Before I begin with my fun, informative list, I should probably give you my background so you know I'm kind of an expert. Enough of an expert to write a five-part list, anyway.
I am a journalism and psychology double-major. It's my job to know how and why people think and act the way they do.
At my day job, I'm the boss of two (awesome) web editors who work to sell our website, Twitter feed and Facebook page to the public, observing their actions and checking our analytics.
At my summer internship I manned the hatches selling my desk's Facebook page to our readers - an older audience than the one I work with now - and still managed to double our fans and cause a huge jump in page interactions.
So, here's how I did it.
1. Use links (with pictures)
The Internet is creating an audience that loves to read as much as the generation that relied on newspapers. Why wait for the news on television when you can read headlines and stories on Twitter, Facebook and your mobile device?
But the top news source in American society remains local television stations. That tells us that we remain a visual society - we want to see what is being described to us.
Americans like things easy and relevant. They don't want you to post to your wall saying, "go to our website, then click this tab, then scroll halfway down for this great story!" Just give them the link. They click it, they're there. Boom.
We know that online stories with pictures are more popular than ones without. Who wants to see a huge block of text on a computer screen and be expected to read it? Answer: No one. Break it up with photos and videos, and you'll get readers. The same goes for Facebook links.
2. Use all the tools available
It's sad how many newspaper, radio and other media Facebook pages only use wall posts and (possibly) links. There's much more available to engage your audience.
They aren't hard to find, either. That line along the top of your wall, where you create posts, has, in order, "Status, Photo, Link, Video, Question."
How many of you have used anything other than "status" and "video?"
Post photos, if the story isn't written yet, to give them a tease of what's coming. The same goes for videos. No matter what type of news source you are, it isn't awful to break or tease a story with photos and videos before it's been written out and edited. Doing so will make your audience want more (read: more page hits for you).
The questions feature is great, too. Questions are polls that show up on your wall. You can ask all of your friends to answer the poll to get the ball rolling, and then the poll will show up on more newsfeeds. Media audiences love to voice opinion and feel like someone is listening, so this is a great way to gauge reactions either to your stories or to changes you've made to your website, coverage methods, etc. The sky is the limit with this one.
3. Create a conversation
One of my favorite quotes about how journalism should be is from Bill Moyers, who said, "It's comparative; it's not declarative."
That's true. No one cares when you say, "xxxx happened." What concerns people is when you say, "xx happened, related to xxx last year that caused..."
But you're not the only one who can make comparisons. You are one person, one news source, with one background. We often underestimate our audience as just listeners/readers, but they can and should be contributors, as well.
When I post links to Facebook, I never just post with a snippet from the story. That's already there, as part of the link. I pose a question or an observation and ask for opinions.
This can create great conversation as your viewers answer your question, ask some of their own and respond to one another. It's even better if you can reply back, answering questions and continuing to analyze the story.
I had some of my most memorable conversations this summer with people on our page that I had never met. We talked about and analyzed stories together, and when my internship ended, they told me they were sorry to see me go.
Reminding your audience that there is a person behind the screen and type is never a bad thing, and they will appreciate your insight and analysis as much, if not more, than the original piece.
4. Let people post to your wall (use with caution)
Setting the permissions of your Facebook page to allow viewers to post to your wall has major positives and negatives. If you take nothing else away from this part of the list, remember that doing this requires constant attention. You need a (good) web or social media editor to do this correctly.
Letting people post to your wall lets your audience know you care what they think. I've seen people pose questions about issues we hadn't covered yet, giving us ideas for stories. They have also posted stories we had written but hadn't posted to the Facebook page, letting us know the story meant something to them.
Also, you're unlikely to get the spam you see on your comments section, since people are posting from their personal accounts and are not guarded by anonymity.
That doesn't mean spam is impossible, however. Fake Facebook accounts are created for spam purposes daily. Real Facebook accounts are used for advertising. You have to be prepared to delete and block posts from users when they try to exploit your site for marketing.
Again, only use this if you have good people manning your Facebook page.
5. Make and maintain a better webpage
This one should be obvious. Believe me, it isn't. If you do everything I've said up until this point, it still won't mean anything unless you follow this rule.
You will probably post links to your website on your wall more than anything else, if you're doing it right. And if your website is awful, people will stop clicking on those links.
I could write a book about creating a good website for a news source (and people with far more experience have). The thing to remember, though, is simplicity. Make your site dynamic - interactive graphics, videos, photos - without being overwhelming. Make things easy to find and ordered in a way that makes sense.
And please, for the love of all that is good, if you use pop-up ads, disable them for the mobile version of your site. Pop-ups on phones slow downloads and are hard to exit out of (the little x is much, much smaller on a phone). Pop-ups are annoying anyway, but pop-ups that refuse to go away are terrible.
Being terrible loses viewers fast.
The Orange County Register was a center of learning yesterday when 850 people attended Social Media Day, put on by Mashable.
