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Putting the social back in social media

“Social and audience teams share similar goals, but in 2019, I see the two merging in order to accomplish them. And quite frankly, I think it’s long overdue: Social will not just be about running accounts, but reaching audiences.”

Social media in a journalism context has seen quite the evolution over the years. The “social media” position went from not being a position at all, to an automated task, to something relegated to interns because they understood “how the internet works” to, at some point, a role that editors finally understood the importance of. Entire social teams were created, led by brilliant journalists no less. But in true media form, times are changing — again.

As Facebook becomes less reliable and third-party publishing platforms like Apple News, Google News, and Flipboard become larger sources of traffic, the role of social media in newsrooms will become much less tied to platforms and more entwined with audience growth and engagement. Social media teams will still strategize and plug away at giants like Twitter and Facebook. But that’ll now only be a piece of the digital puzzle.

Social and audience teams share similar goals, but in 2019, I see the two merging in order to accomplish them. And quite frankly, I think it’s long overdue: Social will not just be about running accounts, but reaching audiences. Editors will not only craft great social copy but also work with video editors to bring more impact to each post.

They’ll work with third-party publishers and establish relationships with niche influencers in their space to make sure the biggest stories are seen by the right people. They’ll work on Facebook Groups, which might evolve into newsletters, and advise editors on what the audience those reached idea want. They’ll dip their feet into SEO because they sit at the front door of the publications they work for. They’ll even assist news editors by connecting them to the sources that are most reachable on these platforms.

Up until this point, the “social” in social media has simply meant the platforms in which we work on. In the future, “social” will mean the audiences we interact with. And if that encompasses more than Facebook, which it should, the social media folks will be there to greet them.

Mandy Velez is a social media editor at The Daily Beast.

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