Social media has become so pervasive in newsrooms that managing your online presence is now regularly being taught in the classroom. Carlynn Greene, a student at the University of North Texas, has to regularly post to social media as part of her journalism classes.
“One of my classes last semester required us to post on three social media formats: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We had to do that for everything we did, whether it was print or digital,” Greene said.
Being active on social media gives journalists the opportunity to showcase their work, their voice and brand. This helps them to not only network with other industry professionals, but can help journalists land future jobs.
Kevin Olivas, the news recruiting manager for Sinclair Broadcast Group, evaluates potential candidates by seeing if they’re social media savvy.
“I look for something that stands out, [such as] finding ways to tell stories that no one else has, perhaps no one else has even thought of,” Olivas said.
Mistakes happen; own them
Part of maintaining credibility as a journalist on social media is by owning up to any mistakes.
A month ago, Greene accidentally tweeted the opening of a new dorm that had been photoshopped to show the name of the building misspelled — Mean Joel Grne Hull.
“I did not know it. At my university, they [named a] dormitory ‘Mean Joe Greene Hall.’ It was the first dormitory named after a person of color. So someone photoshopped the new name of the building being misspelled,” Greene said.
“I had to backtrack and say ‘OK this ended up not being real’ and I ended up not deleting the tweet because that would be like hiding,” Greene said.
Traditionally, journalists have raced to be the first to break a story, but on social media, accuracy is paramount. “Whatever we share on social media should be accurate,” said Helga Salinas, a reporting and visual engagement trainer.
According to the SPJ code of ethics, “Acknowledge mistakes and correct them promptly and prominently. Explain corrections and clarifications carefully and clearly.”
Tips and tricks for journalists using Facebook and Instagram Stories
It’s no secret that social media can be a great tool for journalists and newsrooms. With platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, journalists can connect with their audience in seconds, in more personal and intimate ways.
Danielle Noriega, Facebook’s strategic partner manager for global news training and media partnerships, shared with EIJ19 attendees best practices for Facebook and Instagram stories that can help journalists capture and engage audiences across platforms. They include:
- Find your focus. What can you do better than anyone else?
- Targeting young audiences. Speak to your audience directly so they both understand and connect with you.
- Use the entire platform. Instagram has five main categories: photos, stories, video, live and IGTV. By posting on all five, you can heighten your chances of appearing in the explore page and grow your audience. Nearly 200 million users visit the explore page, which shows trending posts, every day.
- Real is better than perfect. Put a face to the story.
- Give your audience something to do. Instagram stories offer sticker features that allow you to ask questions, make polls, swipe up, give quizzes, and rate photos and videos.
- Be easy to find. Using three to four hashtags that are strategic is recommended. Aim to use hashtags that have less posts than hashtags with massive amounts of posts. For example, instead of #dogs, use #BerneseMountainDogs.
- Use location tags for posts. They are helpful with connecting with other content and users and increase distribution of posts for locations that fall under different categories.
- Use highlights. Instagram users can organize their Instagram story archives into highlights of different categories that other users can find on your profile when visiting your page.
- Cross promote stories. Stories on Instagram can be automatically shared on Facebook. Stories can also be repurposed to share on other social media platforms.