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Social Media: Like It or Not, It’s Here to Stay

Tricia Cornell

Does this sound familiar? Two years ago, the server at your office blocked “time-wasters” like Facebook. This year, you’ve been asked to draw up a plan for using social media to develop and promote content. Oh, and be sure to mention how you’re going to monetize it.

“2009 is the year everyone who had been reprimanded for using social media at work was invited into the boss’s office to explain Twitter and Facebook,” Tom Elko, news director of, told a crowd of about 75 writers and editors at the May 20 MMPA Summit & Expo.

At least a few hands in the audience had gone up when David Brauer, media reporter for, kicked things off by asking, “How many of you are here mostly defensively?” Those brave souls were admitting what some others who sat quietly must have been thinking: Social media has changed our jobs as journalists in ways that we don’t necessarily fully understand and we aren’t all sure we’re going to like.

After more than an hour of upbeat, fast-paced conversation, however, one or two minds might have changed.

“[Using social media] has been an unquestionable success for me,” said Jason DeRusha, a reporter and anchor at WCCO television, who has developed a reputation for being the Twin Cities TV guy who best “gets” social media. “My work is much better because I have people giving me tips.” (His Twitter handles are DeRushaJ and DeRushaEats.)

Brauer, who admits to having an addict’s relationship with media of all sorts, agrees. He updates his Twitter account (dbrauer) several dozen times a day with observations on local media, politics, and, lately, the Twins. “Twitter is a source convention,” he says. “All the people I cover are already there. It is a way to build relationships — for good or ill.”

Elko, whose aggregates local news, says that using Twitter and Facebook to push stories out to a larger audience — including people who rarely bother to go to individual website’s home pages anymore — brings a moderate return for very little investment. He says that, together, Twitter and Facebook drive about 15–30 percent of his traffic.

At the same time, he urged social media newbies not to feel overwhelmed and not to try to “play catch up.”

“You’re all right starting where you are,” he said. “The Internet is going to be there tomorrow. Facebook, I’m not so sure.”

Tricia Cornell is the Editor of Minnesota Parent and Minnesota Good Age.