We all use social media, but are we using it well? That’s what one room full of journalists dived into on a recent Friday afternoon at the Excellence in Journalism 2018 conference.
Three panelists, Sheryl Worsley, director of audience development Bonneville Salt Lake (KSL, KRSP, KSFI), Bob Bennett, senior producer, WAVY-TV 10, and Brandon Mercer, general manager, SFGate, discussed their experience with social media.
John Colucci started by asking the panelists to share their most embarrassing experience with social media.
Worsley recalled a time the current traffic reporter shared and tagged her in an embarrassing video of the station’s former traffic anchor.
“You should not make it a practice of beating up on others anymore,” Worsley said that she told the reporter.
Mercer posted something on the station’s page that he meant to post on his own page.
“It was…there’s swarms on insects slamming into my window,” said Mercer. “I posted it to the Fox 40’s page in Sacramento, and it had 10,000 views the next day.”
Bennett’s story was of mistaken identities. He took a picture of Kevin Hart and Ice Cube and posted it to Twitter.
But he tagged Ice-T instead of Ice Cube.
“Ice-T responded to the tweet, and it went viral for about an hour or so,” Bennett said.
Bennett did take the tweet down.
The ice broken, the experts shared what they’ve learned about training in the newsroom, their favorite platforms, importance of teaching social media, upping your game, accountability with social media, and advice for small newsrooms and organizations.
The agreement was that Facebook was a favorite among them.
Mercer thought social media should be used to make money, and didn’t think highly of Twitter.
“Twitter is for branding, but it’s not worthwhile,” he said.
When it comes to training, Bennett said Facebook live has become the biggest thing for reporters to use.
“Incentive for Facebook live is actually being at the event instead of going on 6 o’clock news when it becomes dated,” said Bennett. “Facebook becomes news in the moment.”
“One of the keys to our success is to treat social media like it is rewarding and we’ll give shoutouts, we’ll give prizes for it... that comes from management,” says @sherylrockin #EIJ18 https://t.co/3F2nbBrARV— Annie Culver (@AnnieCulver7) September 28, 2018
When it comes to the importance of social media, relationships, getting feedback, and monitoring comments are key.
“Engaging with the audience and get a relationship,” said Worsley. “Value relationships and have a conversation.”
Mercer said the key was to get feedback.
Bennett mentioned that some people like to comment inappropriate things.
“It you get out of line on the comment section, you’ll get kicked off,” Bennett said.
When it came to analytics, Crowd Tangle is a hit for Worsley.
“It notifies you of stories in your market or nationwide,” said Worsley. “It’s free to newsrooms,” though there is currently a waitlist.
Sometimes, the best way is looking at the analytics on Facebook or Twitter.
“Twitter lets you find out the education level and shopping habits of your followers,” said Mercer.
“Facebook lets you know age, gender, and area of location of your followers,” said Bennett.
When it comes to the accountability of your reporters, you expect them to do more than what they are comfortable with.
“You have to push people to use social media,” said Bennett. “Reporters have a thing. Push them out of their comfort zone.”
“It’s about training people,” said Worsley. “People can become comfortable and know what their goals are. They’re trained for trustworthiness and they’re expected.”
Colucci wasn’t the only one asking questions. Some of the audience members worked in news organizations with as few as four people in the newsroom, and one asked advice for small organizations.
Worsley said to get everyone on top of social media, and to spread the duties out. Mercer mentioned a common time-saver: scheduling posts.
Bennett said to talk to everyone, but not through emails.
“Directly talk to everyone, have a discussion,” said Bennett. “It’s much easier because you can talk to people individually.”
Even the experts have room to grow as social media platforms and how they’re used are always changing. Are the leaders in your newsroom looking ahead?