From MediaShift | 10 Things You Can Do Now to Up Your Social Media Game in 2018
The following was originally published on MediaShift's website:
Are you in a newsroom right now? Take a look at your social media team. What are they doing?
Most likely, they’re posting stories from your staff on Twitter and Facebook. They’re checking Google Analytics or Parse.ly or Chartbeat to see if those links are successfully penetrating the fickle social media universe. They’re explaining to another young reporter why she needs to change the name on her Twitter account to, well, anything else but @FoxyGrrrl15.
What’s that? You don’t have a social media team anymore? It was abandoned in the pivot to video, or maybe during the third round of staff cuts since April? In that case, someone might remember to post a photo on Instagram in between remaking the home page and writing a city council meeting brief.
A decade ago, Facebook, Twitter and subsequent platforms were viewed suspiciously by some people in newsrooms and greeted with hope by others. But in so many average American newsrooms today, the years have not been kind to those who work with social media.
A 2017 American Press Institute survey of 59 newsrooms across the country shows that many social media teams and activities have been decimated by staff cuts and newsroom reorganization. Others have remained intact or grown, but still struggle with lack of leadership, weak (if any) strategy, and a lot of random daily tasks.
The survey, along with dozens of interviews with social media journalists and experts, generally shows that social media efforts in newsrooms have changed little since their adoption of Twitter and Facebook about 10 years ago. The social media universe, however, has changed considerably:
- In 2008, 24 percent of the world used social media. Today, it’s 81 percent and growing.
- Facebook still leads the pack, but over 20 other platforms now have more than 100 million users each.
- Misinformation pollutes many of these platforms, and websites that exist only to distribute fake content are growing. Google identified at least 340 such sites in 2016.
- Politicians, candidates and other people in power routinely use social media to make news and communicate with followers.
- Ways to engage and reach a variety of audiences have grown considerably, and they’re often complicated and technically challenging.
- Metrics used to track social media success have not only become more widespread and more complex, they’re now sometimes used to measure journalists’ performance.
But while the social media industry has grown larger and more sophisticated, training for social media journalists in many newsrooms is typically non-existent or consists of “on the job” learning.
And the people being hired to handle social media are often “entry-level” with little experience in the journalism world. That doesn’t make sense to social media veterans.
“In a news environment, social media is the most grueling job in the newsroom,” says Elyse Siegel, an audience development expert who’s worked at Huffington Post and now is managing editor at Swirled.
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