10 gems from Reuters’ social media ‘cheat sheet’

Though the guide by the news organization’s social media editor is intended for journalists, communicators can definitely gain insight from it as well.


It’s debatable whether one should call something a “cheat sheet” if anyone can access it or add to it, but Reuters Social Media Editor Anthony De Rosa’s public cheat sheet for reporters using social media is unquestionably handy.

The document, available publicly through Google Docs—which means anyone with a tip to offer can throw in his or her two cents—has been floating around the Web for about six months. And though it’s aimed specifically at journalists, many of the tips are relevant to communicators and PR professionals.

Ragan.com parsed the text to find the 10 that can really help communicators step up their social media game.

1. Retweet your competition.

As much as it may pain you to trumpet information from any other brands or publishers, aggregation is just as much a part of social media as creating original content. “If you’re sharing the best news from everywhere, people will follow you for everything they need to know,” the cheat sheet states.

2. Use hashtags.

Whether it’s on Twitter, Tumblr, or other social media spots, hashtags make your content easier to find. Tumblr even has specific tag pages that editors construct as a collection of the best posts about certain topics. You can find a list of widely used Tumblr tags here.

3. Mix up your posts.

A Facebook or Twitter feed that consists of nothing but text links to your content is a surefire way to make people stop paying attention.

4. Hand-craft your tweets.

Don’t let a bot tweet out a link to something with boilerplate language. In particular, posing your tweets as questions results in a high level of engagement. However, “if you ask questions, have some intention of using the feedback in some way; otherwise it’s faux engagement,” the cheat sheet warns.

5. Credit your sources.

Whenever you share information you discovered through another person on social media, mention his or her name. “People are appreciative to see their content (or their find) shared,” the cheat sheet states.

6. Get involved in Facebook groups.

Facebook is bound to have a group or two relevant to your brand’s or your own area of expertise. Those groups are populated with people who are passionate about those topics, and whom you should get to know. “Over time they’ll head to your page and then to your website, and you’ll build up a readership,” the cheat sheet suggests.

7. Keep an eye on your competitors.

The cheat sheet says it all here: “Steal some of their good ideas and put your own spin on them. Over time, you’ll build a friendly relationship with some of them, and they may actually link to your stuff. You should do the same. There’s a link economy when it comes to blogs, and it’s built on sharing each other’s stuff; it helps make your own content stronger and more well-rounded, and vice-versa.”

8. Watch out for trends.

Tools such as TrendSpottr identify trending content across social media platforms so you can find out what’s going viral, so you can react quickly if it’s something you should respond to or seize upon.

9. Answer and ask questions.

Whether it’s on Quora, a good place to discover information and showcase your expertise, or through a video tool such as VYou.com, answering questions from friends and fans is a great way to make connections. Likewise, polling your Facebook audience is a great way to measure interest in a given topic or simply start a conversation.

10. Originate your Pinterest pins from your website.

One of the reasons to have a Pinterest presence is to refer traffic back to your website, so make sure your pins and the subsequent repins are sending people that way.

A few extra tips

Jonathan Rick, CEO of digital communications firm The Jonathan Rick Group, offers these additional social media tips for communicators:

  • Build Twitter lists of targeted reporters and high-authority bloggers.
  • Manage your reputation. Set up a Google Alert not only for your name, but also for your personal website. Similarly, set up a Google+ profile to better influence the all-important top 10 results for your name.
  • Even if you don’t cite your employer or profession in your bio, remember that everything is Googlable-especially your LinkedIn profile-and what you say ultimately reflects on your company.
  • Instead of using bit.ly, use Bitly to create your own short URL, as @edelmanpr does with http://edl.mn.
  • If you’ve ever delivered a presentation that pertains to communications, consider making it public through a website such as SlideShare or Scribd.If you tweet about a client, make sure to disclose that. New Media Strategies asks its staff to “always include the hashtag #client for any tweets or re-tweets involving marketing on behalf of our clients.”
  • Consider guest-blogging for a prominent publication. At minimum, you’ll demonstrate thought leadership, make a name for yourself, and earn a byline in which you can link to your resume or website.

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