Nieman Lab: Don’t ask users to tag unemployed friends (and other lessons for newsrooms on Facebook)
“People want their social feeds to reflect the best versions of themselves.”
You wouldn’t leap into a conversation by asking a stranger to write you an editorial on respect for human life, or name friends who have trouble affording childcare. But news organizations are making some of those same mistakes in attempts to engage readers on Facebook.
It’s important to, instead, “interact like a human”: That’s one of the not-so-surprising but apparently-not-obvious findings from Trusting News, a new report and website out of the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri.
“If you’re talking to a person at a party, you pay attention to what the person you’re talking to is interested in, and if they’re not interested, you readjust,” said Joy Mayer, a community engagement strategist and the project lead. But “journalists are often not great at writing like human beings on social media.”
Mayer and her team of journalism students (Anna Brugmann, Amanda Byler, Katie Grunik, Emily Rackers, Micheala Sosby, and Hannah Smith) spent a year analyzing 14 news outlets‘ efforts to gain readers’ trust on social media. “What we learned can help journalists influence what the public chooses to believe and to pass along,” they write in their report, which was released Wednesday along with a website that includes a database of nearly 500 searchable examples of Facebook posts (helpfully arranged in categories like “Steal this idea” and “fell flat”).
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