FAIL! How *not* to use Twitter

Newspapers, as I've been banging on for as long as I can remember, really need to start embracing and testing out new social media applications, especially Twitter. They're not difficult to set up, can provide an immediacy their website can't always provide, and give a great opportunity to interact with their audience and liveblog events. However, there's experimentation and then there's just completely not getting the right stories to use Twitter for. I would dearly love to know what was going through the head of the reporter or editor on the Rocky Mountain News' head who decided it was a good idea to Live Tweet the funeral of a 3-year-old boy killed at an ice-cream store. Have a read of the reporter's feed from the funeral - it feels like a Chris Morris satire of social media, or an update of a football game.

It's great that journalists are embracing sites like Twitter and seeing their potential. But it probably doesn't hurt to also engage your brain when thinking about the best place to test them out are. Local events or breaking news are probably a good bet. Dead children are usually best avoided for this kind of thing.

If you want a good guide on testing out sites like Twitter, Qik, and Flip, the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones has an excellent piece explaining, quite simply, the sites and how he found using them. Any journalist who's thinking of trying out the sites should have a read.