Five tips on using social media to promote your stories and engage readers

by Alaksiej Lavončyk
Oct 30, 2018 in Social Media

Social networks are now a major way to promote information online. Posting your articles on social media networks is easy, but it doesn't guarantee they'll be shared and ignite discussion.

Today, when anyone who has an opinion can write, post, promote and brand themselves – journalists need to step it up. More interested in writing than marketing, journalists often stumble over how to promote their material. Engaging readers can seem tricky, but it's easier than you think.

Here are my tips:

  1. Ask your friends to spark a conversation. Some rules are OK to break. Getting your friends involved is a tactic many people use but don't often talk about. Remember that people initially come to social networks to communicate, not necessarily read the news. A user will follow your link if he/she sees lots of comments under it, you can make this happen by involving your friends in the discussion.

  2. When share your link, give it a catchy headline and brief description. Just like an article becomes more interesting with a good lede, think of your headline as a way to draw people in. Most people do not blindly click on links - they just read the headline and the lede.

  3. Choose your audience. Ask yourself who will be reading this article. You might think all of your "friends" (subscribers to your profile on Facebook, for example) will read articles you post. Well, they won't. Generally, up to 20% of all readers will click on the link and only up to 5% will read the full article. These numbers increase only if your "friends" mesh with your subject matter. , When you open an account on a social network to promote your work, make sure you recruit (or at least try to recruit) only your target audience. Social networks permit recruiting people from certain cities or countries and from certain backgrounds. For example,, the best-known social network in the Russian-speaking world, has sophisticated filters that allows users to search for members based on similar age, education, political views and so on. In general, don't just add the people suggested by the social network suggests and don't add "friends" from lists of your close colleagues since you'll be "preaching" to those who are already in the know.

  4. Expand your reach. Work in other communities. The 15 biggest users in the Belarusian Facebook, for example, have more than 30% of their audience in common. This means that 30% of their audience may already see the same article several times. If you don't want to recruit unknown people to become "friends," join communities that might include your target audience and start establishing your presence there via participation in discussions and polls. Once you're a trusted member of the community, you can start sharing your content.

  5. Keep in touch. Add known users to your friend list and communicate with them regularly. Once you've established yourself trustworthy (and this might take awhile) they will be more likely to re-post your links in the future. Such connections will serve as additional channels to spread your news in the future.

Alaksiej Lavoncyk, is a media expert who runs UNDF projects in Belarus and Central Asia on growing media capacity in online campaigning. He previously gave IJNet tips on how to use Google Calendar, advice on making successful Skype conference calls.