We all know by now that social media are meant to be, well, social. It’s not enough to post links on Twitter and Facebook to something you’ve written and consider the job done. What you really want is for people to retweet, like and comment on your posts, to take advantage of the multiplier effect of social media. So how do you get your “fans” and followers to engage with you?
The most obvious answer from Kimberly Wilson of Social News Desk and Josh Rickel of Mass Relevance is to engage with them. Ask questions, put up polls, join in the conversation by replying to comments–all good ideas they shared at the recent Excellence in Journalism conference in New Orleans. One cautionary note, however. Be sure you know why you’re asking a question and let your viewers in on the reason. Case in point:
If you just put something like that out there to get a conversation started, people can wind up confused or even panicked.
But what if your social media posts generate little to no response? It’s frustrating, I know. Take a look at NewsLab on Facebook and you won’t see a whole lot of activity, despite my best efforts. What should I be doing differently?
Research from Facebook offers a few suggestions. I rarely post on weekends but I should–especially on Saturday, when posts get 20% more likes and comments. The message for newsrooms is that your social strategy can’t be a Monday-Friday project. Make sure the weekend team is on board and active too. The same goes for nightside. I tend to post early in the morning, when traffic spikes, but I rarely post at night, missing users who check in after dinner. And my posts tend to be brief, which is not a good thing on Facebook. A post of five lines or more can draw 60% more comments and likes.
On Twitter, I rarely ask for retweets, finding it somewhat annoying when others do. But Wilson and Rickel say you should. If you add “Please retweet” 51% of followers will do it. “Please RT” gets 39% to act. And people retweet more in the afternoon than in the morning. Who knew?