The how's and why's of social media for editors


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For the ACES conference, April 2013, St. Louis

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  • If you’re social, what does that mean? Ripping a page out of a newspaper is a social act.Let’s talk about interactions. How do people interact with their media?It’s a mindset, not a platform.
  • Let’s talk about interactions with news. Are football games social? Are obituaries social? Street repairs? High school curriculum changes? A lot of what we do is fodder for conversation and interaction. How can we be a part of that?Social media platforms are communication tools. They are not a kind of content
  • From The Boone County Journal in Ashland, Mo. Communities are naturally social, and good newspapers have been tapping into that for decades. Ripping a page out of a newspaper and mailing it to your family is a social act. The key is to translate that mindset to new ways of being social — digital ways.
  • Let’s talk about interactions with news. Are football games social? Are obituaries social? Street repairs? High school curriculum changes? A lot of what we do is fodder for conversation and interaction. How can we be a part of that?Social media platforms are communication tools. They are not a kind of content
  • These sound like buzz words. But they’re key to participating in a social world.
  • Our culture is fundamentally changing.ClayShirky is an NYU professor whose latest book includes a fascinating story about a four-year-old girl who was watching TV with her dad. She went behind the TV and started messing with the cords. Her dad asked what she was doing, and she said, “I’m looking for the mouse.” She expected there to be a way she could interact with the TV. Why would media be purely passive?
  • Excerpt from the book.
  • Let’s use that little girl’s sought-after mouse as an analogy for how people expect to be able to interact with their news. What can people DO with the information we’re sharing?How can they respond? Contribute? Pass along? Customize their experience?
  • Here’s another look at it, from The Guardian in London. Their large newsroom approaches news this way. They look at the traditional journalistic role of setting an agenda and producing news alone, then allowing community response and reaction to happen without their involvement. Instead, what potential exists in the other two quadrants?
  • And really, what we’re headed toward (striving for?) is a more iterative approach. We say what we know, readers contribute what they know, and we cover topics like a series of chapters or updates, rather than like a product that we disappear to create, then perfect, then unveil.
  • What that looks like with a pretend story. This is an ad created by The Guardian to explain what they call “open journalism.”The video is embedded in the powerpoint – if you download, bring that movie file with you. It’s also online here:
  • This is a fundamental question facing newsrooms. It’s what readers are increasingly expecting.
  • Think about what it feels like to talk and not be listened to. Talk to a brand. How good it feels when the cable company writes back.How you say “it figures” to yourself if they don’t.
  • Another way to be in conversation – make it easy for people to talk back.What should we have written?Who else should we interview?Can we contact you in the future about related stories?
  • Comments are an easy way to be social. Who in your newsroom is responsible for that conversation?
  • Community pride is a big driver of conversation (whether you’re talking about a geographic community or a community of interest). People celebrate together naturally on social media, and their interactions with news brands increases when community pride is at stake.
  • Why do you click through your friends’ photo albums? How can journalists tap into the desire to collectively experience a community? And to look for yourselves in it? Invite people to tag themselves in your photos, and then their networks see the images as well. Then you have far-flung grandparents using your brand to participate in their families’ lives. Being social means gathering around shared experiences, shared places, shared values.
  • People yearn to collectively mourn and remember. Facebook is a natural place to do that. Why not around obits?
  • Communities love to look back together. A teen picture of someone who still lives in town. An old ad, showing how much things used to cost.
  • Sometimes, the connection is easier when we feel comfortable being real people. Here’s what a weekly editor put up before a long weekend.
  • Act like a person.
  • It’s where people make public statements about what they value, and build the identity they want to share with each other. How can you help them use you to do that?
  • Some people celebrate their communities on Pinterest. If your readers (or potential readers) are there, should you be? (And if not, then definitely don’t spend time on it.) What if that’s an easy way to build a connection with them? There’s no good way to search Pinterest for where users are, but you can search for things or places you cover.
  • Rolla, Mo., police department puts up the rules for pulling over for a funeral procession. Why do 139 people like it and 12 people share it? It’s a way to show support for the officers, for the idea of respecting the dead, for the collective sense of outage that people don’t pull over. So when the police department posts this how do peoples’ relationships with or impressions of the department change? (They have half as many likes as there are people in Rolla.)
  • If news is a conversation, what can we share in the early stages, before we have a finished product?
  • More crowdsourcing. When you need a very specific set of experiences, why not ask? You’re likely to get referrals. People enjoy passing along requests like this. Something about social media platforms makes this easier than it would be in print or on a news site.
  • Sharing breaking news from the scene, rather than waiting until all the questions are answered.
  • What counts as a “story,” or an update?How about just a reminder, or schedule change?
  • This weekly Missouri newspaper first said what they’d heard and asked people to share if they’d heard it too. They got 109 comments. They checked back in (bottom right update) with what they knew and didn’t know three hours later, while still waiting to hear back from official sources.
  • From the Missourian: After the Newtown shooting, we got a letter about changes in security at the high schools. We shared the text of a letter from the schools, as an image on Facebook.It quickly got 14 shares. People wanted to spread the news, and the image makes it more official, transparent as the original source. All this happened while we were working on a “story.”
  • De Tocqueville said, “Newspapers make associations, and associations make newspapers.”Wherever people are gathered, there’s an opportunity for journalists. And these days, people are gathered online.
  • Identifying and reaching specific audiences
  • From Madisonville, KY: lot of it is going to be irrelevant to you, just like eavesdropping in a coffee shop or on a bus.
  • This is a Columbia search for #26Acts it’s not still valid at time of presentation, find a new example.
  • Joining a conversation. This directs people following a topic to weigh in on our website. The 140 characters include a modified retweet of an official UM System account, plus a link to our site.
  • On the day of the Newtown shootings, we wanted to hear from parents about talking to their kids about the event. We posted an inquiry in a local moms group. Took the conversation directly to them. Was able to share our resources.This is the equivalent of going to a playground or the kids area at the library, except more efficient, and everyone gets to see the responses, over a period of time.Other examples of Facebook groups: graduating classes, schools/sports, civic life, churches, pets, hobbies, jobs
  • Future audience. They shared our stories. They let a few of us into their group. They’re planning to submit a story for From Readers. This is where they talk. We hear them and they’re exposed to and feel connected to us.
  • News outlets aren’t just trying to keep the readers they have. They’ve got to figure out how to get those readers’ children and grandchildren. And that means going where those potential readers are.
  • The newspaper in Houston, Mo.,has more Facebook likes than there are people in town. They’re reaching the teenagers, and the grandparents. Here’s what one of their editors has to say. The two editors spend a bit of time (10-15 minutes) at the beginning of the day scheduling posts. Then their phone alerts them if someone comments or posts. But it’s not a big investment of time. We’ll send you a link to a blog post that outlines their process and strategies.
  • How the town uses the paper’s Facebook page — to talk to each other, not just to the newspaper. It’s the new town square.Now, how to make money on it …It would be awesome, of course, if more of this traffic and conversation were happening on the paper's website, which has a metered pay system and which generates ad revenue. One of the goals of the Facebook page is certainly to drive traffic to the site. But being THE source of information for the town is looked at as a positive, even when it's happening largely on Facebook.
  • It depends. Where’s your audience?What do you have time to do?What’s your strategy, and which platforms get you where you want to be?
  • It depends.How does your audience use each?Don’t duplicate efforts just to do it.
  • It depends.What’s the tone? Is there a question, and logical response?Consider sharing some personality. Being personal makes it harder to rant.
  • No, you don’t have to.But … make sure if you don’t that it’s a conversation that doesn’t need a response. Would you walk away if someone said it to you in a checkout line at the grocery store?
  • It depends. In some newsrooms, it doesn’t happen much. Still RSS.Some newsrooms have teams focused on interaction. Most of the time, it falls to the people who are charged with sharing content on social platforms. So on Instagram, it’s the job of the multimedia team that shares photos. Etc. But ask yourself this question: Do I want to be someone in the newsroom who can do more, is more multifaceted? A utility player? Because these skills are only going to get more important.
  • It depends. How important is it to your newsroom? Where does it fall on the list of priorities? Each newsroom has to figure that out for themselves.During a big snowstorm, we had people tweeting at the newsroom and leaving FB comments asking us if I-70 was open, how the roads were in parts of town, what was up with the widespread Internet and power outages. It might be a reporter’s job to answer. But think about how different it feels to be heard rather than ignored.
  • The how's and why's of social media for editors

