Vadim Lavrusik, who has previously worked at Mashable and the New York Times, has been Facebook's journalist programme manager for one year
Facebook's New York-based journalism programme manager Vadim Lavrusik is on a three-countries-in-three-days tour of Europe.
When in London on Monday (23 April) he shared his tips on how journalists can best make use of the platform.
Here are his 10 suggestions:
1. Facebook Subscribe
Launched in September, Facebook Subscribe allows journalists to share updates with the Facebook community without requiring a two-way agreement of friendship.
Whereas a year ago Lavrusik was encouraging journalists to create Facebook pages to promote their work and interact with an audience, Subscribe merges the "personal and professional profile" and he would now like journalists to embrace it.
Lavrusik advises journalists who want to allow subscribers to follow their status updates to write a clear biography to "tell people who you are professionally", therefore enabling search and social discovery.
He also urged news organisations to add a Subscribe button to their websites, to encourage readers to follow individual journalists.
Lavrusik wants journalists to think of their updates as "a newspaper", telling stories and posting "engaging content", including photographs.
2. Long-form content
Facebook has increased its character limit for status update; to 5,000 characters in September and to 63,000 in November 2011.
"It is almost a blogging platform," Lavrusik says.
He also referred to journalism academic Paul Bradshaw's experiment when he used Facebook instead of his blog for four weeks. That was last June when a 400 word limit was in place for updates.
3. Add apps
In September news outlets started launching "frictionless sharing" apps, allowing a Facebook user's friends to see the articles they have been reading. Users opt in once to agree to share their reading habits.
Lavrusik referred to the apps, such as the Guardian's, as a "Farmville for news", referring to the popular Facebook game.
Timeline apps, such as Instagram and Pinterest, can allow journalists to share "some of their media diet" visually with subscribers.
Lavrusik used the example of NME editor Luke Lewis adding narrative by posting a comment next to music listened to via the Spotify app.
4. Populate your timeline
Timelines have now been added to both personal profiles and pages.
Lavrusik encourages journalists using Facebook Subscribe to backdate content, adding photos and information detailing major stories they have worked on.
"This gives people a glimpse into some of the big stories they have covered," Lavrusik said.
NBC's Ayman Mohyeldin has done this, adding the 2003 date he started with former employer CNN to his timeline.
Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times has also done this, adding a photo of him reporting the start of the Iraq war in 2003.
5. Make it personal
Lavrusik urges journalists to hand-craft posts, whether adding them to a news organisation's page or their personal profile.
He showed results from research demonstrating how automated feeds, such as those based on an RSS feed or cross posts from other social media platforms such as Twitter, lead to two to three times less engagement.
There is however a misconception that Facebook gives automated posts a lower ranking, unless the third-party tool has used the API incorrectly.
6. Search for sources and stories
As well as pushing out news, Lavrusik wants journalists to use Facebook's various search functions to find and contact sources.
There are search options to allow you to search public posts and groups, many of which have real-world communities. Lavrusik also says journalists should make use of the various filters that can be applied when searching, such as including location and education.
Lavrusik says that when using Facebook to message potential sources, connecting with them in a personal space, journalists must be mindful of their own public profile. "A source will look at your profile," he said, and potentially form an opinion and make a decision whether or not to respond based on how credible you appear to be.
7. Create interest lists
Facebook provides the ability to create public or private lists, much like you can do on Twitter and in the same way as you can group people in Google+ circles (here is a helpful post explaining how to create Facebook lists). And just like on Twitter others can subscribe to your public lists.
Lavrusik is encouraging journalists to "create a custom feed for your beat", curating a list of useful pages and people.
There is no need to click "like" on a page in order to add it to a list, which reduces the risk of filling your timeline with endless updates from potential sources.
8. Try live, real-time reporting
Facebook's ticker, the bar on the right of a profile, gives a real-time display or what your Facebook contacts are doing and has impacted on the rate of sharing.
One news outlet that has used Facebook to provide live news updates is the Huffington Post. Rather than teasing and post a link, HuffPo has used it to provide Twitter-style updates.
Page applications such as the Livestream app as used by Al Jazeera to broadcast from Facebook, are also worth considering.
9. Crowdsource your community
There are various ways in which Lavrusik would like journalists to crowdsource on Facebook.
One is to encourage users to share pictures to contribute to a visual news story, such as a storm or crash.
Both Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal crowdsource in order to hunt for potential interviewees, contributors or to gauge opinion, Lavrusik said.
Past examples include posts such as "we want to hear from people who have struggled to get a job due to the economic climate".
10. The power of pages
News organisations or individual journalists can create pages (although Lavrusik favours individuals using the Subscribe function as opposed to creating a separate page).
Be aware that you can post your update to those who speak a specific language or are in a particular location. Journalists could target a post at Welsh speakers in Cardiff or Arabic speakers in the UK. This could be particularly useful when crowdsourcing.
Lavrusik encourages journalists to use the "ask question" function to create polls to gather opinion.
Another option news organisations have is to opt to permit Facebook fans to access exclusive "gated content" that can only be accessed by those connected with the page. Here is an example of how the New Yorker put a story behind "like" wall.
Lavrusik also encourages journalists to connect with the 180,000-strong community of journalists on the Facebook + Journalists page.
Free daily newsletter
- Yusuf Omar, co-founder of Seen, on wearable technology in journalism
- Nadine Ajaka of The Washington Post on the visual forensics team
- 30 mojo apps from BBC trainer Marc Blank-Settle
- Nine tips for journalists to get started on TikTok
- Hollie Wong of GAY TIMES, on community building and resilience on social media