Editor’s Note: This post features notes from a conference and has been generated live, so please excuse the choppiness.
Stefanie Murray, former AnnArbor.com social media and engagement guru, now director of digital audience development for The Detroit Free Press, and Jerry Sova, who is responsible for many of the online components at The Jackson Citizen Patriot, covered what is social media, why news organizations are using it, what it takes in terms of resources and skills, getting started, going further with it and tips on using it.
Check out the first hour of audio on my phlog.
Digital communication turned into an interactive dialogue, user-generated content sharing, conversation.
Wikipedia, post links to stories and updates for local officials, communities. Six different types of social media: Wikipedia, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, World of Warcraft and Second Life.
Facebook has 800 million-plus active users; People in Australia most active. Twitter has 100 million-plus active users and Google+ has 50 million plus. Online content sharing services are also social, like YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr should be part of your strategy; others come and go frequently, such as FourSquare, Linkedin.
Our audience is on social media. They are talking about our stories, our communities and what’s relevant to them. We, as journalists, can engage them and become part of the conversation. Social media allows you to interact with your audience. It allows us to find sources and stories, talk to readers, share our content, grow online traffic, and social media can be used for customer service. At Detroit Free Press, Murray works with web department to monitor Twitter accounts, traffic and interactions. Mentions on Twitter for customer service problems are forwarded to appropriate department. Customers Tweeting customer service problems.
Murray says both reporters and editors should be using social media to engage the audience. Train your staff on social media. Don’t assume staff knows or should figure it out on their own during their personal time.
Murray suggested media organizations buy ads on Facebook to promote publications and also provides important insights/data/metrics. Stressed use of Metatags. Facebook tracks how many people are going to your site.
Murray said if you make it clear you’re asking on Facebook for content, then it’s OK to use it. Be clear on your intentions as you interact with the audience — ask in comments section or private message. Freep posts a lot of photos on Facebook. Readers like to share them. Post a photo and link to photo gallery because Facebook retains right to use them in another format, Murray said. New metric on Facebook shows how many people shared a post. Number of shares important. Let’s you know how many people posted it on their Facebook. Important to know how readers interacting with your domain. Can achieve this with Metatag. Check http://wwww.Facebook.com/insights. You will see pages and websites for administrator. Need to tell website and Facebook talking to each other to get it going.
Professional pages for journalists switching to subscriptions
Facebook doing away with pages for people. Instead, you can subscribe. More valuable to Facebook. Facebook didn’t want a person/profile fractured, so no longer offering personal pages. Will have subscriptions. This could be important to us as journalists. Journalists choose on drop-down whether to post public or private. Can gain subscribers sharing publicly and drive more traffic to website sharing work. Facebook will suggest who you may want to subscribe to on the left side of your profile page, “People you may want to subscribe to.” Facebook offers name and what they do for a living. It’s important for journalists to say what they do to gain subscribers. You will gain readers and sources as you subscribe to people and people subscribe to you, and you will show up on others’ pages. Subscribing is the same thing as being a “fan.” Subscribers are like “fans” on Facebook or “followers” on Twitter. Murray said you can’t currently get analytics on personal pages, but will soon. You can decide to make public or allow friends to see it or customize it. Murray suggests all reporters and editors allow subscribers on personal pages and then choose what you want to make public. Can unsubscribe people who you have who aren’t necessarily friends and convert them to subscribers.
Murray: Facebook ads available for promotions and contests. Use an approved application, instead of posting on wall, “Like us and you could win tickets.” Woobox and Wildfire apps will create ad. Can get a monthly subscription for $30.
Jerry Sova of Jackson Citizen Patriot talked about “liking” businesses on Facebook, offer to share their photos and establish a relationship. Ask if you can post links on their FB pages and share audience. Sova suggests getting referrals and more fans having FB news feed on homepage of website. Tease them to the Facebook page with a news post on website homepage. Contests and giving away prizes can help you get more fans.
Murray recommends 45 minutes to an hour between FB posts. Bigger audience on Facebook at night. Murray recommends Wednesday as best engagement day between 9 and 11 p.m. Using third-party applications are given less importance on FB. Post manually for better results.
Murray, highest retweet between 2 and 5 p.m. Send out multiple Tweets on Twitter if it’s an important story because Twitter moves so fast. Fans may miss it. Twitter and Facebook two different audiences. Don’t assume same. Sports has huge following on Twitter. Make sure to follow athletes and Tweet and retweet to following. People want to talk to people on Twitter, not necessarily brands. Encourage reporters to Tweet their stories and retweeting. Assign reporters to either use corporate account or personal account, or both. Make sure they’re operating as a reporter at all times.
The second half of today’s talk on social media can be found on my phlog.