The lab rat amongst the journalists

A month ago, I suddenly realised that I did not have an online presence as a scientist! Shortly after this revelation hit me, the microscopist was born on a variety of social platforms. Through social media I hoped to create a visual online portfolio, which not only showcased my abilities as a microscopist but also provided a medium for other scientists to share their work with the public.

To my delight, shortly after beginning my adventure online I was selected to attend the Walkley Freelance Focus Conference 2015. Personally, I felt that the sessions entitled ‘twitter for journalists’ and ‘your brand online’ held the most promise for providing guidance to my latest adventure. However, it was three points raised by the key note speaker Noah Rosenberg (founder/editor/CEO of Narratively) which resonated the strongest with me.

Noah takes a holistic approach to writing an article. It may seem obvious, but he strongly encourages you to start with a plan before scripting your next article. First you must consider your intent. Ask yourself, who is your audience? How will they access your material? Will it be via computer, tablet or phone? Furthermore, how will your audience experience your content? Will your article be accompanied by visual or audio aids? Finally and perhaps the most important question, how will your content reach your audience? The web is big! On the web it is far easier to produce content than to circulate it.

Where traditionally a journalist may have been able to rest easy after the publication of their work in printed media, Noah stated that in the online world this is not true. Narratively is active in promoting content published on their site; however it is also part of the company’s ethos to encourage authors to promote their own content. In a very frank manner, Noah expressed that as journalists publishing content online we should not feel ashamed to share our content with our friends and to enlist them to share with their friends.

Noah is serious about data and he thinks you should be too! Narratively monitors the flow of traffic on their website in order to understand from where and how readers are being directed to their website. Statistical analysis of this information provides insights into which promotional strategies are working and how the organisation could become more efficient.

Through following Noah’s advice, I have been able to grow my Facebook audience whilst writing this article. This morning only 117 people had liked my page. I am pleased to report that after a little self-promotion I have been able to gain an additional 75 likes, which equates to an ~64% increase in my audience.

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