Tag Archives: social media

Story seeding: Harnessing the power of the public

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the media could leverage the expertise and interests of the public via social media long before a story is published.

What I imagine goes beyond standard crowd sourcing. I envision a strategic effort in which reporters and editors reach out to the public early on to identify sources, issues, anecdotes, etc. I hadn’t really thought much about what to call this plan, but after reading a recent social media marketing article, I now have a descriptive name for it: seeding.

Here’s how strategic seeding might work in a big project:

Finding/engaging sources

Reporters assigned to the project would develop robust RSS feeds and Twitter lists to develop better expertise on the topic and to determine valuable and credible sources. Once a valuable source is identified, reporters should start interacting with them through social media. The beauty of social media interaction is that it is transparent — so, for example, folks following the identified sources also would learn about the reporting project and join in on the conversation. 

Creating an ongoing blog

Creating a reporting blog about the project would be serve as a central place where interested people would monitor updates about the project and contribute to the conversation. I envision the public working alongside reporters as the reporters start to develop stories and angles. This blog could become a forum where reporters could toss out an idea and get helpful feedback. Essentially, through the blog, the media organization shares with the online world what it is doing and encourages involvement. The blog would be RSS-enabled so interested people could receive updates with each new post.

The blog posts should be written for the audience that the outlet is trying to engage and develop. These posts should offer new information or insights. The goal is to get this new online community talking — and to solicit its help.

Engaging the community

Publicizing the blog is important so that new sources and interests are continually brought in to the conversation. Creating a separate Twitter account to tweet out new blog posts might be helpful. It also could serve as a “news source” for the issue. For example, when a reporter reads an interesting post from a blog, she could tweet that to the account.

Other ways to get engagement on the blog:

  • Have reporters/editors comment on the blogs of others who have expertise or interest in the area. 
  • Have reporters/editors participate in Twitter and/or Facebook discussions, constantly sending out a link to the blog.
  • Mention the blog prominently on the outlet’s home page. 

If the online engagement becomes vigorous, reporters get valuable insight on the topic –- how to frame it, how to develop and pursue specific angles, how to develop stories and how to cultivate and identify sources.

This type of reporting strategy would work well for big issues, on-going stories and investigative pieces. Of course, devoting the time and energy for such an endeavor might be a hard sell in many newsrooms.

I’ll talk more about why I think this strategy would be beneficial for news organizations in a subsequent post.

 

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Social media flood

My new “Social Media for Journalists” class is going gangbusters — so much so that I think we need to start thinking about curation.

As part of their participation in the class, each of the 19 are supposed to tweet three times a week. The idea is to share helpful news and information about journalism and social media. And share they have! But in the process, I feel like we’re sharing too much, perhaps. Many a good topic and idea rushes by with little context or attention. We obviously discuss some of the topics in class, but we also have to talk about the course readings. So we need to figure out a way to maximize all the good information they are discovering.

Trying to make sense of the relentless flow of information has been a recurring theme in our class discussions, so I think I might just toss out the curation idea and see what happens. While I have some ideas about how they may go about organizing and curating the Twitter discussions, I want them to really think about how to do this — and come up with some suggestions on their own.

Stay tuned. I think this will be an interesting experiment.

In the meantime, if you want to see what they are sharing, follow this hashtag: #j491. It’s a cornucopia of all things social media. And I’ve been doing a little curating myself on Storify, where I have been archiving the discussions weekly.

 

[View the story “#j491 archive, Jan. 15-Jan. 22” on Storify]