(Excerpts from an article written by James OBrien)
Let the Story Guide Your Choices
Instagram will let you share an image in some very powerful and attractive ways, but is it the right way to tell a story about, say, property taxes in your town of coverage?
That kind of thinking is a key part of the equation when it comes to choosing the right platform for the right story in your social-media portfolio.
“Not every story is a fit for every platform,” an expert said. “That’s part of of your job: to say ‘that story’s for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram . . . that story is for Vine and YouTube.”
”When Pinterest was a big, big deal, my editor asked me if we should use it. We do. But we only use it for award shows: we add huge images that people people can share and re-share, but then we don’t have too much other content that’s right for Pinterest. Breaking news? We don’t find that that works as well with Pinterest. But award shows full of spectacular dresses: wonderful.”
From an editorial point of view, the newest social-media platforms should be allowed to season a bit, recommends a social network guru. For example, right now, Vine is in her hands, but it hasn’t yet become commonplace for her reporters. As the learning curve proceeds, she said, the right story will come along and then someone in the newsroom will deploy Vine going forward.
And that’s the recipe she thinks is right: learn a new social-media tool, observe its use, and then implement it in your work when a story finally demands it.
Frequency and Quality: Establishing a Daily Routine
For journalists, whether freelance or traditionally employed, cranking through a story or two per day can be a lot of work — between tracking down sources, rounds of interviews, double-checking and triple-checking squirrelly details in the piece, where’s the sweet spot for social-media tasks as well?
Start with five interactions. Go from there.
They don’t have to be the most wonderful 140 characters you have ever written. It can be a reply to someone. It can one of your colleague’s stories that you’re interested in — you can share that. It can be an image. Find five things to share with your audience. And it doesn’t have to be a photo of your sandwich at lunch!
Sourcing: The Social-Media Conduit
The comment sections of published pieces are a mine (and sometimes a minefield) to be explored. Point is, stories can spin into new cycles, if the right commenter posts the right lead under a story that the reporter imagined was done when it went up.
Beyond that, writers should learn the search tools that can tap the deeper info buried in platforms.
Learn how to find sources on Twitter, and the next one is Facebook Graph. People are dying to know how to make reporting easier. And it grows your profile and allows your brand to grow; you become someone for sources to come to. If you’re seeking sources on social platforms, then they know they can come to you when they have another story.
Therein lies a goal: social-media will demand some time, but when the freelancer masters the task, new work can come from the effort. Social media, for the writer, should be a two-way street.