A successful journalist understands how to tell a story and engage his or her audience. A good social media marketer does the same. Here are six things social media marketers can learn from journalists to strengthen their content marketing and social media strategies…
1. Get the Facts
According to the Pew Research Journalism Project, “‘journalistic truth’ begins with the professional discipline of assembling and verifying facts.”
Journalists know that the foundation of a captivating story is doing the proper research. They check their facts and then they check them again.
a) Journalists use only top-level, credible resources and then sprinkle compelling statistics and newsworthy facts into their stories.
b) Journalists understand the importance of accuracy because their reputations are squandered without it. The value of a fact from reader-generated entries on Wikipedia vs. noteworthy news sites such as The New York Times is incomparable.
The weight and importance of where you get your facts and figures are undeniable. Before making a claim and deeming it factual, do your research first!
Check out Quicksprout’s infographic – “How to Increase Your LinkedIn Engagement by 386%”.Without sources to back up this hefty statistic, how do readers know that the statements are valid? Just as Quicksprout has done below, always provide proof that backs up your claims.
2. Credit Your Source
In addition to researching and fact-checking, journalists understand the importance of giving credit where it is due. If there’s one thing that is drilled into a journalist’s head, it’s to attribute, attribute and oh yeah… attribute. Whether paraphrasing or using a direct quote, always state from whom, what or where from this information is coming. Beware of the naked quote!
Also beware of plagiarizing. For journalists, plagiarism is one of the most heinous crimes. They understand the severe legal implications associated with it and the failure to cite sources accurately. If a journalist is ever caught plagiarizing, his or her reputation may be tarnished beyond repair.
The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication defines plagiarism as:
The same rules apply to social media marketers. Whether you link to a blog post or share a tweet, give credit to the original source like the Huffington Post does below:
Also avoid copying and pasting web content and claiming it as your own without permission.
“Finding your content somewhere else on the web with no credit given is a harsh experience,” writes Explore B2B writer, Jonathan Gebauer.
Claiming another’s material as your own is simply unacceptable. It can destroy your brand’s credibility.
3. Adhere to a Style
Is it 3 or three? Colorado or CO? Feet or ft?
Most journalists conscientiously follow the AP (Associated Press) Stylebook when writing. Adhering to a clear standard format helps journalists maintain consistency and clarity throughout their writings.
The same applies to social media marketers. If you fail to standardize your writing style — be it in blog posts or social media posts — you end up confusing your readers. So be sure to choose a styleguide to standardize your content marketing and social media posts. Doing so strengthens your branding.
4. Use Language Artfully
Journalists understand the art of language and how to craft words into an impactful, engaging and easy-to-understand story without overusing flowery language. Their words simultaneously create an image and interest.
What sets professional journalists apart is their understanding of showing not telling. For example, instead of saying, “It is cold outside,” they use descriptors and action verbs to reveal the weather.
Which sounds better – a) or b)?
a) It‘s cold outside.
b) I could see my breath as I stepped outside.
Check out Mark Guarino’s article from the Chicago Sun-Times and notice his fantastic descriptions in the opening paragraph.
The same approach applies to your social media posts. Aaron Lee from Post Planner advises to “personalize every description” in Facebook updates, to build interest and intrigue. While social media marketers generally prefer a conversational and approachable tone, find a balance between informing your readers and writing in an engaging manner. Establish your company’s voice and let your creativity flow.
5. Embrace Multimedia
Long gone are the days of print-only journalism. Today, journalists are technologically savvy. Not only do they know how to write a great story, they also know how to show a great story through visuals. From video interviews to beautiful photos, journalists understand the importance of incorporating quality multimedia into their articles.
Social media marketers also benefit from multimedia enhancements to their content. Posts that use photos and/or videos go a long way to boosting conversion rates immensely. Note the strength of this Facebook post that links to two videos that compare a wintry day in Chicago, Illinois to one in Charlotte, North Carolina.
6. Stay Ahead of the Curve
From world news to business volatility to sport upsets, journalists are constantly in-the-know; in fact, they’re hungry for the most up-to-date info.
Think about your social media strategy. Are you staying ahead of the curve? Do you know the top industry sources in your niche? Do you understand the value of the latest technology? Can you write intelligently about the pros and cons of the top companies’ workplace styles? Stay informed by following the social media pages of leaders in your industry. If the content is something your readers may find valuable, share it!
Have these lessons from journalism inspired you to adapt them into your social media marketing strategy? What can you add to the list? Share your thoughts below.
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