Social Media

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Social Media Terms

  1. Microblogging: Short message postings from a social media account. Facebook statuses and Twitter posts are two examples.
  2. Meme: A means of taking viral concepts and making them everyday lingo. Check out “Know Your Meme.”
  3. Gif: Graphics Interchange Format. GIFs are image files that are compressed to reduce transfer time. Though the “correct” way to pronounce it is with a soft “g” like “jif,” so many people use a hard “g” that it’s become acceptable to say it both ways. There are now gif keyboards for your phone, gif buttons on social media, and sites like giphy where you can copy embed codes and share gifs.
  4. Engage: Don’t just post information on social media, share, comment, like, reply and interact.
  5. 80-20 Rule: Use 80% of your posts to add something of value to the community. The other 20% can be self-promoting.
  6. RT: retweet. Sharing another person’s tweet on your own Twitter timeline.
  7. DM: Private direct message on Twitter.
  8. @: This always goes in front of a Twitter user’s handle/user name and is called “at” in broadcast news scripts.
  9. Hashtag: A “word or string of characters that starts with #. Identical hashtags are then grouped into a search thread.

Hootsuite has a thorough glossary of more social media terms you should know. 

Watch this video about engineering the perfect gif because gifs make the social media world go round.

Social Media Guidelines

Most news organizations have specific guidelines or style guides for how employees will use social media. Here is one from NPR:

Treat your social media accounts like every future employer will see everything you’ve ever posted. Before you post, think about if it makes you look better, or worse. If the answer is neither, then it won’t help your personal brand and it won’t add value, so the answer is worse. Your social accounts say a lot about you. Make sure you’re sculpting your social media image with professional, objective and valuable posts.

Social Media is the New Media

The Pew Research Center just posted a great analysis called “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017.”

Social media news user profiles

Why Use Social Media for Reporting?

It can be a valuable tool for finding sources, finding ideas early, tracking and connecting with the community and following breaking news.
Social media sites as pathways to news

Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat have grown since 2016 in portion of users who get news on each site


If you’re brand new to Twitter, here’s a tutorial on how to get started:

Looking to step your Twitter game up a bit? Here’s how to improve your profile and how to use Twitter for journalists:

Mashable has a great list of links that help you create a Twitter profile and tips to increase your search engine optimization and engagement:

Twitter Bios: Did you know that social media drives 31% of all website referral traffic? Adding a link in your Twitter profile is a simple way to capture some of those potential visitors.”

Twitter Search: Make your searches pointed and try different combinations of words and spelling if you have a specific topic in mind.  Use advanced search by location to make sure Tweets are locally relevant. For example, here’s a search for “medical marijuana” near Los Angeles: You can also search what people are saying about a story you’ve posted by searching the url of the story.

Twitter Lists: Use Twitter lists to find people that are local and talking about topics that you are covering. Use your own Twitter lists, and check other Twitter accounts’ lists as well. Find out more about Twitter Lists in this helpful FAQ.

Twitter for Business

If you want to keep your followers, follow them back and engage in their tweets by liking, retweeting or creating a dialogue. The fastest way to get followers on Twitter is to follow people with similar interests and unfollow them if they don’t follow you back. I suggest going to one of your favorite twitter profiles that you follow like @BuzzFeed for example. Then click on the link that shows their followers, I’ve highlighted it below: buzzfeed.PNG Then follow their followers. After a week or two, go back to your list of people who you follow and unfollow anyone who isn’t following you back. Note: avoid following people without profile pictures because they could be fake and leave you open to getting hacked. Also, avoid following anyone who may make you look bad if your future employer checks who you follow.


Twitter Moments


One of my favorite tools is TweetDeck. It’s incredibly helpful for journalists. It helps you quickly consume and share information.

You should also use TweetDeck to schedule posts when your target audience is most active.

