Social Media and Journalism

For my very last blog post of the semester, I get to focus on how the future of social media will affect my field, journalism. There has been a long discussion since social media transitioned from passing fad to internet staple of whether real journalism can have a home on social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. One of the reasons I am in this program is because I know that the field is set to transition to social media in the near future and I want to be ahead of the curve when that happens.

One of the most important things that journalists have to watch out for regarding social media is to not let citizens steal their jobs. What journalists have to do, according to Yahoo, is to supplement their work with “sources from the street.” Get the stories themselves, but realize that trusted sources don’t necessarily have to come from organizations, they can come from your friends list. And if those sources can also help you increase engagement on your content, acquire them as an influencer. This could help you down the road when you need a post to go viral. This walks the fine line that I was taught in undergrad about conflict of interest, using people you know as sources, because most of the people on your friends list have a personal connection to you.

Is there a conflict of interest when using friends or followers on social media as a source for a story?

A few concerns that the Huffington Post raised with this transition actually fall in line with some of mine. From skills to accuracy, there are those people that will never trust what they read on social media because it’s not a proven source. I find myself checking Google or a more trusted news source after I read something on social just to make sure it’s true. I’ve fallen for the Jackie Chan death hoax way too many times to ever take anything on social media at face value without fact-checking first. The people churning out the news may not have gone to school like most journalists, including myself, and haven’t acquired the proper training to report on high profile stories. Social media also leaves some journalists wondering if they have wasted their time and money getting an education or training to become a publishable journalist when all they needed to do was create a Facebook profile. I have those concerns from time to time, but as I sift through the massive amount of content where I can immediately tell they are not real journalists, I am thankful that I have the tools to rise above them and be considered one of the more reliable sources in social media.

Do you trust what you read on social media or do you Google it yourself to see if it’s true?

Before I continue my response of the Reuters Handbook on Journalism I have to say, they shouldn’t worry about social media ruining their reputation when the page filled with typos is doing that enough for them. I was afraid that when I started reading this I would be annoyed at all the self-righteous language they would use about them being professional and the things they aren’t allowed to do on social media. I was clearly wrong. What Reuters does is allow their journalists to be people, but be transparent and let Reuters off the hook when the person makes a comment the publication may not agree with, which is fair. I also respect Reuters for telling their journalists to hold off on publishing a story so they can fact-check and edit beforehand. I wish they had done that with this handbook, but I have seen so many typos and factual errors on other news sites that I respect when organizations favor accuracy over eagerness to publish first.

Neiman Reports echoed this sentiment by saying that it doesn’t matter who is first, but who is right, citing Michael Jackson’s death as their example. I can come up with a more recent example involving four stories on the same day, two were true and the other two were false. News broke that Cory Monteith had died of a drug overdose on the same day that George Zimmerman was found not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin. There were also false reports that surfaced on Twitter and Facebook that Casey Anthony was pregnant and that actor Kyle Massey had cancer. What these stories have taught us as consumers and creators of content is to think before you react and you might make more of an impact. I’ve had a lot fun this semester giving my feedback on all of these tips, soaking them in, and utilizing them to make me a better journalist and consumer. As always, feel free to leave comments and connect with me on all of my social media channels.

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Putting Value on the Priceless

I thought that half of the readings this week were trying to force a number onto something that couldn’t necessarily be computed. The other half was like a story that found its footing at the end and turned in two of my favorite articles of the semester. As a storyteller, it will be my job of telling you the “facts” of the supposed monetary value of social media first before I dive into the longstanding effects social media on your personal life.

Mashable basically told me that in order to gain measurable return on investment or ROI, you need to be personable and interact with the audience. It’s a concept that’s basically been beaten to death in the last 10+ weeks, if you don’t please your audience, your product suffers. Also being fake and not having great content hinders your ability to sell. Tell me something I don’t know yet. I feel like what they are doing with this article is just recapping everything we’ve learned into one compact place and it didn’t really have an effect or give me an epiphany moment. If this were the story’s introduction, I would have stopped reading already.

Sales Force Marketing Cloud wrote an article that could have easily been titled “Social Media Fundraising 101” because knowing what I know now from my time in this program, I could’ve deduced all of those tips if I wanted to create a fundraising campaign. These tips can also be handy when running a business, so I don’t necessarily think that it needed to be just about fundraising. I was looking for something to jump out at me and convince me that there’s something unique about this approach, but there wasn’t. Now that I think about it, the article could have been titled “How to Market Anything You Want Using Social Media”, because these tips should come into play 100% of the time.

