‘Social media is a tool, not the tool’


How can journalists better refine the ways they use community engagement in their work?

On Saturday, panelists Lauren Boyer of US News & World Report, and Chris Mautner of PennLive.com sat down with Mike Feeley of PennLive.com and the Patriot-News to answer that question.

“Social media is a tool, not the tool.”

According to Mautner, social media is great for finding out different angles about a story or finding sources that you might not have otherwise hear from. But it isn’t always the optimal way to gather sources.

(Video: Haley Sawyer)

Boyer said that as a reporter she used Twitter as her notebook and that those tweets both bring the community into the discussion and serve as notes for an article.

“I used to tweet before I wrote things down,” Boyer said. “It’s my notebook. I stopped using a notebook a long time ago. Using Twitter as a notebook would be the best advice I would give to reporters.”

IMG_1740Lauren Boyer at Community Engagement panel on May 31, 2014 (Photo: Kendall Valan)

Know what work well by seeing what searches are trending online.

“I’m gauging what people are searching. If people are searching it it will most likely do well on reposting to social media.” Boyer said.  

Use open ended questions.

Mautner said that making questions on Twitter to narrow may unnecessarily limit responses.

The point in asking the community is to get a different perspective so that you might get a different angle on a story you thought you already had figured out.

Boyer’s guidelines for tweeting.

1. Don’t tweet headlines.

2. Use hashtags, especially at events and public meetings.

3. Search and follow people in the area you are going to be, or people who are going to be at the events you are covering.

4. Use Twitter as your notebook.

Have more questions? Ask Boyer and Mautner on Twitter.

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