Forget “digital first,” you need to be “digital now,” says Tanita Gaither, digital content manager for Gray’s WIS-TV in Columbia, South Carolina. The 2011 graduate from the University of Georgia says it’s simply not enough to post regularly to your own personal social accounts and then consider yourself ready for a digital producing job.
“Being on social media does not make you a digital now person. I always say digital now because digital first is a lame talking point media companies say to make themselves seem relevant,” says Gaither. “Being immersed in digital in the local newsroom means you are utilizing all the tools.”
She says that also means you have to know about and use the latest social platforms and distribution channels. Gaither says local TV companies want to hire people who can help them engage the next generation of viewers.
“What a lot of folks my age feel is that they can’t identify with local TV news as it stands, so you have to use social media platforms like Snapchat to engage that audience. Snapchat, OTT (streaming) channels — that’s what’s engaging the new audience.”
At the same time, Gaither says that digital producers have to have expertise in the more mature social platforms, too.
“It’s really Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and then Twitter is what our audience uses the most.”
In fact, though many younger people say they no longer use Facebook, it’s still a critically important tool for TV newsrooms. Gaither says as much as 75% of the referral page views on her station’s website come from people clicking through from Facebook, and that percentage tracks with what other local TV newsrooms report as well.
Regardless of platform, though, Gaither says the journalism still matters.
“Even though a lot of people express animosity toward the news, they express that animosity toward the cable networks, there’s less animosity toward local news. So, we’ve got to believe in that. We live in a digital age and a lot of it is so darn difficult to keep up with, so we need to make sure that the content is there, so we can continue that trust. That’s what I try to work for. People want local news.”
If you get a chance to experiment with some social media management tools, you may be able to improve your chances of getting a digital news job. Here are some of the tools, Gaither says her station uses regularly:
- CrowdTangle – content discovery and social monitoring platform for publishers and brands.
- Google Analytics – lets you track traffic to your social networking sites and applications.
- Buffer – a tool to schedule social media posts and analyze their results.
- Facebook Insights – allows you to track user interaction on your Facebook page.
A version of this story first appeared on advancingthestory.com.