Global Practices

Six Social Media Best Practices From Traditional Newsrooms



Every social media manager wants to attract friends, fans and followers to their accounts. But how can you take your posts to the next level? Try stealing some of these tricks from traditional digital newsrooms to amp up your social media metabolism.

1. Focus on your audience

Digital journalists are obsessed with their readers. They want to know who they are, what they care about, what they are talking about today. Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and Demographics Pro for Twitter are solid resources. Social media managers need to be even more focused on that target audience. Take every chance you can to learn more about them and how to have conversations with them.

2. Have a newsroom huddle

If you exist in social media, you can’t exist in a bubble. Get in the habit of making sure you’re paying attention to the world around you. Meet with your team everyday and discuss trending items, how to tie them to your audience and brand, and compare what’s happening in real-time to your planned content. This will also help you avoid making an accidental reference to something in the news.

Don’t know where to start? Try Google News, Twitter and Facebook trends,, The Daily Beast’s Cheat Sheet, plus any of the other major news sites. I’m a fan of creating Twitter lists with newsmakers to use as a personal news ticker.

3. Create a way to work quickly

Make sure you have a process in place to react in real-time and quickly post on your social media accounts. Whether it’s responding to a comment or creating a timely post, have a plan and checklist in place so you can move at the speed of social media.

4. Have a strong editorial calendar

Yes, newsrooms react to breaking news, but they also know how to prepare compelling content in advance. Please lose the reliance on “fake” holidays (for example, wacky food holidays) that can become a crutch for social media managers. Instead, look to upcoming events that you know your audience will be discussing. This also prevents you from being surprised by planned events. No one should be scrambling for a Mother’s Day post.

5. Gut check

News judgment. The smell test. Whatever you call it, cultivate it. Is it the right thing for your brand and your audience? Does it make sense? For example, I question whether EVERY brand needs to weigh in on EVERY awards show. Ask yourself if your brand has a point of view on the event and whether it’s interesting to your audience.

6. Measure your successes

Metrics are your friends. Mornings in digital newsrooms start with a conversation about how yesterday went: What got the most traffic, the most engagement, etc. Generally, we want to know what we can learn from yesterday’s decisions to make better choices today. The more you talk about lessons learned and make it part of your day, the faster you can evolve your social media strategy.

Cybil Wallace is the executive producer of Edelman’s San Francisco Creative Newsroom. Before joining Edelman, she served as’s features editor and assignment editor. A total news junkie, she practically grew up in Associated Press newsrooms covering breaking news. You really should be following her on Twitter at @Cybil

Image by DieselDemon.
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