The differences between traditional and social media are fairly clear but there are many similarities too. Whether via mainstream media or social media, people and businesses alike are competing for attention through text, graphics, video, and links. A twenty five year career in television news taught me a lot, including the craft of making every word count. As I was thinking about some of those skills, I narrowed down a list of the top three ways you can immediately improve your social media presence, using a just few well known practices from journalism and news writing:
1.) The Lead. Also referred to as “the hook”, the lead is your very first sentence and also the most important part of your post. In the news business, we are taught that if you don’t immediately capture the viewers attention, they are gone. Get to your point. Why should I care? How many Facebook posts have you started reading and then gave up on because the writer failed to capture your interest? For me, a lot of posts would fall under this category. When it comes to media and social media, more is often less. There are a lot of posts and tweets in my news feed and unless you choose your words carefully and grab my attention, I will never read yours.
2.) Less is More. Trim the fat! More than anything else, this is the single biggest mistake I see on a daily basis on social media platforms (especially Facebook). For the love of God people, shorten your posts. Everyday someone within my feed will post a novel. You know, the post that never ends, where you have to keep scrolling down your computer screen. News flash-with the exception of maybe your mother and very closest friends, no one is reading your book. Why? For the same reason as in traditional media, people are busy-working, making dinner, caring for kids, someone just rang the doorbell… if you want people to consume your post, be respectful of their time, and edit!
3.) Limit the selfies. When you are a new TV reporter, getting your first reps on-camera is an exciting experience. You get to share your stories firsthand with the world! That’s also why news management explains to newbie journalists to limit their on-camera stand-ups and face time. After-all, the story is THE story, not the reporter. While there are moments when appearing on-camera is appropriate and expected, there are other times when a good journalist knows when the story tells itself. The same is true on social media.I recently traveled to Europe and walked down to the Thames River where there is a beautiful city backdrop with Big Ben and other amazing architecture. I will never forget when I got down to the river and found thousands of tourists gathered and almost all appeared to have selfie sticks. While I did not get the chance to review their photos, I’m pretty sure the results would show very little city and a lot of face. It would be nice if I actually got to see the city when reading the “London is amazing” post.
While an occasional selfie can be a great way to personalize a post, selfie abusers can send the unintended message that they are a self-absorbed narcissist. Do you really want to be that guy or gal?
Of course, these are just tips I’ve learned in the news business and apply to my social media. Your social media is yours. Happy posting!