NPR showcases Twitter chats for social storytelling

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

To extend its voice beyond radio broadcasts, NPR is engaging audiences with social storytelling.

@NPR’s “Tell Me More with Michel Martin” (@TellMeMoreNPR) has just concluded another month-long series around a Twitter hashtag, this time #NPRWIT (NPR Women in Tech).

“We’re trying to use our Twitter chats more as social storytelling campaigns instead of just having a quick Twitter chat,” said Davar Ardalan (@idavar), the show’s senior producer.

Coming on the heels its successful #NPRBlacksinTech discussion, @TellMeMoreNPR continued the coversation about diversity in tech during March. @TellMeMoreNPR had innovative women who work as investors, engineers, coders and entrepreneurs around the world live-tweet a day in their lives with the hashtag #NPRWIT.

There were around 9,000 mentions of the #NPRWIT hashtag in March as part of the campaign.

Merging Twitter and radio

The #NPRWIT series took place on Twitter and the radio, merging digital and terrestrial media. @TellMeMoreNPR host Michel Martin had on-air conversations with women in tech, and she promoted the Twitter series during and after each one.

As for the Twitter series, NPR ran it like a radio program, even bringing in experts. Being on Twitter, the conversation reached an even larger audience.

“Social media allows ‘Tell Me More’ to hear and engage with new audiences in a direct and dynamic way,” Ardalan said. “In essence, it better equips us to deliver the stories our audience wants, when they want them.” She added that Twitter series like #NPRWIT aim for audiences to “direct, shape and redefine conversations,” which both enhances existing conversations and provides a jumping off point for further examination.

“The conversations on Twitter inform the journalism on the broadcast,” Ardalan said, “Not only in the form of guest ideas but also interesting topics or stories that emerge. Some guests from the radio become social media guests, and vice versa.”

The @TellMeMoreNPR team did months of research and preparation, asking listeners to tweet names of innovative women in tech and picking the right people. Finding guests who are active on Twitter was key for broadening the #NPRWIT audience.

For instance, @IamDTech founder @christinecelise and @LadyBits founder Arikia Millikan (@arikia) were two of the biggest influencers around #NPRWIT besides NPR-affiliated accounts.

But you didn’t have to be a radio guest to take part in the discussion and raise awareness around #NPRWIT.

Tweeting a day in the life

To offer perspectives directly from women working in the field, @TellMeMoreNPR enlisted dozens women to tweet about a day on the job through the month of March.

Each weekday between March 3 and March 28, at least one woman in tech live-tweeted her day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET. The women shared photos, links of their work and ideas on getting more girls and women interested in tech fields.

With the worldwide reach of Twitter, @TellMeMoreNPR had a diverse group of women from every inch of the tech world tweeting about their work and their lives. @TellMeMoreNPR asked the women questions and encouraged people to tweet #NPRWIT to join in the real-time dialogue on women in tech.

“We centralized everything under @TellMeMoreNPR,” Ardalan said. “From there we posed questions and offered topics but kept the framework loose, so that women would be encouraged to share their ideas and relevant stories from their daily lives.”

An important aspect of the #NPRWIT series was its presentation beyond the radio and Twitter platforms. @TellMeMoreNPR curated each day’s conversation with Storify, threading the live-tweeting with follow-up blog posts and radio stories.

Do you know of other innovative uses of Twitter? Write to [email protected].