Facebook on Wednesday announced a new “Journalists on Facebook
” page that is dedicated to helping journalists use the social network as a reporting tool.
My first reaction to this announcement was: Didn’t it do that last fall?
Yes, Facebook did
launch Facebook for Media
last fall, but that page is more geared to media, the entity.
“Journalists on Facebook” (or “Facebook and Journalists,” depending on what you read), is all about the individual. It exists to help journalists better wrangle the power of Facebook for journalism with the help of Facebook-provided best practices and peer collaboration from a swelling community of journalism professionals.
What can you expect from ‘Journalists on Facebook’?
Facebook asked: “What do you hope to gain from the ‘Journalists on Facebook’ page?” As of this post, the question has received more than 440 votes. The top responses so far include:
• A look into how other journalists are using Facebook
• Tips for keeping readers engaged on Facebook
• Connecting with other journalists
• Information on the future of social news
• Insight into what works [on Facebook] and for who[m]
It’s not surprising that the top choice is to learn how other journalists are using Facebook. I was surprised to see “Tips for keeping readers engaged”—even higher than connecting with other journalists (which I’m sure is half PR respondents).
I’d love to see more tips for how to better engage readers via Facebook—it’s a different social medium and should be treated as such.
The “Journalists on Facebook” page has a great getting started
guide that would benefit any journalist new to Facebook. The guide walks journalists through how they can set up a Facebook page, how to share links to articles from the Facebook page, how to engage fans via the page, and how to link the page to a mobile device. I know there are a lot of journalists out there who have resisted taking the Facebook plunge for professional use; I think this quick start is a great resource for them.
Other uses for Facebook journalism
Facebook shares some ideas for using “Facebook for Journalism” through the new site, such as using it to post request for sources (a supplement to services like Help A Reporter Out) or to poll an audience for feedback.
Both require the users to have an audience on their page of course. The “Journalists on Facebook” page also has articles on the topic of journalism and Facebook. (There are some great ones there.)
I suggest reading “Using Facebook for a TV Investigation
,” “1.4 Million Facebook Fans Can’t Be Wrong: NPR’s Facebook Page
,” and “Facebook’s Growing Role in Social Journalism
.” I hope to see this collection grow, as it’s a great resource for journalists looking to go to Facebook.
For journalists, by journalists
You definitely get the feeling that Facebook spent a lot of time putting this page together. There are video interviews with top journalists, and there’s a registration tab to be notified of journalist meet-ups in local areas, as well as polling and discussion options, which I expect will grow more active in the weeks to come.
Facebook says news organizations that have tapped Facebook have seen referral traffic increase by an average of 300 percent—seems like that would be worth the effort to learn more about journalism and Facebook.
If you scan the list of “likes” so far, it’s obvious that Facebook has the support of high-profile journalists for the new page. (I’m sure they seeded support for it as well; after all, how many journalists are on the Facebook beat already?)
Overall, it’s hard to knock the proactive efforts of Facebook here to empower journalists to use their platform. Give it a “like” and stay tuned for more from Facebook. I’ll be that Facebook Insights data for this page will be pretty interesting, too. (See trends related to what stories journalists are working on—the news before the news, if you will).
Jeremy Porter is a digital communications strategist who specializes in demand generation for technology start-ups. A longer version of this story first appeared on the blog Journalistics.