Social Media Tip of the Week: Engage Your Audience

The more I read journalism job postings, the more I see terminology relating to audience engagement. Much more than just posting on social media platforms, an audience engagement specialist is a reporter who is abreast of what’s trending (both locally and nationally) as he or she crafts content and opportunities to talk with their audience (and have the audience talk back).

After a positive Facebook reaction to Grady Newsource’s Grady Daily, the social media manager replies.

Here’s the truth: We have moved from a one-to-many to a many-to-many delivery system in journalism. We have technologies that provide tremendous opportunities for us to really listen to the publics we serve. So, why not start that process now?

Here are a few quick tips to increase audience engagement on social media:

  1. Respond: When someone comments on any social platform, comment back or acknowledge it in some way. Of course, stay away from the inflammatory, but acknowledge you are watching your audience as much as they are watching you.
  2. Provide Evidence: Send your audience to primary sources, especially in this climate of distrust. Social can address readers’ questions or concerns with links/images of original source material used in reporting.
  3. Be Transparent: Social is brilliant for depicting what happens during the journalistic process. Show them, so the audience can see (and engage with) what goes on as a story is being reported.
  4. Ask Often: You may not always get quality responses, but journalists should ask what the audience wants to know about a policy, elected official or event. Audience questions then become part of how you report.
  5. Analytics: Numbers don’t tell the whole story, but you can see a snapshot of audience needs and wants through your social data. Use it to inform your reporting decisions.

There’s a lot more philosophical depth to this concept of audience engagement in journalism, but it would only benefit your staff to start having these larger conversations now, and critically weighing the value of putting audience in a place of visual importance through social.

Amanda Bright

Amanda Bright, PhD, MJE, is a journalism academic professional at the University of Georgia, Grady College. Before that, she was a journalism instructor and yearbook adviser at Eastern Illinois University, a scholastic journalism adviser for newspaper and yearbook in Mattoon, Ill., a member of the Illinois Journalism Education Association, and a professional journalist.

Amanda Bright has 22 posts and counting. See all posts by Amanda Bright

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