I honestly hate Twitter. A cesspool of absolute incoherent nonsense, terrible grammar, not enough characters to communicate a point effectively, and everything moving so fast on your feed you have no idea what is going on. And that’s just regarding Donald Trump’s tweets. Twitter has so much fighting and vitriol, fake news, and is poorly managed. I was a writer who was looking for a home for my writing and wanted to push what I had. I regrettably used Twitter, and eventually met the folks here at Halsey News. Now I’m a correspondent and for the most part run our social media (follow our Twitter @HalseyNews_Com).
I had a Public Relations class back in community college, and I did a bit of my own research. I’m not claiming to be a Public Relations expert. But some the lessons I learned are simple: be clear, concise, and brief with your public relations announcements. It is a bit different for a news/policy analysis organization. We have many with opinions held by our writers. Those who follow and interact with the social media accounts and the site have many opinions of their own too. But we have to attempt to act professional, at least on our official account. We do allow our writers and partners to use their personal social media with no restriction.
That means that our writers are free to reply to mentions, get into Twitter fights, pester Chelsea Clinton and Linda Sarsour, do as you please. Tweet away. Follow whoever you want. Unfortunately for me, as the social media manager, I can’t do any of those things. I physically can, but image-wise, it just doesn’t look professional.
I can’t just follow any random account on Twitter with the official Halsey News Network account. Someone we follow could tweet something absolutely disgusting or bigoted, and then it could come back to us. We would have to answer for why we follow these people. Do we condone this activity? If it’s one of our writers who go off the Twitter rails a bit, we vetted them and can answer for our initial reason for hiring them (of course, we would go to bat for our writers before anything happens most likely. Go be controversial guys!). If it is some random twitter account, it will be hard to answer for. Why trap yourself unnecessarily? My advice: follow only those you are officially associated with and those who are regarded as professionals (generally donning a verified blue check-mark). There is less chance a professional representation of someone or an organization says or does something beyond reproach. It has happened, but the chances are far lower. Some examples: @Halseynews_Com follows official White House Staffers, our writers, guests on any of our shows, and the official accounts of The GOP and The Democrats.
The best thing about being particular about who you follow on Twitter is a making sure you have a great following:follower ratio. You should always be following less than followers you have. Even with only 410 followers, our ratio is almost 3:1, as we only follow 186 accounts. This isn’t to brag, because I would love to follow a few more official accounts, but until we grow I am not. The first thing many look at when deciding if a Twitter account is legitimate is the following:follower ratio.
More important than having a good ratio is to watch what you post. As I mentioned before, do not post your personal opinions and reply to every comment if you are using an official account to represent an organization. You will get bogged down into pointless Twitter fights and say things that you personally believe but should not be representative of your organization. For the Halsey News account we respond often to those who tweet at us, many asking questions about our organization. More often than not we ignore both compliments and negative feedback, once in a while retweeting praise for a writer but that is about it. As tempting as it is, leave your official twitter to official business, like posting your latest content and press releases. A witty reply that goes viral is great, but more often than not, there is little chance you will be the next Wendy’s, who, to put it nicely, roasts people and competitors on Twitter daily.
This doesn’t stop people from using their organization’s blue check mark to go on personal crusades and get bogged down in Twitter fights. One example would be conservative group The Reagan Battalion. While an opinionated organization to begin with, they decide to get bogged down in twitter fights with a host on Right Site Broadcasting Network, Nicholas J Fuentes. Now The Reagan Battalion put a lot of energy into Ed McMullin’s campaign and were the ones credited with forcing Milo Yiannopoulos out of Breitbart. But, no offense to Nicholas, Nicholas is practically a nobody when it comes to popularity. Some of these spats would occur when Nicholas had well under 1,000 followers. The Reagan Battalion has had well over 30,000 followers at the time of these spats and now has over 41,000. Why engage with him, let alone let him become a thorn in your side?
— The Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) April 7, 2017
The most embarrassing part comes when many of the Tweets done by Nicholas in response to them get more likes and re-tweets.
— Nicholas J. Fuentes (@NickJFuentes) April 23, 2017
They ended up making someone they thought they were “destroying,” more popular. Now, this is a trivial matter, but I bring it up because a tweet by The Reagan Battalion this week is what inspired me to write this article. They deleted it, but then took a screenshot of it and uploaded that. (I’m not a Public Relations expert, would anyone in the industry like to tell me where this is a good strategy?)
Deleted this tweet, since some folks took it as us wishing that Reagn literally punched Tucker in the face. pic.twitter.com/yHWWroJ37J
— The Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) June 14, 2017
This is what I mean by “unhinged.” While I assume they were trying to tell a joke, it came off badly and they were under fire for that comment. An organization may review and handle that slip-up internally. Talk to whoever manages the social media about the organization’s social media policy. The Reagan Battalion took it one step further and doubled-down, using this tweet as a flag planted in the ground instead of cowering behind it or attempting to bury it. Bold strategy. At the time of this article The Reagan Battalion had no comment on their social media policy or management.
Gab is a free speech media platform, similar to Twitter. It claims to never censor (reminder: Halsey News is on Gab!). Many it has attracted to join the site are on the right politically. While they don’t need to pretend to be neutral, they also get a bit too much to the right: they are often some of the top replies to President Trump tweets, as well as tweeting out the hashtag #MAGA often. Like the Reagan Battalion, they engage in fights with small users.
But maybe I’m wrong about all of this, because Gab is doing fantastic. Their tweets are very popular and their site is growing. Our fantastic editor-at-large Stefanie MacWilliams is the queen of Twitter fights (and winning them). She has far more followers than our official account. The Gateway Pundit uses Jim Hoft (the owner)’s Twitter account as the website’s official account. maybe people are tired of seeing faceless accounts not able to hold an opinion. Maybe people will feel better that a human who has opinions is behind the account, in a world where everything is so artificial.