You know that news agencies should use social media actively and strategically to connect with their audiences. But review a few media outlets’ social media accounts and you’ll find they spend most (if not all) of their updates promoting their own content. While content promotion is important, your audience will recognize if it’s all you’re doing and it will seem promotional and self-serving.
Those who connect most successfully on social media consistently share content that is valuable to their audience. Most of them use a scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule this content in advance, determining the minimum number of times per day that they want to share content on each social medium. These tools allow them to consistently release content while filling in gaps with discussion and breaking news. Scheduling tools help them be on social media without actually being on social media.
But, to share content you must have content, right? Where does all of that content come from?
Here are 12 types of content for student media to share socially.
1. Original stories/photos
Of course, you should share your reporters’ original stories and photos with your readers. Each time a story is created, it should be shared via social. It also should be shared more than once. How often depends on the medium and the audience, but a general rule is once on Facebook and Instagram, and three times on Twitter per story per day. You’ll want to measure your analytics to determine the correct times/media mix for your audience.
2. Quotes & Memes
It’s commonly known that visual material gets more attention on social media than content without visuals. People love to read and reshare quotes and memes. You can use a site like Canva to create quote graphics and share them on social channels including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. The quotes can be from famous people (be sure to verify them) or from local sources like your university president or professors. If you’re using memes, be sure they aren’t offensive to your audience and represent your organization professionally. While these types of materials are fun to post and read, they certainly aren’t worth alienating your audience. My general rule is that the only person you should make fun of is yourself.
Instead of writing or sharing an entire story, consider creating a graphic to share with your audience. For example, a graphic that shows the process of paying a parking ticket or purchasing books on campus. Piktochart is a simple app to use for fast, easily understood graphics. You can share the graphic on sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
4. News content
Don’t fall into the trap of being afraid to share content produced outside of your newsroom. If the information comes from a credible source and is important to your audience, share it with them. You can share these items on Facebook and Twitter.
5. PR updates
Public relations practitioners, like those in your university’s advancement office, regularly send out content that is helpful or interesting to your audience. Consider yourself a resource and share this information when it’s applicable and possible. You can share these items on Facebook and Twitter.
I suggest you read blogs by students, well-known alumni, professors, and those writing about college student issues like housing, financial aid, etc. I use Feedly to keep up with all of the blogs I read. It allows me to skim hundreds of headlines each day and share what I find most relevant to my audience. You can share these items on Facebook and Twitter.
If something isn’t quite worth a story or a story hasn’t been written yet, share a photo. This is a great way to cover events in real-time or get the audience involved in a discussion by posting a photo and asking a question. You may want to think about watermarking the photos first. Many news agencies have policies regarding what photos can be shared when/where/how. You can share these items on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.
8. Curate content
You can curate content from a variety of sources and post it on your website, Facebook, Twitter, etc. For more on that, read The Student Media Guide to Content Curation.
9. Local groups
Follow every student and university group you can find on Facebook and Twitter. Share content they post that’s relevant to your audience, giving them credit. This will help with content and relationships building with the members of those organizations.
Pay attending to trending topics on Facebook and Twitter. Share items you think your audience is interested in. Be sure to encourage conversation by asking a question with your post.
11. Ask a question
Ask an university-related question you’ve been pondering. Include a visual to get attention. You can even curate the responses to make a news story for your site.
12. Read everything
When you read, you learn. When you learn, you become more curious. This curiosity results in more questions, quotes, stories, and other types of content to share with your readers.
Actively sharing great content on your social channels will create a stronger relationship between your media outlet and your existing audience. It also will help you grow your audience. But strategic social sharing doesn’t happen by accident. It requires you to understand your audience and diligently search for content they want and need. I suggest you get the entire staff involved in gathering content to share, but have a small group in charge of actually sharing it. One way you could do this is by creating an Evernote or Instapaper account and giving your staff access to save things there for your content managers to consider. Start by scheduling regular content one week out, filling in with breaking news, and build from there.
Good luck with gathering and sharing content your audience will love!
Let’s Talk Nerdy!
What are some great examples of content you always stop to view on social sites or things you love to share yourself? Include some examples in the comments below.