how journalists decide what to share on social

Social media is an integral part of most journalists’ jobs. Not only is social a quick source of breaking news and public opinion, it’s also one of the best ways to share what you’re working on. Indeed, statistics say that Facebook drives as much as 20 percent of the traffic news websites receive. As readers become less engaged in news websites themselves, they’re becoming more engaged on social channels, with 50 percent sharing news stories and 46 percent discussing news stories on their social network of choice.

Most journalists know just how crucial social can be for getting attention on their work, with 40 percent of journalists considering social a “very important” part of their jobs. A third of journalists spend 30 to 60 minutes each day on social channels.

With social media so crucial to journalism, just how can journalists make the most of it? Let’s dig in to how, what, and where to share to make the most of your social presence.

Where to Share for the Biggest Impact

Whether you’re a news organization or an individual trying to build your personal brand presence, the first step is spending time on social channels where people are most likely to be talking news. Right now, that probably means Facebook and Twitter: about half of the users of these networks go there to get news. Most other social channels have lower percentages of people looking for news, but that isn’t to say that they might not be appropriate places to share your particular beat. Instagram or Pinterest could attract attention for more visual content even though readers don’t typically turn to those networks for news.

But while testing out other networks could yield results, if you’re just establishing a social presence, it’s best to stick with Facebook and Twitter. Twitter’s real-time focus can make it an especially good place to post and discuss current and breaking stories. While its character limits can inhibit in-depth discussion, it’s the ideal platform for sharing links or brief updates. Facebook’s larger user base makes it a good way to reach more people, especially with topics that aren’t time sensitive.

What to Share on Social

Once you’ve figured out where to start sharing, the next step is deciding what you should share. When it comes to journalists, Twitter says tweeting links to content can increase engagement by 100 percent. Fortunately, journalists are content-creators, which means immediate access to original work to post.

However, if you’re searching for content, here’s where to start:

  • Your own work: The most obvious and easiest place to start is with your own articles. Be sure to craft a catchy headline (it doesn’t necessarily have to be the headline it was published under) that you think is most likely to grab your followers’ attention. Adding additional comments, like pointing out why you think it was particularly interesting, can add value and interest to an ordinary link.
  • Other content from your publication(s): Though it doesn’t directly help your work be seen, sending people to your publisher’s website to read content that’s relevant to your beat can bring new readers to your publication — which indirectly helps your content be seen. While you don’t want to share everything your organization publishes (which could quickly become spammy), sharing relevant articles or news that you find interesting is a good idea.
  • Other organizations’ content, as relevant to your coverage area: Though you shouldn’t hunt for just any content to share, a good rule of thumb is that if you’re reading something and find it particularly interesting, chances are some of your followers also will, particularly if it’s something that’s relevant to your usual coverage area. When you share links, be sure to credit the publication and author if they’re on the social channel you’re using as mentions can encourage sharing and spur follower growth.
  • Content about journalism and news media: If you’re on social media with the intent of networking with other journalists, then you’ll want to talk business. Share content regarding journalism and news media, as well as commenting on media events and coverage. Be sure to stay polite and professional, even when talking about the competition. You never know when you might be talking about a future boss, coworker, or employer.
  • Sharing as curated content: Though you may be doing plenty of curating already by selecting articles from your publication and others, you’ll also want to share content others have posted on social. Not only is this an easy way to share articles and messages you think your followers would find interesting, but sharing their content is also a great way to connect with other writing pros on social.
  • Live coverage of events: If you’re covering an event, you can give followers quick news updates by reporting live on social media. This lets your followers get the news immediately, even though you may later write — and share — a more comprehensive article on the subject. Twitter, especially, is good for live coverage, and tweeting on-the-spot news with proper hashtags can let you jump into a larger conversation.