Now for the more redeemable conclusion to ROI story, there’s no singular way to do it says Raven Tools. I swear Courtney Seiter, who wrote this article, went into my brain pulled out exactly what I wanted to say about ROI. Don’t set impossible goals or try to do math that makes your head hurt. Do what you do best on social media and the results will please you. I completely understand and agree with her stance that as journalists we need the answers. But as a critic, where I come up with my own answers and nobody else’s, this notion of do what you do best really speaks to me. E!, Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone are three of my favorite brands, but all of them have completely different approaches to social media and they’re all successful. Everyone has a different voice and personality and shouldn’t be told that they have to do it one way to excel.

My other favorite article this week, for completely different reasons, was The Atlantic’s piece on how social media is helping, not hurting, the most important investment of all which is the human relationship. I want to show this to all the naysayers of social media, shake them and tell them to join this century. Playing devil’s advocate here, I hate when you’re trying to have a face-to-face conversation and they can’t put the phone down. But, that’s just one instance where I don’t think social media benefits a person in the long run. There are few occasions where I outwardly pimp my brand, the Social Roller, or use my disability to prove a point, but when other people do that for me, it makes me happy. I would not be getting a master’s degree right now if it weren’t for social media. I think being able to use Facebook and Twitter (among others) can help me become a better journalist and a better marketer because it gives me the access to human contact that I sometimes rarely get without the help of my parents or city transportation. Social media helped me immensely when I was in the hospital for several weeks unable to attend school, I would have gone crazy without it. In short, social media is my life saver and no amount of money can come close to the ROI I have received in being an active social media user.

What are your thoughts on social media ROI: can it be calculated and should it be calculated?

Did you learn anything new or helpful about ROI in the articles by Mashable or Sales Force Marketing Cloud?

 

SEO of Websites and Blogs-How You Can Improve It

I titled my post slightly different this week based on the readings. One of Razor Social‘s articles taught me that by putting the keywords of your title first, it will increase the likelihood of that post showing up on Google. It makes sense and if you really think about it, the way you word your title could mean the difference between 10 people reading your blog and over a million. Some of the author’s other tips, while excellent if they end up working, are slightly time consuming and not very practical for the average person who also has several other things on his or her plate. His example about putting all of your blog posts into Slideshare so it can rise in Google search is a hidden gem of a tool. But who really has time to do that for every post? Many of the people enrolled in this social media program have full time careers and families to provide for (not me, but most do) and are finding it even hard to keep up with the work we are doing now. None of us have the time to put this blog into Slideshare just so it can be found on Google!

There are few articles that try to promote a website and sell me on it without having looked at the website for myself. Ian Cleary managed to do that with his article about Google Webmaster Tool. Sign me up right now, because even though I only really have blogs right now and do not currently host my own website, Google Webmaster will be a life saver when I do have one. Just when I think SEO is simple to pinpoint and master, I learn that a website’s Sitemap might play a major role in where it ranks on Google and that videos need their own Sitemap. Sorry, I’m geeking myself out in my own head at the possibilities of how big my website or any website can grow if everyone knew these tools. And I have become such a marketing fanatic that I want everyone who has ther own website to know these tools and I want to be the one to tell them. Some of the technical stuff goes right over my head and I will provide that article if they have any other questions, but if I can helps other people’s websites grow, that makes me happy.

Forbes emphasized one of my biggest problems with regard to my own blogs that I am fully aware of but do nothing abour, tags and keywords. I spend so much time writing the posts themselves that when I do have the energy to put a few tags on, I don’t pick the right ones to make the blog show up on Google. And I always take “keywords” too literally and purposely keep them short, which is exactly what I shouldn’t be doing. And those keywords are what will bring my pages to the top of Google search which results in 95% more hits than the second page. These readings gave me extremely valuable tools that I will be able to use not only with this blog, but with other future websites.

Would you consider putting a blog post into Slideshare to receive more hits on it?

How much emphasis do you put on tags or keywords and do these readings change your idea of how important they are?

Measuring Your Business With Analytics

Everyone in business wants to know that the content they are producing is making an impact on their audience. With social media analytics you will see just how easy it is to know what works and where you should turn your focus as a marketer. Peter Odryna used a case study to show how marketers can prepare themselves to provide the best socal media marketing strategies using analytics. This article was more about learning from mistakes and fixing them rather than starting a brand new analytics-based campaign. It was also a way of showing how a marketing agency should obtain a client rather than a business managing analytics on their own. While I appreciate the explanation of the agency side of things, only parts of this article, such as how to search for trends in the industry, were helpful to companies that do their own social media marketing.

