For my graduate project, I was asked by the Missourian outreach director to write up a social media stylebook for copy editors on the ICE desk. Because I had previously taken the outreach class, I knew the style and types of social media posts that the Missourian crafts. Additionally, because students in the news editing course only receive one to two days of social media training in class, this guide will help them produce social posts via Twitter and Facebook that engage with our audience.

You can access the style book here.

First and foremost, the outreach director asked me to make a checklist for copy editors to go through before they schedule a post. This was the list I came up with:

  • The post doesn’t repeat the headline or deck
  • The tone of the social post should match the tone of the story you’re sharing
  • A visual is attached: photo, pull quote, statistics, graphics, etc. and the PolitiFact stories have the correct graphic.
  • The summary under the headline doesn’t cut off.
  • The photo is not cropped.
  • No grammar, punctuation or usage errors.
  • Sources important to the story are tagged.
  • Link on Twitter is shortened.
  • Facebook post is under or around 100 characters
  • Tweet has at least four blank characters so users can retweet
  • Scheduled a fun, lighthearted weather tweet for 7 a.m.
  • Schedule the front page of the paper

After this checklist, I then provided examples and tips to elaborate what this checklist means. For example, for “The post doesn’t repeat the headline or deck” I found nine posts from Facebook and Twitter that show various degrees of success with this tip. With matching the tone, I provided newsy, fun, casual and somber examples. I also provided some suggestions on how to attach different types of visuals as well as how to correct a cropped photo.

I hope this stylebook will help future copy editors write social posts that engage with our readers and bring a larger audience to the Missourian website.