As the COVID-19 pandemic expands, journalists in local newsrooms are working hard to keep their communities informed. And although it’s brand new – (wide release slated for late March) – we’re already seeing dozens of newsrooms embrace SND’s Facebook Messenger technology to keep information flowing and send urgent updates when necessary.
Our SND Test Drive Team got early access to this new Social News Desk feature and have been sending daily digests to Messenger subscribers for several months. Now, as the pace of pandemic-coverage increases, we’re seeing those newsrooms sending push-alert updates on how coronavirus is affecting their communities.
While many of our newsroom-users are sending coronavirus updates through their Top Stories digests, it’s also easy to set up a topic feed specifically for COVID-19 coverage – even if you don’t have an RSS feed dedicated to the topic on your website.
In SND’s Messenger Experience Settings tab, click “New Topic” and give your topic a name. Set the time and maximum content age – for a rapidly changing story, you may want a lower threshold for your content’s age. Now, instead of an RSS feed, enter your desired tag into the Tags field. Don’t forget to save your new topic.
As you post content related to your topic, use the Tags field to identify the story as part of that topic. Keep in mind that you can add multiple metatags to a story. You can also add tags from Post Manager to stories you have already sent.
As you publish stories to your page with the selected tag, they will populate in your Content tab in SND’s Messenger Experience. From here, you can let the digest automatically select stories that you’ve published, or add stories to the highlights by clicking on them in the “Available Content” section. You can also drag and drop your highlights into the desired order.
If a major update happens, you can also send a push alert to your subscribers – either all subscribers, just those for certain topics, or a single topic. The push alert can contain a link, or it can be a text-only alert. Keep in mind that messages should be non-promotional and relevant, according to Facebook’s rules.
And because of the way the native Messenger app interacts with most mobile devices, these push alerts will show up on the lock screen of the device…adding extra visibility.
If you don’t yet have access to SND’s Messenger Experience, contact your Client Success Manager or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get early access. We’ll be happy to help you set it up so you can keep your viewers informed.