A Semester of Growth on Twitter

At the beginning of this semester, I entered the class with 147 twitter followers. I had begun my twitter account about three years ago for the primary purpose of using it as a journalist; prior to this semester the vast majority of my tweets were news related with the occasional retweet of sport or comedic content. Given how crucial social media is to how news is conducted, I entered this class hoping to expand my follower base and learn how to better craft tweets to reach a wider audience. I ended up achieving 77 new followers, bringing my follower account as of the first of December to 224. Between August and December, my best performing tweets as they related to class were the ones that touched upon lighthearted topics and included rich media like photos, gifs or videos; I also found success in tapping into the followers of trending topics or fellow users with large bases. Ultimately, the greatest amount of growth ended up coming not from direct class tweets but ones that continued to touch upon campus news, staying true to my account’s original goal; by utilizing class techniques, my news gathering and producing skills on Twitter’s platform reached a larger audience. To see how these skills accumulated, I would like to begin by breaking down my top performing tweets that included the class hashtag.


1. The Blue Man Group

As members of a television news crew, those of us going on air try out best to coordinate our wardrobes – on this particular day, blue was the colour of choice. We aren’t the only trio that use blue in their work – The Blue Man Group are famous for, in part, being blue while putting on their performances. So my team and I took the photo to see what they thought of our colour coordination – although their account didn’t respond to us directly, the tweet received a good deal of attention from followers.

The tweet received 2,634 impressions and 244 total engagements. There were also 151 media engagements – highlighting the importance of the use of rich media in tweets.  Twitter advises advertisers to grab user’s attention with rich media – and the strategy works the same way with non advertisements as well. It helps to catch the eye while scrolling through the feed – and the photo also ties together the whole point of likening our clothing to the style of the Blue Man Group.

A bit of comedy was also helpful here in garnering attention – the 32 likes came primarily from people that know all three of us featured in the photo. While we suited up to do the serious business of the news, it is a generally successful strategy to try to work in some levity for followers. One analysis highlights that most viral campaigns are based on humor; while this post is nowhere near the viral threshold, a little silliness certainly doesn’t hurt a tweet provided its in line with the account’s overall tone.

Tweet Analytics

Impressions – 2,634

Engagements – 244

Likes – 32

Detail Expands – 32

Profile Clicks – 21

2. Shouting out an alum

Noah Eagle is the radio voice of the Los Angeles Clippers – having graduated only this past May. He’s a friend of mine who used to work with me at CitrusTV and is of course an alum of the Newhouse school. Given his success, I looked to shout him out as he begun working earlier this fall. The shout out earned a lot of engagement from Twitter.

With just over 2,000 impressions and 46 total engagements, the tweet likely gained attention from the fact that I was retweeting an account that already has a high number of followers. Noah has 3,083 followers, dwarfing what I have at present. Retweeting his content will have briefly put my account in the feed of his thousands of followers.

The use of the #Newhouse hashtag is also important. The use of hashtags helps to widen your audience, and this one is relatively popular. Although #Newhouse primarily appears on tweets about real estate instead of the communications school, it still would have pushed the tweet out to an audience outside my followers.

Despite the success, you can see from the difference in engagements between this tweet and the Blue Man Group tweet that rich media leads to a higher total number of engagements from users.

Tweet Analytics

Impressions – 2,039

Engagements – 46

Likes – 13

Detail Expands – 4

Profile Clicks – 26


3. Leif Erikson Day

This utilizes much of the same techniques in the previous successful tweets; retweeting a large account (the SpongeBob twitter handle has 2.3 million twitter followers) and the use of comedy. The video I retweeted is from the popular show SpongeBob – in the episode in question, SpongeBob celebrates Leif Erikson Day to commemorate a Viking explorer, keeping in line with the shows often random line of humor. I added my own brand of humor by asking Professor Grygiel if the holiday would count for an excused absence from class that day. While I ended up in class regardless, the tweet had high engagement with 1,456 impressions and a reply from the Professor themselves.

Twitter Analytics

Impressions – 1,456

Engagements – 30

Likes – 16

Detail Expands – 3

Profile Clicks – 8

4. News Engagement Day

This tweet’s success comes primarily from the use of the hashtag – #NewsEngagementDay. As previously stated, using a hashtag is a solid way of engaging a new audience. In this instance, it was a trending topic among Twitter users, and I jumped in on the conversation. I also used it as a way to promote my place of work here on campus at CitrusTV. Rich media was once again utilized as I created a gif of our station’s news stinger. The tweet earned nearly 900 impressions and 155 media views. I was also retweeted by the account “News Engagement Day“, which has nearly 1,000 followers. I likely would not have gotten their attention and the attention of other people who do not follow me had I not used the hashtag.

Tweet Analytics

Impressions – 866

Engagements – 29

Likes – 12

Detail Expands – 1

Profile Clicks – 6

5. Bed Time gif

Dogs are incredibly popular on Twitter – just look to the success of the account “We Rate Dogs“, which has over 8 million followers. Given dog popularity and the already established success of using rich media, creating a gif of a dog in pajamas getting into bed was the best way to express how I was feeling at 11:30PM that evening. The tweet gained 758 impressions and 104 media views, highlighting that although the tweet did well, I could have used other techniques to increase the number of engagements. I did not use a hashtag that would have gotten fellow dog lovers to come see the gif, nor did I tag an account like “We Rate Dogs” to increase the likelihood of non-followers seeing the tweet. While rich media is good, this tweet highlights that employing all techniques possible is crucial for high visibility on a tweet. I also sought to capitalize on the fact that, according to Twitter Analytics, 100% of my audience is interested in the topic of “Dogs”.

