Why you should trust your social media team - Reuters News Agency

Why you should trust your social media team

Newsrooms can benefit from integrating social media editors

By  Sarah Emler | Sep 11, 2018

A decade after the introduction of Facebook, Twitter and other platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, there has been an outcry for change. It was time to rethink the role of social media teams in newsrooms. But has this turned out well?

Reuters spoke with multimedia reporter and social media manager Tiffany Lew about the value of a well-integrated social media team. According to Lew, in some cases social media teams are viewed as “just link-posters or taskmasters.”

Check out Lew’s take on how newsrooms can win by integrating their social media editors.

1. Build a diverse social media team

A social media team should embrace diverse skills, says Lew. “You need different skills for each assignment –– marketing, coding, writing.

In some instances, the team is still considered as “just link-posters or taskmasters,” as Lew wrote in a recent blog post. This can lead to isolation and frustration within the team since their skills are underused.

With more support, your talented team will forge a bond with audiences in a way you might never have imagined. They know how to reach the most important viewers and readers.

2. One for all and all for one!

Alexandre Dumas’ musketeers understood teamwork perfectly, and Lew recommends a similar approach in newsrooms.

“There are different ways to tell a story” so include social media teams in the planning process “from the very first meeting where you are talking about what you are covering for the day, to long-term projects.” By doing so, they can plan ahead and put stories in a format suitable for your audiences.

3. A social media team engages with an active audience …

The people reading your audience’s posts about their views, opinions and dreams is the social media team. “They are the people who know what the audience is interested in. They are in touch with the audience. They spend a lot of time online and see what the people are talking about.”

Lew once started a very successful social engagement project at AJ+ in which she asked the question “Where are you from?”. The follow-up inspired a series of personal essays.

“We were using a type of media and platform to be able to tell stories directly from a very passionate audience. Something they are interested in, and we know they want to hear instead of us predicting what we think they want to have covered.”

4. …and even finds stories online

“My main platform is Twitter for discovering news,” affirms Lew. Which platforms to focus on (for sourcing and distribution) depends on your regional attention and audience demographics. In terms of tasks, running down hashtags, checking out trends, talking to influencers and social activists –– at these, social media teams can be masterful.

5. Increase audience reach by planning ahead

“Being aware of the different set-in-stone events helps to plan ahead. Then we can figure out how we cover it visually and textually.” It is at this stage Lew suggests including social media editors. From here, they can figure out how to cover a story online from different angles and for different audiences.

And, if you plan effectively, you can take advantage of live streaming video. Our usage data shows that scheduled live events consistently outperform all but the biggest of breaking news stories online.


Effective integration of social media editors in newsrooms will help you find more news stories that will be designed for the audience, which can lead to long-term engagement and more successful coverage.