Media Moves

Using social media the right way in business reporting

April 25, 2015

Posted by Meg Garner

social-mediaEach day people are exposed to enough information to fill over 280 newspapers, and the key for journalists is to figure out how to make their coverage stand out.

Randy Hlavac, founder of Marketing Synergy Inc and instructor in social media skills at Northwestern University’s Medill School, said the biggest problem for journalists today is that they often do not take advantage of all the social media resources available to them.

“If you go out a write a really great story and publish it wherever you publish it, and if you take your iPhone and record a one to two minute video explaining your story and post it to YouTube with a Bitly link, then you’ll get views,” Hlavac said. “Young people don’t read, but they do watch videos.”

He said that connecting through social media is so much deeper than what a person is limited to on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and that to online forums are where journalists can find experts on their chosen topics.

“In a community on any topic there are three rings,” he said. “In the center are the experts and these are the people you want to get to.”

“The tip is to get to the influencers and they want fame and fortune and they get that through followers. They connect the members to the experts. You need them to connect you to the experts and then it goes viral.”

Hlavac said the biggest thing to remember is social media is very circular in its communication channels. He said ego baiting is key pubbing one’s story on social media.

“You can essentially build on people to share your story” Hlavac said. “You’re riding on the coattails of other people, but if you give them kudos then you get it back.”

Hlavac also pointed to anonymous, proximity apps like Secret and Yik Yak as a great source to track topics in one’s surrounding area.

“That is where the young people are moving, and if you want to be in that then you have to have that app,” he said.

Other resources Hlavac said were valuable were social monitoring sites like Bitly and Social Mention, which allow people to track story clicks, topics and trends across the Internet.

In order to build an online presence, Hlavac suggested journalists implement a five-part plan.

His plan included: identifying influencers and monitoring their conversations, building positive relationships with influencers by providing interesting and topic relevant information, actively participating in conversations where one’s expertise applies, creating applicable first content and sharing that content with the influencers you have already built relationships with so they will also share it with their followers.

Meg Garner is a business journalism student at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication

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