April 18, 2010
Last week I had the pleasure of attending Columbia Journalism School professor Sree Sreenivasan’s (@sreenet) Social Media for Journalists session in Washington DC. I’ve been a journalist for over five years now and a social media strategist for the last three years, so I wasn’t sure if I would learn anything new from his presentation. My main goal was to meet the innovative Sree and any other new media journalists that I may run into to discuss the role of social media in our ever-changing industry. So, last Thursday I ventured to the Foreign Press Center for Sree’s workshop.
Here are a few essential takeaways:
1. Find Your Own Way
First and foremost, Sree emphasized that change is constant and we all need to embrace it. The key is to give all of these new outlets a try to see if they work for us. As Sree puts it, he’s an “early tester, late adopter.” In other words, he takes everything as it comes, gives it a chance, and then decides whether it’s right for him. For example, everyone should get his or her hands on the new iPad, but you don’t have to buy it right away – play around and then make a decision. The key to social media is to give everything a shot and then determine if it’s right for you. There are multiple applications and products available but everyone has their own way. Bottom line: find what works for you versus using what everyone else is using.
2. Be Tradigital
Social media is not about the numbers; it’s about the community and the knowledge shared. It’s about the quality of your tweets and those that follow you. It’s about the content and connecting. Sree mentioned that a friend of his called himself a Tradigital journalist (Traditional + Digital). The emphasis is on traditional so that you report accurate and informative content, and then reach out via the digital world. This notion is not just for journalists, it’s for all. You can have a great social media presence, but without real substantial information, what you post probably won’t be very believable. Content is key and your reputation is not built on popularity, but rather on what you say and do.
3. Know Your Purpose
Social media takes time, dedication and energy. Yes you can get a thousand or more followers in a day, but can you keep them? And, are they the followers you want? Twitter is not about following everyone and everything, following those that interest you and then unfollowing if they are filling your feed with information that you do not want. Remember, none of this is personal. Friends may be disappointed, but make sure that they know your goal for Twitter. Is Twitter for business? For news? For what your friends had for breakfast? There is no wrong answer; everyone likes his or her own cup of tea. Just remember that if you are unhappy with Twitter, you are following the wrong people.
Beyond Social Media
When I left the presentation the main concept on my mind was that all of these points can be applied to every aspect of life. We should all take risks, attempt new ideas and remember that it’s not a popularity contest. Be the best person we can be and understand that everyone has their own way of living. The key is to find ways to progress together. The final point that we need to remember is that we are all learning and the technology is evolving daily: none of us are social media experts. Sree and I both prefer the term Social Media Enthusiast!
Three Twitter Tips:
- Use RR (Re-Run) to repost an earlier tweet. Remember, on Twitter people are following so many others that there is no guarantee that anyone will see your tweet. Thus, there is no harm in using RR to ensure that your tweet is seen. Of course, don’t abuse this idea, but remember that Twitter is global – what you post at 10am PST might not be read by those across the world while others sleep.
- Almost every tweet should include a link, and everyone should have a bit.ly account – it’s the best way to track your links.
- 1 in 5 tweets should be about you – no more, unless that’s the goal of your Twitter account.
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