Social Media Strategy = Dark Arts? We Think Not

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social media strategy dark arts

Image courtesy of Hartwig HKD, Flickr Creative Commons

In a recent Nieman Journalism Lab report, publisher of Mother Jones magazine, Steve Katz, refers to efforts aimed at building a social media following as “dark arts.”

The reference is tongue-in-cheek, surfacing the assumption that social media involves click-bait tricks, bots or other sorts of shenanigans that make you look at something that’s not worthy of your time.

The fallacy of that assumption is that it doesn’t take into account the intelligence of audiences. There’s a difference between clicking and following.

A social media strategy is nothing if it can’t transform a clicker into a follower. Make me click on crappy content once, shame on you; make me click on crappy content twice, shame on me.

Katz says “big traffic days … tend to raise the baseline for average monthly views.” He says: “Partly that’s good reporting — making good decisions about the right people to hire. And partly it’s about doing our best to master the dark arts of social media and digital audience development.”

That’s the rub. You can employ the trickiest and darkest of methods to drive clicks, but unless you drive the audience to something they find useful or insightful, the following will never grow.

Some of /newsrooms’ most successful social media content marketing programs include outside voices with views that don’t parrot brand messages. This approach keeps the content fresh. It forces companies and organizations to produce content that’s less agenda-driven marketing and more journalistic.

Ultimately, that’s what turns clicks into a following. And there’s nothing dark about that.

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Robert Delaney

Robert Delaney

Robert Delaney is VP Managing Editor at /newsrooms. He has worked for financial news networks including Bloomberg News and Dow Jones in Asia and North America. He has also done graduate research in communications and international relations. Robert is a big fan of all of the folks at /newsrooms, who have helped him understand how to apply the standards of academic research and financial news to social media.
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