4 Ways to Develop Stories Via Social Media

by on Jul.24, 2011, under In the News, What's New

A story written for the Radio Television Digital News Association:

4 Ways to Develop Stories Via Social Media
Apr 11 2011
By Lynn Walsh, Texas Watchdog & RTDNA Blogger

Getting sick of covering a story featured on a press release? It is time to develop your own unique story then and social media can help.

The best way to break away from the every-day story is to develop your own and pitch it to your news manager. With Facebook and Twitter around it is easy. Here are some tips to use social media to develop enterprise stories for your news room.

1. Connect with people. Whether it is on Facebook or Twitter, search for the people, groups, etc. that are influences in your community or your beat and follow them or friend them. I would even ask to join their groups and be notified of when meetings/events are. Consider creating lists on Twitter for different categories of people, that way their posts don’t get lost in the online shuffle of updates. Creating a list can also make it easier to just look at those people all at once when it is time to think of story ideas.

2. Search for key phrases. This is best for Twitter. If you covet education search and create saved search boxes on your mobile phone for key words related to the district you cover. You would be amazed at how many high school students and parents use Twitter (and without much of a filter). People involved with a story know more about what is going on and find out about news before the larger organization does most of the time.

3. Pay attention to comments/replies. This is crucial. Whether it is on Facebook, your website or Twitter, read comments and reach out to those who post them. New story angles can come from comments from people as well as different perspectives on the issue that could lead to a great follow-up story.

4. Continue the conversation. If you see interesting comments or want to know more ASK! Reach out to the individual who posted the comments personally or ask your community at large about it. Do not be afraid to ask people to contact you or to generate story ideas on social media.

5. Report/clarify social media rumors. People say a lot of things online. Some of it is true and some is not. If you see a lot of people speculating about the same thing and you have clarified that it is not true tell them that. Readers and viewers want the truth so give it to them even if it isn’t what they originally thought. Also, think of it as a great way to create content that is specific for your social media and online platforms.

It seems to me that sometimes journalists are afraid to post story questions or reach out to people on social networks because of the possibility that their competition may find out. I would not worry about that too much but if you ate concerned reach out to people privately on social media sites by sending messages, DM’s, etc.

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