A few weeks ago the relatively new social networking platform Ello gained a lot of traction after Facebook cracked down on the use of pseudonyms in profiles. The network is billing itself as the “anti-Facebook,” promising to remain ad-free and never sell users’ data. This leaves those of us in the news business wondering if our users will also flock to this new platform, adding yet another item to our social media to-do lists.
With Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest continuing to grow in popularity, journalists need to balance the time we spend writing articles with the oftentimes-onerous task of self-promotion. But not all platforms are created equal. While it’s a good idea to have a presence on the major social media networks, you should devote the most time and energy to the one or two platforms your readers use most.
There’s a lot of data out there about who’s using which social network when, but that doesn’t necessarily relate to where readers are reading news articles. The Pew Research Journalism Project’s “News Use Across Social Media Report” ranks major social networking platforms by percentage of users who get news from the site, with Reddit (62 percent), Twitter (52 percent), and Facebook (47 percent) coming out on top. Sixty-five percent of these users get their news from just one social media site, 26 percent get news on two sites, and a mere nine percent get news from three or more sites. Considering that self-promotion is verboten on Reddit, that leaves Twitter and Facebook splitting the majority of the votes. The report also breaks down each site’s news readers by age, race and gender. Men dominate the LinkedIn crowd, while Facebook claims more female readers. The under-30s have the majority on Twitter, while LinkedIn claims more older working Americans in its readership. (And apparently Democrats spend way more time on social media sites in general than Republicans do.)
As B2B journalists, we’re looking to pull in readers within a certain industry, which adds an additional wrinkle. Think about the overall demographics of your readers, but focus on the social media networks they use for job-related news, not general news. Twitter is a great fit, provided you append an industry-relevant hashtag to the news story you’re tweeting. Facebook is more of a gamble. Are your fans sharing trend pieces on carbon-neutral airline industry practices, or are they pushing out recipes and baby pictures? In my industry – business travel, meetings, and events – posting news stories to Facebook has limited ROI. (Google+ has also remained a ghost town, even though I dutifully post at least once per day, this in spite of the fact that I have to switch profiles twice and doing so often crashes my browser.)
Social media success isn’t only built around what you push out. You need to balance self-promotion with curation, and you need followers to share your posts with their own networks. Even though Pew found that only 13 percent of LinkedIn users get news from the site, it’s probably worth the time to thoughtfully contribute to popular industry-relevant groups and occasionally post one of your own articles. LinkedIn users are looking to interact with other professionals, after all, so as long as a group is thriving, your presence and perspective can help recruit new subscribers to your publication.
Kate Mulcrone is Web Editor at Convene in New York City. She has worked at business-to-business publications in both the travel and events industries since 2008, and blogged and written entertainment features for MSN.