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What works and doesn't in social media

Lucy in her

The Reynolds Journalism Institute studied 500 social media posts by 14 news outlets to produce a report on the good and bad in the media's social media efforts, including a list of "ideas worth stealing." One tip: "Embrace your humanity. Users are inviting your voice into their social feed, which is full of people talking to other people. Try to be a natural part of that ongoing conversation. Think about language that highlights common ground and values."

How writers can use Instagram

Instagram icon on smartphone

Just when you thought you had it covered with Facebook and Twitter comes news that the fastest growing social media network is now Instagram. Frances Caballo has some tips for writers on getting up to speed: "The easiest time to post is right after you take a picture or create one. You can also plan your posts. According to Later, a scheduling application for Instagram, the best time to post is between 2 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST, with 5 p.m. being the most opportune time."

Science writers to follow on Twitter

Twitter bird

Emily Litvack's response to the Trump attack on science is simple — read up. Litvack has posted a list of more than 20 science writers worth following on Twitter, many of them NASW members: "As in the past, but perhaps now more than ever, it is up to scientists and science journalists to combat the barrage of scientific misinformation … So, if you haven’t already, now is the time to follow these people on Twitter." More members on Twitter.

Do you read the links you share?

Facebook screenshot

A new study by computer scientists at two universities suggests that a majority of social media users don't bother reading most of the content they're linking to, Carli Velocci writes. Quoting study co-author Arnaud Legout: "People form an opinion based on a summary, or a summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper." Also, "Study: 70% of Facebook users only read the headline of science stories before commenting."

How Facebook makes it hard for writers

Facebook page

Alexandra Samuel analyzes likes and shares for her Facebook posts and concludes that the social media giant has made it harder for writers to promote their own work: "My hunch is that Facebook’s algorithm is able to parse shared content, and looks at the author name on that content to see if it matches the name of the person sharing it. If so, Facebook recognizes that you’re trying to promote your own content — and that’s now a privilege Facebook expects us to pay for."

Where preposterous stories come from

Social media icons

Twitter and Facebook may be excellent tools for gathering news, but they have a downside, Kevin Rawlinson writes — they're also an excellent breeding ground for fake news stories: "Those working in newsrooms talk of dubious stories being tolerated because, in the words of one, some senior editors think 'a click is a click, regardless of the merit of a story.' And, if the story does turn out to be false, it’s simply a chance for another bite at the cherry."

How reporters are using social media

Social media icons

Matt Shipman writes about a new paper on how journalists are integrating Facebook and Twitter into their work: "Only 22.7% of study participants said that Facebook was either an 'important' or 'very important' tool for their reporting. On the other hand, 51.7% of participants said Twitter was an important or very important tool." The percentages might be larger but for the fact that more than half of the journalists' employers had policies restricting social media use.

How to spot a fake news story

Bernie Sanders, image via Shutterstock

Did the New York Times report that Elizabeth Warren endorsed Bernie Sanders? For while, many Facebook posts said so, Josh Stearns writes: "It is increasingly simple for activists and pranksters to spoof the look and feel of a major news website and these fakes can have real impacts from Wall Street to the voting booth. However, in each of these past cases there has been some clear giveaways that are instructive for anyone who wants to spot fakes in the future."

The fatal flaws in Twitter

Angry man on laptop image via Shutterstock

Wall Street is punishing its stock and its management has become a revolving door, but Walt Mossberg writes that Twitter's single biggest problem is that it's just too hard to use: "Try to explain to a mainstream consumer, even someone who's decent at using an iPhone or Facebook, what counts in the famed 140-character limit in a tweet, or the difference between 'blocking' or 'muting' an unwanted follower, or whether 'liking' a tweet means you agree with it or not."

Is it time to stop live tweeting?

Cartoon birds image via Shutterstock

Ian Lunt writes about a recent scientific conference from which the volume of tweets was overwhelming: "Peak tweet can be defined as the time when the rate of tweet production far exceeds the rate of potential consumption. In 2015, a sizable ecology conference exceeded peak tweet. Attendees live-tweeted far more messages than readers could feasibly find or read." Lunt's recommended remedy for peak tweet? More aggregation with distinct hashtags via tools such as Storify.