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Social media tips for journalists

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Today’s guest post was written by Kaukab Jhumra Smith.

Sreenath Sreenivasan, dean of student affairs at Columbia Journalism School, has worn so many tech-reporting hats that he’s widely considered a guru in new-media education. Sree, as he’s commonly known, was named one of the top 25 media people to follow on Twitter by AdAge. Sree stopped by Washington, D.C., last week for a day of nearly back-to-back workshops on advanced social-media techniques for journalists.

“Social media is the biggest advance in the Internet for journalists since the debut of the public Web in 1996,” Sree said to the 50-odd people crowded into the Foreign Press Center for his fourth stop of the day. “Take all the good stuff you know — how to tell a story, how to report, contacts, connections, hustle — and then take social media and amplify your message.”

Don’t worry if you feel you can’t keep up with its rapid changes, Sree said: Social media is still in its infancy, kind of where television was in 1950. The key lies in finding the right tools to bring order to its chaos.

“Find the things that work for you instead of worrying about what everyone else is talking about,” Sree said. “Too much noise in social media? Find that funnel!”

Here are Sree’s top ways for journalists to use sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter:

  • Find new sources, ideas, topics and trends. Search for sources among LinkedIn’s professional profiles or follow your beat on Twitter using
  • Connect with new and existing audiences. “Plural,” Sree emphasized. “Everything has multiple audiences.” Repeat your tweets at different times of the day and repurpose content between Facebook and Twitter to maximize your reach.
  • Bring attention to your work. The scarcest resource of the 21st century, “after water and food and all of that,” will be human attention, Sree said, quoting Les Hinton, publisher of The Wall Street Journal. The way to reach the BAW demographic — people Bored At Work — is to make your posts and tweets as informative, relevant and fun as possible, he advised. Include a link with every tweet, and don’t reference yourself more than one tweet out of five, he added.
  • Create and enhance your online brand. Aim to be among the sites a person visits once or twice a day.

Sree also recommended using the following sites to help bring order to your social-media chaos, particularly on Twitter, so you can focus on achieving your goals:

  • provides permanent, shortened links for long urls. Users who sign up for accounts can accumulate metrics for everyone who clicks through.
  • aggregates news about social media, so you can stay on top of the latest developments.
  • brings together Twitter feeds by journalists and lets you slice them by publication, topic or beat.
  • HootSuite lets you manage multiple social-media accounts, including allowing you to postdate tweets so you can customize optimum posting times for your various audiences.
  • Twiangulate helps you identify common followers of two or more Twitter accounts, letting you pinpoint important sources or trends.

For a complete, ever-changing list of useful sites, check out Sree’s social-media tips.

Image credit, mmaxer, via Shutterstock