What These Top Financial Journalists Had to Say About Social Media’s Influence
The rise in social media, coupled with the increase of readers opting for digital consumption, has greatly changed how the media operates. Last year, a study by the Indiana University School of Journalism found that more than 50 percent of reporters surveyed said they used social platforms for researching and reporting their stories. In more recent news, major organizations like The New York Times and National Geographic are said to be considering a partnership with Facebook where the platform could host content directly, instead of just housing links to the external news website.
We talked with three prominent reporters from a variety of outlets, asking how social media has impacted their work, and inevitably, the industry. The following Q&A provides an inside look at how journalists utilize these platforms for their day-to-day work, and what it means for the RIAs connecting with them via Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
Maggie McGrath is a markets and personal finance staff reporter for Forbes. She has been working at the outlet for a year and a half, holding a previous post working for TODAY show financial editor, Jean Chatzky. Follow her @mcgrathmag.
How has social media changed the way you approach and work on stories? How might you incorporate these platforms into your work?
Facebook is maybe 5 percent useful. Sometimes I’ll see a friend complaining about a financial matter, and I might make a mental note of it – because if they’re talking about it on Facebook, it might be something they’ll read later on. But Twitter… like lots of reporters, I’m addicted to Twitter. It can be especially helpful for the “breaking market news” part of my job. I’ve also used Twitter as a way to mine for real-time reactions to things: For instance, when the Common App went down in fall 2013, I found people who were complaining about it on Twitter and interviewed them for my story on the incident.
What role might “likes” and RT’s play in a story you are working on?
I think page views and unique visitors are more of a concern, so I’d like to say there’s not much of a connection between likes and how I shape a story. However, I do try to think of stories in terms of, “Will people want to read this,” and I suppose an extension of that question is, “Would they retweet this?” – so perhaps, subconsciously, the concern is there, but I’ve never pitched a story to an editor by saying, “This will be huge on Twitter…”
What platform has been most useful for your work, and why?
I do think there’s a case for each platform, but I find Twitter is the one that I use the most. It’s where I’m able to easily follow and find a wide range of investing experts, active traders, bloggers and others.
What do you see for the future of reporting, given the strides that have been made in social media over the last few years alone?
I wonder if Twitter will become more useful to journalists in the future, or if it will lose steam. There are still many people who have no interest in using it. So that’s one good reason to not get too reliant on social media.
Samantha Allen is the digital managing editor for Financial Planning, On Wall Street and Bank Investment Consultant, overseeing digital content and reporting on the financial industry for the last two and a half years. Follow her @sallendigital.
How closely do you follow resulting shares after a story has been published?
We’re not basing our news judgment on how a story will play out on social media, but these platforms can give us information about what readers are ultimately interested in and reading. I do think about social media fairly early on in the research and reporting process, but I’m not deciding if a story is valid or not based on how it might play out on social media.
How do you and your team use the different platforms?
LinkedIn can be used in a number of ways – finding and contacting credible sources, verifying the sources and fact-checking their background. Twitter can be great for idea generation and it’s a way to keep a pulse on what advisors are talking about and reacting to. We recently saw Twitter light up in response to some fiduciary news that was released, and instead of calling advisors, we pulled tweets and created an article with their social media reaction.
Twitter, of course, is also a good promotional tool. Once a story is written, we are thinking about how it can be best promoted across various platforms. Instead of tweeting the headline of an article, we will pull an advisor’s quote and connect it to their Twitter handle. It’s like attributing in a story, only it lets followers know who we are talking about via the platform.
Do you think it’s wise for financial advisors to stay connected on social media?
If social media feels like a struggle for advisors, it probably won’t be a good use of time. But, if it comes naturally and you have interest in sharing and producing content, it can be a usef ul tool. Social media is not going away – more people are joining the platforms, sharing content, Google-ing other people. Social media, and having an active presence, can help more than it hurts.