Twitchy, Twitter, and the Newswire of the 21st Century

twitchy-twitter-newswire

“If it’s news, Twitchy is on it. If it should be news, Twitchy is ahead of it.”

There are tweet aggregators. And then there’s Twitchy.

Since 2012 Twitchy has been the go to resource for breaking news in politics and entertainment, breaking stories wide open and delivering both the Twitter hits and the all-too-common Twitter misses. Launched by journalist, blogger and commentator Michelle Malkin, the team quickly expanded under Managing Editor Lori Ziganto to include five editors, contributing editors (including Malkin herself) and many fans.

How many? How about 180,000 followers on Twitter and closing in on a million page likes on Facebook.

That’s a lot of love for Twitchy, so what’s attracting the visitors?

The Twitchy Experience

Let’s be honest: Twitchy’s homepage isn’t exactly beautiful.

And if you’re expecting a lot of sliders, accordion elements, videos playing under or over content, you’ll be disappointed.

For Twitchy, function triumphs over form. The breaking stories are up top, you can scroll down to less recent posts, and the house style is simple: catchy headline and striking image, both linked to a post.

Click any story and you’ll find yourself on a Twitchy post. Typically a Twitchy post includes:

  • A relevant tweet, though generally not the one that is the focus of the post
  • A little editorial copy to give context
  • The focus tweet
  • Responses to that focus tweet
  • A comment thread

Like so many other success stories online, the idea is simple, the execution is perfectly measured and targeted, and the fans flock.

Not only do Twitchy posts get shared on major social networks, but the site hosts lively comment threads that are often as heartwarming, outrageous, or laugh-out-loud funny as the tweets that provoked them. It’s the engagement that makes Twitchy home base for a community and more than just a content aggregation site, and its the community that is, in part, responsible for the sizable following that the site has earned.

From the ‘Twire’

Consider an example straight off the site’s ‘Twire’ (Twitter wire) that demonstrates the sort of engagement a perfectly pitched post can earn:

On the front page of Twitchy the headline and the image of a confused-looking Hillary Clinton draws in the reader’s eyes. Note the category (US Politics) at the top of the screenshot. That’s one of only three categories on the site, the others being entertainment and media. Twitchy has defined their niche and refused to lay the ‘everything to everyone’ game. The editorial team stick to what they know and deliver for their fans sainted of trying to reach every single user – and that’s a smart content strategy.

Click through and you’re greeted with the tweet below:

And some content that should get the blood of any US politics junkie boiling:

Is anybody really shocked that new reporting by the AP shows that Hillary Clinton used an iPad and a Blackberry to send emails while Secretary of State, thus negating her claim that she set up a personal email server so she could just carry one device? We’re certainly not:

What follows after are a series of tweets embedded in the post including those from mainstream media accounts and political commentators. Come the end of the post, Twitchy adds a hashtag-ready call to action:

Time to #SeizeTheServer!

Perfect presentation, a nice CTA, and then scroll down through relevant advertisements to the active comments thread.

The post was eminently shareable and had already achieved 7000 shares in its first 24 hours on the site. Add to this the additional engagement in the comments (more than 160 comments in the first 24 hours) and on Facebook (more than 850 likes and 140 shares, plus a very active comments thread, too) and Twitchy has delivered for their readers once again.

Team Twitchy Know Their Stuff

It’s no surprise that Twitchy is enjoying great success in the world of social media aggregation – they are getting so much right. Consider what the Twitchy team bring to the table:

  • Regular posting. Twitchy posts many times and throughout the entire day. This gives readers a reason to visit regularly and helps them to stay on the site when they do visit.
  • Social media nouse. Twitchy don’t use the same images on Facebook as they do on their WordPress-based site. Why? It’s not because they have two different audiences, but rather that Facebook image sizes and the size for images on their homepage are different. Twitchy doesn’t artificially crop, they choose the right image for the right social steal.
  • Embed, don’t copy-and-paste. By embedding tweets on their site instead of taking screenshots or copy-and-pasting tweets the Twitchy team make it easy for readers to share and amplify the messages they read. It only takes a couple of clicks to retweet an embedded tweet on the Twitchy and drive a popular story even further into the stratosphere.
  • Killer copy. The team at Twitchy can write. Their audience is there for the tweets and so the team delivers short, sharp sentences that provide the necessary context and not a lot more. When you have three lines to pull a national story into focus you need to be a wordsmith – and the Twitchy team has the goods.
  • Internal links. Twitchy knows that getting a visitor to arrive on site is a challenge, but keeping them on site and coming back is the long term goal. Twitchy doesn’t overwhelm readers with internal links but it does provide the chance for interested readers to click through to another relevant Twitchy post every single time. Get them in, keep them reading, and make sure they come back.

Twitchy is a great example of a meta-Twitter experience, adding real value to the social platform, developing a community, and building engagement through editorial authenticity. It stands as a great business model in the social sphere, and an example of best practice in social media and communication marketing.

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