When you’re posting content online, what you’re really doing is creating content for your friends’ friends, according to Jay Hartwell, student media adviser at the University of Hawaii.
Jay spoke last week at the Associated Collegiate Press midwinter convention in San Francisco. His talk was about reformatting content for social media, and I learned a lot as an attendee. Here’s an overview:
The visual is always what gets readers’ attention on social media. You should never have a social media post without an image or with a preset image.
Do not use the same image for social media as you use in the paper or online. Your photographers need to be shooting for print, online and social.
“If you’re not bringing the content back, the social media editor can’t help you,” Hartwell said.
Tight crops work best of social. It doesn’t seem like any crop can be too tight, too specific or too easily understood.
If you don’t have a great shot, look to user-generated content that you can use with permissions and credit, or consider using a photo from a stock site, just make sure it’s accurate for the story.
Headlines need to be interesting, telling the most important part of the story in a way that grabs the readers’ attention.
Be specific in your headlines, but never make promises that the story can’t keep. You don’t want to be guilty of clickbait.
Aim for 90 characters or less in your headlines, keeping them short and specific.
If you aren’t sure what headline will work, you can try several and see which one gets the most attention with your readers. You also may want to consider involving your graphics department to create a visual, graphic headline.
If an image works well, a video works better. Video increases social viewership and shares.
Consider shooting a short video in the field to introduce your story or giving your phone to your source and asking him/her to introduce the issue.
When it comes to social, the best advice is to study who is doing best in social and learn from them.