Olivet School of Media and Communication


Journalism Students Practice Audience Engagement on Social Media

In the social media management class, journalism students explore various ways to engage the audience on social media with ethical responsibility in mind.

Social media has become a major player in the media world as a tool for communication and disseminating news. Journalists today must develop skills to utilize social media for breaking news, story leads, gathering information and curating content. Building and engaging audiences through social media is another required competence as media professionals. Web traffic analytics shows that social media such as Facebook and Twitter accounted for a large percentage of page views.

Second-year graduate student Zike Zhang was not particularly active on Facebook and Twitter to read news and find leads prior to taking the social media management class. But now he’s involved with a local ministry that starts Facebook brand pages. Zhang is learning to manage those pages on a daily basis though studying the best practices for social media in class. He finds the learning experience complete by actually creating posts and conversing with the audience.

“The social media class is pretty useful for me. When I manage my Facebook brand page, I realize that more important than growing the number of followers is to build a genuine relationship with my audience. This means I need to listen carefully to know their thoughts and needs,” Zhang said.

Since an enormous amount of information is being shared on social media and anyone can post anything without verification, Zhang said he realized the challenges that social media pose on journalism.

“The question for people today is whether or not to use social media, but how to use social media responsibly. The line between professional journalists and amateurs becomes blurred. But to me, challenges means opportunities. I will try my best to apply journalism ethics on social media and contribute positively to the conversations,” Zhang added.