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Covering #Matthew with SND: Diary of a social media maven

oscarEditors Note: Rachel Page is a freelance journalist and Social Media aficionado with a knack for finding great stories to share with the world and her dog, Oscar. This is her account of the time she spent covering Hurricane #Matthew using the suite of tools available via Social News Desk:


by: Rachel Page

Thursday – 7:30 p.m. CST

I’ve been given the go-ahead to take the social media reins for two Florida newspapers (St. Augustine Record and Florida Times-Union) and a Georgia paper (Savannah Morning News). Hurricane Matthew is headed their way, and they need help handling the flood of news (pun intended).

I spent the last two years working as a full-time social media manager at a West Texas daily newspaper. Now I’m freelancing, and was thrilled to get the opportunity to work with my favorite social media tool again. I’d been having some definite Social News Desk withdrawals.

Thursday – 8 p.m. CST

You can do so much in the SND Dashboard. I’ve got it all set up just right, with streams for the six accounts I’m monitoring, as well as direct Twitter mentions. Check it out:

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Thursday – 11:30 p.m. CST

Matthew is getting closer, and I’m posting hourly National Weather Service reports. They’re saying it should hit Florida sometime overnight.

Friday – 3 a.m. CST

… Huh? I wasn’t sleeping! I was just…resting my eyes.

No landfall yet, but there’s some nasty weather in Florida all the same. Since I’m up, I open the dashboard and share some recent posts between all the accounts. It’s nice that SND does this. I wouldn’t normally share stories between different markets, but in a situation like this, readers are looking for any information on Matthew’s movement.

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Friday – 12:30 p.m. CST

screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-5-31-46-pmDuring down times between hurricane updates, I’m playing around with the SND dashboard. It’s funny — I used it daily for two years, but it wasn’t until I started monitoring these accounts for markets about which I knew nothing that I really explored some of the features. Like the Twitter trending hashtags and search functions. It’s easy to see that #HurricaneMatthew and #Matthew are the most-used hashtags going around, so I set up two streams to pull in all tweets containing those.

Friday – 2:30 p.m. CST

Things are picking up now. The newspaper staffs are having to evacuate because of Matthew, so I’m mostly by myself posting updates. One of the trickiest things about this is not missing important information. I mean, every once in a while I have to get up to take my dog outside. Luckily the dashboard lets you have as many streams as you want open at the same time, so I could tell with a glance what tweets and posts were new.

Friday – 7 p.m. CST

I’m getting a lot of questions from readers about closures, cancellations and the state of the beaches. As a freelancer, I don’t have access to log in to any of these Facebook or Twitter accounts, but the new dashboard is set up so I don’t have to. All I need is a stream for each account with either direct mentions (Twitter) or private messages (Facebook). I’m doing my best to answer all the questions as quickly as possible, or direct them to someone who does know the answer. I don’t think anyone even suspects I’m from out of state (shh!).

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Kim Wilson

Founder/President
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