Using the Web’s newest addiction – Twitter – is easier than you think

Twitter‘s all the rage lately. The Chicago Tribune “Twitterized” its masthead this month, replacing execs’ names with their Twitter IDs, and Nielsen recently declared it among the Web’s fastest-growing “member community destinations.”

So what’s the big deal? And can it really help a community newspaper?

For a primer on Twitter, check out this USA Today story from last year (ignore the talk about the site’s failing infrastructure, that’s no longer an issue).

Obviously in 140 characters, one can’t do much storytelling, which means the site doesn’t really have many benefits when it comes to storytelling like many new media tools do.

Twitter can still be a great tool, however, when it comes to promoting your site’s content and connecting with your readers.

The best way to learn about Twitter, though, is to just try it. It takes less than a minute to sign up for an account. Check out some of the best newspaper feeds such as the Austin American-Statesman‘s @statesman.

We also have a guide from a few popular members of the Twitterverse at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (@startelegram) that you can download here. That’s courtesy of Eva Ayala (@fwstayala), Andrea Jares (@andreajares) and Kathy Vetter (@klvet).

There are also more links on the Twitter page in our New Media Tools database and I’ll be posting more soon about how to use free services to automate a Twitter feed.

And don’t forget to follow us at @tccj.

If you have any experience with Twitter (good or bad) or advice to share with other community journalists, post it below.

By Andrew Chavez

Andrew Chavez is a Web specialist at the Dallas Morning News. Before joining the News, he worked at the Austin American-Statesman and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.