Social Example

Lindsey Mastis is a great example for anyone who wants to become better at social media. She used to work at Tampa’s NBC affiliate WFLA. She moved to Washington, D.C. in 2016 and now works at WJLA Check out her Facebook Live videos to go behind the scenes of a news station. And follow her on Twitter.

lindsey mastis.PNG


People are using their phones to record video all around you. Find those videos and use them for story ideas using YouTube.

  • Search YouTube and filter by upload date to give you the most recent searches. For example, here’s a search for “hurricane sandy new york” filtered by upload date.
  • Think about news happening in your local area right now and be pointed with your searches. For example, if there’s a protest happening in downtown Boston right now, you might search “protest Boston” and filter by upload date.
  • Advanced Tips: Learn more about searching YouTube for local news videos in this webinar.

So how does YouTube actually work?


Facebook is taking on YouTube as it shifts its focus to video.

There are over a billion people on Facebook sharing updates full of possibilities for stories.

  • Facebook Public Posts: You can often search public posts on Facebook. You can search via sites such as or adding to a Google search.
  • Facebook Graph Search: Facebook’s ‘graph search’ will allow you to find sources and follow news. Some ideas how to do that from Facebook.
  • Facebook Groups: Search Facebook groups to find local conversations and sources, too.
  • Facebook’s new trending section: a great way to find viral stories for a newscast or blog.
  • Facebook Live: Facebook live is becoming a popular tool for journalists. Most news organizations now regularly go live on Facebook to increase their analytics and engagement. Facebook live is a great way to get questions and comments from news viewers and respond live. It’s also great for emergencies like hurricanes. This way people can get live video updates even if the cable goes out. Here are some best practices. RTNDA shared 5 tips for journalists to maximize Facebook Live.

Here’s an example of how WFLA used Facebook Live to reach people without power or cable during Hurricane Irma. The anchor and meteorologist answered questions that viewers posted in the comment section during commercial breaks and even during sound bites as they broadcast their newscast live on TV.

NPR also uses Facebook Live to give their audience a behind-the-scenes look at newsgathering and storytelling.

Like CNN reporter Samuel Burke on Facebook to catch his experiments with social media reporting.

Facebook Live is also proving to be a popular tool to document things like police shootings. For example, Philando Castile’s fiance made headlines when she live-streamed his death on Facebook. This evidence will now be used in the trial. Some corrupt law enforcement officers have been found to delete or tamper with cell phones after people record them committing crimes. Facebook Live is automatically posted on Facebook. Therefore many are touting its ability to create more transparency in the criminal justice system.


There are several different ways to search LinkedIn for story ideas.

  • Use advanced people search to find sources, and people that work at specific companies.
  • Check out local companies. Updates from all employees affiliated with the company will show up here, so you can see any updates about who has joined a company or recently left. You can also see job posts, so you can track if there are any big changes coming.

LinkedIn features top 120 professionals, 35 and under in a great initiative called Next Wave. Check out who they think you should follow.


Reddit is a big online community made up of many smaller communities. There is a lot of everything on Reddit and most of what you see will likely not be of journalistic value to you. But there are gems that can lead to story ideas and news tips.


Yusuf Omar is one of the leaders in the selfie journalism revolution. As the Mobile Editor at the Hindustan Times, Omar is building the world’s largest mobile journalism team. He’s training journalists to create faster content using mobile devices. But more importantly, he’s using mobile devices to tell grassroots stories that otherwise wouldn’t make it to mainstream media.

In 2016, Omar won the world’s first Snapchat awards for giving a voice to sex abuse survivors. His use of social media and new technology is an inspiration to up and coming journalists. It’s cheaper, faster and desperately needed content.

Please watch this News Xchange discussion about the future of news. Omar explained how he curates social content to tell stories in a more democratic way. Traditional journalists challenged Omar in the discussion portion after his talk. As a journalist who’s worked for both traditional newspaper and television news in America, I understand where the old guys are coming from. But I think it’s time we recognize the cracks that are deepening in traditional news workflow.

