Social networking overview: Twitter and Facebook tips for journalists

Bridget Carey

Bridget Carey

Bridget Carey, a Miami Herald technology reporter and online producer, talked about social networking at a Florida Press Association/Florida Society of News Editors convention session that was held at The Post on July 9.

The intended audience for this session was beginner, so many of Bridget’s points will simply be a review for journalists who have already started using Twitter, Facebook and other social networking tools.

However, her talk is still worth summarizing here. Some of Bridget’s tips:

Twitter

twitter

* Twitter is not something magical or complicated. It’s just one more way to promote your content to people in the community who may not necessarily go to a newspaper Web site.

* It’s crucial to be active and build your community. Respond to others and help them. Don’t go on Twitter only to post requests for help or just to dump your links. Be a “real person.”

* When working on a story, consider seeking feedback from the Twitter community about what they would like to see covered. For instance, Carey recently reviewed the Palm Pre. Before she wrote her review, she posted a tweet asking her followers what about the device they wanted to know.

* Don’t ask your actively tweeting co-worker to post a tweet for you. That’s awkward and goes against the community culture of Twitter.

* Fill out your Twitter bio with your full name and e-mail, and let people know what you cover.

* Take advantage of popular topics to drive traffic to your content and also to generate story ideas. To play around with this some more, check out this popular Mashable article, 15 Fascinating Ways to Track Twitter Trends.

* Sending personal direct messages to your followers, as you have time, is also a thoughtful gesture that helps build your community.

* Twitter can also be useful as an RSS feed to keep up to date with hot topics.

* Remember to seek balance: Don’t start looking for sources only via social networking communities! You’d be neglected the non-wired public.

* It’s OK, even when using your Twitter account for professional purposes only, to occasionally tweet something personal or amusing. But don’t tweet too often or be boring.

Facebook

* Try using Facebook Groups to search for sources. Example: You’re looking for Sarah Palin supporters to interview. Log on to Facebook, search “Palin” in the upper right search bar, then click the Groups tab toward the top on the results page. Among the hundreds of Palin-themed groups listed is Americans for Sarah Palin. Carey suggests e-mailing a few members directly.

palin

* Facebook Groups could also be a good way for editors to fact-check, too, Carey says.

* Reporters should consider joining the region they cover if they don’t already live there.

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