Social media self-promotion: Resisting the temptation

November 29, 2011: 2:04 PM ET

A recent study suggests that media outlets are poor social media sports, using networks strictly to promote their own work. But isn't that what everyone using social media is asked to do?

By Megan Hustad, contributor

FORTUNE – Whether it's polite dinner party conversation, a networking event, or sharing an item on Facebook or Twitter, communication is an art. As with any medium, you have your masters and your dilettantes. Considering how relatively new the use of social media as a communications platform is, perhaps it shouldn't surprise us that even the pros' efforts are looking fairly amateurish.

Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center for Excellence in Journalism, along with George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs, released a report on the mainstream media's use of Twitter in the context of the social network's surprising growth. Initially dismissed by some as a flash-in-the-pan phenomenon catering to the ADHD set, Twitter was being used by 13% of "online Americans" as of June 2011. That's a big jump over the November 2010 numbers, when only 8% of wired Americans used the service.

The 13 major media outlets that Pew studied are riding this trend. In one week this past February, these institutions and the journalists they employ sent a combined 3,646 Tweets. After analyzing the content of these tweets, Pew concluded that the news outlets weren't doing it right. Ninety-three percent of their Tweets linked back to their own websites, and the "retweet" function was rarely used. (The New York Times (NYT), for instance, only generated original Tweets. Fox News (NWS) actually led in this arena, with 44% of their Tweets being retweets.)

The problem, as the study's authors saw it, was that these news outlets were using Twitter with a very "early days of the web" mentality, when "news organizations, worried about losing audience, rarely linked to content outside their own web domain." The media outlets mainly touted their own work.

But isn't that what everyone using Twitter is asked to do? More

  • Your career: The perils of self-promotion

    Twitter, Quora, Facebook: It's never been easier to build a personal brand. It's never been easier to mess it up, either. Here's how to toot your horn - without becoming yesterday's news.

    By Vickie Elmer, contributor

    FORTUNE -- Shama Kabani spends much of her time teaching entrepreneurs and CEOs to promote themselves on social media. She wrote a well-received book, The Zen of Social Media Marketing, owns a growing digital marketing company, and MORE

    Nov 15, 2011 5:00 AM ET
  • Brand yourself the Ferrari way

    FORTUNE -- Think Ferrari and you think beautiful, fast, elite, Italian racing car. That notion pops into your mind even if you have never been behind the wheel of one -- or even in the showroom. "Put a Ferrari in the dark," says Marco Mattiacci, president and CEO of Ferrari North America, "and just by touching the car, you will recognize it as a Ferrari."

    It's the type of brand that MORE

    Nov 15, 2011 5:00 AM ET
Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by VIP.