Monday, March 11, 2013

Social Media and Journalism- A Justifiable Outlet

Back in Spring term of 2009 I was required to start up a Twitter account. At the time I didn't really understand what Twitter was or its purpose within the journalism community. When it came to social media I had always relied heavily upon a newspaper/magazine's Web site for content, or to a lesser extent, Facebook. Instagram hadn't really come onto the scene quite yet, and I honestly had no concept of what Tumblr, Reddit and Four Square were, let alone their purpose as well. Here we are almost four years later and I can honestly say that I'm an avid user of about 50% of those tools. What happened? I had always relied heavily upon first hand sources, and yet I've completely dismissed most of my old school journalism philosophies and evolved into the new age of journalism.

I can pretty much pinpoint my heavy use of social media back to February of 2012, the point in time when I was in the application for the MLB Fan Cave. Since what they were trying to accomplish, in regard to branching out into new demographics of fanhood and marketing, it was greatly encouraged that I get with the times and use social media tools on the regular. For the first month or so I struggled. I had only used my Twitter account off and on since 2009 to the tune of less than 200 tweets. Today, I'm well over 30,000 tweets. On any given day I crank out between 25-100 tweets, most of which consist of me shooting off my opinion on something baseball related; however, there are a few times when I interject upon real world political issues and help relay breaking news to the masses. On top of that, two to three times a day I remind people to read my extracurricular blog posts and be sure to tag the link within the tweets. As a result of this quick, useful tool I generate anywhere between 125-300 pageviews a day. While I fully understand that my time in the Fan Cave helped out with my viewership, I also know that even without that I would still be able to generate a decent amount of views amongst the Twitter community as people with similar interests as I will always come across it.

I didn't start using Instagram until the end of June in 2012, as I found that to be a somewhat useless tool for me at the time; however, once I understood that I could take 1 photo and publish it on multiple Web sites at one time I couldn't believe I hadn't been using it all along. In less than a year I've gained 800 followers, as I am always posting photos of my travels and making sure to tag them with proper search words in order to gain more viewers/followers. Due to the heavy amount of traffic on this tool, like Twitter, I am able to reach out to larger markets.

While I still need to investigate Reddit, Tumblr, etc. I've heard nothing but good things when it comes to getting ones work out to the public, and I'm more than positive that major media organizations are fully aware of this as they have been relying heavily upon it for quotes and trending newsworthy information. That unto itself is quite fascinating. Not even 10 years ago media outlets were responsible for letting people know what and wasn't newsworthy, while today it's truly the audience that decides it. If any media outlet wished to stay in business or relevant, they need to focus a lot of their attention on the social media market. I'm not saying they need to rely all of their focus on it, just enough to understand who their viewers are and how they can shift their approach and bring in a new audience.

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