Sree Tips

Social-media etiquette for journalists

Q: It’s so hard to keep track of social media, so how do I make sure I miss none of the tweets from a source I am covering?

A: The dirty secret of social media is that almost everyone will miss almost everything you do on social media. It’s especially true of Twitter and Facebook posts. If, however, you have a source you cover and don’t want to miss any postings by that person, you need to set up mobile notifications so that you get a text (SMS) message every time he or she tweets. That way, any errant tweets or cases of oversharing that might give you some insight and a leg up on the competition come right to you. If the reporters covering @RepWeiner had done this, they could have gotten a world exclusive about the Congressman’s shenanigans long before he resigned. To set up mobile notifications, login at, then go to “settings” and then “mobile.” To get notifications from a specific person, go to his or her Twitter page, click the icon with the person silhouette next to the “Following” button, then click “Turn on mobile notifications” in the drop-down menu.

@ColumbiaJourn professor Sree Sreenivasan (@Sree) answers your social-media-etiquette questions. Send your queries via #asksree on Twitter or e-mail (subject line = CJR etiquette).

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Sree Sreenivasan the Chief Digital Officer of Columbia University.