Ahead of our sellout panel session at Social Media Week London 2013, guest Will Sturgeon from The Media Blog spoke to us about best practice in writing for social media and tells us why humour is so important to the success of his feed.
Can you give us an overview of the @themediatweets feed and the sort of content you share?
Almost everything I tweet about has a connection to the media, as you’d expect, but that’s a pretty broad church.
People who found me while discussing the Leveson Inquiry, or on the back of a tweet about tabloid misrepresentation of immigration data may run in horror when I start tweeting about the X Factor but these things are related.
How has the tone of voice developed?
The tone of voice is slightly irreverent and a little cynical. I try to keep it conversational and chat with people as much as possible and share things people flag to me. My followers are great and some of them are far better than me at spotting the kinds of things which work
brilliantly on the blog and on the Twitter feed.
I genuinely hope that despite the air of cynicism people also pick up on an affection for much that the media does and can achieve – whether that’s a stunning piece of writing, a brilliant headline or a wonderful local news story that deserves a wider audience.
Although some of my tweets are unapologetically frivolous I do try not to tweet for the sake of it. Over time I’ve averaged around ten tweets per day. This isn’t by design but feels roughly about right. If there’s a lot going on I’ll tweet much more. If there’s nothing to
talk about I’ll keep quiet.
How important is humour in the success of your Twitter feed? Or would you say it’s all down to being first with the gossip?
Humour is crucial. It is the single most important thing for engaging my audience. Sometimes it might be a dark or satirical humour which comes from pointing out a particularly rich hypocrisy or it might just be a cheap joke or picture gag.
Humour is viral, it helps build an audience and it unites like-minded people but it also helps set up a serious point very effectively. A sudden change of pace and emphasis can be very powerful.
What should people in the public eye do when they make an error on Twitter – delete the tweet or explain and move on?
They should delete it if its ongoing presence will cause confusion or continued offence which was unintended. Then they should explain they have deleted it, apologise if necessary and move on.
People say stupid things on Twitter and they pay a short term price for it but in the main somebody else is always about to say something even stupider in just a few minutes time. Only the most serious errors of judgement stick.
I enjoy flagging people’s blunders as much as the next person – maybe more – but we all need to maintain some perspective and understand the difference between stupid and malicious, accidental or intentional.
Something people definitely shouldn’t do is blame “hackers” unless they really have been hacked. There have been high-profile instances in the past of people trying to blame hackers for an unfortunate typo and they look utterly ridiculous.
It’s become Twitter’s equivalent of ‘the dog ate my homework’.
About Will Sturgeon
Will Sturgeon is a former business and technology journalist turned media and PR consultant and commentator. He runs TheMediaBlog.co.uk, which unsurprisingly is a blog about the media and looks at everything from the major changes taking place in business models and audience engagement to more light-hearted observations about the quirks of the UK media.
He also tweets at the @TheMediaTweets, which has nearly 50,000 followers.
Since leaving journalism in 2007, Will has worked with a number of big brands and agencies on developing content and strategies for social and traditional media. He urges businesses to avoid the kinds of social media gaffes and pitfalls he often covers on his blog and believes common sense is the key to getting most things right online and in the media. He currently works for GolinHarris in London in a media strategy role.
Will studied English at university and is planning on a return to university in 2014 to deliver lectures on the media. He currently provides regular training to charities and NGOs via The Media Trust.