How To Turn Social Media Into Your Own News Channel

What We Have Learned From 2011

There is no doubt that 2011 is the year when Mother Earth has been incredibly active, with the most notable results being earthquakes/tsunamis in New Zealand and Japan, cyclones and floods in Australia, and hurricanes on the East Coast of America.

I found it very interesting that for each and every one of these major events, the source of information for me and many others has not been the television, radio or newspapers, but social media.

Admittedly, this comes as no great surprise considering that so many of us now live our lives on and through social media. This is where we interact with others, socialize, spend our money, gather information and do business. So why would it not be the place where we obtain up-to-the-minute updates on global events?

My Experiences Of Sharing And Obtaining Critical News Updates Via Social Media

Before we look at some tips at using this realization to work for you professionally, I just thought I might share my personal experiences in both being caught up in a natural disaster and observing from the outside, concerned for loved ones.

In January this year, my home city of Brisbane and surrounding areas flooded. Many people lost homes and possessions, while a few tragically lost their lives. The enormity of the flood was not known until literally a day before it hit, as is the case with so many other natural disasters. But even then, many of us did not take it seriously, still heading to work like any other day. While I had heard reports of a flood coming our way (via television and radio reports, I think), a phone call on the morning of the flood from my parents made me realize that it was real and my home was in the disaster zone.

What followed over the next 12-24 hours is something I will never forget, and I don’t really want to go into it in detail because it still causes an emotional reaction for me. But in general terms, my husband and I evacuated, and had just about two or three trips back to our home to gather important belongings while the water was rising around our ankles. We watched the creek behind our home surge and floodwaters engulf our beloved home, suburb and the homes of our neighbors and friends.

Electricity was cut for days while authorities waited for water to subside and for it to become safe for them to switch on the mains again. We were without television and only had a portable battery operated radio, but I couldn’t bear to listen to updates because it was just more of the same. While my phone battery lasted, I used Facebook on my cell phone (via status updates) to notify friends and loved ones in other areas of Brisbane and around the world that we were safe. I was also able to read relevant status updates by others as to conditions near my suburb that might affect transportation.

Receiving News Updates Via Social Media

On the other side of the coin, very literally the first I had heard of the other natural disasters around the world was via status updates on Facebook. Friends of mine had posted about them. One of my best friends was in Tokyo, and I wasn’t sure if she had been affected by the tsunami. I also have friends and acquaintances in New York and was concerned about them during both the earthquake and Hurricane Irene.

When I asked for more specific information, either they or someone else on their page replied immediately. I found this to be a great benefit, because my specific questions were answered directly, and I didn’t have to trawl through news reports on public news outlets for information I was looking for.

I thought the other benefit was the information I received was so much more relevant to me. I wanted to know if my friends were OK, and how various places around the world I had come to know and love were affected. This is not necessarily information I would have received by tuning into a radio or television broadcast.

Furthermore, friends added photos and video content that was so much more personal than what a journalist might record. It was real and I could be there with them during the event.

It goes without saying that everything I have described also applies to positive events, such as the birth of a baby to a loved one, a celebrity wedding or an awards ceremony. If you are following a celebrity on Twitter or Facebook, this may alleviate the need to rely on traditional news or entertainment media to ‘get the goss’ (especially because this is exactly the same source journalists will use!).

Whether social media will replace all or a part of the need for traditional media remains to be seen, especially as it bleeds across into disseminating news in the areas of politics and business too.

So, how can you use social media to effectively disseminate your news? Here are my top tips:

  • Firstly, make sure you have a presence on the various social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google Plus.
  • When you have news, post it there. Facebook and Twitter don’t allow room for your entire news broadcast, but they are perfect to provide links back to your blog for the full report, or even brief updates on news you have previously shared.
  • Make sure you collect an audience across these channels. No point sharing news here unless you have people to consume it. There are plenty of tips to gather your audience specific to each platform, but generally, be active in relevant groups on Facebook and invite relevant people to “add” or “like” you. Hash tag relevant words in your Twitter updates and follow others so they are more likely to follow you.
  • Post regularly and make sure it’s interesting and relevant. Whether your posts are all news oriented or personal as well depend very much on your publicity strategy, the nature of your industry of work, and the posts themselves among other factors. But the golden rules are regularity and relevance to your audience.
  • Have an end goal in mind. Always! What are you hoping to achieve? This could be to build your profile as an expert in your area with the view to gaining a reputation, or to sell a certain product or service. But an end goal will help you develop your news posts accordingly.

Your social media platforms could become your very own news channel!

