To understand how to use social media you might want to forget you’re a journalist.  Then when you do use social media you need to remember you’re a journalist.  Make sense?

Here’s the deal.  We are trained to not share the story process or personal details of life.  We are trained not to give away the story until it’s on the web or on the air. 

Holding to this training while trying to do social media will just cause you to fail, and even resent it. 

Social media is not about the final, sweetly produced story.  Social media is not about teasing what you’re working on.  Social media is not about telling people to tune in later.

Social media is about moments.

After the story when you’re at home or out with friends, do you tell them only about the final story?  No.  You tell your family and friends about your day.  This includes some of the craziness you encountered in getting the story.  This includes some of your process and how you felt.  This includes the mundane chitchat of the weather.

This conversation you have at the end of the day is what your social media followers want from you throughout your day.

As you’re talking to your family and friends do you speak without letting any of them relate to your experiences or ask questions?  No.  You have a flowing conversation where you find out your wife sat in the same traffic jam you hurried to cover.

Can you take off your journalist hat and put on your husband/wife/father/mother/friend hat when you use social media?

If you can’t I have another way line of thought for you.  Nothing about what I just wrote changes. 

Social media is about moments.

You spend your day searching for moments that you can incorporate into your story.  You share those moments with producers, editors, writers and promotions.  Those moments are then used in teases during prime time.  They are used in the cold open and/or pre show. 

You worked to get these moments shared, yet some of the moments are never used.  With social media you are in control of what you share.  You don’t need a promo editor to hack up what you shot.

You are your own promotions editor.  You are in control of your teases. 

You can post these moments as they happen or when you get to a point where you have the time to post.  You can share a picture instead of the video.  You can share the video.  If you aren’t in a position where you can share any visuals use words to describe the moments. 

You don’t even have to be posting about your story.  It’s not about the story.  It’s about the moments. 

As you share people will respond.  Just like you have a free flowing conversation with family and friends, you need to do the same with your followers.  During this open conversation you may find a new source for your story.  You may find a new story to tell. 

Once they’ve been through your journey with you they will turn on the TV or go to the website to see the final sweetly written and produced story.

Through this whole process you will find yourself a member of online social communities.  This community gets to know you.  This community trusts you. 

This community trusts you to report the news and tell them stories.

Now that you understand social media is about the moments, now it’s time to put your journalist hat back on, but not too tightly to where your head sweats.  As a journalist you must still uphold journalist ethics and integrity.  You are at all times representing your organization. 

Professionalism above personality at all times.

There are lines that aren’t to be crossed, not even in social media.  You already know those lines.  You already know not to cross them.  This shouldn’t prevent you from properly using social media.  This should only make you a better journalist.

You get to decide how to use social media.  You don’t have to let social media define you.  You define social media.