David Arkin's blog

It’s good journalists feel more pressure to think about getting their content shared

Results from a survey running around the Web in the last week had this big headline: “More than 75 percent of journalists say they feel more pressure now to think about their story’s potential to get shared on social platforms.”

PR group Edelman worked with NewsWhip and Muck Rack on a survey that said there is quite a bit of pressure for journalists to get their content shared.

Good. Great. Bravo.

The research went on to note that original video, using more of a human voice and developing trending content are some of the drivers that are helping journalists make content more shareable.

This all makes sense. A reporter should be jazzed that their work is reaching a wide audience, the biggest audience possible. Social media offers us that opportunity. Social media is quickly becoming the center of where our content is consumed. Long term it’s hard to imagine our home pages will get the attention they do now based on where consumers are coming to find content.

A few weeks ago I wrote about how millennials are pretty brand agnostic. They just want content that interests them, and the majority aren’t going to your local newspaper’s homepage to find that content; they are getting it through social media, through retweets and shares. So our content has to be smart, entertaining, timely and relevant to grab that audience.

I see nothing bad about journalists feeling more pressure to think about their story’s potential to get shared. I wish 100 percent felt that way. And here’s why. When reporters think about their story’s potential to get shared on social media, they are likely creating a better story, one that has more layers or talks to a wider audience than just the print newspaper.

A reporter in the planning process could quickly realize through looking at data that someone who is consuming content on social media would be interested in a map or a video or some other form of multimedia and that adding that layer to their journalism could create a bigger or a different audience. The rise of social media and use of data at the newsroom level, also should be forcing journalists to think more visually. I outlined in my blog post about millennials that a younger generation wants more visualization. If reporters are thinking about how to maximize audience on social media, they should be thinking about interactive graphics and timelines that could go along with that content. A reporter’s job is not just to write stories. Layers have to be part of what every reporter does every day.

Editors should be sharing digital data with reporters on a daily basis, so they can make good decisions and assignment editors should be obsessing over this data ensuring reporters are covering the right stuff.

Reporters have to take ownership of social media. A reporter’s job is to consider ways to pick stories, develop the stories and create layers that are going to make stories more successful on social media. And it’s critical that newsrooms understand what kind of stories and approaches on social media lead to higher engagement.

Not every story created by a newsroom should be posted to social media. That’s obvious. But I think creating competition in a newsroom around what stories got shared, why and how to create more content like that, is healthy. Social media referral traffic trends aren’t like desktop page view trends where it’s all crime all the time. You will quickly see that while crime is popular, a much wider variety of content is engaging that audience. But you have to look at the data and through Facebook Insights and analytical tools, it’s there for you.

In too many newsrooms, social media engagement goes no further than digital editors pushing out content a reporter has given them. Reporters have to think about how the approach they take with their stories and the layers they create, can help digital editors engage audiences. But it’s also important that digital editors aren’t the only ones who engage with audiences and understand data and trends in social media. That’s why reporters having personal Twitter accounts and being active in their accounts daily is so important. Digital editors play a role with social media, but it’s not their job alone to help win that audience. Reporters who build followings, who pitch stories to editors or encourage their reporter colleagues to think more about what would make a story take off on social media when considering what and how they are going to cover something, all helps us grow this critical audience.

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