There was a little LOL, but also plenty of cyber meat for the nearly 20 journalists, academics and students attending the AHCJ Chicago Chapter’s autumn event on social media at Columbia College on Sept. 19. Former AHCJ President Duncan Moore organized and moderated the panel discussion about the intersection of journalism and social media.
Though blogging and social media have been around for some time now, some people still argue that blogging, social media and journalism should be independent of one another. Scott Hensley of NPR’s Shots blog contends that couldn’t be further from the truth.
During a panel about “Best practices in blogging and social media” at Health Journalism 2011, Hensley said bloggers and journalists are perfect matches for each other. So how does a blogger decide what to write about?
“I want to write the most interesting stuff online,” Hensley said. “The stuff that is burning to be done right now, then see where it goes.”
He advised journalists to check their Twitter feed in the morning as it might give you story ideas.
“Twitter and Facebook can be a booster rocket to make a post go viral.” He added that it doesn’t always work but, if the post is interesting, it’s worth a shot. Hensley says that in addition to checking news sites, he always checks his personal Twitter feed – @scotthensley – as well as the NPR’s Twitter feed – @NPRhealth – to see what’s going on in the Twittersphere.
Ivan Oransky, treasurer of AHCJ’s board of directors, is the executive editor of Reuters Health and blogger for Retraction Watch and Embargo Watch. He joined the blogosphere in 2006 for The Scientist. Oransky says that search engine optimization (SEO) is key for any blogger. If you have a subject you are covering, be sure to use key words that will attract people.
“SEO, to me, means using key words where people that were interested in that subject would want to read about,” Oransky said.
This year, Facebook launched a virtual currency that allows users to buy extra items in popular games. Now, according to Silicon Alley Insider’s Nicholas Carlson, health reform opponents are using that currency to lure Facebookers into sending a prefabricated anti-health reform letter to their congressman.
Astroturf, everyone’s favorite descriptive for a phony grassroots effort. Photo by purpleslog via Flickr.
“Get Health Reform Right” requires gamers to take a survey, which, upon completion, automatically sends the following email to their Congressional Rep:
“I am concerned a new government plan could cause me to lose the employer coverage I have today. More government bureaucracy will only create more problems, not solve the ones we have.”
Writing for the Columbia Journalism Review, Robin Lloyd and Cristine Russell tell an increasingly familiar story: Twitter and friends take over a journalism conference, overwhelm the audience at first and eventually convert them to the social media gospel. This time around, at ScienceWriters 2009, a few interesting wrinkles emerged.
A taxonomy of social bookmarking: “Digg.com operates like a gang, Harris said, with stories or links nominated by super-users tending to rise in the ranks; meanwhile Reddit.com is like an “ADHD direct democracy” in which any link can make it to the top rankings, but popular links turn over rapidly.”
A new program tells you which conference tweets to care about: “One innovative new Twitter tool that Purdue University researchers unveiled earlier this month was made available for use at ScienceWriters 2009. Designed to help make sense of the wave of Twitter traffic at a meeting or conference, a new site called Need4Feed sorts through the tweets at a meeting and builds a popularity ranking to identify those with the broadest appeal. Developer Kyle Bowen, director of informatics at Purdue, said in a university press release that ‘Need4Feed lets conference goers sift through the noise to find the important things being said.'”
James Chase reports in Medical Marketing & Media that Pfizer has opened a Twitter account, @pfizer_news. The pharmaceutical behemoth will use the microblogging service for interacting and opening dialog with customers, rather than for product promotion or advertising, Chase reports. While Pfizer has been monitoring Twitter for months, executives were afraid to engage directly for fear that they would be “ripped to shreds” by the Twitterati.
“We’re trying to become transparent, but we’re doing it slowly and cautiously,” said (Ray Kerins, VP worldwide communications). “For us to jump in with two feet would be stupid. The first task was to get the communications team cleaned up because we’ve had a bad rap in that area.”
Pfizer hopes to increase its social media presence, but plans to do so cautiously and in gradual steps.
For now, Pfizer’s media relations team is charged with controlling all corporate tweeting, but Kerins said he hopes to expand the pool soon. “I would love to have by the end of the summer 100 people, from medical to public affairs, who have been anointed by the company and who can go out and Twitter.”
As of Monday morning (July 27), @Pfizer_News had gained 565 followers and was in turn following 225 users, many of them major media outlets.
Jackie Fox writes in the Omaha World-Herald about local institutions’ use of social media to reach out to consumers and to provide information in the formats and locations in which consumers are likely to look.
One institution views social media as a customer service, providing patients with blogs they can use to share health updates with family and friends. Some find and reply to relevant blog posts or tweets.
Others, such as the Nebraska Medical Center, post videos on YouTube of treatments or procedures.
“It’s a good educational tool for procedures people may not be familiar with. People may decide this is someone they’d like an appointment with, or doctors in other parts of the state learn they can send patients to a specialist closer to home,” [media relations lead Paul ]Baltes said.