How Journalists Can Better Manage Their Social Media Workflow
By Justin Sablich
You don’t need me to throw statistics at you about how influential social media is for news organizations and individual journalists. But I will anyway.
A Cision study from this year found that “90 percent of respondents use social media for work at least once a week and 48 percent could not successfully complete their work without social media.”
“The question is no longer whether social media is important to the journalist: this study confirms it’s woven into their day-to-day work process,” said Chris Lynch, Cision CMO.
Again, you should probably know this if you’re in the industry. What you may not know as much about is how to best organize your social media posting strategy — both for your organization and on an individual basis.
As most newsrooms are already married to one social media management tool or another, the following tools may be useful in helping you organize your personal social media strategy. Here’s what you need to know about the big four:
If you’re familiar with one tool already it’s probably this one. Tweetdeck launched in 2008 and was the first popular social media posting tool of its kind. It’s basic functionality has remained the same, but one unfortunate change over the years was losing the ability to post to Facebook and other platforms from Tweetdeck, which happened after it was purchased by Twitter in 2011.
Using Tweetdeck has several advantages over posting directly from Twitter, with the added benefit of being easy to use. It has an intuitive interface that allows for you to customize your experience by creating different feeds, including Twitter lists, replies, custom searches and much more.
The flipside is that it lacks many features that more advanced users have come to enjoy from other platforms, like the ability to post to several different platforms and track the performance of posts.
“When the stream of tweets is unmanageably fast, Tweetdeck’s filter button is your friend. It’s the button at the top right of a column (two lines with circles on them), and it opens up a number of advanced options. You can exclude words, filter out retweets, only view tweets with images, or see just the most popular tweets,” writes Cordelia Hebblethwaite, now an editor with the BBC.
Another very popular tool that has been around just as long as Tweetdeck (2008), Hootsuite is used by many news organizations because of its more advanced features.
If you’re familiar with Tweetdeck’s layout, then you shouldn’t have trouble adapting to Hootsuite, which has various tabs in the same vein as Tweetdeck’s feeds. In addition to Twitter, you can post to Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and other major social platforms. Other features include audience targeting, a built-in URL shortening tool and bulk uploading of posts via Excel.
You can also be more strategic when scheduling posts, as Hootsuite will recommend an optimal posting time based on its data, and can create custom analytics reports, though the stats do not go far beyond the basics.
“I tend to use the Chrome plugin which allows me to easily share interesting content directly without leaving the page I am on,” writes social media marketer Steve Rayson.
Cost: Free for up to three social profiles, with more advanced plans at $9.99 per month for individuals and between $34.99 and $99.99 per month for small teams. Larger teams must contact Hootsuite for a quote.
This one is my personal favorite for scheduling social media feeds. Unlike Hootsuite, you can set up a recurring posting schedule, choosing the different times each day that you want your account to publish a post. I also like Buffer’s clean design and layout, which makes for a less distracting experience compared to some of the other tools.
Filling your schedule is easier, too. You can set your feed to auto publish many days in advance. Buffer also offers a very convenient bookmarklet that, once installed, allows you to add content you find on the web to your feed just by clicking on a link or image on your browser.
Additionally, Buffer’s analytics tab will show you which of your posts have performed well and allows you to reschedule these older posts, which may not make sense for your personal feed but is a very useful feature if you are running a branded account.
One of the reasons that the layout is simpler is that there is no way to interact directly with users, which is one of its weaknesses. (I personally use a combination of Buffer and Tweetdeck to make up for this, but others might prefer Hootsuite or others that offer a more complete experience.)
“I use it mostly to make sure I have a regular stream of content coming out of my personal social accounts, but lots of teams use it for managing publisher/brand social accounts,” writes journalist Rebecca Searless.
Cost: Free, with advanced plans starting at $10 per month for individuals and between $99 and $399 per month for teams and businesses.
This is a well-rounded tool that’s main advantage is its powerful analytics capabilities, which also means it’s more expensive and generally is used for professional use only. If you’re only looking to organize your personal brand, you should stick with the free options.
But for teams, Sprout may be worth the money. You are able to schedule posts, monitor their performance and then analyze them without having to use multiple programs. The analytics are more advanced than what the others provide, but Sprout presents the data reports in easily digestible charts and graphs. You can also interact with your colleagues who are also running an account, and team managers can assign tasks.
Cost: $59 per month for 10 social profiles, with more advanced plans starting at $99 for individuals and $500 for teams.
Justin Sablich is a cross-platform journalist and social media strategist who is currently a contributing writer and editor at The New York Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @JustinSablich.
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