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March 11, 2009, 8:15 a.m.

More evidence that social media works: Susan Mernit at Knight

Susan Mernit — another prolific and incisive writer that may not be yet be among the bookmarks of enough journalists — shares a long excerpt of an even more exhaustive White Paper on how she and her team used social media to significantly raise awareness of the most recent Knight News Challenge.

In “Case study, using social media for social good: The Knight News Challenge 2008/09,” Mernit shows, step-by-step, why you weren’t imagining things when you thought that there was an awful lot of publicity about the Challenge this time around.

The Knight Foundation has well-established relationships with influential journalists, bloggers and educators in the online news and international online news arenas, and deep ties with journalism, new media, and communications programs at many universities. However, for this program, Knight wanted to reach beyond their core audience to connect with technologists, social media innovators, product developers and local organizers who might have innovative ideas for sharing news and information and supporting engagement and discussion in a specific geographic area.

To achieve this goal, we did an analysis that suggested using a suite of social media tools would not only be extremely effective for outreach, but would reinforce the message that we were innovative and cool. Our plan relied on using tools that had worked in previous years–web site, email, purchased ad words–but we put more emphasis on the new tools: blogging, video blogging, Twitter, seesmic, Flickr in particular

Mernit then recounts, in detail, what they did. I found myself reading the report as a template, one which could be molded and applied to other problems of communication. In the news business, for instance, perhaps we’re not launching new products as quickly as we might because “there’s no money to market them.” True, there isn’t, if you’re simply looking to buy TV ads and billboards. But if you’re willing to think differently and expend some human capital, Mernit’s case-study argues, there are lots of possibilities:

Overall, we were able to create an interactive, virtuous circle or open loop, where our real world community, which we successfully targeted online and off, not only got our message but then went on to publicize it on our behalf. This created a bigger impact that we might have gotten otherwise and led to a lot of success with carefully measured resources.

POSTED     March 11, 2009, 8:15 a.m.
PART OF A SERIES     Knight News Challenge 2009
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