We don’t consume our news the same as we used to. It’s a fact as simple as the sun will rise and pigs can’t fly. Gone are the days of purely print and TV broadcast news, in are the days of Facebook posts, tweets, live video streaming, news apps, and a whole plethora of other options that are effective tools for media consumption. We live in the age of quick, easy, and fast content, wanting our information and wanting it now. Social media has changed the way we engage, communicate, and interact online – offering a space for users to curate the content they want to see by picking and choosing the information that’s relevant and intriguing to that individual. Whether you’re an entertainment news junkie or political follower, there’s a news source out there for you online, ready at the click of a button or a swipe of the finger.
The People as First Responders
Social media has given not only reporters and news organizations a platform for journalism, but the public as well. These online spaces have quickly become hubs of immediate, real-time interactions, collaborations, and in the most simplest of terms, conversations. Users are able to respond or comment to certain posts or can even be bystanders to a news event, tweeting the action as it’s happening. According to the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, it has become increasingly probable that “the first available description will be produced by a connected citizen than by a professional journalist.” These platforms have given the average citizen the opportunity to take part in journalistic endeavors, sometimes offering key insights into an event or occurrence that otherwise would’ve been left unknown.
Be ready and be engaged and you just might be an essential source in one of the biggest news stories of the year. Tweet at protests, live stream suspicious activity, Instagram a photo of the aftermath of a natural disaster.
PS: Be careful. Don’t be stupid. Use your best judgment. Tweet away!
‘Social media strategy’ is a Thing
When the first social media apps and platforms were being developed and shared with the public, being a news source probably wasn’t the main goal. Think back to when you got your first Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. Why did you get one? Probably to interact with friends, family, and other online users. I used Facebook to chat with friends, share photos, and talk about my day. I used Twitter to ramble about celebrities, that guy that almost rear-ended me, why I think dogs are too good for this cruel world. I used Instagram as a way to take creative, fun pictures and share them with friends. Now, I continue to use these platforms in these ways, but in addition, I use them as some of my main sources of news consumption.
Today, there are articles, blogs, books, and essays on social media strategy, teaching you how to build your brand, interact with other users, and effectively and efficiently consume content. According to a blog post made by Matthew Barby, differentiating your content, checking out your competitors, utilizing post scheduling, and getting on board with social advertising are all ways you can improve your online presence. The Guardian, a prominent British news source, explained how they reached 1 million Twitter followers by being social, planning, and investing time into their online brand. Type in ‘social media strategy’ to Google and you’ll be welcomed by hundreds of articles ready to tell you how to amp up your social media and gain followers. Yes, this is the world we live in.
The New Normal
Social media is always changing and so is, well, the news. Now that these two go hand-in-hand, it’s best to go along for the ride and adapt with the times. The way we consume news is always shifting but the fact is, journalism isn’t dead. It’s evolving, not dying. It’s just taking different paths, exploring new horizons. And as of right now, social media seems to be the road of choice.