We had a great time at Social Media Club NH’s most recent event, a discussion of how social media is changing the world of journalism. Media makers from around the state gathered at UNH to talk about how their organizations are using social media, and how these new mediums are changing the way we get our news. Here are some of our favorite points from the discussion, along with some tips for how everyone–not just journalists–can put them into action.
Everyone makes media
UNH journalism professor Tom Haines talked about how social media means that anyone can be a journalist, and how that means that voices in news are more plentiful and diverse than ever before. This constant stream of information coming from a huge variety of sources and over a wide range of channels means that journalists have more resources to draw on, but also that they need to be more careful than ever about verifying information and not sharing rumor as fact.
Takeaway: Social media is an incredible way to connect with and learn from people you’d never meet otherwise, but you also need to be smart about who you’re getting your info from. Think before you RT.
Never stop experimenting
Marc Fortier of NH Patch emphasized that Patch has been working constantly to open up the conversation on their sites, and to draw in as many local voices as possible. The “hyper-local” news organization has been able to grow its community engagement and build its brand by using Facebook and Twitter, and they’ve put news into the hands of the community by welcoming local bloggers. “We want to have as many local voices on the site as we possibly can,” Fortier said. Patch is all about interaction. “We don’t want it to be a static news site, where we say ‘here’s the news’ and there’s no engagement.” Patch features comments prominently, and is constantly experimenting with new ways to use social media to grow their readership and increase engagement.
Takeaway: Trying new things and committing to using social media can pay off big, in the form of clicks, loyal readers and pageviews (which, if you’re running a business, can eventually translate to sales leads).
Think before you tweet
Chad Graff and Thomas Gounley, editors of The New Hampshire, the student newspaper of UNH, are both extremely active on Twitter. On their personal accounts and the @thenewhampshire handle, they share what they’re working on and the latest updates from campus and the surrounding area. They retweet their own reporters, as well as reports from Fosters, WMUR and other local news outlets. Their number one advice for a sound social media policy? Don’t be stupid.
Takeaway: Three words: Don’t be stupid. (That’s a good one to print out and stick somewhere your social media team will see it…constantly).
Social media brings down walls
Brady Carlson of NHPR isn’t just using social media to share news, he’s using it to find news. NHPR’s Public Insight Network is a group of people from all over the state who share news tips with NHPR, and to whom NHPR can reach out for leads when they hear about a story. Carlson can target an email blast by zipcode, so if he hears a rumor–one example was the bomb threat at Hilary Clinton’s Rochester headquarters last primary season–he can quickly reach out to locals and find out if they know anything. NHPR also uses Twitter and Facebook to reach out to listeners and ask if they have ideas or tips. “We need to avoid acting like we know everything,” Carlson said. “We need to open it up…let’s share and we’ll all be better off.”
Takeaway: Social media is a great place to ask for help. You never know who might see your query and be able to help–so don’t be scared to ask!