Social Media head
Credit: By Geralt on Pixabay. Some rights reserved.

“Social media is not just for customers, it’s for collaboration,” said Andrea Vahl, social media strategist, speaking last night at the Digital Surrey event in Guildford.

As a social media coach, Vahl’s training places great importance on individuals harnessing the power of social media to grow their following, improve their reputation and become better at their job.

“Online interaction is one of the most under-utilised ways to connect with new people,” she said, advising that journalists should take advantage of the benefits they could get from becoming involved with other people's communities and work.

If you want to get in front of a new audience, participate in their community firstAndrea Vahl
“If you want to get in front of a new audience, participate in their community first,” Vahl said.

Share other journalists' work

Although it may seem tempting to solely promote our own work as journalists, Vahl recommends using various social media platforms to share that of other professionals, in order to prevent “shouting at everyone”.

Vahl said that rather than just immersing ourselves in the industry's work, we need to be posting and sharing it on other journalists' behalf, thereby becoming more useful to the audience and presenting ourselves as experts.

In order to do this and stay on top of the constant stream of information uploaded to social media everyday, Vahl places great importance on journalists constantly developing their use of online content resources.

As opposed to sticking to Facebook and Twitter lists, she recommends finding newsworthy content through aggregators such as Alltop, Smartbrief and Flipboard, which collate personalised content using previously set preferences.

Buzzsumo is also useful, as it tells you what is already interesting and being shared,” said Vahl.

Additionally, by setting up a Talkwalker alert for a name or preferred subject, you can be notified when it is written about and mentioned online, which can also be useful when wanting to share content about a particular topic.

Vahl also stressted the importance of “thinking about what's in it for your audience.”

Sharing posts, articles and videos that are not written by you will show that you are active within the industry and know the latest information.
“If you find a way to serve other people first, you will be seen as the expert,” she explained.

Comment on other professionals' posts

“We are so grateful when we get a comment on our work – and all of a sudden that person is more visible,” said Vahl.

Commenting on other journalists' work not only shows interest and appreciation, but, in return, they are more likely to participate within your own community.

“You should be always thinking about driving that traffic...don't just hope people come to you.

"If you interact on their page, or on the Twitter post where they are participating, you are going to be known as part of their community first and then they are going to become part of your community."

Join groups, start conversations and tell others about you

If you find a way to serve other people first, you will be seen as the expertAndrea Vahl
Not only is social media a useful place to build your personal brand and stand out from the crowd, it is also a great place to network with like-minded journalists.

Vahl advises reporters to take advantage of the more direct one-to-one interactions that Twitter offers, advising them not to be shy, talk to anyone they’d like to and "get involved".

“The people I notice and connect with are the ones that connect with me first – they are always the up and coming influencers,” she said.

Connecting with people on a deeper level can be done within groups and there are a range of online communities that journalists should be aware of.

Journalism Tools, LinkedIn for Journalists and Facebook are some of the main platforms available for those looking to stay up to date with the latest news and discussions.

With a record 1 billion people logging in to Facebook on the same day two weeks ago, it is clear that social media is continuing to grow and become more a part of our everyday lives.

As a result, journalists must use social media to not only promote their work, but to get involved within the communities of others.

Listen to Vahl's advice below

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