By CORY HANCOCK and RYAN BASDEN
ATLANTA – On Thursday, Feb. 9, dozens of local media members gathered in the Mason Fine Art space in Atlanta for “News on Facebook,” an event highlighting the newest way Facebook is enhancing the way journalists reach their audience.
The all-day event was a part of a new collaborative effort by Facebook, called The Facebook Journalism Project. This project aims to provide a collaborative development of news products, as well as training and tools for journalists.
“News on Facebook” provided a vast amount of social media data for the attendees to analyze and assess how to adjust their current social media strategies.
The event began with a quick opening from Jason White, manager of Strategic Partners at Facebook, followed by Meghan Peters, another employee of the Strategic Partners division, who spoke on the impact of local news on Facebook.
Jason White welcomes attendees to the “News on Facebook” event. (Photo by Ryan Basden)
Following this, Lila King, an Instagram employee in News and Publishing partnerships, gave an insightful presentation on how to better utilize Instagram for reporting through features such as Instagram stories, live video and consistent posts.
After a catered lunch, a presentation by Amber Burgess, a Facebook Strategic Partners manager, showed the audience the benefits of CrowdTangle, a content discovery application that enables newsrooms to intertwine various social media platforms.
By merging all of those platforms, CrowdTangle provides a neat presentation of content based on user determined parameters. This allows users to aggregate content they might want to write their own stories about, track the success of stories they have already published and get an idea of what their audience is after.
Later, Julia Bain, a member of Facebook’s media team, discussed Facebook’s live video feature in greater depth as a revolutionary tool for engaging with your audience.
Immediately following Bain’s presentation, a panel of three local journalists, Matt Pearl of 11Alive, Julie Wolfe of 11Alive and Joanne Feldman of Fox 5, fielded questions about their experiences utilizing the various aspects of Facebook when reporting.
Lauren Colley, audience development manager for “The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,” said that the presentations reinforced that her team was on the right track, but realized she needs to be more consistent with what they are doing.
“I’m curious to know, how do you balance a good mix of native video in your timeline versus content that will link back to the website where the video lives?” Colley asked.
Many questions similar to Colley’s were asked throughout the event, and White said the questions were a vital part of the mission behind “News on Facebook.” He said the idea is to have a deeper collaboration with the journalism industry.
“I like to just go out and be with the people that use our products,” White said. “I think in some instances we learn more from them than they learn from us.”
Facebook staff assist attendees with what Facebook has to offer news organizations. (Photo by Ryan Basden)
The fresh functions of Facebook, Instagram and CrowdTangle provoked many journalists to ask questions oriented toward eliciting a magic formula from those presenting the features available.
Josh Mabry, a Strategic Partner developer at Facebook, believes the tools provided can help reach the audience better, but that they aren’t the key to gaining a bigger and better audience.
“I think everyone is looking for some magic bullet theory, but it really comes down to good content,” Mabry said.
The Atlanta “News on Facebook” event was the second of its kind in the United States. The first was held in Dallas, Texas on Feb. 7, 2017. White said they plan to hit every region in the country, but a swing toward the West Coast might be next.