Just thinking about the black hole that is Facebook makes me want to hop on my laptop and see what’s new on my friends pages. However, it can also be a great way to market yourself; journalists are quickly learning how to use Facebook effectively and take advantage of this popular forum.
Facebook staff is eager to help journalists utilize their productand offers a page for journalists that helps them make the best use of the social media tools available to them. Vadim Lavrusik, journalism program manager at Facebook, gave fourteen tips for journalists on Facebook. Some of the tips such as secure your account or have Facebook on your mobile phone are common sense, but the tips to use a personal voice and engage followers in conversation are great advice. People want interactivity when they read news on the internet. They enjoy feeling like it is a conversation between the writer and other readers.
The biggest problem with getting news on Facebook is the reliability. It is hard to know exactly who is writing what and if it is true. Washington Post copy editor Phillip Blanchard expresses his concern that, “”Facebook is great for ‘social networking’ but not terribly useful as a journalistic tool…People aren’t always who they seem to be. For example, you can’t even be sure who I am… Verification is very important in journalism, which apparently is being forgotten a lot, or never learned.”
Since verification is a seemingly inherent problem, the best use for Facebook is networking. It is a good way for journalists to present themselves to the public as a real person, not just a talking head. They can friend other writers or editors and be able to ask them for advice and create more business contacts. It is unlikely that Facebook will become the new go to for the news, but it is a great place to learn a little more about the people who are writing it.