For the first time in history, breaking news is disseminated instantly via Twitter, rather than people reading about the previous day’s news over breakfast. Now, letters to the editor have become comments on a Facebook wall, and viewers can connect directly with their favorite on-air personality whom was once unattainable.
For many in the communications industry, social media is a foreboding concept. When political coverage is cut down to 140 characters, it may feel like the end of a treasured profession. However, some reporters are looking upon these technological advances as innovative tools that could reinvigorate the exchange of information.
Last night, the Atlanta Press Club hosted three of the city’s most social digital news experts: Victor Hernandez, News Futurist for CNN Worldwide, Kate Keib, Director of Digital Marketing at Gannett Atlanta/WXIA, and Jackson Reeves, Digital-Coordinator at Atlanta Magazine. These experts shared their views on social media, branding, and the future of journalism. More importantly, they revealed their social media tips for media professionals.
If you’re new to the social world:
- Think about what you want out of social media. That will help you determine which platform or platforms are best for you. There are five social media forums that are very popular right now: YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and Pinterest, but there are countless others as well.
- “Twitter is the social AP newswire, but if you’re more visual you’re gonna connect better on Instagram or Tumbler,” Jackson Reeves, Digital Coordinator of Atlanta Magazine, told the Press Club.
- “I think an early mistake people make is signing up for a whole bunch of accounts, without thinking about what they want to accomplish for themselves and their organization,” said Victor Hernandez, News Futurist for CNN Worldwide.
- Once you’ve selected a platform, get to know it well. Utilize all the settings.
- Almost all social platforms have special privacy settings, allow you to group friends using lists or have dashboards that enable you to manage various news feeds.
- Listen more than you talk.
- The evening’s moderator, Editorial Director of Venture Atlanta and self-proclaimed social guru, Jacqui Chew, says that users should spend 2/3 of their social time reading and re-sharing other users’ information. Only ½ of their time should be spent creating original content.
- Finally, find your voice!
- “Be interesting,” said Reeves with a smile.
- Many journalists struggle with finding their voice. This may seem like a difficult task, especially for journalists who may want to disseminate important information, but don’t want to be lackluster. The best rule is: Be yourself. Be personable, just not personal.
If you’re a social journalist:
Our experts, who are all working social journalists, don’t fear social media as a technology that could take away from their industry. Instead, they use these tools to better interact with their audience.
- Use social media as a listening device.
- Social media can accelerate contact between content generators and audiences. Use these tools to better understand what your viewers are responding to and to better serve them.
- Digital media can be used to confirm leads.
- Finally, don’t fear new technologies!
Social media has made it more difficult for journalists to break news first, but that doesn’t mean that the profession goes out the window. Audiences still turn to journalists for the credibility they bring, their strong analysis, and for complete coverage, explained Hernandez.
After all, even though social media is incredible, there are some stories that need more than 140 characters.