Part of my mission as Editor-in-Chief was to improve the way we were connecting with our audience. Half of this was done through changing our content, the other half was through our delivery. I focused on improving our social media and online presence so that we were able to deliver content to our target audience: UVM students and community members. Throughout the semester, we used data analytics culled from Google Analytics, Twitter Insights and Facebook Analytics to improve our social media delivery and expand our audience.
Standardizing our Social Media Strategy
I established a Cynic web team that met weekly to improve our online and social media presence throughout the year. I hired a social media manager and, alongside her, developed a social media strategy based on data analytics. We looked at the time of day that our posts were liked, shared or clicked on the most, and looked at what types of content were shared the most on each social media platform.
Based on the number of clicks, likes and shares, we developed and stuck to a plan on how to use three social media sites: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We decided to use Twitter for breaking news coverage and news and news commentary pieces that were part of national issues (racism, sexism, political climate). We generally shared 3 to 4 stories a day on Facebook about sports, arts, music, culture and local news events, and wrote posts in a conversational manner to attract readers.
We decided to use Instagram to highlight eye-catching illustrations and photos, and updated the link in our Instagram bio so readers could easily find the story that the Instagram post related to.
While we were invited to join Snapchat Campus stories at the beginning of the year, slow contract negotiations between the University and Snapchat made it impossible for us to begin this year.
Covering Breaking News withSocial Media
One of my largest goals this year was to get as many people trained in social media reporting as possible. Throughout the semester, we ran Facebook Live, Twitter Live, live tweeting and photo trainings with the goal of making it so that any member of staff who came across breaking news on campus was able to report what they saw. After the staff member was trained, they were given posting privileges on our social media accounts. It was this widespread training that allowed thorough coverage of breaking news on campus.
We also came to recognize the importance of using images and video in social media posts whenever possible. Our social media posts that included images were more likely to be liked, retweeted/shared and clicked on.
SEO Optimization and Results
In our social media posts and in the story posts on our website, we incorporated SEO best practices by tagging issues, high profile names and highly searched terms so our stories were indexed by search engines. Because of our regular news coverage and site viewership, vtcynic.com was eventually indexed by Google News. When users searched an issue like “Black Lives Matter UVM,” our news stories were indexed at the top of the search engine results page.