Consequence is the glue that binds journalism and social media but how do you spot the trends that matter to your personal brand?

John Kerrison is a communication advisor with the NSW Government. He currently manages the social media governance across Transport for NSW. He was a broadcast journalist for a decade including as a reporter for the ABC and Nine News before shifting to the science of digital storytelling. On June 5, John will host a half-day workshop for the Walkley Foundation on Journalism and Social Media: A match made in heaven. Buy tickets to John’s training session here:

REGISTER – Follow me: Social media for journalists & communicators

The art of social media is not always speed and immediacy. Mastering social media for storytellers is often about trying to slow down the news feed and aggregate the content that matters most to your work.

A journalist in social media is playing at least four roles; she is either promoting her newsroom, building her profile, sourcing the story or telling it. And to do this effectively means working with a lot of data across multiple social networks.

How do we start to make the most of that data?

Here are five key areas that will help a storyteller in social media improve their profile and find great stories.

  1. Understand the nuances of each social network to maximize reach.

Get to know your way around the big guys, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, intimately. Twitter can appear clunky, and adding hashtags and mentioning other users on Twitter is simple but often misunderstood. Knowing when to Tweet each day helps the hard work pay off.

Then there’s Facebook. Understand the pros and cons of promoting your work as a profile or as a page is a big decision you need to make early when setting up Facebook.

  1. Curating lists

Be mindful when spending time in social media. It’s so easy to fall down the rabbit hole and get lost in a world of useless data. Facebook and Twitter have lists and they’re powerful. Curating lists means you can stay on top of your competitors and sources without necessarily alerting them that you’re doing it.

  1. Going mobile.

Storytellers need a landing page strategy outside of social media that works in the mobile environment. If you caught someone’s interest via a Tweet or Post, where do you send your community next? What’s the call to action? In some cases you’ll want to share the content of colleagues and peers but you should have a mobile responsive site that’s your own unique web real estate. Do you have a blog and is it easy to read on a mobile?

  1. Know the basics of turning copy stories into multimedia experiences.

There’s a school of thought that says the days of audio, video or copy being produced for competing channels is gone. Certainly for people pitching to digital only publications, the ability to produce video and stills is a real asset. As we all know too well, the pay scales don’t replicate what they should when one journo is doing the work of two or three people.

Make video and stills work, not just for your stories, for your own personal brand.

  1. Playing the content game

Social media produces data and data invariably leads to research and testing. Take some time to look at the theories around what content is likely to be shared most in certain social networks.

Here’s an example: research recently found that Instagram photos with warm filters tend to get more likes. It seems obvious but the benefit of testing makes it more conclusive.

Remember, content is not about what you want to share: it’s about what your community will want to share for you. Appeal to ego and find the element of your message that shouts ‘tell your friends about this because it matters’.

Social media has rewritten the rulebooks for storytellers. Now, unlike any other time in the history of communications, communities of people online are recounting shared experiences in real time. News is no longer past tense but immersive.
John Kerrison

Sydney, Australia.

REGISTER – Follow me: Social media for journalists & communicators