With the advent of Twitter lists back in 2009, we thought we’d ditch the concept of listing out people to follow on a page on a website –or at least that’s what I thought. But since Twitter lists aren’t natively emeddable or easily discoverable, many news organizations still find themselves putting together their own staff directories to point to various reporters/editors on social media. But beyond being useful for the readers, it can actually provide incentive for those in the newsroom who aren’t actively using Twitter when they see a public-facing list and see their colleagues getting more followers from that list. Below are some tips and sources of inspiration from other news org Twitter directories.
- Break up all individuals into various sections, so if people are only interested in food or sports, they can only follow the relevant people from your organization. If you want to get really fancy, use filtering options (see the Google and Reuters examples below)
- Only include Twitter handles for people who actually tweet well and regularly. Don’t include the people who have just signed up, not uploaded an avatar or maybe tweeted once or twice last spring. That’s not valuable to anyone.
- Show more than just names and handles in your directory. Grab avatars, descriptions and follower counts.
- Feature top users or most-followed users, depending on your audience (see the NY Times and MuckRack examples below)
- If you include a Twitter “follow” button, people can follow your staff from the directory, rather than clicking through each individual Twitter page and finding a follow button. Lower the barrier to entry.
The New York Times
Best feature for you to copy: Calling out “featured” accounts (and rotating them on a regular basis) to give prominent exposure to less-seen accounts.
Best feature for you to copy: Somewhat similar to the NY Times, LA Times highlights three must-follow accounts at the top of the page.
Best feature for you to avoid: Avoid listing out all the accounts as straight text. People who use twitter are used to seeing context beyond a username: an avatar, a biography.
Best feature(s) for you to copy: The design is beautiful, modern and clean. Because of the different purpose MuckRack serves (it doesn’t represent a single organization), there’s high utility in listing the most-followed accounts. This might not be the best approach for your news org if your most-followed accounts are in the hundreds and low thousands, but it works really well here. Also make note of the big avatars, full names, descriptions, and follower counts.
Best feature for you to copy: If you have an elegant way of displaying a few recent tweets, this could work well. I wouldn’t, however, embed four Twitter widgets side-by-side.
Best feature to copy (or not): CNN’s “follow” buttons are a little deceptive, because they actually go to the user’s page, rather than initiating an act of following. There are reasons to do this and not to do this. It’s good because it doesn’t clutter your page with extra code, but it can be a confusing UX. It’s up to you decide what your audience will find most useful.
Best feature to copy: Like many news organizations, Google has a lot of accounts on Twitter. Unlike newsrooms, who tend to dump all their accounts onto a page, Google has filtering options through dropdown menus to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
Best feature to copy: Reuters, similar to Google, has filtering options by section for users to sort through Twitter users. Using Klout integration, they also list each person’s topics of influence on Twitter — very smart.
Have any other great examples? Share them in the comments and we’ll add them to the list!
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