Social media is a powerful and necessary tool for hyperlocal publications to engage with their readers and promote their work. In small communities, it can be a vital conduit to reach local people, build traffic, and provide value for advertisers. Here are five tips from hyperlocal publishers on how to increase a site’s social media presence.
1) Actually use your accounts: “Do not just hook up Twitter to your Facebook account and forget about it. If that’s all you’re going to do, you might as well just not tweet. Truncated FB posts look idiotic, incomplete, and might accidentally generate a response from someone that you will never see because you put it on autopilot.” (Tracy Record, West Seattle Blog, @tracyrecord)
2) Engage your audience with new information: “‘Social’ means social. Don’t shout at people. Don’t give them the same info they can find elsewhere (or if you do, give them a different entry point). The opportunity of a social platform is to engage in an exchange.” (Nicole Hollway, St. Louis Beacon, @nicolehollway)
3) Be interactive on corporate accounts: “Use social media like the rest of the planet uses social media. … Talk to people. Be social. Talk about things other than your publication. On Twitter, re-Tweet items from others users you find interesting. It doesn’t have to be directly related to your publication. People should know you’re human.” (Eugene Driscoll, Valley Independent Sentinel, @ValleyIndy)
4) Use different platforms in different ways: “Facebook tends to be more visual, so show off strong visual content there. Twitter is a great place to break news. Find the strength of other emerging social media platforms and explore your editorial voice there.” (Carla Zanoni, DNAinfo, @carlazanoni)
5) Use social media to find stories your readers are interested in: “Hyperlocal sites can use social media to get a strong pulse on what issues and what story ideas are important to the audiences.” (Mark Anthony Thomas, City Limits, @workandprogress)
Isa Jones is an intern at Street Fight.