Twitter is a powerful tool for companies looking to build a following and spread the word about products. That goes double for publishers in the business of creating digital content. But engaging with the Twitter community in a meaningful way is practically a full-time job. No one likes robo-tweets -- you know, those obviously computer generated tweets with a link and some sort of information, like a headline. Those garner you no favor with followers, but what does win you loyalty on Twitter is retweeting.
For publishers, though, retweeting raises a few questions. If the main goal of your Twitter feed is to call attention to and build conversation around your content, then what exactly should you be retweeting? Certainly not competitors' stories!
While I don't see any harm in occasionally pointing to a story you think your readers would be interested in by another outlet -- it shows you're confident enough to not be threatened by those interlopers -- there are a few easy to follow, simple rules you can use to build goodwill on Twitter while also shamelessly shilling for your brand.
First, I suggest promoting your contributors. If you've got columnists, guest bloggers, regular writers, etc. who are experts in your publication's area of expertise, why not help them out by retweeting their posts -- even if they are linking back to their own sites instead of yours. After all, the more those writers are able to build their reputations the better. It reflects well on you, and shows that you support the people you work with.
Second, I suggest retweeting anyone who is promoting your content. If you see someone has mentioned an article from a few days ago, why not retweet that person's post? Not only does it show your audience that other people value your content, but you expose the people who support your content to a whole new audience of possible followers. It's a win-win.
Third, I suggest finding Twitter users who are posting about topics relevant to your content. Retweet them, but add a link to a story or blog post about the same subject matter.
The bottom line is that social networks are about building community. You can't just robo-tweet your latest posts and hope that's enough. If you want folks to engage with your content, then you need to be willing to reciprocate. With some careful planning, though, your organization can build a strategy that promotes your content as well as the community.