Kerry McDuling

About Kerry McDuling

Kerry McDuling is a publicist and Director of her own public relations and publicity consultancy McDuling PR and exposure speciality business, Stratosphere Me – building brands and developing profitable business opportunities for companies, authors, speakers, and entrepreneurs.

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  • You’re right Kerry, social media is being looked to for news more and more often. A lot of times when I’m stuck in unusual traffic I’ll do a quick search of Twitter and can easily get more information.

    Just the other day there was a fire not far from my home, checked out Twitter and was able to see a lot more details into where it was happening and what was going on in real time, but you really have to take the words lightly sometimes and use common sense.

    • When I first started paying attention to social media, and Twitter, I hadn’t learned enough to know where to go, who to follow, etc. But now, I’ve got all the social media networks that are important to me bookmarked. For example, when I want a certain kind of news, I know exactly which website to check out first. One of the things I like about Twitter is that you can follow lots of good news sources all at once.

    • Thanks for sharing your own experiences Jamie, and I totally agree – use some common sense.

  • Really touching but I learnt so much from this alone. It then means that social media is the rave now and not just a fad, it’s important and can transform and elevate our business when taken seriously. I’m sorry for everything that happened to you, and I do hope you’re back on your feet.

    God is your strength fellow blogger.

    • Hi Michael, thank you so much for your kind words. We are getting back to normal now and even have a new bed, so things are looking up! 🙂 Keep in touch. x

  • Great post!!! It is really informative and I totally agree with your insights…

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Ehhh..I dont know. I use websites like Twitter for fun. Its basically a chatroom where you get to talk to your friends and network with different people in your industry.

    I do follow Bloomberg News, Wall Street Journal, and other major news sources in a specific list. So it gets annoying if everybody keeps posting breaking news over and over again, you know what I mean?

    That’s why I follow a different mix of people so all my incoming tweets are interesting. =]

    • Thanks Kent, and yes, it does pay to be selective in who you follow depending on what news you wish to receive.

  • I was thinking that way back when all the “social media” began, that in the very beginning, it *was* intended to be a venue for up-to-the-minute news. With lots of other benefits/extras, such as keeping in touch with friends, etc., of course. Now, years later, it is a good mix of both. Am I correct?

    • Interesting thoughts, and yes, I think it has turned out to be a good mix of both. People will use social media for the reasons that suit them best.

  • Using social media is a great way to learn or share about the recent events that are happening in the world. That’s because news inside social media networks spread extremely fast! These are some pretty useful tips for those looking to have an increasing presence in social media. Thanks for the advice near the end of your post Kerry!

  • Kerry – you’re so right! I really think social media IS turning into a news platform, many times I hear about what’s going on through Twitter or Facebook before I even SEE it on the news, though I do have to confirm what I’ve read with the news sites to make sure it’s legitimate. I think this can definitely be parlayed into the professional world – great insights here!


    • HI Laurie, thanks for your reaction, and I was also excited when I discovered how I was starting to use social media – as a news source. Imagine the potential professionally!

  • Hi Kerry,
    With a little reservation, do I really think social media are turning into a news platform, but sometimes on the social Medias oversize the information, heard from other people and its gets too wrong then.

  • Being in the northeast of the USA, I used social media myself to keep up to date on what was going on in the area during the hurricane Irene. It was interesting to see how a few people reported power outages locally, and of the streets being flooded. My street got flooded as well but we were lucky to still have power. Its incredible the power of social media today.


    • Hi Jean, I can imagine that social media would have been a good source of information during Hurricane Irene. That is in fact how I found out about it and kept up to date with how it was progressing.

  • These are some amazing tips for utilizing social media platforms wisely and correctly! Some of these ideas, I had never really thought of. I feel like having a “presence” in social media is the most important, as well as communicating with your “community” there. Branding is also super important. Thanks for posting!

  • I have yet to utilize social media for my business as I wasn’t really sure how to go about doing it. I think you opened my eyes a bit – your article is not as generally written as the others I have read. you actually gave some specific tips that will definitely help me.

    I think writing about how you used social media in your personal life to share news events is what really made me understand the potential. I too use this avenue to share recent events, so why not expand and use it for my business??? Very good pointers.

    • I am so glad you found it so useful Kathleen! Thanks for sharing that. Let me know how you get on in your own business implementing it all.

  • Social Media has so seamlessly and silenty engulfed itself in our lives that it has been a truly amazing developement. And it’s all for the good mostly. As far as news, I agree that it is fast becoming the number one news source for me. I found out about the recent earthquake in America pretty much the instant it subsided. That was simply impossible before social media.

  • Like your strategy very much and it effective also as social media is one the most powerful, popular and fast networks nowadays and by utilising it accurately one can easily expose as much as he can.

    Thanks a lot for this sharing.

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