I am not alone in longing for the days when journalists actually had time to research and create valuable content. At the end of the day, news companies are businesses, so it appears journalists will continue to grind out a higher quantity and I fear the quality will inevitably suffer irreparably. So let’s listen to Omar, because he may hold the only key to maintaining the journalistic ethics we’re all clinging to.

Snapchat is a little less user-friendly so I encourage you to watch this tutorial for beginners:

Follow Yusuf Omar on Twitter @YusufOmarSA

Yusuf Omar and his wife Sumaiya Omar spoke about the evolution of mobile journalism

MOJO 101 video by Yusuf Omar


Instagram is a great way to showcase your photos and videos. But it’s also being used for news. The BBC was one of the first large news organizations to really invest time in creating Instagram videos to inform viewers and promote their longer news stories.

If you’re new to Instagram, watch this tutorial to set up an account and start Instagramming:

What’s the difference between Snapchat and Instagram?

Click To Enlarge

Your How-To Manual for Stories from Instagram and Snapchat

Via Salesforce

Viral Marketing Techniques For Driving Traffic

An incredibly engaging and efficient person to learn from calls himself “Lazy Ass Stoner.” He has dozens of helpful videos and hundreds of thousands of views. In the following video he goes over three viral marketing strategies:

  1. The Viral News Story: This technique involves finding ‘hot’ and popular viral news stories that are related to your niche and then re-writing them, posting them to your blog and then posting them out through all of your social profiles.
  2. The Viral Video: When many people think of ‘viral video marketing’ they think of pouring thousands of dollars into creating the perfect viral video and they just *hoping* that it goes viral but with this technique you’ll be able to simple leverage other people’s viral videos to drive tonnes of free traffic to your blog.
  3. The Viral Infographic: Infographics are insanely viral and they are a great way to score easy, free visitors to your site. This technique involves simply finding niche related infographics and then posting them onto your site and then out through your social channels.


If you’re interested in social marketing, check out Jay’s newbie crash course.

Live Streaming

Periscope was one of the first leaders in live streaming apps. Now, you can stream live on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook Live.

In 2015, Apple named Periscope the iPhone App of the Year. Twitter acquired Periscope, helping the app beat out another early live streaming app, Meerkat. It is now integrated into Twitter’s main app. Periscope users can tweet out a link to their live stream.


When live streaming goes wrong

Social media is constantly changing

That means you have to stay on top of the latest developments. Here are some sites I suggest checking out so you don’t get left behind:



Social networking sites have become an important additional arena for politics.  They are a resource for political news, information, finding like-minded issue-oriented people, and a tool for voter outreach in the run-up to elections.  During the 2012 campaign season, Pew Internet released a number of reports on the role of social networking sites on elections and the political process:

For a full overview of Pew Internet’s research on the internet and politics, please read our politics Summary Sheet.  Or for access to our full politics archive, please visit

More resources:

How to embed a Tweet in your WordPress Blog:

How to embed Instagram in your WordPress Blog:

How to measure social media

Click To Enlarge

Make Social Measurable: Best Practices and Metrics to Grow and Succeed

Via Salesforce

Related Resources

Check before you retweet and share content. For help fact-checking and spotting fake news, read 8 Ways To Spot Fake News.


Published by JeanetteAbrahamsen

I am an instructional designer and TV news instructor at the University of South Florida. My passion for innovating learning led me to pursue my PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Instructional Technology. I love creating media to enhance eLearning and foster online engagement. I teach students to create multimedia stories for broadcast, web and social media platforms. I lead the Florida Focus class where students produce daily news shows that air on Tampa's PBS station. My reporting classes collaborated with Tampa's NPR station to produce award-winning stories. I am an Emmy Award-winning journalist. I produced thousands of hours of TV news in some of America's largest media markets at Tampa's NBC station, San Diego's ABC station and the San Diego Union-Tribune. I also produced immersive 360-degree virtual tours at the University of South Florida and reported for Hashtag Our Stories.

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