Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A social-media rant

I'm not a Facebook hater. Really.

What I hate is the way that Mark Zuckerberg and his shareholders are lining their pockets at the expense of legitimate providers of news, including The Orion.

The fault lies, unfortunately, with those legitimate news providers... including The Orion.

Like commercial news organizations, Chico State's student newspaper depends on advertising to pay its bills. Its ads appear in the published version of the newspaper and on its website.

Why, then, would the paper's reporters, editors and photographers post the result of all their hard work on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram instead of on their own website, InstaFaceTwit gets the clicks and the ad revenue, does not.

For lack of a better explanation, I'll blame it on the lack of a social media strategy. The Orion should be using social media, but it should be doing it in a much different way.

Here's what should be happening:
• Reporters and photographers should post Tweets and Instagram photos from the scene of news or events, but at least one Tweet in the series and every Instagram cutline should include a link to home page (probably by using a URL shortener such as bitly).
• The reporters should then immediately turn their Tweets, Twitpics and Instagram photos into news briefs and news photos and post them (or have an editor post them) to The Orion website.
• Facebook should be used primarily to promote stand-alone stories and stories and with art after they appear in the paper or have been posted on, again using a URL shortener, this time directed to the story itself.
• Slideshows and complete videos should never be posted to social media sites. A taste is fine, but not the whole meal.
• Twitter and Facebook can both be used to encourage visitors to stop by home page to fill out surveys, comment on stories, etc. Again, they should be directed to a specific page via URL.

The strategy in a nutshell: Use social media to promote your own content, don't just let the social media companies use your hard work to drive traffic to their own advertisers. 

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