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Journalists face three main challenges on social media: online content verification, audience growth, and monetisation, said digital media consultant Matt Navarra in a podcast with

Although there is no "magic answer" to these concerns, the range of features available on social media and the growing popularity of podcasts give journalists the chance to see what works for them and their organisation.

"It’s a case of experimenting as much as possible because things change rapidly and new technologies come online all the time so hedging your bets slightly is a good strategy," Navarra said. 

"Don’t be too reliant on the one source of audience that may have served you well in the past but might be lost in a moment by an algorithmic change or a change in taste or even people’s interest to use one platform over another."

Navarra's Facebook group, ‘The Social Media Geek Out’, has attracted more than 10,000 people, helping journalists navigate the complex world of social media.

Frequent questions on the group include content editing strategies, when to post to boost engagement, verifying misinformation, and what approach to take to targeting on social media platforms.

Navarra said it is important to keep your audience in mind while monitoring what content has done well in the past.

"Is there any correlation between the platform they’ve used or the time of day, or is it something else? Try and look for those patterns, any hits and misses, and marry that with the data to find that sweet spot."

And how does he keep up with the latest updates from across the variety of different platforms?

Alongside tip-offs from members of his Facebook group and even from the social media platforms themselves, he uses engagement tracking tools such as Newswhip, Dataminr and Tweetdeck to sniff out new trends.

Given the growth in access to news through social media, understanding platforms and experimenting with them is incredibly important, said Navarra.

"As we have seen in the Reuters Digital News Report, the volume of news discovered from social is continuing to generally increase on most platforms. People’s sources of news are not the same as they were ten years ago, or even five years ago."

Looking towards the future, the boost in popularity for podcasts and audio content shows no sign of waning, in particular given the growing use of smart speakers. Journalists should also be aware of a shift towards private messaging.

"Being able to understand how successful a piece of content has been when they’re behind closed doors of an encrypted messaging app or from a private group, you can’t see that information and your ability to understand your audience and produce content for them in a better way is more restricted."

You can listen to the full episode of this podcast on our website, on Soundcloud or Apple Podcasts.

Looking to improve your audience engagement? Sign up for our course on audience engagement strategies on 26 November here.

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