As a freelancer, it is often difficult to find credible sources for stories, especially if you are juggling multiple assignments. However, thanks to the emergence and mainstream adoption of social media, it’s easier than ever to find sources for your articles by leveraging the social platforms you already use everyday.
By using your social networks to crowdsource information, quotes and expertise for your story can make it a snap to write a story or article. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are typically best for this, as you can post your question to your friends or follower and wait for the comments and replies to flood in. Having a large personal network can make this process even more effective, especially if your friends, subscribers (on Facebook) or followers are both inclined to respond and able to provide a thoughtful response about multiple topics.
On Facebook, joining groups can also help benefit this process, as this will connect you with other Facebook users interested in specific topics who may not be friends with you, but excited to discuss specific topics. If you find yourself writing about certain topics frequently, it may be useful to look for Facebook groups to join about these topics to crowdsource quotes, information and expertise for your articles.
These strategy has worked well personally for myself, as well as traditional news outlets that are embracing social media in ways that have been pioneered by those who have worked more independently. At Seattle’s NBC television station, KING, social media coordinator Evonne Benedict has used the power of social media to crowdsource several successful stories. Recently, its sister station KTVK in Phoenix, had two local 8th graders on their morning newscast who were encouraging girls and women to go make-up less for a day and to be ‘Only You.’
The station shared this with Evonne had instantly she launched a campaign to solicit photos from KING’s audience in Seattle, though using her own personal Facebook community to start gathering the gallery and then publishing this initial batch of photos on KING’s website. After sharing the first batch of these photos, more photos poured in from the station’s official Facebook and Twitter account. Evonne says this gallery proved to be one of the station’s most viewed stories the week it was published. Evonne has also used this method to publish other successful stories, including about the recent “Supermoon,” when she used Twitter and Facebook to source photos for a story about this celestial event, as well as other local events, too.
For those who use social media to crowdsource quotes, tools like Storify make it easy to embed these quotes from Twitter and Facebook into an article or blog post without taking a complicated screen shot. The visual presentation of a quote can not only help improve the visual flow of an article, but add a level of authenticity to these quotes. For those writing articles that desire to include several tweets to tell a story, such as a conversation between people or reactions to a specific event, this tool can be incredibly powerful.