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Rules are for squares

April 12, 2012

4 Social Media Rules Journalists Should Break

It’s strange to think there are actually rules for using social media when it’s typically seen as something people use during their down time.  Obviously there are certain practices that work better than others, but you can post whatever, whenever and however you want.  In a way you are compromising your autonomy as a journalist if you are following rules that have no journalistic base.  Anyway let’s examine these one at a time.

The first rule seems like a no-brainer to break.  The whole point of using social media is to attract as broad a following as possible, so why would you gimp your readership by selectively posting to some sites but not others?  Granted there are things you can only  do on Facebook that you can’t do with Twitter, but all the same readers are most likely interested in the bulk of what you are posting.

Another no-brainer.  Journalists’ days are structured around deadlines and there will be times when you cannot post, like when you are up against deadline, so scheduling content ahead of time is convenient.  Also using the same post or tweet multiple times can be useful when hyping a big, upcoming story.  If you are planning to post something about it regularly before you release the full-version, why not do it automatically and have one less thing to remember that day?

I’m starting to think these are more general guidelines than rules.  Of course no one is going to follow everyone who follows them.  To be straight forward about it, not everyone will be interesting or useful to you.  If there is little to no chance someone will ever be able to provide you with useful information don’t follow them.  If you have thousands of followers it will be incredibly time-consuming to sift through all of those tweets and posts.  Be selective.

Kind of addressed this already.  If you are previewing a story or are searching for leads there’s nothing wrong with repeating yourself.  If someone is really worried about breaking this one, repeat yourself but make the posts slightly different from each other.

Well, I broke every rule they had, but then again I enjoy breaking rules and setting my own precedents.  Some people enjoy structure and are afraid to stray from the beaten-path.  I think if journalists decide to use social media professionally they need to be transparent, insightful and most importantly consistent.  The results matter more than the methods.

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