This is the second of a three-part series.

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, Twitter is a great place for PR pros to make connections, brag about themselves, and get inspired. However, “getting inspired” can often turn into “research” or vice versa. We’ve all opened Twitter to do something, closed it twenty minutes and too many hashtags later and thought, Wait, why did I open Twitter in the first place? Today we’re going to dive deeper into this aspect of the platform so the next time you get sucked into memes, you can also claim to be working at the same time.

1. Who, what, where, why, and when – in 280 characters
We mentioned that making connections with reporters on Twitter is a good place to start with your social PR goals, but if you want to leverage those connections, you’re going to need to do some extra leg work.

When we get new clients at Dittoe PR, we scour their websites to learn everything we can about them, understand their brand voice, identify who their customers or audiences are, and why they do what they do. This typically generates a few keywords about their business. Combined with knowing their ideal media outlets to be featured in, and you have a great formula for researching who is active on Twitter in key verticals and publications.

But it doesn’t stop there. The who, what, and where are easy to find. It’s the why and when that can be trickier if you’re not paying attention to the details. Did this contact recently write an article on AI, share the article on Twitter, and is being responsive to comments and retweets on it? That’s a good indicator they’re actively interested in this topic. On the other hand, did you find an article that’s several months old, and not only is the author not talking about it, but they’re at another publication altogether? Time to keep digging.

2. Trending News
Newsjacking is an important part of our work. Reading, listening to, and watching the news gives us insights into what’s newsworthy across many industries. It also keys us into the big national stories that everyone is talking about – tropical storms, politics, you name it.

For many stories, particularly human interest, feel good pieces or trending niche topics, that news often breaks first on social media. Like the story of Plurna, for instance. I saw it on Twitter well before I heard about it on NPR.

It’s not just the good news that appears first, however. Twitter is also a go-to source for breaking news as well. Between trending hashtags, live videos, and the sheer number of people on Twitter at any given time, a wide swath of Americans are heading directly to Twitter to consume, share, and interact with news. You can take advantage of this for your clients and help them reap the benefits. If something relevant to your client’s work is trending on Twitter, you know you need to jump on it so you’re included when the rest of the news catches up with the topic.

3. Creativity, Branding and Voice
Apologies to those of you who prefer Hemingway, I’m more Dickensian in my writing. Which is why it may be surprising that I have such an affinity for Twitter because it forces you to be concise. Fitting a thought in the old length of 140 characters was quite the challenge for me, but I also saw it as an interesting creative pursuit. How can I say what I want thoughtfully and wittily in one or two sentences?

We may have 280 characters today, but it’s still a challenge to distill complex information with restraint, meaning those who do it well do it very well. Researching your client that has an existing social presence, analyzing their competitors, scoping out publications to pitch, and looking up thought leaders in various industries is a great way to see an individual or brand’s thoughts, stances, and voice distilled into bite-size nuggets. Use these insights to define your client’s voice – especially if you’re crafting their social media content – and see where they fit in the industry conversation. Being clear and concise while telling your story is ultimately what Twitter and PR have the most in common with one another.

Again, Twitter is never going to be everyone’s favorite social media outlet, but it’s a powerful tool in a PR pro’s belt for research and storytelling.

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