Engaging Readers on Social Media

Collecting real examples of local news reporters and operations using social media to go beyond headlines and links to actually converse with readers. Send suggestions to @mjenkins.


  1. Ask for and Share Tips

  2. Traffic backed up? Snow moving in? Encourage readers to tweet these your way and share them when/if it makes sense. 
  3. Ask for and Share Photos

  4. Answer Questions

  5. Blogger JDLand, who covers the news of the Navy Yard/Capitol Riverfront area in Washington, D.C. takes questions from readers. 
  6. Joe Reedy, who covers the NFL for the Cincinnati Enquirer, frequently takes questions from Bengals fans. Sometimes he answers them directly, other times he'll retweet the question with an answer. 
  7. Start a Conversation

  8. The Pottstown Mercury put this up on their Facebook page during a recent snowfall. This post garnered 55+ comments from readers. 
  9. Weather reports are saying the snow will turn to rain and then back to snow later today. We are working on a story about the weather, do you think schools should let out students early?
  10. The Mercury had several other posts the same day that received a lot of engagement from readers surrounding the weather. 
  11. It doesn't have to be a busy news day to start a conversation with readers. Ask about their day, their commutes, what they're reading, their weekend plans, etc. 
  12. Combine Efforts

  13. I wouldn't recommend the misuse of punctuation marks and hashtags, but the idea behind this tweet from Washington, D.C. area TV station WUSA is a good one. 
  14. You can combine visuals and questions to great effect. When the San Jose Mercury News posted this image of Sergio Romo at the victory parade for the Giants' World Series win and asked what readers thought of it, they got quite a bit of response: More than 4,000 likes, 91 shares and 400 comments.