Lurking on social media isn’t enough

Thank you to Steve Buttry for putting it plainly today: Lurking on Twitter isn’t enough.

I’ve heard from far too many journalists who sign up for Twitter, then don’t Tweet. Worse, they don’t follow anyone. So now they have an account that’s dormant. These same folks have probably set up a Facebook account, but they’ve added a few friends and don’t post.

In a webinar hosted Tuesday by Newspapers Canada, Buttry pointed out that by building followers and being conversational, you’re going to have stronger engagement.

And when it comes to crowd sourcing or looking for information in the public domain, you’re going to be more effective if you’ve built up a good social media presence.

This means engaging with your community on a multiple platforms – not just Twitter.

Some good Twitter tips from Buttry:

  •  Follow lots of local folks, and see who they’re following. These are people you should be following too. The more people you follow, the more will follow you back.
  • You can’t direct message someone until they are following you.
  • Pay attention to who is ReTweeting you, and don’t be afraid to reTweet them back.
  • Join in on local conversations. This past week, people have been talking in Ottawa about a cursing bus driver who threw an austistic man off his bus.  By paying attention to who is saying what, and who stays on top of things.

Buttry also had tips for vetting sources we find on Twitter:

  • In a nutshell, kick it old school – talk to people to make sure they were at an event they say they were at.
  • Evaulate a Tweeps network of followers, their history – are they credible?
  • Check out their bio, any links they’ve sent out.
  • Also: Google their name and ‘scam’ or ‘spammer’, see if anything pops up.

His bottom line – do something with social media, don’t just watch the conversation. Be a part of it.

I see Twitter and other social media platforms like the high school prom. You have no choice – everyone in your class is going, you might as well too. And once you’ve bought the ticket and the dress, you might as well dance.

Memories aren’t made and stories aren’t told by those who sit on the sidelines.

(Image from New Media Research Studio FA2 at NYU)

6 thoughts on “Lurking on social media isn’t enough

  1. You hit the nail on the head with this one. The secret to social media isn’t so illusive and yet most don’t get it.

    The key to social media is one word: SOCIAL. It’s great that journalists, celebrities and politicians embrace this new media but few actually get it the social aspect and still use it as a broadcast medium and not the interactive social medium that it really is.

    One of the biggest failures that can be done is having a Twitter account or Facebook page that simply mirrors the posts from the other.

    But that’s a topic for a blog sometime 🙂

  2. Interestingly, I had the most response of any Wall post I’ve ever made by posting an anecdote yesterday about some readers taking exception to some grammar in my column. I asked my friends to weigh in, and they sure did (at least for me). I sparked 20 posts with replies still coming in. I’m usually lucky to get two or three.
    May be a lesson here for FB interactivity: give the reader a challenge tied to something that happened to you and see how they would’ve handled it.
    If that’s the case, this may be another way for reporters and editors to make decisions on photo/news play, that reflect the sensitivities of the majority of the community.

    1. That’s a great point Joe. It’s all about engagement. If the audience feels like they are involved in the topic, such as in your example, they are more likely to participate. It’s up to the content provider, whether journalist or company, to ensure that the audience remains engaged.

      I use the example of a stand-up comedian. If the audience isn’t laughing at his jokes he needs to change his routine and keep doing so until the audience is with him. Social Media is the same concept. Learn how to gauge your audience and determine what posts are engaging them successfully and which ones aren’t.

  3. You five don’t get it. Why would a news reporter lurk? Think about it. What would be more efficient for fast information gathering? Scrolling quickly through tweets may be lurking but what is more efficient to get an overview of what’s happening and to find someone on the scene? The above article is a great one for marketers. Get some feedback, join in the conversation, give and take, build a community, get some followers, chit chat. But for someone on deadline with a story to file, the above is simply a waste of time.

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