The lists on both YouMoz and Tech Radar were helpful to those like me that were unfamiliar with most of these analytic-tracking websites. I knew of the major ones like Hootsuite and Klout, but the ones like Buzzstream and and Social Mention were new to me and ones I would definitely consider using in my business. The YouMoz article was especially helpful and in-depth because he gave an analysis and weighed the pros and cons of each website, which I was very impressed with. Although he may have slightly favored the ones that were free, I saw no signs of playing favorites; just unbiased analysis.

Bynd hit on some things in this article that go further than just the numbers, which has been one of the most important lessons of this class this semester. In order to achieve to numbers you want for your business, you need to understand what will bring those numbers in. Using previous analytics to measure what the audience will respond to and giving them more of that content will not only help your business to thrive, but will give the consumer the satisfaction that the company is listening to what they say. And a little trick to this is letting the customers believe that the content is based on comments and feedback when in reality it is due to the measurable feedback of analytics. Like the other article said, you can’t try to figure out what everyone wants, but by using analytics you can please the majority of consumers.

One of my favorite pieces of information from this week’s readings was from RazorSocial. They said that if you form a relationship with your biggest social media influencers they will continue to promote your content and it will increase the audience for both you and the influencer. The other interesting thing about this article was that it was the only one that had any way of properly using Google Analytics or Google+. The rest were not equipped to measure Google+, which shows how much less influential it is than all of the other social networking sites.

Do you use any other tracking websites besides Hootsuite and Bit.ly? Which ones appeal to you that you have never heard of?

Have you ever interacted with an influencer of your brand/business on social media or have been contacted by a brand because you were an influencer?

 

Going Viral: Why It’s a Good Thing Despite It’s Name

People will tell you they don’t care about how large their audience is and all they want to do is produce content they are proud of. While the second half might be true, all anyone who posts on social media wants to do is produce content that will go viral. Carson Ward suggests that if people want their content to go viral, they have to make their posts longer. I find this conclusion strange because in the age of Twitter, where everything is 140 characters or less, I thought people wouldn’t have the patience to read long posts. While long posts might be evident that the author paid attention to the subject and knows what he or she is talking about, that is not always the case. I remember being in my first journalism class at the University of Arizona and I was apologizing to my professor for all of my stories being short. She told me that it was good to get in the habit of only telling the important things and “trimming the fat.” So I find myself either skimming or skipping long stories because they could’ve been written more concisely or they contain details that I think are common knowledge to the reader so there’s no point in telling it again.

There was also a running theme in this week’s readings about what makes content go viral, so when I read Social Triggers‘ article and saw similar content I took notice. The three most important factors in producing viral content is to stay mostly positive, evoke emotion from your readers and give them content they can use. As I have told people in my own personal circle of friends, I tend to share content on Facebook that I feel passionate about. Rarely is it just a funny image or popular article, but the theme of the content that drives me to click the share button. The theme of the content is almost always positive–something good happening for the disabled community or LGBTQ community for example–but every now and then I have to share something that really pisses me off. So I think that an author can write something that evokes emotion, but it is also the responsibility of the consumer or sharer of that content to show their emotion in spreading that content. If they don’t, people will just pass by it as another link.

Forbes was the third article this week to cite Jonah Berger as somewhat of an expert on viral content. He says that people share content with the hope that it goes viral because it makes themselves feel better that people are paying attention to them. That is why people share content that they are emotionally invested in. If there is an article on music that I have shared on any of my pages, and people start liking, commenting or re-sharing that content, it makes me feel better because I take it as people trusting my advice on music. Seeing as how I want to be a music critic and would love for all of my future content to be influential, it especially makes me feel good when I share something that I have written about music and it gets shared to others outside of my current audience.

This infographic of the 5 key elements to making content viral has one very important contradiction, one that I mentioned earlier in the post. It claims that viral content should have skimability, or that consumers should be able to absorb the content easily. As I questioned before, if longer posts tend to go viral, how can skimability be one of the more favorable aspects of viral content? That is why I will always try to make my posts as short or as long as they need to be and not to make a post longer just so it can go viral. And finally, probably the most important aspect of viral content–as noted in every article so far–is the ability to practically apply it to your life. While Miley Cyrus twerking at the VMAs doesn’t exactly scream life-changing content, most of the top 50 shared articles on Facebook are of parenting tips. People want the answers to life even if they don’t admit it, so anything that can be beneficial to them will get shared.

What drives you to share content on Facebook or any other social network?

Do you think longer or shorter content is shared more often and why?

The Oft-Forgotten Ugly Ducklings of Social Media

When people think social media, the first things that come to mind are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and now Instagram. Most of the time, the channels that are neglected in conversation can be the most powerful. Youtube, Pinterest and Vine not only have the fastest growing audiences of all social channels, but they can also be some of the most useful for your marketing strategy.

