How Journalists Can Best Use Facebook and Instagram

Facebook and Instagram aren’t just places to share pictures of pretty foods or letting your friends and family know about your current holiday travels.

These platforms are valuable sources of news information that lets people know about breaking events that are happening all around the world, making social media one of the most powerful tools that journalists can use.

In this post we will explain how journalists can use Facebook and Instagram to connect with their audience and have there content be seen higher in their followers News Feed.

Explaining the News Feed

On Facebook, the News Feed is the heart and sole of the platform. It allows users to post status updates, pictures, videos, links and reactions from the users, pages and groups that you follow.

Every time a user views their account they can see different News Feed stories posted by their friends and followers on Facebook.

Check out the short video below to see how Facebook explains the News Feed Ranking.

Facebook rewards posts in the News Feed with strong signals. The stronger the signals is a direct correlation to your News Feed ranking. The signals are:

  • Personal signals: This determines how closely users interacts with the user or account that has shared a post. This checks signals like how many times a person has interacted with the poster.
  • Universal signals: The number of Likes, comments, shares and other engagement metrics that a post has drawn.
  • Real-time signals: If a large amount of people interact with a particular topic, or if a certain post from a page is getting a ton of reactions, Facebook treats is as if the post or topic might be temporarily valuable to followers at that time.

Facebook’s research shows that people want to be informed and entertained on their News Feed.

To get your content to the top of the News Feed, Facebook suggests to:

  • Make your posts timely
  • Build credibility, relevance and trust with your audience
  • Post frequently

So, How Can Journalists Find Their Next Story?

Understanding what is trending in your field can help your reporting and storytelling!

CrowdTangle is a great analytics tool that can help journalists cut through the noise and understand what stories they need to be telling.

crowd tangle

The program lets you detect trending content and helps to gather important news articles. It provides you with a real-time dashboard and lets you monitor how the stories relevant to your field are performing across social media.

With CrowdTangle, you can allocate separate dashboards to track the performance of the content you’re interested in across various social media networks, such as Facebook and Instagram.

You can also set up notifications to notify you whenever a post takes off. For example, you can set up a viral alert to inform you anytime a post containing the keyword “Perth” hits a viral threshold which you can set.

User-Generated Content

User-Generated content is one of the best ways  for journalists to build their next story around.

For example, shortly before the 2016 US presidential election, Zdenek Gazda recorded Hillary Clinton on his smartphone as she appeared to fall over as she was getting into a car.

This footage was first picked up by Storyful after they contacted Zdenek Gazda to confirm the authenticity of the video – it quickly went viral and was used by major news stations around the world.

Instagram hashtags is one of the best ways to search for user-generated content. For a complete guide to UGC check out our detailed guide here. 

Community Groups

Joining groups that are related to your field is a valuable tool that can let journalists discover news before it breaks.

For example if you are a local reporter covering news in the Southern suburbs, monitoring local community groups, such as Cockburn Chat, is a great way to monitor local news in real-time.

“Cockburn Chat” is a Facebook group for residents of the City of Cockburn has more than 31K members.  It is described as:

“Welcome to Cockburn Chat! This is a community group, to ask questions, share local information and keep in touch with locals.”

The page is much more active than the official City of Cockburn page – which only has 3.1K followers.

Time to Tell Your Story

Now you have the tools and resources to find your content, it’s now time to tell your story.

Use Facebook Live

1 in 5 videos on Facebook are now Live videos. Why use Facebook Live? Users love to feel like they are involved in the moment in real-time. So when possible, make sure you latch on to this growing feature.

Check out our guide to live-streaming for businesses.

Amplify Your Content

Facebook lets you amplify your content to help your reach and establish authenticity. These include:

  • Using Facebook notes for long-form articles. This lets you add greater content to a post while also including more images. You can also stylise your content with different headings, bullet-points and quotes for greater emphasis.
  • Embed posts lets you share other articles into your posts from trusted sources. This increases your credibility as a valuable source of information.

Increase Your Reach

Make sure you tag your posts, videos, and images with the names of users, events and locations so your content is more discoverable.

Make sure to include the appropriate use of hashtags and emojis to relate to your desired audience.


Lastly, analyse your Insights to make sure your content is resonating with your audience. If your content isn’t hitting, time to change up your strategy!

journalists insights

Be sure to check out the video version of this post!

What are your go-to tools for finding breaking news? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Sean graduated from Murdoch University in 2017 and went from intern to Account Manager with Coffey & Tea. He also contributes to Social Media Perth.