Making the Spoon Bend for You


Image from Rival IQ

Thankfully, we are equipped with the internet: a powerful tool which allows every person, who has access, to be a modern-day, digital storyteller.

However, there are right and wrong ways to use the internet, more specifically social media platforms, in storytelling. By getting to know each platform separately and learning their features and strengths, storytellers are able to make the internet work for them rather than putting in a strenuous amount of work to attempt to use the internet to their advantage. In other words, there are ways to make the spoon to bend for you rather than bending it yourself, a metaphor I’m borrowing from Dean Simpson.

Right now, I am working on a feature story on the small business culture in the city of Pittsburgh. When it is complete, I aim to publish the story online and utilize social media platforms in order to help readers find their way to the story. Today, readers expect a presence on social media from organizations and companies.

Social Media Strategy: Facebook + Instagram

Image from Bril!o

Why I chose to utilize Facebook:

  • Through its reach and engagement, Facebook influences behavior, especially behavior related buying or reading choices (Carroll, p. 264)
  • Facebook allows for the options of including a “Like” button or a call to action within the post (Caroll, p. 264)

My goal is to influence my audience’s behavior: to follow the link in my Facebook post in order to read my full article. The call to action will be to follow the link in the post in order to learn more about the small business culture in Pittsburgh. Reach on Facebook has a lot to do with the account’s “friends”. My friends on Facebook are my ideal audience. They include college students in the Pittsburgh area who generally favor supporting small businesses and adults around the Pittsburgh area who have spendable incomes, which may incline them to support the small businesses featured in my article.

Image from Digital Trends

Why I chose to utilize Instagram:

So far in my research, I have found that Pittsburgh’s small business scene is growing mostly in the technology and cuisine categories. I expect most of my readers to be interested in the “foodie” side of the story; plus, these start-up restaurants are more accessible to my audience than the technology start-ups.

Instagram is visually based. They say a picture says a thousand words, and if that picture can get an audience member’s mouth watering at the site of homemade ice cream from Millie’s, it can tell them a story immediately: “click on the link below to find out where you can get this!!”

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 10.44.15 PM
Image from @Bottomless_Pitt

By posting an image, which I will take myself at one of the featured restaurants, to Instagram with a short caption, a link to my post, and a popular hashtag that is already established (like #shopsmallpgh), my news feature is likely to be found by the ideal audience, which is very similar to my group of friends on Facebook.

Social Media Research: Shopping Small in Pittsburgh

Carroll suggests using hashtags that are established since they are being used by your audience already. By conducting basic searches on Instagram and Facebook, I’ve found that the hashtag #shopsmallpgh has been popular. It is most often used around Small Business Saturday, which is the day after Black Friday each year. I will most likely include the use of this hashtag in my social media strategy.

I have also found that it is easy to find small business restaurants in the Pittsburgh area using Instagram. Furthermore, I’ve found that Pittsburgh has a few food bloggers on Instagram who spread the word about these start-up restaurants. They have a decent following, too. I have interviewed @Bottomless_Pitt and I have plans to interview @PghFoodDude. I am hoping that they are willing to give me a shout out on their accounts in exchange for me featuring them in my news feature. I plan to do this because their audience is very similar to my target audience for my news piece.

My intention is to use multiple social media platforms in a complementary way that works for my piece, rather than trying to force them to work for me. Since food is such a highly visual topic, I believe the photo-friendly, hashtag-friendly platforms of Instagram and Facebook will work well for me.


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