Today’s news culture and the rise of social media

August 21, 2018

How do you get your daily news? It’s likely not the way you used to get it years ago, and may not even be the same as last year. Social media – the savvy culprit – is responsible for much of the shift, along with busier lifestyles and constant connectivity.

According to a 2018 Global Digital Report, more than three billion people are on social media and most of them use their cell phone to connect and view content. There’s an app for almost everything these days, including most every news outlet. Few still read hardcopy newspapers cover-to-cover, and it’s not difficult to understand why. There are far more options where you can select the news you want and get those stories sent right to your inbox. From headlines to the latest viral video, there is a plethora to read, skim or use as a distraction – often found right in the palm of your hand.

This shift has also prompted a change in the way newsgatherers work. Most professional journalists pride themselves on being truth-seekers and fact-finders. Many follow a certain code of conduct –based on fairness, accuracy, and accountability – and now they have to exist in a world where anyone with a cell phone can be a creator of content, aka newsgatherer, without any training in the media industry, nor any idea of ethical reporting.

Given the constant demand for content, how do companies stay current with an ever-changing media marketplace?

In summary: be adaptable and willing to try new things to reach your audience.

Understand the news cycle is 24/7
The message is no longer held hostage by the medium. The message is the message and people constantly crave content and will look for it on all platforms. Always be prepared to tell your story. Be available for media interviews, pitch your brand and take control of the story. If you’re not shaping your message, someone else is shaping it for you.

Strategically consider your social media posts
Going beyond a basic account, create a long range content calendar. This calendar becomes your storyboard where you draft posts, assign assets and make room to respond to breaking news. Sell your message but also take us behind scenes giving viewers entry to part of the organization they may not normally be able to access. With social media, you have the ability to communicate directly to the consumers unfiltered, so take advantage of the opportunity and be sure to be authentic.

Know – and directly target – your audience
When developing messaging, (whether it is for social media, internal communications, a website, or for the media) understand exactly who is consuming your news, who you want consuming your news and how to reach them. Then, pick your platform based on their preferences. If your target audience is Millennials and Generation Z and your content is visual, post to Snapchat and Instagram. If your audience is older, Facebook may be your best fit. Twitter is an ideal platform for news stories and to gain the attention of the media.

Earned media vs. Paid media
Both can serve you well, and in this progressively digital world, you need to make sure you have a strong online profile. Develop genuine relationships with the media but also consider putting money behind digital advertising and marketing. For a price, you can craft your message and deliver it directly to your target audiences, bypassing the media. Paid, boosted social posts can raise your brand’s profile significantly.

Become your own influencer
If you can find your audience and keep their interest by consistently creating captivating content, you can expand your network, gain credibility, build your brand and ultimately influence the message. That’s when the media starts calling you and asking for an interview.

Originally published by Midlands Biz on August 21, 2018.

See also: Digital and Social Media

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