Trust us, you’re going to want to read this series about social media

This was first published on the blog of the Reynolds Journalism Institute.

How do news consumers decide what information to trust, and how can journalists teach users to be smarter consumers and sharers?

As our fellow community members — voters, neighbors, family members, co-workers — face more options for what to include in their information diet, I’d sure like to know what I might do as a journalist to encourage healthy choices. How can I influence what my followers pick to snack on?

Increasingly, those choices are made on social media platforms. Rather than seeking out a specific brand, consumers are watching a stream of information go by and reaching out to grab specific bits.

How do they decide which ones to click? How do they know what’s good for them? How can they tell what’s unusual, special and worth sharing? How do they choose which ones are, as marketing icon Seth Godin says, remarkable, or worth remarking on?

team of college students and I have been interviewing journalists and nonjournalists to get a sense of what creates trust and credibility between communicator and receiver. We’re working with the Trust Project and factoring in their extensive user research about indicators of trust.

In our talks with people in and out of the news industry about social media and credibility, three themes emerged: Journalists need to tell their own stories, engage authentically and deploy their fans. We’ll take a look at those three themes in three posts:

Our next step is to work with journalists to test how these strategies can be put to work for them. If you’re interested in participating, please get in touch with me.

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