Sunday, November 10, 2013

Journalists have to market their work in social media

Versión en español aquí.

A young acquaintance was applying for an online reporting job at an internationally renowned news organization.

But the interviewer did not focus on the job candidate's articles. He wanted to know more about the metrics of audience engagement with the candidate's stories -- time spent, social sharing, search traffic.

How had the candidate used social media to capture readers? How effective were the tactics? What measurement tools had he used to gauge effectiveness?

In other words, did this job candidate understand how to capture and interact with the audience on the web?

To get a job, know the audience

Of course, the editor had already read the candidate's stories. Of course, the quality of the writing and reporting was important. The point is that news organizations today are all multimedia publishers and they expect graduates to bring them a new set of skills.

It used to be that reporters and editors knew little about their audiences and how the readers and viewers interacted with their stories. The audience came to them.

Journalists didn't have to go get the audience. Marketing was a dirty word. (Television, of course, was better than print at measurement, and could produce overnight ratings of programs.)

But today, with so much competition for attention online, no news organization and no journalist can afford to be ignorant of what the public thinks of their stories.

Journalists are realizing that it is becoming a job requirement for them to market their work. They have to pull the audience in, not just push the content out. They have to be community managers.

Update Nov. 16 -- New York Times media columnist Brian Stelter has been hired away by CNN. He is a great example of a journalist who built a personal brand through social media. He got his start by creating a popular blog on cable TV news while he was a freshman in college.

Selling serious journalism

It is not a question of pandering and giving the audience the junk food that it craves. Organizations that are spending time and money on in-depth reporting are seeking ways to attract more attention to serious journalism.

Investigative journalists are turning to social media to help attract attention to their work. (Lauren Fuhrmann of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has tips for measuring stories' impact and audience engagement.)

Academic researchers are trying to predict the shelf life of an online article based on how social media react to it when it is first published.

'Gateway to knowledge and revenue'

And, according to Frederic Filloux and Jean-Louis Gassee of MondayNote.com, the article or report is not the end of the journalist's and publisher's work: it is just the beginning.

In the good old days, when the newscast finished or the paper went to press, it was time to take a break. Now, the survival of the business depends on using the article or report as the jumping off point to showing users ancillary products and services.

The survival of the brand depends on its being a useful gateway to deeper knowledge of a subject.

And now the question is, where can journalists learn those skills? The answer today is not necessarily at a university. 

Related:

Power shifts toward journalists in new media equation
News entrepreneur advises, 'Don't think about it -- do it'   

My MOOC experience and what it means
5 dirty words journalists have to learn to say without blushing 
To reach Hispanic audiences, you have to speak their language 
10 entrepreneurs test new style of learning 
Universities can lead in incubation of new media models

5 comments:

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