Working smart (not hard) in social media

Tomorrow, Joy Mayer will come back to class and lead a discussion about social media and how it’s being used (and sometimes misused) by journalists. Could be you’re not getting the most out of Twitter in particular, or that fear of a humiliating misstep has kept you on the sidelines of the Twittersphere.

Read two things: This cool thing that Jessica Hische created called, “Mom, this is how Twitter works” and this excellent piece by Mallary Jean Tenore for Poynter called “10 Ways Journalists Can Use Twitter Before, During and After Reporting a Story.”

They’re both quick reads. And even if you’re already a Twitter pro, you will likely find them fun and thought-provoking.

Also, have a look at Anthony De Rosa’s “Social Media Cheat Sheet,” which casts a wider net and is open to the public to build upon. This document is full of tips on all kinds of social media and how people in news can use them to produce better journalism.

What do you love/hate about the way journalists use social media? What have you learned through your own trial and error that has helped you develop confidence about using social media in journalism?

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11 Responses to Working smart (not hard) in social media

  1. Sometimes it bothers me when journalists get too personal on their Twitter account. I follow them because I think they produce good journalism and I respect them as a journalist. I really am not that interested in their kids or what movie they are going to see that weekend. One journalist who I think uses Twitter well is David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times. He tweets links to his work and the work of other journalists or publications that he thinks are good or important. He also provides real time updates from events he is covering (protests, etc.) and uses Twitter to interact with sources.

    I’ve also seen that tweeting links to stories, either my own or others, with a message I’ve written on my own, will get more people to comment, retweet, etc. than just retweeting what the news organization said.

  2. gretaweber says:

    I appreciate when a journalist’s personal voice comes through in his or her tweets. Journalists often sound too formal when they convey information and use the same style that they would in an article. Instead, I think Twitter should be an opportunity for people to break out of predictable journalistic style. Rachel Maddow does this really well. You can almost hear her speaking voice when you read her tweets, which is a marker of their readability and quality.

  3. jdogg1 says:

    I really don’t follow any journalists on Twitter. I am fairly new to it and am still trying it out so to speak. When it comes to putting my own stuff on social media, I have problems feeling its good enough to share.

  4. courtney says:

    I don’t follow individual journalists, but one news organization (Angus Journal) I follow has a twitter account for all of their editorial staff. I like when they use twitter to share things going on in that they didn’t necessarily write a long story on, and then they add their personality. For example, the newest Peterson Farm Brothers parody just came out (“A Fresh Breath of Farm Air” parody of the Fresh Prince theme song, Youtube it–it’s pretty good) and they made some comment about one of the girls on the team remembering that theme song well. Just makes them seem human.

    I use Facebook as my primary social media tool, but I do want to try Twitter more. Right now all I use it for is reading what others say. However, Facebook has been very helpful to me in reporting. At first I just used it to post links to my stories, and like Corinne I found if I added a personal message people are more likely to interact. I was nervous to seek out people as sources on Facebook because it seems kind of weird, but that’s how I found sources for my Wizard of Oz story. Usually I have someone reply to questions I post on Facebook, but often not very many. I think the beauty of creating a strong Twitter presence would help increase interactivity.

  5. Laurien Rose says:

    I love when journalists ask questions to their readers/followers. It really opens up some great panels for discussion, and is often an excellent way for them to find a story. I dislike when they use their Twitter account for personal reasons. I don’t follow them to learn more about their personal life.

    Using social media as a shameless plug to feature my work is a pretty cool and easy way for me to connect my friends with what I am doing. And, like the journalists I follow and love, asking questions has gotten me some really interesting answers.

  6. The thing I hate most about journalists on twitter is when they simply tweet links to their stories. I’ve been guilty of it myself and it’s terrible. When a writer tweets, ‘Hey, check out my story’ it’s clear to me that they mean ‘Hey, I need a salary so please please read this!’

    Twitter tweeds to be entertaining for readers. As terrible as it sounds, people don’t just want news today. They want to laugh at things and experience what the writer does. A journalist’s twitter should be treated as a personal one (but professional). I feel journalists should treat their followers as friends and colleagues. Not readers who they’re trying to pander to. If readers can see that you see them as a person and want to let them in on a little bit of your life I think it will go a long way towards better journalism.

  7. I really dislike when journalists only tweet links to their articles or retweet other news organizations. I’m guilty of both, but I’m trying to be better.
    I can’t think of any particular journalist on twitter that I really love, but some of my friends do a great job adding their own comments with links that make me actually want to read what they are tweeting about.

  8. sarabethbarba says:

    I agree with Corinne. I don’t really like when a journalist’s twitter account gets too personal. I know sometimes we get caught in a rut of “my followers need to know I’m an actual human being” rather than realizing that people know you’re a human being because you’re tweeting the stories you’ve written.
    Even though there are risks of having multiple accounts, I think it is important to keep personal and professional accounts separate if they are completely different (if you’re a die-hard Cardinals fan but you work as a sports reporter for a paper in Chicago, keeping your Cubs tweets separate from your “I clearly like the Cardinals, just check out my obnoxious tweet history” tweets is fairly important).

  9. I think it’s a little tricky as college students to find the balance between personal and professional on social media. I realized I was doing it wrong when a guy from my high school told me he ignored most of my tweets because they were just advertisement for my articles. (We had a pretty honest relationship, in case that’s not apparent.) Since then, I’ve tried not to just throw material at my followers. In all reality, the majority of people following us at this stage in the game probably aren’t doing so for news purposes.

  10. juliasumpter says:

    I love journalists that have personalities. I use Twitter for news, but I also use it for entertainment. When journalists/news organizations only tweet their dry headlines, I hate it. Any time I tweet about an article I try to say something a little interesting about it that might draw in a reader.

  11. I don’t mind if journalists if show their personality on social media, it just shows they’re a human. If a journalist just tweets serious news all the time then it’s just to me really boring. But at the same time I think there’s a fine line between being a little personal and being too personal. I don’t want to know your daily routine or be bombarded by a whole bunch of selfies.

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