Every journalist needs to be on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. It takes time to attract followers but the payoff is worth it in story ideas and an expanded audience for your work. So how do you get there?
Chip Mahaney, emerging talent leader for E.W. Scripps, says the number one rule of social media is simple: Be social. Here are nine more of the tips he shared at a Texas Association of Broadcasters newsroom workshop:
- Be pleasant. Build relationships and work at them. That means asking opinions of others and thanking them for comments. As your audience grows, look for loyalists and pay attention to those people.
- Be a journalist. Break news on social media. (I’d add that you need to remember you’re a professional and act that way.)
- Be a photographer of quality. “Your camera has a phone,“ Mahaney says, so use it. And take care with your product.
- Be a starmaker. “Paint it blue,” Mahaney advises. That means using links in your posts, particularly to anyone who’s already established on the platform. That will give your posts a wider audience.
- Be a real person. Connect the social world with the physical world. That can mean sharing some personal information or bringing your social audience together IRL.
- Be helpful. Solve problems. Connect people to others. Provide information people are looking for.
- Be engaging. Work the comments. Mahaney says not doing that is the number one failing he sees on social. A tip: Leave a paragraph off the story and use it as the first comment, funneling readers into the section where they can react.
- Be excellent at one thing. Bosses want it all, of course, but Mahaney urges journalists to focus on one thing and do it well.
- Be a force for good. People don’t want to be around angry people on social media any more than they do in person. That doesn’t mean being fake or insincere, Mahaney says, but “when in doubt stay positive.”
This story first appeared on advancingthestory.com.
Deborah Potter is an experienced journalism trainer and reporter who spent 16 years as a network correspondent at CBS News and CNN. She is co-author of “Advancing the Story: Quality Journalism in a Digital World,” now in its fourth edition. She writes regularly about journalism on the Advancing the Story website. For almost 20 years, Deborah ran NewsLab, the journalism site she founded in 1998, which is now part of the University of Mississippi. Deborah leads workshops for journalists in newsrooms across the United States and around the world on writing, social media, digital journalism and ethics.