New tricks: Build community around breaking news

May 12th, 2009

On Old Media, New Tricks, we’ve helped you grow the digital connection with your audience through niche news sites, closely moderated comment boards, Twitter and other tools out there.

But once you get your audience, what can you do with them? Here are a couple of ideas:

1. If you get a tip as a result of your social media efforts, acknowledge your audience in the stories themselves. If you say you got a tip via Twitter, link to that person’s profile. You should not relinquish any opportunity to say “thank you.”

2. Create a forum for people to answer each other’s questions about a breaking news item. For instance, if there’s a large teacher’s strike, set up a forum for teachers to not only talk with each other, but with students and parents as well.

Forums also:

- Create a place, possibly, for your reporters to interact with potential sources
- Create a place for your audience to ask your reporters questions. Sometimes, these questions and/or tips could turn into stories. Of course, you thank the audience member for the idea or question that turned into a story.
- Create a place for your audience to answer each other’s questions.
- If the conversation is good, you’ll find that you may get a few new registered users as a direct result of your forums.

3. After the story runs its cycle, it could be worth reaching out to your followers — especially if the story was local — and ask for input. Ask them:

- Did they like your coverage?
- What did your readers find most useful?
- How can you improve?

Remember, as my friend Jason Falls says, your participation will be a key component in making your social media efforts successful.

At this time, if you find you’re in the good graces of your followers, it could be a good time to ask them to register for your site, sign up for your e-newsletters, text alerts and the like. Bring them into your fold, and you may find it’s fairly easy to make a buck or two along the way. Tell them that their involvement not only helps you make a case for your continued presence on the social Web, but it in fact helps fund your future social media projects.

Why? Because you’ll find it just may.

Do you have any ideas on how to build community around breaking news? Post them as comments, and we’ll shoot them down — kidding — or we may include them in future posts. We’ll probably have a couple of more posts about this particular topic.

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Entry Filed under: New Tricks,Newspaper

  • Karen McAllister

    Love these ideas. I find that readers are often truly shocked — and flattered — when I contact them to follow up on a story comment.
    Facebook fans have made it much easier to start those conversations with our readers

  • Mesothelioma Lawyer

    Yeah !
    Its an interesting idea ……………………… : )

  • Daniel

    Thanks, Karen. There should be no such thing as a one-comment story — one of the reasons I'm responding to you (sorry it's a bit late!) — and a simple “thank you” will often suffice, especially if the person is a regular commenter.


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