Think Like an Editor blog by Steve Davis and Emilie Davis, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University

It’s not about us, it’s about “I”

By · Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Let’s get social.

Social media is about more than communicating content. We need to provide the tools for our audience members to share our work with one another, and they need opportunities to become involved in meaningful ways, with one another and with us.

Social media is about breaking boundaries and facilitating this emerging media relationship. We still provide content: advertisements and editorial matter of all kinds. But the wall between the audience and us is down. The audience is as much partner as customer. It has roles as reader, subscriber, commenter, shopper, distributor, content provider and even, at times, competitor.

One of our roles as communicators is to adapt to audience members’ new identity by using social media and the three I’s — integral, interact, involved — in the following ways.

Integral. Make social media integral to what you do. This first “I” is simply a mindset and a commitment to make. It’s a strategic plan that is integrated, and not an add-on or afterthought.

Interact. Get your audience to interact with one another and with you. This second “I” is basically a set of tools that allow interaction and involvement to take place naturally. Among the ways to interact: Facebook, Twitter, Google+ , Digg, Reddit and StumbleUpon.

Involved. Find meaningful ways to get your audience involved. This third “I” is what we do, our campaigns to get people involved. Like any good craftsman, pick the right social media tool for the job. Your strategy for social media should be tailored to the content and what you are trying to accomplish. What do you want and need? What does your audience want and need? Are you looking for utility? Fun? Both? Is Twitter right? Facebook? Instagram? YouTube? What about Storify?

A common misstep is to think of social media as a tool to use after content is created. Use it at the start, to solicit story ideas or to help with ongoing projects. Your audience, if asked, can help you generate new thoughts for sources, especially nontraditional ones, brainstorm new angles on ongoing stories, and build a list of new questions to ask.

And who is the “you” here? All of us — every digital communicator publishing on multiple platforms. Remember, too, that your audience should always be able to participate from a mobile device.

These tips should get you started. They all come from Strategy 4: Social Media in Think Like an Editor, second edition. Check there if you’d like to know more about getting social.

Emilie Davis

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