Daily Breeze Editor Toni Sciacqua on building a Twitter guide for your readers

This post was endorsed by ReadReport Penguin.

So you’re new to Twitter. Who should you follow? Who are the major players in your area? Politicians? City council members? What about Law Enforcement? It’d be nice if your newspaper could tell you all that.

Take a look at the South Bay Guide to Twitter put together by The Daily Breeze. It’s a constantly evolving list of places, people and things to keep their readers in the loop.

Recently, I gave Daily Breeze editor Toni Sciacqua a call to talk about the page and why it works. For Sciacqua, the page serves as both a public service and a tool to monitor sources.

On Twitter, what you do as a news organization is an important part of engaging readers, but something even more important is one thing you don’t do.

On starting The Daily Breeze Twitter accounts:

“We didn’t set up an auto feed that would take an rss feed and push out all of our content. I didn’t think that was a way to have conversations with people. Then, I set up most of our reporters and news staff with their own Twitter accounts.”

On The Daily Breeze “Who to follow” page:

“Part of the process was finding people on Twitter who were already using it so we could be in their conversations also. I set up lists of people we should be following and trying to keep track of on twitter. With that list idea, we came up with making the page.”

Who’s on the list:

Local senators and representatives, public safety organizations, local sports teams, non-profits, city officials, Daily Breeze reporters, coverage area “movers and shakers.”

“There are still a lot of organizations and police departments that aren’t on Twitter. I’m sure there’s a lot of people that aren’t on our list because we just don’t know if they’re out there. One of the interesting things about it is looking at the people who are elected officials and seeing what they push out.

A lot of people use it for campaigning and politicking rather than information for their constituents…From a user or reader perspective, you could see what people talk about and do when they aren’t in election season. It’s interesting.”

How readers should use the page:

“We were trying to give people in our community a starter kit so they could see where a lot of information is actually coming from. Most of the people on the page are not just average people on Twitter. They’re pretty official kind of Twitter feeds. If I were a newbie to Twitter and from this area, I would want to know who I should be following. ”

On how the list grows:

“It evolves over time. I asked all the reporters, ‘Who are you following and who from your beat are you following on Twitter and we kind of pieced it together like that. Now that people know that it’s out there, if there’s a city councilman that just got hip to the Twitter thing, they’ll email me and say, ‘Hey, can I get on this list?”

Fictitious news director question: Will this give us more site clicks blah blah blah advertising blah blah blah:

“Social media hasn’t brought a lot of  activity our site, but it gives us a lot of sources. It’s also very useful when there’s some kind of breaking news.”

“Who to Follow” lists are easy to set up, easy to maintain and a great resource for readers – not to mention a great way to make your newspaper look Twitter-savy. If you’re a newspaper and you don’t have one – why not?

(If you know if any other news orgs that do have one please shoot me the url. I’d love to list them in this blog.)

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