Journalists deal with words every day, communicating stories, ideas and events to the wider world. Putting pen to paper or fingertip to keypad is as natural as breathing – writing stories is in their blood. Or so I thought!
Give a journalist a word count of 1500 words and they’ll take it in their stride. Give them a word count of 40 characters and see the panic spread across their faces. Yes, social media is the medium that mystifies many trained writers and wordsmiths.
I recently had the pleasure of training journalists and PRs from the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists in the use of social media. These clever people could tell complicated stories and manage PR campaigns for clients, but the dark art of social media is a different matter.
Social media should be a dream for trained journalists and PRs but instead it can become something of a nightmare. But there is a way to put all that training and experience to good use – simply by rebranding social media as ‘a new form of journalism’.
Looking at social media through journalistic eyes gives it a whole new slant. As the scales start to fall off you can see the stories that need to be written. The writer becomes the protagonist, shaping events, setting trends and reaching out to new audiences.
Words will always carry weight but now there are new tools to play with – video and live video streaming are an interactive way of story-telling that is becoming more and more mainstream on social media. It’s a way of creating news that’s immediate, direct and personal, and puts the broadcaster firmly at the centre of affairs.
Of course, social media will never replace journalism but it can enhance the stories that are written while giving writers a voice in the wider world. The journalist’s playground has never been so well-equipped … or so much fun!
The journalist’s social media toolbox
To excel in this new era of journalism, follow these golden rules:
Create your own buzz with Twitter: as a journalist you need to be in the here and now and that’s the essence of twitter. Keep up to date with what’s trending and use # to stay on top of current stories. Use # to search for people who might be interested in your stories and to start news trends of your own. Use twitter to make your own news!
Be aware of journalist specific hashtags such as #journorequest, these can be useful to find sources for content.
Face up to Video:
get in front of the people you write for and give your stories a depth and personality that extends beyond the features you write. Find a livestream platform that suits you Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube all have ‘LIVE’ streams.
Use live streaming to show your own insights prior to writing an article, in effect generating the story behind the story. Then follow up on the event with your own thoughts afterwards. Inspire your audience to follow you by giving them permission to share your journey. Use livestream to show your human side!
Develop your LinkedIn profile:
this social networking tool is not a C.V. it’s a living breathing professional presence that allows you to showcase your work and position yourself as an expert. Post updates and join in conversations by answering questions on posts by others or in groups.
Share your stories with a wider audience and gain access to prospective clients. Publish your articles directly on the platform, this is where you can showcase your expertise, while telling your own story or the stories of others.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and speaks to people in the way you want to be heard. Use LinkedIn to develop freelance opportunities!
Top tips for social media success:
The social media approaches for engaging your audience are not dissimilar to conventional journalism:
- Show up regularly – Building an audience or successful networking takes consistency and commitment.
- Know your social audience – Who are you talking to and which social platforms do they prefer?
- To build a relationship with an audience they will need to KNOW, LIKE & TRUST YOU.
Who are Social Jungle?
Industry experts Alison Teare and Simon Haley formed Social Jungle in 2016 to provide social media masterclasses, advice, strategy and training to the agriculture, food and rural business sectors.
We believe the positive power of social media offers massive opportunities for those who are willing to learn to use the social platforms to form strong relationships with existing and perspective customers, to build their brand and to market their businesses.
We are here to help! Get in touch …