Understanding the Role of a Social Media Reporter

Social Media Reporters working in an office
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A social media reporter (SMR) is an individual with a professional background in journalism and reporting whose main responsibility is to supplement traditional news reporting by adding informative content in media conduits such as blogs, microblogs (such as Twitter), websites, web pages, and other platforms connected with the online community.

Hiring an SMR

The purpose of the position of “social media reporter” is to bring leverage to classic news reporting in the broader and instantly accessible via the internet for the benefit of online audiences. These users expect “real-time” (immediate) reporting of news as they occur, consistent updates, and access to other social tools to gather additional information.

Where SMR Works

The SMR works in the newsroom along with social media marketing representatives and news staff. They include bloggers, editors, and other reporters. This group of people is consistently identifying fresh, newsworthy events, fact-checking, investigating sources, and checking out what is going on in other online social media groups.

The Difference Between a Traditional News Reporter and an SMR

The main difference between a traditional reporter and the SMR is the level of engagement that the latter must maintain with the audience. SMRs should prompt conversations and pique the interests of online followers so that many conversations can be initiated and maintained. This practice secures the social reputation of the news team and demonstrates transparency. This latter term refers to the perception of a media outlet being credible and dependable.

Social Media Marketing and SMRs

The social media marketing team will work closely with SMRs to create ways to market and brand the news team. Catchphrases and #hashtags bring online news readers together. The appropriate use of these social tools maintains a cohesive online group of readers who will easily find the news teams using these social media terminologies.

Other Roles of an SMR

Once the news is identified, and the facts and sources confirmed, the social media reporter will keep the online conversations going and will comply with whatever the needs are of the broadcasting group, either writing further articles, keeping a page updated, or sending continuous Tweets.

A Background in Journalism

Reporting formats differ from one another, and this is why those aspiring to become social media reporters must have knowledge of the formats and rules of journalistic reporting. They also must have demonstrated experience building audiences, strong writing skills, engaging vocabulary, experience with search engine optimization (SEO) when needed, and a good understanding of web analytics. Since new applications and technologies surface yearly on the web, the optimal candidate would also be someone with an ability to adapt to new formats and technologies.

The Most Important Skill a Potential SMR Must Have

The most important qualification for this position is knowledge of how to work with a large-scale enterprise content management system (CMS). This requires a lot of organization skills, the need to work well and communicate effectively with many people, knowing when to report on what, and understanding the limits and parameters (boundaries) of ethical reporting.

The Importance of Social Media Reporting

The words of the SMR are read worldwide and are meant to acquire and represent the tone and culture of the broadcast group. Any mistakes in spelling and grammar, and any failure to foster cultural sensitivity, political correctness, and impartiality may result in great blunders to the respectability and image of the organization. This is why the hiring of an SMR is a delicate process that requires someone who is the best at all of the skills mentioned above.

An SMR is inquisitive, sensitive, tactful, upbeat, communicative and, on top of all of those qualifiers, must also be someone who is excited by technology and equipped with amazing writing skills. SMR is not blogging. It is not commenting on situations. The SMR is the voice of the broadcast group and the voice of the audience at the same time. It is not an easy task. It takes a lot of careful planning that must be done quickly and in real-time.

A great SMR would have to unite all of these qualifications plus be someone who is willing to share and communicate. If you are up to the task, think of great newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post. That is the high-quality level expected of the SMRs of today and of the near future.