Michelle Kessler, social media editor for USA TODAY, spoke with SmartBrief editor Jesse Stanchak at BlogWell, which was presented early May by SocialMedia.org in Washington, D.C. Kessler talked about how her company handles the challenges and opportunities that social media presents to journalism.

(Full disclosure: SocialMedia.org CEO Andy Sernovitz regularly contributes to this blog and serves as the editor at large for SmartBrief on Social Media.)

Some aspects of USA TODAY’s approach to social media, according to Kessler:

  • Direct traffic to the company site. In today’s world, maintaining a social media presence is imperative, but having a popular Facebook page doesn’t necessarily translate into revenue. The key is to link back to the home site whenever possible.
  • Vet information carefully. Reporters should be careful not to spread unverified rumors through social media posts. Kessler said she tells journalists not to tweet anything they wouldn’t feel comfortable having printed in the paper. Journalists at USA TODAY apply the same fact-checking strategies they use in their everyday reporting when it comes to tweets and other forms of social media, she added.
  • Maintain editorial detachment. Like with the print product, it’s important to keep the editorial and marketing departments separate to maintain journalistic integrity.

View the video after the jump.

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