Social media and how to break the rules

As a public relations student, there is a growing emphasis on using social media.  Every company is doing it.  I should assume.  Every company should be doing it, and if they are not, they are only handicapping themselves.

Social media is a growing industry with no obvious signs of decline.  It covers anything ending with “graphics.” It is a business monster.

Yet with this emphasis and its prevalent use, many are finding it hard to use social media correctly.

There are rules.  Many rules, some of them simple to understand and some of them not so simple.  Many of these rules are designed for the business user.  So where do the rules come into play for the journalist?

In November, Mashable posted the article “4 social media rules journalists should break.” It’s a very quick read and while everything it covers is essentially correct, I found the article seriously lacking.

First, only four rules?  And the article didn’t really explain HOW to break the rules or what the rules really were.

Don’t cross post on social networks, was the first rule.  Well, that’s just wrong.  The first thing we learn, as students, is to be on every social network and to post on all of them.

In theory, I suppose they’re talking about tailoring your posts for cross posting.  As an example, you can post the same content across platforms, but you are going to write it differently for Facebook than you would for Twitter.  I think the article is trying to tell you not to retool your work for different platforms?  Or do they really think that you should only post certain things to certain platforms?  It’s not clear exactly what they are telling you to do.

Don’t schedule social media posts is one that I agree with. Social media posts should be spontaneous.  As a journalist, you should want to just pick up your phone, tablet, etc. and say “Working on this, and it will be awesome.”

According to the article you should schedule updates? I can see that.  For broadcast this is especially useful for posting an update letting viewers/listeners know what is going to be broadcast during an evening show.

Subscribing to everyone that follows you.  I LOVE when I am followed back, especially by someone who I would consider to be famous or influential.  Their suggestion of using lists is a good one, but I think it is essential to follow everyone.  Lists will just keep your UI cleaner, but it definitely creates a bond with your readers to follow them back.

The last rule I just don’t get.  Don’t repeat yourself.  No, seriously, don’t do it.  It’s annoying to see the same person/company post the same thing over and over.  If someone missed a post, well they missed it.

Users follow hundreds of other users, things get lost.  I know you don’t want to get lost, but it happens.  The user that repeats their post every hour or two hours or even three hours, first one to get dropped by me.  I’m thinking it’s not far different for other user.

The second issue I had with the overall article.  It read as an advertisement for Hootsuit and other social media applications.  I had to question if these app makers contacted Mashable and said “Hey, we created this app to schedule social media posts, you should totally write an article on breaking rules so that people will use our app!”

If the author of the article really had some strong feelings on social media rules and journalism, it’s lost in this article.

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