Jem and Dylan
My 6-year-old niece, Dylan, rocking out with Jem.

I thought for sure I was going to make my 6-year-old niece famous last year. Well, Internet-famous, anyway.

I tweeted what I thought was the coolest photo ever of her striking a rocker pose in front of the “Jem – The Movie” poster in the movie theater. I @ mentioned the Jem official movie account and included a hashtag. I did everything I thought I could to get the movie people’s attention.

The only problem was, the movie people weren’t paying attention. At all. They had tweeted the night the movie came out in October and a couple times the day after to promote the soundtrack (which, by the way, I couldn’t find being sold as a CD anywhere). But the movie bombed pretty badly and I think the PR folks retreated. Their next tweet came more than 2 weeks after my Nov. 1 post. They never liked my tweet and certainly didn’t retweet it. I was bummed out.

Around that time, I also @ mentioned Comcast on Twitter to complain that a show I was watching missed an episode On Demand. To my pleasant surprise, they responded within 24 hours and fixed my problem.

It all made me realize the expectations I have as a social media follower. If you put yourself out there as a business that uses Twitter or Facebook, I’m going to assume you’re listening to me when I use that platform to communicate. I expect you to answer.

When all I used to think about was writing articles, I remember a wise editor telling me to think like a reader. What does she need to know? Make sure you tell her. And just say it – don’t be all flowery. That applies to our interactions with them in the digital world.

“I’m missing the paper.” “Why aren’t you writing about x?” “Here’s a great story.” “How do I submit a press release?” Followers/readers have all sorts of things they want to say.

Be sure you’re checking your Twitter “Notifications” tab and your Facebook “Messages” tab. Decide whether it’s better to acknowledge the comment publicly on Twitter but take the details offline by asking them to email or call you or if it’s OK to just answer them publicly. It will depend on the sensitivity of the issue. Messages on Facebook are private, although you could still invite them to call you.

Really, everything we do we should think through the eyes, minds and brains of our readers.

Another thing I saw around the time when I failed at launching my niece into Internet stardom was an emailed newsletter from a media company that covers my hometown.  The headline was “How to get a better fluffernutter – and get that toasted marshmallow flavor (Video).”

Fluffernutter shared a video in their daily newsletter email about how to make a better fluffernutter.


If you’ve never had a fluffernutter – first of all, I’m sorry for you – but it’s basically a peanut butter sandwich with marshmallow fluff. I clicked on the headline immediately. Because yes, I want to know how to make a better fluffernutter! And I had to see what this video was all about.

This made me think that (as much as the technology currently allows us), we need to make sure our newsletters are delivering content our readers want, something appealing that will make them click through, especially since we’re dropping it in their lap through their email.

And one last story that got me thinking about all of this: Massachusetts recently had some print delivery issues (it’s a long story!). One editor told me he called the circulation line himself to see what many of his readers were going through to try to tell the company they hadn’t gotten their paper. He wanted to experience it from their viewpoint. I thought that was a great idea. Just one more way to think like a reader.



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