These days it shouldn’t be too much to ask that a reporter at a newspaper or magazine is fluent in the basics of social media.
They should have a Twitter page, actively use Facebook, know how to use YouTube, but preferably even more than that.
While all of your staff doesn’t need to be totally connected and constantly updating their various social profiles, there should be two or three who are doing just that.
Here are four reasons why news organizations need social media rock stars on staff.
1. They’re brand ambassadors. They’re tweeting and have a bunch of followers, they decide to create their own Fan Page and have lots of Likes, they’re posting videos on YouTube talking about their reporting, and more. On the surface it might seem like they’re just blowing their own horn. To an extent, they are. However their horn-blowing is about the content they’re creating for your news organization. This person is becoming a face of the organization, in a way that traditional advertising about the brand or the news content, likely cannot.
2. They’re great teachers. If you have a few reporters or photographers who are super connected with various social media platforms, they could be used by the organization as teachers for other staffers, to help them get more “with it” on social media.
3. They’re on the cutting edge. I may be a bit presumptuous in assuming that if a reporter is social media savvy, they’re also tech-savvy/lovers of new technology, but I don’t feel like it’s too much off the mark. Having people like this on staff and encouraging them to be keeping an eye out for trends and new technology, means that your news organization will always be at the very least be aware of the latest and greatest trends, and have options for whether to add new features.
4. They know what content works online. If you’re a “social media rock star”, you’re sharing content daily. Whether it’s content you created, something you saw, or just an activity you did (such as listen to music, watch TV or work out). Knowing what content works online, and what doesn’t, is a big barrier that a lot of organizations, both news-focused and not, struggle with. Having these people on staff, who in their daily life outside of work, are sharing content and posting information, is an advantage because they can help inform the process by the organization’s content is shared online.
These four reasons aren’t one-size-fits-all, but I believe they’re right, based on my own experience. Some of these “rock stars” might come with a bit of ego, or a pre-established following.
Don’t be distracted by the fact that their individual following is larger than the news organization’s.
They work for you, so tap that knowledge base for how they made social media work for them, and ask them to apply their know-how to building the news organization’s following.