How to Make Meaningful Social Media-Web Contributions

The World of Digital Journalism creates a web of shares and views similar to the map above (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9b/Social_Network_Analysis_Visualization.png)

The world of journalism is changing rapidly and dramatically. Walk into your local coffeeshop and chances of finding someone pouring over fine newsprint is rare. You are much more likely to see people scrolling through their Facebook and Twitter feeds as they wait in line, checking their E-mail on their iPad, or typing fiercely on their laptop. The plethora of platforms and forms of engagement available in this world means that readers are constantly inundated with content. Topics range from the best type of almond milk to the raging refugee crisis affecting millions. In order to take full advantage of this hectic and cluttered world of the social Web, one must develop a clear brand, appeal to the emotions of readers , and keep content concise and visually appealing.

According to “The Psychology of Sharing” by New York Times Insight there are six personas of online sharers: the “altruist”, the “careerist”, the “hipster”, the “boomerang”, the “connector”, and the “selective”. All of these personas have unique personal qualities and social media behavior. Understanding which persona you fit into is helpful in presenting yourself in the most authentic and useful way in the digital world.

Forming your online brand and persona is important. Do you want to be seen as someone humorous a fun, maybe fitting into the “boomerang” persona? Someone who is looking for reactions and to stir the pot amongst their friends and followers? Or do you maybe want to be taken more seriously and advance the political and social causes that are important to you, aligning more with the “selective” persona. Someone who is very mindful of the relevance and importance of the content they share. While it is not impossible to be perceived as both, at the end of the day your social media presence mold create a personal brand. As one participant in this survey said, “I try to share only information that will reinforce the image I’d like to present: thoughtful, reasoned, kind, interested and passionate about certain things.”

So being mindful of the content you share with your friends and connections is important. If you want to be taken seriously and have people mindfully read and share the content you present to them you have to maintain a sense of credibility. For instance, sharing a fake article from news satire site, “The Onion” may be funny and entertaining it also underscores your credibility. Content that you share in the future may be overlooked or dismissed as a potential joke in the eyes of some of your social media connections.

For example, Alicia Garza, is a leader in the Black Lives Matter Movement. She keeps her content on Twitter focused on the issues affecting the underserved and overlooked communities in our country. Her posts are simple and relevant to a specific issue. Recently she has posted about Black History month and the role of women in the Black Panther organization.

Once you have decided what your “brand” is getting your content shared and reshared is a key component to having a meaning impact in the digital sphere. According the the “The Psychology of Sharing” in order to get the most number of shared you must appeal to users motivation to connect with each other — not just with your brand.

Digital journalism in the world of the social Web is a highly social experience. While a piece may have great significance if it does not appeal to readers on a both a social and emotional level it is much less likely to be re-shared.

Additionally, users on the social Web is highly transient and have limited time and attention to give to a piece. Recently, Parse.ly looked at the engaged time of more than one billion site visitors during a one-month period in 2015. The Parse.ly team found that readers engaged time from social referrals was only 57 seconds per post, additionally Chartbeat found that about 40% of visitors leave having spent fewer than 15 seconds engaged on the page. This means that on average, you have less than a minute of your readers attention. Often people aren’t even reading the entire piece, making it increasingly important to be concise and creative.

The digital web also presents many opportunities to make information more readable. Infographics, charts, lists, and graphics are essential on a creating viral, viewable and shareable piece on the social Web.

While this new world there is more to worry about than ever before, there is also more to gain than ever before. This world lets everyday people interact with politicians, celebrities, and influencers. Anyone can voice their opinion and concern.