ll have to live with that.
  • Unless you work for TMZ, lose the crazy adjectives. Did the congressperson really ‘explode’? Is Marissa Mayer really leading a ‘revolution’? Check yourself. 
  • About retweeting. I often fall into the trap of tweeting story links with a vague, one word response. But I’m making a pledge to all my social media friends to start being more useful. If you tweet a story that’s not yours, tell me why I need to read it. ‘Right on,’ or ‘This is naive,’ are click-bait cliches. The short links give you so many characters to describe the story to me — use them wisely! Give me a reason to bookmark the link and read it later. Be your brand, and venture to have an opinion of your own now and again. 
So, be honest: how much time does it take you to craft the perfect teaser tweet?