The Herald of Everett, Washington
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Herald staff | npattison@heraldnet.com
Published: Sunday, September 23, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

In social media, we want you to like us

  • Sightings of this rare arctic ribbon seal in Snohomish County earlier this year became a popular topic on The Herald's Facebook page.

    Photo by Paul Bird

    Sightings of this rare arctic ribbon seal in Snohomish County earlier this year became a popular topic on The Herald's Facebook page.

Follow us! Like us! You probably hear it everywhere, especially from media outlets. "Why are they all so insecure?" you might ask. Well, just like high school students, they want to be popular, and one way to measure that is social media. The Herald is no exception: You can like our main Facebook page at www.facebook.com/heraldnet, follow our main @EverettHerald account on Twitter, or find us on Google Plus or Pinterest.

What's up with all the liking and following? Everyone's trying to attract and build an audience, and media websites are finding more of that audience on social media sites. Rather than scour a news site like HeraldNet, some people are tailoring their interests on Twitter and Facebook and letting the news come to them.

If you like The Herald on Facebook, most days you'll see a selection of roughly a half-dozen stories and photos.

Twitter followers get a morning run-down of the five most popular stories, then periodic updates during the day.

Doug Parry, The Herald's Web editor, said the paper is selective about what content it posts. "We try to act like real people in social media," he said "You wouldn't want to be friends with those folks who bombard you with every detail about their lives."

The people behind The Herald's main social media accounts include Parry; copy editors Jessi Loerch and Katie Mayer; prep sports editor Aaron Swaney; and reporter Rikki King. Several other reporters can be found on Twitter as well.

Loerch says she focuses on the social aspect when she posts on Facebook for The Herald.

"I try to focus on things that are either really interesting or likely to encourage strong opinions," she said. "I like to encourage interaction as much as possible on Facebook."

She noted that one of The Herald's biggest social media hits was a photo of a rare arctic ribbon seal that turned up on the Marysville shoreline.

"I think it's because it was so unique and unusual, people couldn't help admiring it," she said. "People go to Facebook partially to be entertained, so they enjoy seeing new and novel things."

The approach is slightly different on Twitter. Loerch and Mayer said breaking news tends to take precedence there.

"I lean more toward the news of the moment: traffic, mayhem, announcements, rulings, deaths," Mayer said. "That helps answer things they might be curious about. What was that wreck? Is that smoke? Where are all those police cars going? What's that SMELL?

"But I like things that are simply useful and fun for it as well," Mayer said. The Herald also tweets about stories that catch editors' eyes during the day, so it's not a constant stream of mayhem.

In addition to news updates, social media gives readers another way to connect with their newspaper -- a way that didn't exist five years ago.

If readers have story ideas or questions or just want to know why traffic was bad, they can tweet and get a response.

As Mayer noted, the connection works both ways.

"It gives us a chance to see what the people in our community are thinking and talking about -- including what they think and say about us -- in a way we wouldn't have been able to before," she said.

Each week, Here at the Herald provides an inside peek at the newspaper. Is there something you would like to know? Email executive editor Neal Pattison at npattison@heraldnet.com.


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