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Social Media successes and failures

February 13, 2011

Photo by John Williams

By Charlene Divino

Erica Smith of the St. Louis Post- Dispatch and Tim D’Avis of the Quad-City Times led a roundtable discussion about social media on Saturday.

The effective use of social media networking has the potential to encourage active readership and increase participation.

Maintain consistent style Find someone to manage social networking to ensure that posts have a consistent tone and flow. When dealing with posts from multiple administrators on sites like Twitter and Facebook develop a specific style to maintain a consistent voice. Consistency allows readers to interact with moderators of Twitter accounts. Develop a system of standardizing the use of hashtags on Twitter to create a thread that readers can follow with ease

Develop a rapport with your audience By posing questions and developing promotional contests readers develop a vested interest in clicking back throughout the day.  Let your readers become a part of the content with interactive photo and comment contests.  Adding commentary to posts of stories, discussion and water cooler conversation starters creates an on-demand style of customer service. If you provide fertile ground, you get interesting things. Not all of it is good, but some is.

Have a personality Interacting with readers encourages the development of personal relationships with the publication. Ambassador’s profiles have a unique ability to connect to the community by personifying a segment of the publication. Creating ambassadors for your publication with specific personalities allows readers to develop personal relationships with the ambassador and loyalty for the publication.

Don’t pollute the stream Maintain a reasonable drop-in pace.  No more than 5-6 Facebook posts each day. Break out of the “breaking news” rapid-fire style of news and avoid auto-posting to avoid being blocked. Over-inundating news feeds can result in loss of followers and fans, or even being blocked.  To alleviate excessive posting, consider segmenting content into specialized separate pages which will enable moderators to refine the page’s news feed. Don’t push top stories, post stories that deserve more traffic. Strive to be “Top News” quality content that will gain readers through higher visibility.

Know your role Remember that your publication’s primary objective is to provide valuable services.  Social networking is a tool to reach out to readership and provide an alternative means of finding news. A common misstep in navigating the management of social media is seeking out sources and news leads from readers. Readers don’t want to write hyperlocal content for free.

Don’t forget this is still social networking Let your social networking grow by capturing new followers with sites like Tumblr, Foursquare, Twitter  and Facebook.  Encourage readers to branch out and participate in various facets of your publication’s social media network. Facebook is particularly good for sports, features and viral stories. Utilize Facebook widgets to highlight “Top stories”, “What friends like the story”, and “Most popular on Facebook” to encourage traffic between the various social networking sites.

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