Bloomberg’s Yurow Seeks to Make Business News More Social

This post is part of the Social Media Editor Series, featuring interviews with social media editors from news organizations about what they do and where they see social media in journalism going.

For Bloomberg L.P., a media corporation on which much of the world’s financial decisions depend, creating a vibrant social media presence hasn’t always been a priority.

But these days it’s becoming a necessity.

“Our terminal usually has stories scooped before Twitter does—our terminal is the original Twitter,” Mat Yurow, Bloomberg’s social media editor, told The Content Strategist.

“It’s tough to tell our journalists that sometimes you can find these stories before the terminal,” said the 24-year-old responsible for composing, managing and strategizing Bloomberg News and BusinessWeek’s social media presence.

The Bloomberg Terminal is a business wire service that delivers real-time financial data to computer screens and mobile phones across the globe. It’s also the company’s core product.

With its inveterate business model, Bloomberg was in no hurry to lead the social media revolution. The company only hired its first editorial-side social media editor last year.

Now it has two—Yurow, and Kirsten Salyer—who are in charge of the editorial sections’ social media, as well as teaching other employees how to use social media to find stories and sources, and to broadcast work.

Before last year, Bloomberg’s social media presence relied on automated social media posts as stories came out. Updating the old media company to new social media standards required a very direct approach to the way its journalists used social media. Bloomberg does not stake a claim on its reporters’ Facebook accounts.

“That’s really their network to connect with friends and family,” said Yurow. Twitter, however, is fair game.

“Twitter accounts are not private,” Yurow, an Emory University film and marketing grad, said. “We encourage openness—saying, ‘I’m a reporter from Bloomberg: this is what I cover and this is what I tweet.’”

Out of its 2,300 media professionals working from 146 bureaus in 72 countries, only 500 are active on Twitter. But Yurow isn’t necessarily concerned with numbers.

“It’s not as much about getting more to sign up, but to tweet better,” he said.

According to Yurow, tweeting better involves a number of considerations:

  • What are you trying to accomplish? Figure out, on a case-by-case basis, whether you’re looking for clicks on your website or retweets on Twitter. Bloomberg wants both. The Terminal often transmits core financial information within a headline. Getting more clicks on its websites involves writing intriguing Twitter posts that don’t give away all the information. To get more retweets,  Yurow suggests making tweets more inclusive by attaching an interesting fact or quote.
  • What’s trending? Yurow suggests sites like ComScoreBit.lyTopsy and Hootsuite to see what’s trending on social media. Use that information to gauge what content might be most suitable to highlight at the moment.
  • What’s working? Pay attention to what gets the best responses or the most retweets. “Figure out who is reading the stories and who is sharing, and the inner tidbits they are sharing,” Yurow said. “Next time you send out a tweet, you can change it a little bit to get more traction.”
  • What time? When you know who is reading your tweets, the next step is to decide when tweets would best reach that audience. For example, Yurow suggests sending out finance tweets early in the morning and evening, or delaying technology tweets three-hours to better hit the West Coast.
  • Be Flexible. “Social media changes quickly,” said Yurow. “Practices and tools being used today will likely be out of date in a few months.” Be willing to adapt to the times and to new technologies.
  • Be a Human. “Twitter is all about knowing there is someone on the other end of the line who will tweet back,” Yurow said. “My job is to remind people I’m here, listening to what you have to say.” This interaction is lost with automated posts.

Last week, instituted a breaking news Twitter button that appears atop the page for big stories. According to Yurow, the button drove 8,000 tweets in the first 10 minutes.

Yurow acknowledges that social media success at Bloomberg will require better tweets and an adoption of new web and digital technologies, including API integration and user-generated content.

“Bloomberg has traditionally been an old-media company,” Yurow said. “We’re slowly building confidence in social media.”

For Yurow, building that confidence means extending Bloomberg’s goals of media “transparency” to social media.

Bloomberg’s Midtown offices, he said, visually signify the company’s ethos. “There’s not a single office and all the conference rooms are made of glass,” he said, demonstrating its literal transparency. “There’s not a single private element once you’re inside.”

But in regard to new social media developments at Bloomberg, Yurow was mum, just saying, “We have a lot of ammo we’re ready to release.”

Like what? The Content Strategist asked.

“I can’t tell you that. You’ll have to wait and see.”

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