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Media use of social media matures: what does this mean for businesses?

Latest international research shows that journalists' use of social media has matured and online channels are now seen and used as an integral part of modern journalistic practices.

We often hear people and businesses asking; what's the point of Twitter? Does my business really need a social media presence? Isn't it just teenagers sending selfies via Snapchat?

The truth is, businesses simply can't operate and communicate to their full potential in 2015 without a well-planned and executed social media strategy, and the new research on how the media uses social is just one more reason why channels like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can no longer be put in the 'too hard' basket.

The 2015 Global Social Journalism Study highlights some useful stats:

  • About half of respondents in each country think they need social media to do their work
  • Social media is integral to journalistic practices, with the majority of respondents (94%) using it on a daily basis
  • 67% of journalists spend up to two hours per day on social media, a significant gain from the 38% who did the same in 2012.
For an infographic on the study's key points, check out the infographic we created on how the media's use of social has matured - and what it means for businesses.

Reaching audiences, using the channels

The 2015 study tracks the change in perception when it comes to the media's use of social:

"Four years ago, a majority of journalists were hesitant to utilize Twitter and Facebook, and seemed especially skeptical about how these sites could help them reach audiences near and far. But now, we see a shift towards journalists relying on the networks to get their jobs done."

Using this knowledge, businesses and organisations have a lucrative opportunity to shape their own online strategies to ensure that key messages, company news and valuable commentary and opinions are projected into the spaces frequented by newsmakers and thought influencers.

The research takes a close look at the five 'types' of journalists in relation to their online activities: skeptics, observers, hunters, promoters and architects. Understanding how best to communicate with each of these groups is vital for businesses to ensure a positive interaction.



Media self-report as using social channels for a range of reasons, with the top activities being: sourcing, publishing and promoting their own content, monitoring, and networking.

Can your business be 'found' on social media?

Armed with the knowledge that at least some media fall into the 'hunter' and 'observer' categories, businesses should be asking themselves what is being done to ensure you can be found by these journalists.

Got some new research you'd like to share? Does your team have interesting views and insights on your industry? Signed a major deal? Making or bucking a trend?

It's critical that businesses shift their view from solely relying on media and advertising to get their information in front of target audiences and instead make use of the bountiful opportunity presented through new media channels.

Now, more than ever, using social media to share your company views provides a promising environment through which your voice can be heard.

Simple steps to ensure your business has a voice in the online space

It's all very useful to know how media are using social channels. However, we're also interested in helping businesses to make the most of the data at hand, so we offer a few simple tips for ensuring your company or organisation is alive and kicking in the online space.

Be active, be interesting

  • If you know that media are active online, it makes perfect sense to ensure that your company or organisation has an active voice in front of them.
  • It's no good having a company Twitter account that is inactive for 51 weeks of the year, and then a week of activity during a campaign or announcement.
  • Consistent, frequent use of social media to tell stories, engage with your online community, and add to conversations is the key to ensuring you are seen as an active, alive and interesting entity - online and off.
Focus on the show and tell, not the sell

  • Twitter is not the place to be constantly promoting your business, with that awful 'have I got a deal for you' approach. Social media thrives on authentic, useful and shareable content (if you want tips on creating killer content, check out this post)
  • Journalists are not in the business of selling your business - never lose sight of that.
  • Think not so much about how you can sell a product, service, or property, but what can you add to a conversation with your knowledge of the market, or of a sector, or a trend?
  • Well-formed opinions and market commentary are infinitely more interesting than promotional messages in the online space and they go far in positioning you and your business as a thought-leader with valuable insights to offer.
Be genuine and seek opportunities to engage

  • There's nothing worse than an automated Twitter feed that links to Facebook or a blog. Yes, it can be good as a promotional tool to direct traffic through the link, but automation misses a valuable opportunity to have genuine engagement.
  • Each time you publish or curate new content, think about the different ways you can share it; highlight a different point in each tweet, or ask a question of your readers, or create a 100 character summary so that your online community can easily and quickly grasp your content and then discuss it with you.
  • Have something of real interest for media? Why not tweet a link to the journalist your information might be useful for. It might not lead to a story, but you have used the opportunity to engage the media in a helpful manner and that won't be forgotten.
Be helpful!

  • It's not rocket science, guys. Seek opportunities to be helpful and not only will you be more valuable to the media, but you position yourself as an expert in your field; an expert who is willing to share information even when there's no immediate benefit to you.
  • The research shows that sourcing experts for stories is one of the most frequent media activities journalists employ, so consider how you can project and position yourself as such.
  • The way audiences find their news is also changing, with an increasing number of readers finding their news through social media. Journalists know this too, so think about how you can help to create stories that will be a good fit for the online world (think visual, bite sized and sharable).
Go on a fact-finding mission

  • More than anything else, social media is a fantastic listening tool.
  • Take note of what journalists are tweeting about; is there a particular question or sector they are grappling with? Are they asking for experts on a certain topic? Do they just want some background info on a field you could help with?
  • Use these opportunities to shape your media outreach, and you will be on your way to securing more interest in your next survey, market outlook or piece of commentary.
Give kudos and build relationships

  • Did a journalist cover your business or sector? Share the love! Thank them via Twitter, share a link to the article, add an additional comment, and engage when they share the link too.
  • Even through social media may be enabled through technology and screens, never forget that behind every Twitter account is a person just like you.
  • Take the opportunity to give credit and to build genuine relationships, and your business will get so much more from your social media efforts than you expect.
Fancy some more tips on how you can get buff on Twitter and attract the people that matter to your business's success, or how you can use knowledge and data to stand out from the crowd and add value in a meaningful way?

Get in touch, because we'd love to talk more about the changing communications landscape and how businesses can make the most of the opportunities at hand.