Beth Ashton: Learn the internet's language for social media success

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Beth Ashton of the Manchester Evening News talking to the Interhacktives
I crossed a nice threshold this afternoon. Beth Ashton, one of the first cohort of Interactive Journalism MA students I lectured to back in 2012/2013 returned to City University to guest lecture to the current generation of Interhacktives.

Beth’s gone on to great success, now working as the Manchester Evening News‘s social media editor, and it was fascinating to hear the insights she brought back two years later. Much of what she said will remain firmly between her and this year’s cohort, but a few points I took away included:

  • The utter dominance of Facebook as a social media traffic source. I’ve seen this everywhere, but it was nice to see another example of it. Journalists may be obsessed by Twitter, but Facebook is where the mainstream audience is.
  • It’s interesting – but not really surprising – how often social media editors end up as much as internal consultants and trainers as they do actually using social media. It’s how I started in this game a decade ago, and it’s not changing.
  • Everyone’s thinking very hard about how to reach people on chat apps.
  • A lot of the skill of this job comes down to reading things on the internet, and working out how to do them 15% better, and for a focused purpose.
  • It’s amazing how much attention that launching a JustGiving page can get you – both positive and negative

The most important point, I think, was the interconnection of social media and content, and that incorporating social media thinking right at the start leads to much better success rates in building audiences.

Thanks, Beth.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.