Last week I went over a few tips for setting a social media strategy and persona for your news org’s branded account(s) and tips for using those accounts as a brand. Today, let’s get into audience engagement on social media tools. These tips have served me well as both a brand and as an individual, helping me to establish great relationships on the old internets.
Audience Interaction in the Social Sphere
Responding: I’d suggest you try to always respond to those who reach out to the brand on Twitter or Facebook with questions, criticism and tips. You can respond via private direct message (if they follow you) or outward replies. If you’re squeamish about public replies, remember: Unless a Twitter user is following both parties, they will not see this interaction in their streams. If the reply is something you think other followers may be interested in, you might want to re-tweet the question/comment and answer it outright.
Note: After you DM a user, you will need to follow them from the brand’s account if you want a reply via direct message. People cannot direct message you unless you are following them.
News Tips: If someone sends a good news tip via Twitter, Facebook or by email, ask them follow-up questions (if necessary) and be sure to publicly acknowledge their contribution. You may want to re-tweet the tip once you have verified it.
Ask for help: If you want a photo or info from the scene of a story, ask for it from your followers.
Be thankful: Treat those supplying you with information as a respected friend – and they just might end up becoming regular tipsters and brand evangelists. If you get a news tip, photo or other info you’d like to use from your followers, be sure to thank and/or credit the user by name in social media messages and the story itself. Credit them on Twitter with (h/t @theirname) or similar when the link is shared. If you use a photo, make sure they are credited in the cutline.
Questions: If someone asks the branded account a question, answer it as soon as you have time (or ask someone else to do so). If you don’t know the answer, tell them you’ll find out and get back to them.
Criticism: If someone offers criticism, address it, even if only to say you’ll pass it to the right person internally. Try to avoid an extended back-and-forth with Twitter users and don’t get into embarrassing Twitter arguments. Once it seems to be approaching a point of no end, take the conversation offline.
Corrections: If you made a mistake, like a misspelled name, wrong link or factual error, it’s best to correct it in a follow-up tweet. Do not erase the first tweet unless you absolutely feel you must – and not without some acknowledgement of the mistake.
Start the conversation: Instead of always offering up a headline and link, add a question element when appropriate. Like, “What’s your favorite”, “do you agree” or whatever. If you want this to be an ongoing topic for the day, you may want to start a hashtag to accompany it.
Responses: If someone gives you a particularly good response, RT it with a link back or some notation as to what it’s about. Example: RT @someguy I think it’s a bad idea. // What do you think of Md’s new traffic law? http://bit.ly/ghgkg
Note: This is an especially good way to keep an ongoing topic going throughout the day. Use this to keep a hashtag going instead of tweeting out a boring old headline on the same thing again.