How can I grow my social media presence as a journalist?
September 15, 2023 4:59 PM   Subscribe

I now realise that letting my work speak for itself is no longer enough - so how can I grow my social media presence without losing my mind?

I am an experienced journalist and well established in my field. However I've been losing some work in areas like events moderation and similar jobs to male journalists who are average at what they do, but have large followings on social media like Instagram and LinkedIn. Also, beyond working for specific outlets I want to be able to grow an audience of my own by doing things like launching a newsletter - but again, I need to get better at social in order to nurture that base.

I have been talking about this with a lot of women who do a great job and feel really hesitant and nervous about telling the world about it in a more salesy kind of way. I am one of them :( On the other hand, while I really don't want to live to post every moment of my day, I'm not a refusenik and won't bury my head in the sand about this. For a long time I've felt embarrassed to bang the drum for myself and was convinced that these platforms are just an egofest, but I can see how I need to get my act together and talk about my work and grow my following in an intentional way.

I've started doing something around personal branding, like hiring a designer to develop my visual ID and will get new photos done.

Apart from that, what is the advice from social media pros and journalist who are doing well in that sense? What can I do to put a strategy together and organise myself appropriately to do this, and also what sorts of content I should be focusing on? Apart from posting the articles I am writing, events, trips and other work-related content, what would be interesting to post from a more personal point of view? Would it be worth sharing my journey from barely posting to trying to put myself out there?

Anyway, lots of questions but am hoping the hive mind will come to the rescue :) Thanks so much for reading this!
posted by longjump to Work & Money (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Do you follow other journalists on social media? What do you value about their presence?

I followed many journalists on Twitter and now I follow many on Threads. I do not follow them to hear them promote their latest article or say what they had for lunch. I follow them because of the small, incidental insights and observations they share, because of the other people they amplify who I might not otherwise have heard of, because of their respectful, insightful engagement with other people. It is not “Here is my latest article. Let me know what you think.” I realize that’s how it works for some people, but I think that’s less common.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 5:55 PM on September 15 [8 favorites]

A lot of the ones I follow also post other people's articles relevant to their area of focus, with some brief commentary, making their feed a source of interesting news about that topic (ie, a more interesting follow).

Also, once you're there and posting, other accounts will @ you about things, and replying will help introduce you to their audience. As a mostly-lurker, I enjoy seeing those back-and-forths and will sometimes follow the other commenter if they seem interesting.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 7:38 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Make sure your photo is a clear professional-adjacent headshot, no sunglasses, smiling, bright colours

Post 2-3 times a week, (on Insta it can be stories rather than grid posts). :eaning towards thought provoking, informative, funny. Write a little one-sentence blurb about why you like each thing you repost.

Make sure your bio is informative

Go back through your archives and every month (or more), post an example of your past work

Like and Comment (short but smart: "Such a great reminder, thanks for posting" or something similar) on posts from famous accounts in your field. People who also follow you will see your name in the "liked by" and it's an easy way to jog their memory.

Post your other interests, too! Super cool to be the computer programmer who knits, or whatever.

It's ok to buy some followers to help boost your numbers - many of your "competitors" are doing so. Do it a month or so before you expect to have a bump in followers (say from a conference etc) so the fake followers get pushed down by newer real followers. Spend the extra money to get followers whose bios are written in your work language, or else you'll have 1000 profiles in random languages, which will look extra-fake.

Encourage people to follow you! Include your handles in your email signature, conference bio, write it on the whiteboard when teaching, etc.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 8:09 PM on September 15 [7 favorites]

Best answer: This is sort of an indirect piece of advice, but perhaps useful. I wrote a non fiction book last year. I'm also a woman with no social media presence due to similar modesty and little free time. I wish I had just paid someone to do some coherent social media marketing for me for a month on either side of the publish date. It would have had the triple benefit of ensuring a consistent and high quality presence during the initial push; giving me an easy game plan to continue myself after it; and outsourcing the discomfort I had in building my own presence. I think the main thing to look for is someone who can capture your "voice," so there's not a discordant shift when you take it up yourself.
posted by cocoagirl at 4:07 AM on September 16 [4 favorites]

In journalism land I've seen a lot of discussion about whether post-Elon Twitter is ever going to be good for building audiences again for independent journalists. I don't know what the answer is as I'm in a similar confused situation, but I would proceed carefully before shelling out for tons of Twitter followers and stuff, leaving aside the harassment issues.
posted by earthstarvoyager at 5:20 AM on September 16 [3 favorites]

As long as you're doing the kind of journalism that people want to participate in, make sure you tag your sources (and their businesses/organizations) when you post your articles. (Yes, do post what you wrote, no matter what people here suggest.) People will repost and share your post or post their own links to your article, and bring your writing to the attention of their networks.
posted by sardonyx at 1:38 PM on September 17 [1 favorite]

It's ok to buy some followers to help boost your numbers - many of your "competitors" are doing so.

I disagree strongly with this part of that answer. There are a number of ways folks can figure out if a significant percentage of your followers are fake, and I can't think of many things that would make me more likely to dismiss a journalist as not worth my time than finding out they had done that.
posted by mediareport at 2:14 PM on September 17 [4 favorites]

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