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09 Jul

How to routinely crowdsource – easily

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For the last few months I’ve been giving a presentation on How to Harness the Power of Social Media or Advance Social Media Reporting or what I called (and still need to refine) Real-Time Reporting.

In the presentation, I introduce how social media tools like Twitter, FourSquare and even YourOpenBook.org can help improve our reporting.

I know I am guilty of it at times, but I hate when people vaguely talk about how great new tools are but don’t give concrete examples… so for this particular session I try to outline actual steps/scenarios on how to actually use these things in real life.

During #wjchat episode 22, I was asked how do you actually crowdsource… I rattled off five steps that capture what I tell folks during my presentation.

In cased you missed those tweets, here they are… slightly longer than 140:

Step 1:

The moment you know you are going to an assignment/event/location, announce it. Tell people you are covering the event and ask who is attending. The sooner, the better… and do it multiple times… without looking like a crazy spammer.

Step 2:

When you arrive to the scene, tweet that you are there… again, ask who is there too. The point is to find sources! Also, get people to join your reporting… ask for tips, suggestions and possible questions.

Step 3:

Give updates from the scene… not only text, but send out images and videos when applicable. Again, do a call out for tips, suggestions and questions. You are giving people direct access and getting them an opportunity to get involved.

Step 4:

When you are done, tell people when they can expect to see or read your completed, “official” piece. And, if you got responses, thank people for their help.

Step 5:

After piece runs, ask for feedback, comments, thoughts and tips. Engage with your community before, during and after these acts of journalism… be genuine and social in social media!

 

Additional tips:

Make sure you use hashtags throughout the process! Either use the established one or create a logical one the community would use.

You may or may not get responses, but doing this doesn’t cost you ANYTHING. Remember, it takes less than a minute per tweet!

If you get responses, don’t feel forced to use them, but be grateful you have people engaged enough that they want to HELP you. Make sure you response and thank them. I have a few examples of how crowd sourcing has helped reporters do simple, routine stories. Makes your job EASIER! And makes you more relevant and valuable to the community… which routinely translates to job security. (Well, it should.)

Everyone knows that “If your mom says she loves you, check it out.” That old journalism saying applies to tweets, as well as your mom. Just because someone tweets that they are there or gives you a juicy tidbit of info, it does not mean that it is fact. Check it out! What do we call this… reporting! Do some of that. If you get lazy, you get burned. More importantly, credibility is hard to build, but easy to lose.

And remember, these tweets/communications took only moments… think about it. Fifteen minutes can make all the difference.

Here’s a PDF of my Social Network Reporting presentation.

 

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