Technorati claims that most people would be more inclined to buy a product that they saw in a Youtube video than something they saw on Facebook. I can relate to this sentiment because I am a visual person. Even though I am a writer, I respond better when I am being shown something rather than being told. A Facebook post or ad can only do so much to persuade the consumer. If they see the product in action on Youtube, it would convince them that the product works the way it is supposed to, therefore persuading them to invest the money in said product.

And for those more visually-inclined people, implementing Youtube into their social media marketing strategy can only be beneficial. Fast Company says that posting videos of your product on Youtube will increase visibility because Youtube is essentially a search engine. If a consumer is looking for a related product, there is a greater chance that the consumer will take notice of your product from the “related videos” section. Fast Company also says that Youtube is the #2 search engine on the internet, behind Google. The smart marketing strategy involved there is that Google owns Youtube, therefore creating an unstoppable powerhouse in the search engine market. Youtube is also one of the few and most popular search engine apps on iPhone and Android devices. I like being able to access videos right from my home screen on my phone and being able to bypass a few steps to receive the content I want.

One thing I agree with of Search Engine Journal‘s analysis of Pinterest is that users are spending more time on it, 89 minutes per week, than Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn combined. Once I get on Pinterest and Yotube, I won’t stop for a considerable amount of time. Mostly for me it’s just watching funny bloopers of my favorite television shows or looking at pictures of food I will never be able to make. But if I can spend that much time viewing things that are somewhat meaningless to me, imagine what I could do if I paid attention to things that relate to my career.

Vine had one of the fastest growing audiences in the shortest amount of time. Some of the statistics of Vine I find to be very interesting and some I question their validity. I have no doubt that the Boston Marathon bombing brought on thousands of Vine videos. But considering that Vine is an app created by Twitter, I find it strange that most Vine videos are viewed between 10-11am, where as most people log in to Twitter at around 5pm. And I also take issue with the math used to determine the number of Vines compared to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. If the trilogy, which is just over 9 hours long, were looped 2,500 times that would result in over 18,000 hours, which is about 9 times more than the over 2,300 hours needed to watch all of the videos on Vine. I also find it hard to grasp the significance of statistics in that infographic, when the most important one to me and to marketers should be the rapid growth in audience.

Do you use Youtube and Pinterest for more than just viewing videos or pictures? How might it fit into your social media marketing plan?

Do you see a significant marketing impact coming from Vine or is it a passing fad?

How to Be Professional and Social at the Same Time

While I’m navigating through this program, each new social media outlet provides more insight than the last. This week studying LinkedIn might just be my most important task yet. I am at the stage in my life now where making professional connections on LinkedIn is much more important than beating the next level in Candy Crush Saga (although that game is really addicting). With these readings I learned how to complete my profile, what not to do on LinkedIn, especially being a journalist, and how to best connect with new job prospects.

Social Media Marketing said that we should all have a great headline that tells our whole story in as few words as possible. Judging by my headline, which reads “Student at University of Florida,” that’s not going to get me any good connections in social media anytime soon. I need to do a major update to my profile that highlights my past work as an editor for my undergraduate literary magazine and a contributing writer for the publication run by my journalism class. The experience and skills I learn in this master’s program will become invaluable to my future career plans if only I could remember to update my profile.

Being relatively new to LinkedIn, I don’t look at my page that often and I definitely have not updated my status. Forbes suggests that is one of the biggest mistakes I could be making. Because it is a professional network, I was afraid that employers and prospects seeing too many status updates from me would turn them off. Now I realize that providing them with links of writing samples and other work (like this blog) gives them the opportunity to see what I’m made of and give them the incentive to seek me out for a position.

I have been waiting six weeks to talk about how being a journalist has a connection to social media. I certainly didn’t think LinkedIn would be my first opportunity to do that. I spent four years at the University of Arizona learning how to be a better journalist. I can honestly say that I never once thought of LinkedIn as a place to find sources for stories. The International Journalists’ Network taught me how to be a much more savvy journalist while searching for headlines as well as jobs.

One of the hardest things for me to do not only professionally but personally is open up and let people in. Copy Blogger says that is one of the best chances you have at successfully getting a job through LinkedIn. Letting employers not only see my credentials, but my personality will put me a huge step ahead of my competition. And giving them a way to contact me, other than through LinkedIn will make them more likely to reach out. I also have trouble with this, because like in any other social network, I may not know who exactly I’m talking to. What I have to realize is that this is a professional network and it’s a rarity that someone would create a fake LinkedIn profile just to obtain personal information about me.

With these new tips I am ready to use my skills and background to my advantage and take the social media world by storm