Monthly Archives: August 2012

Social media as the new voice mail, email

A new study from Gartner Inc. found customers now expect organizations to answer their questions and comments on social media posts as diligently as they expect replies to voice mails and emails.

“The dissatisfaction stemming from failure to respond via social channels can lead to up to a 15 percent increase in churn rate for existing customers,” said Carol Rozwell, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

So what does this mean for journalists? Well, a lot more work piled up on an already shrunken staff, for starters.

Newsrooms across the country are shrinking, and reporters are being forced to do a lot more with a lot less. Over the past few years, reporters have added quick hits online, social media posts and multimedia packaging to their already overflowing plates. The pressure has resulted in gaps in coverage, with journalists having to concentrate more of their energy on the tools for reporting and distributing news than on the actual news itself.

As a reporter in the early to late 2000s, I fielded an average of three to five voice mails and emails a day from readers who either had questions about a story, wanted clarification on a story or who just plain hated me and the story (c’est la vie). Even answering those was a bit of a burden.

Now, pile on dozens, if not hundreds, more from readers who find that it takes relatively no effort on their part to post a question or comment on Facebook or Twitter, but who fail to understand how much effort it takes on the journalist’s part to respond and expect an immediate response. Not much time left over for quality reporting or writing…

The Garner study mainly addresses organizations that promote their product via social media, and newspapers are not exempt. Reporters are encouraged – nay, required – to post links to their stories and breaking news via Twitter and/or Facebook, and they will no doubt be subject to the same expectations from readers on those platforms.

How do you think journalists will cope with the added expectations to respond to readers social media posts? Will the news quality suffer?

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