4 social media platforms and how to use them for journalism

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Vine.. the list goes on. With so many different and innovative ways to find and tell a story on social media these days, simply tweeting a link to your latest piece will no longer cut the mustard.

Here are some practical ways that you can fit your storytelling to the individual features of each social platform.

  1. Facebook

It’s by far the biggest social media platform, with 1.71bn monthly users compared to Twitter’s 313m. So why is it so underused by journalists?

Finding stories:

Facebook is all about people, which makes it a great way to find sources for stories. Are you doing a piece about disgruntled politician? Find their friends on Facebook and easily contact them through the service.

Telling stories:

It’s often painful to share your work with your Facebook friends who aren’t into journalism. Try using friends lists so you are only sharing content with people who are interested. (Instructions on how to do this can be found here)

Facebook Live is an increasingly popular way to do behind the scenes videos. Have a play around and see if it works for you.

2. Twitter

Finding stories:

Twitter is often the first place people turn to for breaking news, ahead of traditional news outlets. Use this to your advantage by making Twitter lists of news sources. You can make these highly specific, having separate ones for different areas of the world, or sport, entertainment and so on. (Instructions here)

Telling stories:

For breaking news, Tweets that have the most impressions are to the point, and not cluttered with meaningless hashtags or links. Make your tweets more eye-catching by using pictures and multi-media features like videos and polls. Users like to retweet pretty things.

See the different number of shares for these two Tweets:

3. Instagram

Finding stories:

Instagram is the playground of the rich and famous. Regularly, stories about their personal lives break on Insta. For example, Jess Ennis-Hill used the platform to announce her retirement from athletics on the app.

Telling stories:

Instagram is all about visuals. Invest some time in taking gorgeous photos of your story and get ready to filter the hell out of them.

Play around with the ‘story’ feature, similar to Snapchat. As with other social media instant storytelling functions, keep stories light and short. Use the ability to be more intimate with viewers to your advantage.

4. Snapchat

Snapchat’s core users are younger people, often under 18s, so it’s a great way to find new audiences.

Finding stories:

Celebrities and public figures use Snapchat to document their daily lives. Sometimes what happens on Snapchat becomes major news, such as a DJ who accidentally snapchatted his bank card and lost $80,000 in a matter of seconds.

Telling stories:

Snapchat has set up a whole area for journalists to tell stories in truly engaging ways. This is good for you if you are willing to spend resources on flashy graphics to find new audiences.