1. Use ‘Follow’ to Grow Your Audience

Follow button on Facebook enables journalists to update readers and sources, while reserving personal updates for friends only. Whichever beat you cover, enabling Follow on your profile gives you the opportunity to share public photos, links and analysis about the latest news with your readers and viewers.

Simply turn on Follow to enable readers to keep up with your public updates without having to add you as a friend.

Creating a Page that your readers or viewers like to get your updates is another alternative for sharing with your community on Facebook. 

2. Use Authentic Photos for Profile & Cover Photos

Your profile and cover photos are a reflection of your journalistic brand. Choose photos that represent you and your work best.

  • Profile Photo: Choose a headshot photo that is professional and shoulders up so that people can easily recognize and see your face — even on smaller screens of mobile devices.
  • Cover Photo: Upload a cover photo that represents your work but keep it authentic and not overly promotional. Contact information or website details should be left for the “About” section of your Page or Profile. Your Cover Photo can also be a great way to highlight some of your recent reporting.

3. Optimize Your ‘Profile’

If you’re going to use your Profile to engage with a broader audience and to grow your followers, you have to make sure your Profile settings are set up properly. Here are some settings to consider adjusting on your Profile:

  • Create a custom username for your profile that you can use to share your profile (i.e., facebook.com/username).
  • Comment Settings: When you enable Follow, you’ll notice in the settings there is an option to adjust who is able to comment on the public posts. To enable followers to comment on your public comments, set the setting to “everyone.”
  • Post Audience: On each piece of content you create, you’ll be able to adjust who is able to see the post. To publish a photo that followers get in their News Feed, make sure to select “public” in the privacy drop-down of the post. Adjust to “public” what you want followers to see.

4. Use Facebook Mobile for Updating On-the-Go

Make sure you’re set up to keep updated on Facebook from your mobile device and are able to post photos from your reporting. There are a variety of Facebook apps that you’re able to use for general updating, managing a Page, reaching out to sources via Messenger, and more.

5. Share Breaking News

People want to be informed about news as it happens. As news breaks, post a status update or photo to inform your audience. In a recent analysis of posts from journalists and news organizations on Facebook, posts that included “breaking” or “breaking news” in a posting received a 57% increase in engagement. Of course, images are often stronger than any words.

6. Keep Followers Updated

Keep people updated as the story develops.

7. Share Behind-the-Scenes Photos & Videos To Grab Attention

People are fascinated by the journalistic process. Sharing photos from the scene of your reporting gives them a glimpse into the newsgathering process and shows your audience that you’re on the ground.  Also, enabling Photo Sync on your phone can make sharing easier by saving photos you capture on your mobile phone to a private folder of photos you can share later.

8. Include Your ‘Expert Analysis’ When Sharing Stories

Facebook is a people-driven platform. Your followers want to hear your personal voice and, more importantly, your expert analysis on the story you’re sharing. What’s the context they need to know about the story? Is there an important angle that needs to be highlighted? Include those details to draw followers in.

9. Start Conversations

Your followers and friends want to be part of the conversation. In fact, posts that include a prompt for conversation or a question receive higher  engagement than posts that do not.

10. Enable Participatory Journalism

Your followers are a powerful network of sources that help you gather information and content for stories you’re reporting. When you’re trying to find individual sources, casting a wide net to your followers can be a good start to find people to interview.

Facebook can also be a great way to source commentary from your readers about a news event. Whatever the content you’re looking to source from your community, make the prompt clear and simple. Explain how you may use the content and follow up with the user when you have additional questions or need clarification.

11. Use Graph Search to Find Sources & Content

Graph Search makes it easier for journalists to find sources and content around stories you’re reporting. For example, if you’re doing a story on a specific company and you’re looking to interview someone who works at the company , you could do this by searching for “People who work in that Company” to find potential employees to reach out to.

12. Use Interest Lists To Create Custom Feeds

Interest Lists enables journalists covering specific beats to better organize and stay updated with their sources on Facebook. By adding profiles and Pages to an Interest List, you’re able to see a custom feed of updates only from the Pages and people you included to source content for the list. For example, if you’re covering politics and want a specific stream of updates that are focused on the topic, you can create a “Politics and Local Officials” list and add politicians, journalists, advocacy pages, etc., to create a custom stream.

Creating a list is easy. You can always add or remove people, and it’s up to you whether the list is private or public. Once you’ve created the list, you’ll see a bookmark for the list as a mini feed section on the right. You can use that bookmark to navigate to the custom feed at any time.

If you create a public list, others can “follow” the list, which will add a bookmark for the list to their homepage. By following your list, however, they are not able to change the members of the list. You can also follow existing public lists by going to the lists page to search for topics that interest you. facebook.com/addlist

13. Add Follow To Your Website

Leverage your publishing platform to grow your following by adding the Follow button to your website. The button, which is linked to your Facebook profile, enables your readers to follow you on Facebook without leaving your website. It’s easy to install with simple embed code, which you can find and customize on the Social Plugins page.

If you run a website using WordPress as your content management system, you can also take advantage of the Facebook plugin, which includes the Follow button and makes integrating it into your website even easier.

Note: I am  sharing the above guidelines as enumerated by Vadim Lavrusik, who is adjunct professor at Columbia Journalism School and also program manager at Facebook, to help those young media students  who can kick-start their successful journalism career on the Facebook without waiting for their turn at traditional media houses.

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