Using social media in online news
May. 4, 2015

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Using social media in online news

  1. Find sources, cover stories and reach audiences using Twitter
  2. What’s Twitter? • Twitter is a social network focused on interests rather than on friends, where users create brief posts of 140 characters or less. Twitter users can follow and view updates from other users (similar to subscribing to a site’s RSS feed), send public or semi-private replies or have private conversations with other users. Users can also search the entire network in real-time for interesting topics or breaking news, organize their streams with “hash tags” and lists, and even add photos or video to their posts.
  3. Why Journalists Need It • As an instant way to break news, Twitter has changed the journalistic landscape. • Reporters are using the social media platform to find sources & story ideas, enhance their regular coverage, engage readers, build their audience & more. • Here are a few key best practices that can help you…
  4. Why it’s better than Facebook • Info on Twitter is much more public than info on Facebook. Since people don’t have to follow or friend you just so you can see the content they post, journalists find Twitter a much better way to track down sources, dig up more information on stories, crowdsource content, get questions answered, push out quick news blasts, and to take the pulse of a community or topic.
  5. 1. Find News • More and more newsmakers are forgoing press conferences and media interviews and, instead, using social media like Twitter to make important announcements. • Journalists will often report on newsworthy tweets.
  6. • Twitter can be a powerful tool for finding story ideas and keeping up with news about your beat. If you’re a food critic, follow food bloggers and restaurants in your area. If you’re a sports reporter, follow local coaches and athletes — who have been known to break news on Twitter. • Doing so can help you stay updated on what your sources are saying, while increasing your chances of finding story ideas
  7. For example, this just in…
  8. Discover Breaking News • Twitter often breaks news before mainstream media can report it. Therefore, journalists must follow Twitter in much the same way crime reporters follow the police scanner. • Significant recent news events that were first announced on Twitter include: 1. The Boston Marathon Bombings 2. The Royal Wedding Announcement 3. Whitney Houston’s Death 4. The Hudson River Plane Crash 5. The 2008 China Earthquake
  9. 2. Find sources • Find & capture reaction. Twitter is a great tool for seeing how people are reacting to news. Sometimes, reporters will capture people’s reactions in my stories.
  10. • Find experts and local sources. Twitter’s basic search tool is good for searching key words, but let’s say you want to find out what people in your local community are tweeting. You can refine your search by using Twitter’s advanced search page, which lets you search by location. By typing in your location and a key word, you can find related tweets anywhere between 1 mile and 1,000 miles of that location. (There’s an option for choosing the radius.)
  11. • If you find local people you want to interview, follow up with them on Twitter and ask them to send you a Direct Message with their contact information. • Twitter is a solid starting point. It doesn’t replace traditional shoe-leather reporting; it just helps you find sources you may not have otherwise come across. It’s up to you to follow up with the sources you find and, when appropriate, interview them.
  12. • Research through crowdsourcing. Twitter is great for soliciting help with projects, especially when you’re strapped for time. • For example, investigative reporter Wendy Norris used Twitter to seek help with an investigation in response to anecdotal reports that pharmacies across Colorado were locking up condoms and therefore making them less accessible.
  13. • Instead of doing all the reporting on her own, she tweeted: “Heading to the grocery/drug store this week? Join fun, stealth crowdsourcing project. No disguise needed. DM me if you’re in Colorado.” • This tweet, a Facebook post and an email led Norris to recruit 17 volunteers. The volunteers went to 64 stores in one week to find out whether condoms were locked up. They found that 63 of the stores sold condoms, and most made them readily available. With the volunteers’ help, Norris disproved the rumors in the community.
  14. 3. Enhance your regular coverage • Tweet your beat. Live-tweeting or posting updates about a news event happening on your beat is a great way to increase engagement and follower growth. For journalists who post a concentrated number of Tweets in a short time span, follower growth is 50% more than expected.
  15. For example, CBS WBZ journalist Jim Armstrong (@JimArmstrongWBZ), reporting from the trial of Boston mobster Whitey Bulger, posted regular updates from the courtroom, right up to the dramatic ruling. He saw his follower count go up by more than 1,000 during the trial, with a 14% bump on the last day.
