My (Social) Life
6 Ways Small Newspapers can Connect with Readers on Twitter

Earlier this week, I posted my response to an article on enititled “How Small Newspapers Can Make Money on Twitter.” The core of my response was that newspapers needed to connect with their readers on Twitter first before attempting to make money from it - and I intended to offer my own advice regarding this.

Really good timing for all of this, because I attended a panel discussion this week put on by the Social Media Club of Charlottesville, which centered on social media vs. traditional media and how 3 local media organizations - Charlottesville’s Daily Progress newspaper, the Charlottesville Newsplex (comprising of local TV affiliates) and Black Enterprise Magazine - use social media. I brought up the monetization topic to our three esteemed panelists, and the general response was that social media already held value and didn’t need to be monetized. These are three people who are already well-versed in the use of Twitter and know how it fits into their traditional media structure. They all understand the value of connecting with their community through social media and that it shouldn’t have to be directly monetized in order deliver any value.

So how can newspapers (small and large) connect with readers on Twitter? I’ve come up with a few suggestions of my own:

1. Set up an account for the editor to which people can tweet questions and opinions. Answer them on Twitter and make it all part of the “Letters to the Editor” section of your paper and website. Also use this to ask people what they think about certain local hot topics.

2. Set up accounts for your primary columnists for those interested in particular sections of your paper (such as food, theater, politics, etc). Put their names and faces on the account and let them loose to actually converse with people.

3. Post videos of “vox pop” interviews with people in your community. There are two small local newspapers right on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, and all a reporter has to do is walk outside their office door to get any number of opinions.

4. Put together a Twitter list of locals on Twitter. Retweet some of the interesting and newsworthy content from your fellow local tweeters.

5. Do a little “crowdsourcing” for an article. According to a recent survey, 52% of journalists polled use Twitter as a source for story research.

6. Use Ustream to post streaming video of breaking news or events happening in your community.

Value from Twitter doesn’t necessarily have to come from the direct monetization of your tweets. Remember also that Twitter can be a good source of traffic for your website, which will ultimately drive ad revenue. Brad Ramsey of the Charlottesville Newsplex made an excellent point yesterday when he said social media is less about monetizing and more about engaging people - and engaging those who have the money to spend.

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My Top 5 Favorite Caffeinated Posts

Even though I’ve stopped writing at The Caffeinated Blog, I’m still VERY proud of what I’ve written there. I look back at it now and think “Hey, I wrote some pretty damn good stuff.” Not that I didn’t think it was good when I wrote it, but we’re all our own biggest critics, right?

I tried to touch on topics that would remain evergreen despite the ever-changing landscape and provide resources that would continue to be valuable to readers no matter when they happened upon it. But there were a few posts that I really think stand out and represent what I believe as far as social media and online communities are concerned. So, I’ve chosen those 5 to share with you today. Perhaps you’ve read them before and will find additional value reading them again, or you’re discovering them for the first time today. In either case, enjoy!

Need Content? Your Community Are Your Best Writers - This is the last past I wrote on The Caffeinated Blog. It states that “content needs to be at the heart of your online marketing strategy,” and this is one of my core beliefs; thusly, why this is one of the top 5.

7 Reasons Online Forums Aren’t Dead Yet - This was a follow-up to another post where I gave my own opinion about why online forums aren’t dead yet, and here I asked for the opinions of others through LinkedIn (one of my favorite things to do).

10 Tips for a Successful Blogger Outreach Campaign - I wrote this based on my own experiences with blogger outreach campaigns. I read a recent post from Chris Brogan where he offered his own excellent tips and echoed some of mine.

Dealing with Negative Feedback in a Positive Way - In my opinion, more companies (hello, H&M) should be following these tips.

Social Media Marketing Case Study: Using Facebook to Promote a Professional Photography Business - This one got a little bit of attention, getting mentions across the social mediasphere and even resulting in Facebook contacting the case study subject, Dustin Meyer. UPDATE: Dustin now is a social media “guru” of sorts in his industry. He’ll be teaching a sold-out masterclass on social media marketing at the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) Convention in March.

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New Year, New Beginnings

2009 was an eventful year for me. I got a new job, moved to a new city, got a new dog, moved again (same city, new apartment), traveled quite a bit, and lost my job. The way I look at it, things can only get better in 2010, right? So, first of all, my wish for you is that things are better for you in 2010, something better happens for you - whatever that may be.

Second of all, I decided to make a fresh start with my blogging. I was blogging over at The Caffeinated Blog up until February of 2009 - that’s when I started my new job with a start-up. I found myself writing more for that company’s blog and with less time to keep my own blog up-to-date. I’d like to thank everyone who kept supporting and encouraging me on The Caffeinated Blog through their comments, tweets and messages. Now, I hope you’ll swing by my new Tumblr blog every now and then and leave your comments.

This blog is my back-to-basics approach. It will have shorter posts and include my updates from Twitter. There will be content about social media and online marketing, life in Charlottesville, food, and interesting content I find on the interwebs.

Happy New Year, and here’s to better things to come in 2010 and beyond!

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