If you’re a journalist using social media for marketing or research, Boston.com and BostonGlobe.com social media producer Adrienne Lavidor-Berman, and Elizabeth Comeau, online content producer for Boston.com’s Health & Wellness section, have some words of wisdom for you. They presented on ways that social media can hurt and harm reporting in a workshop at the Association for Healthcare Journalists (AHCJ) conference in Boston on Thursday.
Make your social media interesting, useful and helpful.
“You want to be helpful to other people and just like in life the more helpful you are, the more helpful people are to you,” Lavidor-Berman told conference goers. She follows the principle set forth by Leader Networks’ CEO Vanessa DiMauro (@vdimauro): “three gives before a get.”
Make a commitment to using social media regularly.
“It is a discipline, just like exercising, just like being healthy,” Lavidor-Berman explains. While making your posts interesting and fun can help make social media more enjoyable, sometimes you just need to make yourself write three tweets or share two posts a day.
Create lots of lists.
If you’re looking to build up your Twitter following in order to have more reach, a good way to start is by creating lists of followers, Comeau says. She’ll create multiple lists for specific topics, and when an article is ready, she’ll market that content directly to people who will find it most helpful and interesting.
Use Facebook best practices.
“People break news on Twitter, but Facebook has a lot more regular people on it who…may be interested in what you’re reading and writing about and may be good sources for you,” Lavidor-Berman says. She recommends religiously reviewing privacy settings, enabling the “follow” function (which will allow you to limit the audience you share your posts with—keeping everything private except your reporting, for example), and taking advantage of graph search. Other options include having two separate Facebook profiles (which is against the rules, but not that uncommon) or creating a Facebook page for your professional life.
Use Twitter best practices.
Retweet generously. Take the time to look up both the reporter and the publication. Avoid the @-reply trap: be aware that if you start a tweet with the @ symbol, make sure to insert another character first if you want people who are not following the person you’re mentioning can also see the tweet. Use Advanced Facebook Search, which is more robust than the regular search feature.
Let people reach you anonymously.
Many people won’t want to publicly admit that they struggle with a health problem such as ADHD, for example, so that’s something to keep in mind when scouting for sources on social media. Going through organizations and advocacy groups to have them message on your behalf, or sending DMs, might be a better option, Comeau said. Make sure to follow people you’re trying to contact (or provide an email address) so they can message you back, Lavidor-Berman adds.
Follow these accounts.
• Facebook journalism program manager Vadim Lavrusik (who also teaches social media skills for journalists as an adjunct professor at Columbia Journalism school) is on twitter (@Lavrusik) and Facebook, of course, where you can follow his public profile. He shares good information about social media for journalists.
•Twitter For Newsrooms is a resource for those interested in new and interesting ways to use Twitter by journalists and newsrooms. Find information (and hashtags) on their site, and follow them on Twitter (@twitterfornews).
• Follow Associated Press (@AP), Reuters (@reuters) and Agence France-Presse @AFP). Sometimes you’ll see news on Twitter before it hits the system. Following reporters individually is also a good idea.