Mining Twitter to bolster your campaign trail coverage

By Niketa Patel

Confused about whether you’re using social media effectively to cover this year’s U.S. elections? We asked a News Partnerships Manager at one of the networks we use, Twitter, to provide this list of tips and best practices for using the platform.

As social news gathering has evolved over the years, Twitter remains an essential place to discover what’s happening, to dig deeper and to debunk stories. This year, we have seen an unprecedented use of Twitter by presidential candidates, the parties, their teams, newsrooms and journalists.

As we head into the homestretch of this year’s election, many newsrooms and journalists are using Twitter to cover the debates and prepare for Election Day.

Here are some #protips to experiment with to maximize the effectiveness of the platform:


Turn on notifications for a candidate to see his or her tweets as they happen. A number of campaign reporters enable this feature to receive real-time updates and reactions to a candidate’s posts.

And now anyone can toggle between receiving account notifications for all tweets from an account or just those containing live video, which news organizations have increasingly utilized.

Direct Messaging

Be reachable via DM to cultivate sources privately. I’ve heard from journalists that they love being able to toggle this feature on and off based on their assignments.

Group direct messages for teams this election season have helped newsrooms both coordinate logistically and quickly share snippets of information.


Streamline your Twitter experience with TweetDeck! New date, time and location filters have just been added to make it faster and easier to find and verify tweets from a specified location – a key part of a journalist’s workflow.

Imagine using these filters to discover great tweets from local residents in St. Louis, the location of the second presidential debate on Oct. 9, or your publication’s own city.


Use this app to go live anytime, anywhere. Periscope surfaces amazing content by launching channels for specific events and stories, with broadcasters able to be found on a map or via a list. Live video can transform storytelling by allowing reporters to share breaking news experiences as they happen with viewers.

As a breakout star in social media this year, Periscope was used extensively at the political conventions and we anticipate many newsrooms and journalists increasing their usage as the countdown to Nov. 8 continues.

Advanced Search

One of the most-used features on Twitter is our advanced search tool. Admittedly, it’s a little hard to find because you have to do a regular search on desktop, then click on Options to find it, so here’s the URL to bookmark: The tool can search for specific Twitter accounts, hashtags and/or keywords, as well as filter by geolocation and time.

Niketa Patel

Niketa is a News Partnerships Manager at Twitter, based in New York. She also has experience in digital journalism, social media and product management. She can be found on Twitter at @Niketa.

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