    1. 1. The Whys andHows of SocialMedia
    2. 2. What doesit mean to besocial?
    3. 3. “Social media” isa mindset, not aset of platforms.
    4. 4. Does yournewsroom talkabout strategy forsocial media?
    5. 5. Let’s talk aboutfive things socialmedia can do foryour newsroom.
    6. 6. 1. Achieveactualcollaboration& conversation
    7. 7. University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
    8. 8. “Here’s something four-year-olds know: a screenwithout a mouse is missing something. Here’ssomething else they know: media that’stargeted at you but doesn’t include you may notbe worth sitting still for. … They will just assumethat media includes the possibilities ofconsuming, producing, and sharing side by side,and that those possibilities are open toeveryone. How else would you do it?”— Clay Shirky, Cognitive Surplus
    9. 9. Consume. Produce. Share.Where’sthe mouse?
    10. 10. The Guardian’s approach to newsModel from @MegPickard
    11. 11. The Guardian’s approach to newsModel from @MegPickard
    12. 12. How can we turn newsinto more of a conversationand less of a lecture?
    13. 13. First, we have to listenas well as talk.
    14. 14. 2. Celebratecommunitytogether
    15. 15. University of Missouri
    16. 16. 3. Shareiterativenews
    17. 17. University of Missouri
    18. 18. University of Missouri
    19. 19. 4. Find peoplewho care aboutyour news
    20. 20. Who is thejournalism for?
    21. 21. Finding local tweepsUse Twitter’s advanced search optionsto find tweets sent from a specific location(by people who have enabledgeolocation on their tweets).
    22. 22. To get morespecific, searchfor uses of ahashtag nearyou.
    23. 23. A reflection of onlineconversation
    24. 24. 5. It’s where thereaders you mostwant to reachare.
    25. 25. "We are able to put our brand and ourinformation out there to them in a freesetting, where people are already gathering.”We can "reach out to them in their living room.We can reach into their personal livesand get their attention.”
    26. 26. So, what doesthat mean in yournewsroom?
    27. 27. Question:How do you know whatplatforms to focus on?
    28. 28. Question:How do you know whatto shareon each platform?
    29. 29. Question:How do youhandle criticism?
    30. 30. Question:Do you haveto answer?
    31. 31. Question:Whose job isit to interact?
    32. 32. Question:How do wefind the time?