Group Twittering instructions

By Steve Outing

In other blog posts here and on Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits, I’ve discussed ideas for using Twitter to cover major breaking news stories (like disasters) with micro-bursts of instant news reporting. This can be especially powerful if you’ve got a team of reporters all feeding a Twitter story stream.

Alas, Twitter doesn’t allow multiple cell phones to feed content to a single Twitter account. So I asked Twitter tech support for suggestions on doing the group Twitter reporting thing. Here’s their answer:

You can’t have multiple phones updating one account, but you can create an event profile and have all of the related twitters made by others show up in the profile’s ‘with friends’ feed.

“Use Twitter’s embed code and feed that aggregates participants updates to capture the zeitgeist of the event and reflect it back out however you like: plasma screens, projectors, your web site, etc.

“First you need to set things up so that updates come to the right place. Here’s how:

  • Go to twitter.com and set up an account with the name of the event as the user name.
  • Send us an email and let us know when sign up is complete, with a link to the profile. We’ll turn on auto-friending, which means that every person who adds you as a friend will automatically be added as a friend of the event.
  • Customize your profile in settings to add the event logo, and a background design if you’d like.
  • Tell everyone to use the FOLLOW + UserName command. For example, if your event is entitled Save_Jericho, people would send: follow save_jericho to Twitter. This means they will get your updates, and if they decide to Twitter back about the event, their updates will show in the “save_jericho with friends” timeline.

“If people are new to Twitter, they may need a bit of guidance to get going. Here are some tips to pass along:

  • Instruct people to send FOLLOW Save_Jericho to 40404. If they aren’t using SMS, they can visit http://twitter.com/Save_Jericho and click follow from the web page. (The reverse of this is LEAVE+username to stop getting updates.)
  • Communicate to participants that following your event-enabled user name means their Twitter updates will be publicly viewable on the web.
  • Encourage participants to discover each other’s usernames and tell them they can text FOLLOW USERNAME to start getting that person’s text updates on their mobile.
  • Add a Twitter badge to your website or place of online promotion so that people can see what others are saying about the event, and join. If you use the “with friends” badge, people will be able to view what you and others are saying from the badge.
  • Send a note to support@twitter.com an let us know about your event; we always love to hear about cool new things people are doing with Twitter!

“More useful Twitter commands are here.”

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!