Social media tips for small news organizations

Here are some tips from the APSE Summer Conference workshop Social Media for the Small Market, moderated by Tommy Deas of The Tuscaloosa News with panelists Laken Litman of USA TODAY Sports and Jim Reeser of The Citizens’ Voice in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Twitter:

1. Drive traffic by tweeting photos – anything with a photo gets more retweets and more favorites, fan photos are especially popular.

2. Tweet links to your stories to drive traffic, and fashion your tweets more like teases: i.e. “3 questions for England after devastating loss to Uruguay,” or “What did Nick Saban have to say about A.J. McCarron’s comments?” along with the link.

3. Follow important people on your beat or in your area: local high school or college official Twitter accounts, accounts of coaches, players prospects. Make your timeline the go-to place for information about what you cover.

4. Retweet what important people on your beat or in your area put out on their Twitter accounts.

5. Pay attention to these Twitter accounts and use them to develop stories or learn about news (or rumors) to follow up on – everything you see out there may not turn out to be true, or newsworthy, but just because it’s on Twitter doesn’t mean it isn’t true. This is how a lot of people, especially young people, communicate these days.

6. Use Twitter to reach out to sources: you may want to reach fans who were at a certain game to get their reaction to something or to make a call for opinions on the firing of a coach. Also, if you follow them and they follow you, you can direct message people to get information or to ask them to call you. And sometimes they DM you out of the blue with a tip.

7. If you are behind a paywall, don’t use Twitter only to drive traffic and continually slam people into that paywall: also engage people in other ways with updates, observations or commentary on things of interest in your market.

8. You can create a feed on your website that can draw in tweets from the accounts you choose, or on anything with a certain hashtag, making your site a clearinghouse for info on that topic or from those accounts. It can make you the go-to destination for that.

9. Follow back. Not everybody, but if someone follows you who has some interesting tweets or is fairly active, follow them back. They really seem to appreciate it.

 

Facebook:

1. Facebook accounts for a larger amount, and a higher percentage of redirects to most websites than any other social media. It’s easy to assume everyone uses Twitter just because we in the media do, but many more people use Facebook. And if they like it and recommend it to their friends it can bring a surprising amount of traffic. So post your story links there.

2. Keep your Facebook page active. Update with any story at any time, even if that means re-posting a story.

3. Friend everyone possible connected to your beat or your coverage area: current and former coaches and players, fans, etc. You can use the Facebook messenger to contact them, to hold real-time conversations and to set up interviews. You can reach out to them for reaction when news happens.

 

Instagram:

1. Photos and short videos of anything that is happening is popular.

2. Follow accounts of people important to your beat or coverage area.

 

All social media: The more, and the more frequent, the better. Don’t be afraid to blow up your followers’ time lines.

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