By Paula Wethington
The role of a social media editor in the journalism field is fairly well understood: content research, reader content curation and delivering the reporting content to fans and followers in various networks.
But the best social media editors take a step beyond the tasks that reporters and editors tend to gravitate to and also closely study what the social media managers in the corporate and freelance world are doing.
Here’s why: corporate social media professionals have learned to be incredibly successful and resourceful with the limited content collection they have available. They still have learned how to boost their audience and attract fans to their accounts. Can you imagine the impact on your newsroom’s social media reach by adopting just some of their strategies on the news of the day and your archives?
Here are five ideas that can be applied in the newsroom that spin out of what corporate social media managers are doing:
- Read a book, take a webinar or sign up for a class in marketing and copywriting. A basic understanding of how and why marketing-style phrases and styles work can give you additional ideas when writing news headlines and text for an audience you need to grab quickly. Bonus: Some non-traditional writing styles, such as listicles, work just as well in print as they do online!
- Learn how to use advertising and paid promotions for each network that your newsroom is active on. Because social networks want brands and companies to pay for sponsored posts, they typically provide free tutorials on their websites about those features. It is true that a reporter, photographer or lower-level editor may not be authorized to spend the budget to run a paid campaign on Facebook. But if you understand how social media ads work and their best practices, you can make a well-prepared pitch to management that money should be spent on social media to promote a particular project that the newsroom worked on. (maybe yours?)
- Learn how to use two or three photo or video tools such as Canva, Typorama, Ripl, Tout and Instagram’s Layout. These are all apps for your desktop or mobile device that can give a “something extra” to the content you are creating. I love the ability to add a title on Tout videos – that one detail makes a short format news video look so much more professional. And Canva has been perfect for creating simple customized graphics to use in print or digital formats for breaking news and special projects. My favorite trick is finding an appropriate picture in our file art library that can be cropped for use as a background, add the transparency filter for a hint that this is file footage, then add text overlay for the headline of the day. (The graphic on this blog post also was made on Canva.)
- Bookmark your best “evergreen” or archived content to repost or refresh on slow news days or significant dates. If the piece is still on your website and can be quickly updated or is still relevant, then give it tweets, Facebook links and Pinterest pins to bring that content to a new audience. You can also dig into off-line archives for great content to bring back. One of the best examples I have of doing this in the newsroom happened when a co-worker and I found in our archives and reposted on the appropriate date a 20th anniversary story from five years earlier about a local woman who won Miss America. We found a whole new audience that day of people who just loved the piece but never saw it the first go-round. It also took less than a half hour to find the article and photo in our library, load it up on our website and send it out on social media.
- Be an active part of the social community. This means spending time to find your sources and readers on social media and follow them. Add them to public Twitter lists. Share or retweet their posts when appropriate. Tag or mention social screen names when posting headlines about a school, agency or business. Answer questions in a timely and professional manner that are posted your account’s page. Chime in on Twitter hashtag games when appropriate, join in on the hashtag puns on Instagram. Here’s why: Social media fans notice when you take the time to pay attention to what is important to them. Those connections will go a long way when you want attention to your messaging and content. Perhaps that attention will result in more traffic on a breaking news day when your reporting is ahead of the competition by a mile!
Do you geek social media topics? I tweet links, discussions and tips on that topic at @WethingtonPaula