I sat down at Tuesday’s Social Media Week session, “The Rise of Visual Social Media,” hosted by The Wall Street Journal, and prepared to learn about image statistics and their growing importance. As the panel began, though, I looked around and quickly realized something. The room was filled with photographers and journalists, and the speakers were focusing on very specific news and photography topics.
Rut roh. As a social media content writer for lifestyle brands, maybe this wasn’t the best Social Media Week event to attend.
But, as I listened to the points of view of esteemed photographers and Wall Street Journal editors for the following hour, I had an epiphany:
We may not be journalists or photojournalists, but if we want to join the club as brand journalists, we should hold ourselves to the same rules.
Their advice reinforced our best practices here at Kaplow and gave me an inside glimpse at how photographers and media giants treat social media. Here are some great reminders gleaned from the panel:
Strive to have the legitimacy of a news source – be your own fact checker
o Every tip should be backed up by an expert source
o Find the originating source of every photo
Use proper photo etiquette
o Contact the photo source and ask for permission before using
o Always credit the source! This is a no brainer, but an important reminder as Neal Mann of WSJ noted, “Lifting images makes one question the veracity of the company’s work.”
Create a solid content strategy like WSJ – each platform has a unique purpose
o Instagram is used for reader call-outs. They create a graphic asking folks to submit photos around upcoming holiday themes and hashtags (i.e. Chinese New Year), and then repost within albums elsewhere
o Twitter, with its character limit and short lifespan, is updated frequently and used to share breaking news
o Pinterest is updated less often, but with content that has a sense of permanence (i.e. Fashion Week and Real Estate)
Of course, there are certain parameters and restrictions we face when writing as a brand that third party media does not, and the guidelines above are not always easy to follow. But I say, rise to the challenge. In this fast-moving and ever-evolving world of brand journalism, we need to maintain our credibility above all else.