  16. 4. Build your audience As a journalist, it’s your job to spread the word. So be sure to use links in your posts. Twitter found that journalists get 100% more active engagement when a URL is included.
  17. Use #hashtags • Hashtags can increase engagement with other Twitter users by almost 100% for journalists and 50% for news organizations. Using hashtags is also a great way to report or follow breaking news. When you include hashtags in your Tweets, your Tweets become more visible and you have a better chance of attracting followers.
  18. For example, Fox News (@FoxNews) uses hashtags to identify the subject of its tweets and to join the wider conversation on Twitter about that person, place, thing or event.
  19. @cite your sources Including Twitter handles of the reporter who authored a story and the sources mentioned in the story can also help increase engagement.
  20. The Internet is the #1 news source. But there’s great competition for eyeballs and web traffic. These days, even journalists need to be their own entrepreneurs and promote themselves – and their work – online. Student journalists and their media advisors should adapt, as well. Almost all students are online, but most don’t know if their school media has an online presence, studies show. In order to share their news, school media must report news where their readers are.
  21. There are many and varied ways to promote your or other’s articles, blog, newspaper website or online magazine to share news and increase traffic. The 10 ways listed in this presentation are among the easiest and most efficient ways. Plus, they're all free! All you need is a computer and Internet connection.
  22. For Google, visit . For Yahoo, visit . Bing is at Follow the instructions on each page. This will ensure your site or blog is included in indexes for search engines and shows up when people do searches. Studies show that Google drives 70 percent of traffic to most websites.
  23. This is done by attaching a link to your URL at the end of your emails. Many email programs, including Gmail and most college email services, allow users to change their settings to automatically include a signature every time they send an email. For example: “Get the latest Scarsdale High news at”.
  24. For example: Sample email signature plugging a student’s blog
  25. The idea is that people you email will see the link, be curious and check it out. Think of all the people you email every month; those are all potential visitors to your website or blog. To set up a signature, try clicking on and editing the “Options” or “Settings” tab or link in your email program.
  26. One-third of Americans get their news from Facebook. Attract more readers to your website or blog by posting a link to your latest content on your or your organization’s Facebook or Google+ page. If you don’t have a profile or page on these networks, you’ll need to create one. Social network referrals account for a significant portion of traffic to websites, especially those of news organizations.
  27. For example: Link on student newspaper’s Facebook page to its latest articles 
  28. People are often interested in content that their Facebook friends recommend or post links to. Having social media referrals will also ensure your website or blog is one of the top results when people do searches on Google. That’s because Google announced in 2012 that social media referrals will be an important factor in their search engine algorithm.
  29. When you post a video to YouTube or a photo to Instagram, put a link to your blog or website in the description i.e. “find more useful information at” If people enjoyed watching the video you posted or found your photo interesting, they’ll probably be curious to see what else you have to offer on your website. Before you can post content on these sharing sites, you’ll need to register as a user.
  30. For example: Referral link to school newspaper on Instagram 
  31. Social bookmarking is a way for people to store and rank online content, including websites, blogs, articles and videos. and other types of website content. StumbleUpon, Reddit and Digg are a few of the most popular bookmarking sites available. Different bookmarking sites have different types of users. Find the one that works the best for your content and post a link to your content. This is a great way to attract visitors to your URL who otherwise may never know about it.
  32. For example: Link on Reddit to story in school newspaper 
  33. Twitter is becoming an increasingly popular way for people – especially young people – to get their news. There are a couple ways to utilize it for your blog or website. First, you can manually tweet about your content using Twitter. You can post your own personal tweets with links to your blog posts or articles, link to other people’s content, ask readers questions, etc.
  34. For example: Penn High School’s newspaper staff uses Twitter to link to content, post breaking news updates, engage readers, connect with sources and more…. 
  35. Second, you can set up a content syndication tool, such as Twitterfeed. This is free and will do all the work for you. Basically, anytime you make a new blog post, a tweet will also appear on Twitter. You could also do a combination of the two: utilize Twitterfeed and also make your own custom tweets. See For both services, you’ll need to register as a user.