Twitter Analytics

Impressions – 758

Engagements – 19

Likes – 6

Detail Expands – 1

Profile Clicks – 0


6. Ladybug hats

To touch upon an earlier point, virility goes hand in hand with humor – memes that touch upon someone’s comedic interests tend to do better than those that elicit other emotions. I sought to share a meme that would not only be considered funny, but cute as well in an attempt to make starting the work week a little easier. In a common theme, I did at least one thing correctly but missed out on a wider audience. I used a piece of media that got a good response – 15 likes on top of 117 total engagements, 87 of which were media engagements. However, the total number of impressions – 615 – would have been far higher had I used a hashtag or tagged a prominent account, or even simply the original poster of the meme @41Strange.

Tweet Analytics

Impressions – 615

Engagements – 117

Likes – 15

Detail Expands – 7

Profile Clicks – 7


7.  Beautiful Day… or Crane?

As we enter December, we are reminded in a harsh way that the winter weather in Syracuse can be brutal. This tweet back in September highlights that a sunny blue sky does in fact exist in Syracuse, earning 601 impressions and 91 engagements. The success here came from two pieces of media that showed off the SU quad; however, the true success may have been an accident. The tweet got two replies, reading “That is a beautiful crane Conor!” and “Omg Walt” from the two users. The crane pictured in the first image is being utilized for construction on the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, and gained widespread attention from local media outlets. Then the meme-ification of the crane began on social media with Walt the Crane. Two students set up the social media account, and the jokes followed seamlessly. While my tweet doesn’t directly reference Walt, the impressions may have come from the inclusion of the now popular meme figure in one of my photos.

Tweet Analytics

Impressions – 601

Engagements – 91

Likes – 9

Detail Expands – 5

Profile Clicks – 10


8. What a Time to be Alive

The only strategy here is an attempt at humor via a retweet. The tweet itself had gained a high amount of attention from Twitter users, with over 200 thousand likes and nearly 75 thousand retweets. Its easy to see why as it is, in fact, an incredibly interesting tweet. However, I was attempting to be sarcastic with the phrase “what a time to be alive” to point out that while it is a good fun fact, it isn’t the most exciting piece of news in the world. At the risk of sounding repetitive, other strategies like hashtags would have garnered more attention.

Tweet analytics

Impressions – 508

Engagements – 19

Likes – 9

Detail Expands – 4

Profile Clicks – 6


9. My Dog

The impressions are on the decline from here on out; this one gained just 502 with 69 total engagements. This tweet should have done better; cute dog with an attempted humorous caption. What went wrong? The only strategy here is the use of a static image, one that is poorly cropped if you are viewing it in your feed on your phone. You can’t see my dog’s adorable face unless you click on it; given people’s short attention spans on social media, it is difficult to get someone to stop and click on an image if they can’t really see what it is to begin with. As seen with the earlier posts in this list, I likely would have gotten higher engagement numbers had I employed a hashtag or tagged an account. Although hindsight is 20/20, I can almost guarentee this tweet would have performed far better had I directly asked “We Rate Dogs” to give my dog a rating or utilized even the simplest of hashtags like “#dog”. Again, using multiple techniques to engage wider audiences is crucial.

Tweet Analytics

Impressions – 502

Engagements – 69

Likes – 12

Detail Expands – 4

Profile Clicks – 1

10. Applying it to the News

In late November, Syracuse University became the center of national news coverage as the campus was rocked by over a dozen acts of racism and antisemitism. I played a role in covering the events for the campus news station, CitrusTV News. A major part of how we covered the student protests and other events taking place was through social media, especially since the protest itself revolved around a hashtag; #NotAgainSU. In my coverage, I employed as many social media techniques as possible to ensure it reached a wide audience in a way that still conveyed the facts and true meaning of what was happening. This tweet highlights many of those techniques. I used rich media with a video that captured a tender, peaceful moment in an otherwise tumultuous set of circumstances as the choir sang to student protestors. I included the hashtag #NotAgainSU to pick up followers of the movement, whose own twitter account gained nearly 2,000 followers in less than three weeks.

This is one of just many tweets that I sent to the world in my effort to accurately cover the protest. In each I included the hashtag and was careful with my language, using as much rich media as possible when relevant. Over the past month I gained 34 new followers, highlighting the fact that when I applied my social media techniques to the primary purpose of my account, to tell news stories, it got attention. Telling the news through social media is critical, especially when we were in a space that didn’t always allow for camera access. It brought people that couldn’t necessarily be there inside the movement in real time; the timeliness was crucial to the attention that each tweet got. The aim of each tweet was not to get likes, of course, but to push out the real time information and ensure as many people as possible understood what was going on. That was the importance of social media strategies learned this semester.

Tweet Analytics

Impressions – 5,842

Engagements – 322

Media Views – 1,129

Likes – 13

Detail Expands – 9

Profile Clicks – 13


Leave a Reply