I’m still a bit out of it from a lack of sleep but it’s worth sharing a few notes about a local, digital approach to covering the announcement that Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. special forces on Sunday.
I had a unique perspective since Sundays are the day I’m responsible directly for online content updates – which feed mobile – user submissions and the conversations that occur on social channels for brands associated with a local newspaper and television station.
I first learned that President Barack Obama would give a major national security address via Twitter shortly after watching the Tampa Bay Lighting defeated the Washington Capitals in overtime, 3-2. (As a Penguins fan who knew the night was going to get any better).
I turned on CNN and the first thing Wolf Blitzer said was that the announcement would not be on Libya. My gut reaction was bin Laden is dead, which makes it a relevant story for just about every American, and that was soon confirmed.
My first thoughts from a local news perspective likely aren’t surprising. Information is spread on social networks faster and with more emotion than any news site. Some go as far as calling it a people-first approach.
I immediately turned to Facebook and Twitter. My thinking from a local perspective was simple: What outlet allows me to reach the best audience and add the most value? It helps that our followings are strong. The TV branded Facebook page has more than 19,300 fans and the newspaper brand has more than 7,500. Twitter followers are 5,400 and 3,400, respectively.
It started simple with a social update that Obama will give a major address on national security and answering questions from people wanting to know what’s happening. The second update was the confirmation and opportunity to interact with others on the news while giving access to more opportunities to consume information as it happened.
At this point, once the news was confirmed and I had access to an Associated Press update I then posted a story, photo and links on the two news sites. That was immediately followed with a social push asking for our local community’s reaction and offering a place they could talk to one another.
And the night and early morning hours progressed in similar manner between content updates and conversational opportunities on social channels.
My coverage wasn’t perfect by any means, and I know of at least three opportunities I missed.
Here are some of the things I learned. What did you learn?
- I read every comment on Facebook and every response on Twitter to direct questions that I posed. It helped me learn the next move and what content updates may be useful.
- The audience on Facebook and Twitter changes so much hour-by-hour that the amount of responses and engagement stayed consistent.
- I could feel people’s emotion via the comments on social networks, which was a better gauge than any online metrics could provide.
- People from the local community were more apt to click on link to value-added and analytical information than the latest news update.
By the numbers
- 13 Facebook updates
- 437 Facebook comments
- 1,223 likes
- 17 Twitter updates
- 28 Twitter responses