News on social beyond Facebook and Twitter

September 13, 2017 01:30

By Nikki Burdine, RTDNA Contributor

Although most people do not go to Facebook intentionally seeking their news, it's inevitable that the average user will stumble upon an article. Whether it's credible or fake, that's another story. So the value of news stations and journalists utilizing Facebook to reach viewers is obviously invaluable. But what about other non-newsy social media? Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest should not be ignored.

First, let's talk Instagram. There are several aspects of Instagram you can take advantage of: regular posts, Instastories and Instagram live. Let's break them down: 
For the longest time I was hesitant to use Instagram for anything other than personal use, pictures of my pets or vacation were just about all I was posting. But after making my Instagram page public, I've been able to cross-promote to other platforms and give users a behind-the-scenes fun look at news life. 
Instagram is a place for all things pretty. It's where your curated images should go, things you want to live on your profile forever, because new followers will scroll through and like your pictures from a year ago. 
How do you use it for news? This can be tricky, and honestly it's subjective. But here's my opinion: Crime scene and serious pictures just don't work on Instagram. 
I've seen a few journalists post serious pics on Instagram to promote their stories, but for the most part, the engagement is low. Think about it this way: Why do you go to Instagram? If you're like me, it's to scroll through what your friends are doing, your favorite celebrities or brands latest posts, and Doug the Pug, because obviously we all want to know what Doug is doing. When posting to Instagram, mirror yourself off what you like to see, but also what popular accounts are doing. Behind-the-scenes pics of you and your work bestie are great for Instagram. Pictures of a shooting scene or something less-than-visually appealing? Not so much. 
For the news station Instagram account - this is a great place to show off user-generated content. That beautiful sunrise a viewer sent? Show it off on your Instagram page and give them a shout-out. You'll solidify their loyalty to you and likely get more pictures from other users who also want to be featured. 
Instastories are a great place for personality. Yes, we are journalists and we need to maintain credibility, so don't go crazy with filters and masks. But using one every now and then is totally OK, and honestly probably a good idea, but only if it's natural to you. But like most things, timing is everything. DO NOT POST A SILLY PICTURE AT A SERIOUS SCENE. This should not have to be said, but all too often I see journalists posting smiling pictures from a fire, tragedy or disaster. 
Okay, off the soapbox now. If it's appropriate, utilize those Instastories to show what happens during the commercial break, what you do between live shots, funny moments in the newsroom or the cute dog you met while on a story. Make it personal! 
Another way I've seen Instastories utilized well, is for coverage of what story you're working on for the day. Jump on your Instastory and tell your viewers what your story is, use the geotag to show your location, think of it as a way to be really transparent, which is always a good idea. Plus, people are always interested in that view. 
Lastly, Instagram is jumping on the "live" bandwagon. I've tried Instagram live a few times and the engagement has been really low. Like less than 10 viewers low, and not worth it. So, unless your Insta-following is already big, I would suggest keeping the live streaming to Facebook. 

Now what about Pinterest? While the American Journalism Review posted this great piece about how news outlets should be using the pinning-site to grow, not many stations are doing it. Is it because they don't have the staff, or because they don't see the value? 
Pinterest is most often seen as a place for recipes, DIY projects, fashion, fitness and pretty much anything lifestyle-related. I don't see many articles 'pinned' on the site. But that could be a missed opportunity. 
Pinterest is a visual-platform, way more so than Twitter. The name of the game on Pinterest is pictures that are captivating, that will make you click on them for more info. Less words, more attention-grabbing shots. As a visual medium, TV news should naturally gravitate towards this site. 
Think of it as visual storytelling, a step further from the 1:30 pkg that aired at 6:00pm. I have a feature on my personal blog called "The story behind the story," where I talk about things that didn't make the piece, or anything that can be developed further. That is the perfect space for something like Pinterest to live! Was there a really interesting person in that story that you think people gravitated to? Was there a charity briefly mentioned in the fire that does a lot of great work in the community, but was merely an anchor tag? That person or that charity could be the perfectly pin-able opportunity. Take a screen grab of the subject in question and upload it to your Pinterest page, with a brief description, link back to your website and also include a 'more info' link to the charity website or whatever. A quick "Pin this story" at the bottom of your article makes it easy for people to take action. You can also install an overlay on the picture, so when users roll over the image, a "PIN ME" link comes up, then a separate window for Pinterest. 
Section off your Pinterest page with boards: "As Seen on WXYZ," "Meet the team," "Your pictures." "The story behind the story," etc. 
No, people will probably not seek you out on Pinterest for their news, but if a story grabs their attention, it could lead back to clicks on the story and then on your website. 

Finally, there's SnapChat. Formally known as the place for teens to send promiscuous pics, the app is now more widely accepted. But like any other social media app, be mindful of who is watching and what you are posting. Again, if you post a snap of the story you're on, and say, it's a house fire. You're in full-on reporting mode, telling your followers what you're working on, it's informative and transparent. The mistakes I've seen journalists make usually comes right after this: The very next snap is you with the dog filter goofing-off with your photographer in the live truck. Not the best look, and this transition makes you seem callous and fake. Don't get me wrong, I love the dog filter and the flower crown and you should absolutely use them, but there is a time and a place. 
For me, SnapChat is the most light-hearted of the social media apps. Unless I really think my SnapChat followers really need to see the scene, I just keep the serious news off my SnapChat story. 
If the story you're on is a big one, and there's already a built-in geofilter, go on, snap away! It's a great way to get in on the conversation and pick up more followers. 
Look, I know I've posted before about balancing social media, making deadline and your real life, and how we should find a balance. So I realize you may be rolling your eyes at this post, it's just "another thing on your to-do list," but after a little set-up, this process should be streamlined so you can easily check the box and promote your work more. 
By the way, follow my Instagram here, SnapChat here and Pinterest here.

How do you use non-traditional social media for your news coverage? Let us know in the comments below.

Nikki Burdine is morning anchor for WKRN-TV in Nashville, Tennessee.