Twitter bird
Credit: By Twitter on Flickr. All rights reserved.
Twitter is now a part of many journalists' everyday jobs, and perhaps even more so during election time.

To show local media outlets as well as candidates how to make the most of the platform during the UK election campaign, Twitter ran workshops across the country over a two-week roadshow in March and April.

The platform has also researched its UK userbase ahead of the election to get a better understanding of the levels of political engagement, and the types of information its users are looking for.

"We got a strong sense that a core group on Twitter is the 18-to-34 year-olds," explained Joanna Geary, Twitter’s head of news and government partnerships. "And we know that actually from our research they're pretty politically engaged."

Twenty per cent of these users had not yet decided who should get their vote, and said they were looking for more information about candidates and policies.

"We know there are local newspapers trying to reach out to that age group and this sounds like a good opportunity to give them a route to that younger audience and help them engage in politics," said Geary, "because that's exactly what local newspapers do.

"They make those sorts of things clear and easy to understand for the local audience."

The study showed 74 per cent of 18-to-34 year-olds on Twitter were planning to vote, and the percentage rose to 83 per cent of UK Twitter users as a whole.

The majority of Twitter users surveyed in the research (78 per cent) said they used the platform as a way to "make sense of the election".

70 per cent also said they looked to Twitter to "get information in a simple to understand way".

As part of the roadshow, Twitter ran workshops analysing the accounts of local outlets, offering advice about raising their engagement rates and follower counts on the platform.

Sean Evins, of Twitter's government and politics team, told Journalism.co.uk the workshops focused on using photo and video content on the platform, and the four key concepts that drive the network.

"We really hit home the fact that Twitter is a live and public and conversational and distributive platform," he explained.

"We also wanted to make sure that the individuals that we work with understand the importance of being authentic and being conversational on Twitter."

The Camden New Journal and the Birmingham Mail ran hustings in partnership with Twitter as part of the roadshow, using the platform to source questions and publish answers from local candidates.

Evins said the hustings were a way to create a "public and conversational debate" as the two media outlets live-tweeted the events, and the Birmingham Mail also livestreamed through Twitter's Periscope app.

For more Twitter tips, have a look at these 15 tips and tools for newsgathering on the platform as explained by Sarah Marshall, social media editor EMEA at The Wall Street Journal.

Journalism.co.uk is running a half-day course exploring advanced Twitter search techniques in June. Join us to find out how to research effectively using Twitter.

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