The July 2021 BlueLena Publisher Roundtable featured Lookout Santa Cruz’s Tulsi Kamath and Jed Williams, who have helped lead the publication from launch to nearly 1,000 paying members in just six months.

Here are five things we took away from their presentation, which pulled the curtain back on their Facebook strategy:

1. It’s not 2012 anymore
You can’t just drop links and expect it to draw traffic. The Facebook algorithm has deprioritized pages, and your links won’t be seen.

2. Be a person, not a brand: Your people are your most valuable asset, so let them be front and center. Ask reporters to share stories, and thank community members publicly for letting them into their lives.

3. Ask questions: Social networks aren’t just distribution tools, they can assist in journalism. Put that reporter’s hat on, share the stories you’re working on, and ask readers for their experiences, or their help.

4. Meet the audience where they are. Often, this means Facebook groups. Lookout made a list of relevant groups and prioritized them based on size. Two important things here: First, they also reached out to group admins to get permission to post in the group, and ensure they followed all rules. Second, they weren’t just dropping links, they were being valuable members of the groups by joining conversations. Be constructive, not extractive!

5. It’s everyone’s job. Finding the audience for stories is part of the reporting process at Lookout, and also benefits the journalism. It aids in sourcing and discovering new viewpoints, as well as delivering impact for reporting when it’s completed. Tulsi bookended the presentation with two insightful statements
that framed the importance of investing in audience engagement on platforms:

  • “In a digital world you really need to think about the stakeholders and who the audience is.”
  • “You can do Pulitzer Prize winning journalism, but if no one reads it it doesn’t matter.”

Thanks to Tulsi and Jed for sharing! You can find their deck and a video of the roundtable at this link inside the BlueLena Knowledge Base.