  36. Think about which organizations and people with influence may be interested in your content, service or cause and send them a short email. For example, alumni of your school, the Parents- Teachers Association, local civic organizations and local government officials may all be interested in what your school newspaper is covering. In addition to visiting your website or blog, they might spread the word to others.
  37. For example: If you can procure an alumni email list from school officials, you might send an email like this to alumni 
  38. It is important to get other, relevant websites to link to your URL. Traditionally, most search engines have based their rankings heavily on the number of credible websites that link to a website. The best way to do this is to manually search for websites and blogs related to your site and contact them for a link exchange. Use
  39. For example: If your school’s Parent-Teacher Association has its own website, as many do, you might email them and ask them to add a link to your student newspaper 
  40. When soliciting links, remember, flattery will get you everywhere. When you pay someone a compliment, it piques their curiosity in who you are. “Who is this person with impeccable taste?” Be honest and sincere in your flattery, but it shouldn’t be hard to come up with a compliment. Something like, “Hey, I liked your post about [insert topic] because [insert compliment]. I also have a blog that I thought you might be interested in because [insert why it’s relevant]. My blog’s URL is [insert Web address].”
  41. Sometimes, the person you contact may ask you to return the favor and link to his/her website. Only agree to trade links if you believe the other website’s content is relevant to your audience and are comfortable endorsing it by linking to it on your site.
  42. Regardless of what your content is about, there are likely Internet discussion boards and numerous blogs related to the general topic. If you’ve got a article that you think relates strongly to something that another blogger has written about or that is the topic of discussion on a forum – leave a link to your own article.
  43. The key to pulling this off without being labeled a spammer is to leave a genuinely useful comment on the blog or forum. The comment itself should add value, be right on topic and contribute to the conversation. Then if you include a link introduce it with a ‘I’ve written more about this at….’ type comment rather than just a spammy call to action.
  44. Relatedly, many newspapers have likely, at some point, written a story related to your blog topic or one of your blog posts. And many newspaper websites these days allow readers to post comments about stories. You can do a search using Google News at .
  45. For example: If a local newspaper writes a story about your high school football team, you might comment on how you have a blog or school newspaper website that covers the same topic. Readers who read the newspaper story – along with the reporter who wrote it – may also be interested in your content since it’s related.
  46. Some blog posts and online articles will have mainstream media appeal. Shoot a reporter at a newspaper, magazine, TV or radio station an email – you might get lucky. For example, if you write or blog about your school’s theater club, you might email the theater critic or arts writer at local newspapers. If you cover your high school’s sports teams, you might email the high school sports reporter at the local newspaper. Sometimes, just launching a website for your school’s media outlet can be news, too. Many media outlets’ websites have a “Contact” page that explains how to contact the newsroom electronically. Hyper local news media, such as, may be particularly interested.
  47. For example: This high school newspaper got mainstream media news coverage about its move online 
  48. Another example 
  49. Alternatively, you could write a press release about your website or blog and post it in cyberspace. Some online press release services don’t cost anything and they can be surprisingly effective with a little luck. For example, see , and . Journalists sometimes cull these sites for story ideas.
  50. In this Tweet, The Guardian (@guardian) includes the Twitter handles of journalist Emma Brockes (@emmabrockes) and Julia Kozerski (@juliakozerski), the subject of the article.
  51. For example: Sample press release by school newspaper 
  52. Facing information overload, Internet users are counting more and more on sources they trust: their friends, followers, contacts. Everyone has probably clicked on a link that someone they know posted on one of the social media sites they use. But most people probably haven’t given much thought to why their Facebook newsfeed has replaced the evening news or morning newspaper.
  53. There’s been a recent paradigm shift in the way people get news – and these 10 tips will help you take advantage of it. Web analytics now allows businesses to track what’s working online and what’s not. As a result, journalists are increasingly being evaluated by how much Web traffic they attract. So, journalists need to know how to utilize the internet and all its tools to market their content, whether it’s an article, a blog or a news website. Student journalists and media advisors should learn to adapt, as well.