There's my newsy-sounding lede. It was a lot of fun. I got to see the OC Register's newsroom, which is much different from the one I work in now. I knew most of what they were discussing with social media, but I learned about Storify
, which I plan to start using!There were some panels of speakers I found more informative than others, so those are the only ones I took notes from. Here are
those notes: Promote and organize your event socially: how to host a successful event
Get speakers who use social media to say they'll be there
Don't solicit - never sell
Don't add people who attend to your email list unless they want to be there
Be about people and what they're doing
Share the burden of hosting
To get the word out use email first, Facebook group, twitter hashtag and get people to use it
Start small - don't rely on sponsors right away
Social media is NOT good to push things - it's better for listening Storify www.Storify.com
Incorporate twitter as part of story, videos, maps, photos
Embeddable on any webpage
Share it, post it, notify those whose quotes you used
Wants to expand
Public use encouraged
Use video!!! How the food industry uses social media to drive sales
Coupons coupons coupons
In this day and age whether you like it or not, do it (social media)
Social media is about getting the love back - build a loyal community
"There's a myth of spontaneity in corporate Tweets" - write in advance
Use something like Tweetdeck Social media for social good
Nonprofits, police, churches, etc
Remember what is appropriate for social media and what isn't
Connect names, personalities - people want to know YOU When you need an expert
Anyone can be an expert
Sit next to tech people - you produce content, they know how to apply it
You can become an expert just through practice
Make it fun! Take aways: blogging
Spelling matters! (even on TWITTER)
Always be developing
Target a market - solve a problem
Figure out your goal - what do you want from blogging?
Product reviews on brands
Shared by friend and colleague Colleen, this picture quickly became the buzz. A few of us decided we would burn it in our corner of the newsroom. We then realized we'd have to write six stories and a brief to pay for it, and our exuberance dimmed a little (when you work on a pay-by-the-story basis, you start to calculate cost a little differently).Looking beyond both the initial nerdy appeal of the candle and cost, I stumbled upon an interesting quote from reviews: "(The candle is) a concept that's...a commentary on the fate of printed media." Wait, a what? "A commentary on the fate of printed media." ...ah. Because eventually it will be gone. Got it. This thought comes at a particularly painful day for journalists. Yesterday Gannett U.S. Community Publishing laid off 700 newspaper employees. Division president Bob Dickey said in a statement: "The economic recovery is not happening as quickly or favorably as we had hoped and continues to impact our U.S. community media organizations.” The slow economic recovery didn't stop Gannett CEO Craig Dubow from receiving a $1.25 million cash bonus and a doubled salary, it was revealed in March. But I digress. Though it stings, who can blame Gannett? The industry is changing, as all tend to do with advances in technology. Many of the layoffs occurring (though not all of the 700, of course) are media people refusing to adapt to new, well, media. What I am saying to my journalism brethren is this: don't give up yet. Is it a rough industry? Yes. Is it a changing industry? Yes. Will you be able to break into it without difficult, regular, diversified work? Absolutely not. Newspapers aren't going to die; they just need to readjust. The age of tablets, smartphones, Facebook and Twitter has created more readers than this world has ever seen. They want to scroll through Twitter and pick out interesting posts when they wake in the morning; they want to browse articles on their iPads while riding the subway. People want to read! But they want more than that. They want to see a colorful photo that helps the story stick. They want a video alongside a short, crisp speech cover that shows the speaker getting flustered the way the writer so eloquently described it. They want slideshows, audio, beautifully designed presentations. So why aren't you giving it to them? Unless the government starts propping up media (as many would say, Heaven forbid), we are a consumer-driven business. We have an ethical duty to report not just want the public wants to read, but what they need to know. Sure, but we must also find ways to appeal to those readers by writing and presenting stories they'll buy. Media people need to stop hiding behind our codes of ethics and position as the fourth branch of government. We need to stop crying, "This is how it's always been done! This is our duty, we can't change it! We're not like other businesses!" You're right, we're not like other businesses. We can't afford to let ourselves go out of business, or it is our readers who suffer. We have to hold tight to our code of ethics and simultaneously create real business plans to adapt to a new age. Some worry that doing online-only work leads to sloppy stories and silly mistakes. Sometimes that's true. But don't use that as an argument to stick to the old ways. Change the process so those mistakes don't happen. Remember the core of journalism. Build credibility. Print journalism is still important. But let's redesign those newspapers - let's make them convenient, easy to hold and read while juggling other things. Let's focus on online-first, print next. Online stories can be posted as soon as they're finished; print pieces have to wait until the next morning. I've heard before that newspaper printed stories are yesterday's news printed tomorrow. It doesn't have to be that way. We better serve the public's right to know by letting them know right now rather than after we've had time to print and distribute. Saying 'print journalism is dead' is as ignorant as saying America's economy will never recover. It's not dead, it's changing. Things must change to ensure it will live. But it can happen. It's you that makes it happen. Journalism students. Young reporters. Seasoned reporters. Editors. It's up to each of you, or this progressive industry will leave you behind. As for the candle's commentary, I think for now I'll stick to the Scentsy I bought yesterday. It's only commentary is "things that smell good are nice." And it cost only four stories. Read Dickey's statement here.