I have gone to the dark side. 
I sometimes wonder who I am.
I see numbers in my sleep.

Ask any journalist about his/her math skills and you’ll probably find yourself hearing some joke about becoming a journalist to avoid working with numbers.  Little did I know utilizing social media would put me smack in the middle of a bed of numbers. 

The numbers were on the wall long, long ago when I realized I had branded myself by accident by using Twitter as a journalist.  Every time I speak to students and teachers I highlight the need for an understanding of basic marketing principals. I urge students to take marketing classes even if the class isn’t required.  I urge teachers to incorporate branding conversations into the journalism classes.

Even through those lectures I still didn’t truly get it.  Personal branding revolving around your image or your organization’s brand is one thing.  Having an impact that increases readership/viewership is another thing. 

Actually measuring and quantifying those readers and viewers is not as easy as it is for businesses that can run entire social media campaigns with trackable data, like QR Codes and landing pages.  Dan Zarrella, “viral marketing scientist at HubSpot,” wrote about using real numbers about real money to justify using social media.  What he writes is what businesses should be doing to track ROI (Return on Investment – yep one day not too long in my past I googled ROI to be sure I understood it.)

Zarrella suggests to PR people to ask the customer how he/she heard about their business.  That’s not something we can do in our industry.  We can measure the numbers of viewers through the Nielsen TV ratings, but we can’t ask them why they turned to us verses another station.

So what?  We can’t track social media ROI as well as other industries can.  Do we not do it?  Of course we do.  We can measure aspects of ROI for any of our online, digital and social media.  Facebook Insights is a great place to start analyzing your Facebook Page. TweetReach is a good place to start for Twitter.  There are a number of companies that offer social metrics for a fee. 

Knowing these numbers will help us with our wording, or deciding which links to posts, and what time of day to post.

One main reason for utilizing social networks is to bring trust back to us as individual journalists, to our organizations, and to the big bad media in general. 

Some people want news that is agreeable to their beliefs.  So they search out those voices and sources, which isn’t necessarily a trained journalist.  Most people want news when and where it’s convenient to them on their computers, iPads, notebooks, cell phones.

Your voice needs to stand out among all the other voices to get reads and to get people to turn on your newscast.  If you have no social voice, you won’t be heard.

Once your social voice is being heard use it.