Social Media Guidelines for Journalists

Social media is constantly updating and changing. As a journalist, it is crucial to understand the subtle nuances between each and the social media guidelines. While the best practices for social media keep evolving, International Journalists’ Network points out a few that are worth noting.

Cross posting can save one a lot of time and simultaneously post an update to several social media outlets at once. This can be very helpful with journalists when breaking news, links to stories or just an update. When cross posting however, one needs to be very aware of how the post is formulated. Each social network has its own tone, and it may come off as disingenuous if one is constantly posting tweet like stories on Facebook and vice versa. One’s followers want to feel targeted and the information relevant, so cross post sparingly.

Another point addressed is scheduling ones posts. The article counters the idea that social media has to be immediate, fresh, and at the moment by advocating scheduling. There is a delicate balance with scheduling tweets similar to cross posting. If one does it too much, the audience could become disenchanted with the lack of interaction but sometimes one just doesn’t have the time to update their audience all day. Using this as a supplement can help with certain posts that will have more relevance at a later time or at a peak hour, but shouldn’t be abused.

The third practice noted is the idea of mass following. This is a bad practice for not only journalists but social media use in general. Pushing the idea of manners aside, it doesn’t make sense to follow/friend/subscribe each person that decides to follow you. Sometimes they aren’t active on social media or have completely different interests so following back doesn’t benefit you or make much sense. Instead of mass following the option to make lists or use hash tags, can help divvy up the audience and eliminate the stress of filtering through plethora of updates or statuses.

One social media practice that is seen more in journalism than in regular practice is the idea of repeating. By using a service like Tweko, one can schedule post to be repeated at certain times and how many times. Drawback here is that too many of the same post can get quite annoying and could be construed at just trying to drive traffic.

In social media today it is crucial to stay connected with one’s audience. By balancing these practices, staying involved but allowing oneself time outside of social media can help build a large following as well as make connections in the community. Some other guidelines include realizing that everything written online is public so be very aware of the tone of updates. While some believe breaking news should be released on the news website first, social media can be a much more immediate platform. Just be aware of the accuracy when breaking news on social media. Social media can be extremely useful for journalists, it is just a matter of being able to experiment and figure out what practices work best.