Twitterfeed or Twitterfail?

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal tweeted an item about Bernard Madoff and his wife Ruth. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned.The WSJ uses Twitterfeed, a very popular way to automatically aggregate RSS feeds over Twitter. The problem lies right there in the automation: the service will cut off Tweets in order to fit a link in and, of course, to make 140 characters.

This is what the tweet looked like:twitterfailTwitterfeed chopped off what was most likely supposed to say assets and turned it into another word.Poynter’s Amy Gahran had a write-up of the incident:

A much better strategy is to manually write or edit your tweets to make sure they’ll fit on Twitter. You only have 140 characters total to work with, including spaces and links, after all.

Gahran is right here. A large news organization like the WSJ should probably use more caution and stop using Twitterfeed.Newspapers who turn off the feed and actually place a human behind the tweets also are more popular.Look at what happened when the Grand Island (Neb.) Independent turned off their Twitterfeed:

On May 1, when I found it, the Independent had 12 followers; its audience has steadily increased since then. On Sept. 1, it had 95 followers. Today it has 196 followers.

And a word of advice from the Independent’s Web editor, Stephanie Romanski:

I would completely and without reservation recommend that papers shut off the Twitterfeed and find someone who can tweet headlines by hand, and TALK to the readers.

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