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Monke: Social media connects us with readers

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columns Dickinson, 58602

Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

As a senior at Minnesota State University Moorhead, I started hearing about this thing called Facebook.

Friends at bigger schools told us about how great it was and some of my classmates even took to writing letters to MSUM officials basically demanding that we too gain access to this revolution.

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People forget that in those early days, you couldn't gain access to Facebook if you didn't have college email address. That was just seven years ago this spring. It seems like a lifetime.

In less than a decade, this one website has been an absolute game changer for our world -- and the media has not been excluded.

Social media providers Facebook and Twitter now play essential roles in old media like ourselves staying connected with readers who may never otherwise read a newspaper.

This was never more evident than during last Sunday's blizzard. (Yes, I'm calling it a blizzard even though the meteorologists didn't.)

That day, news editor Klark Byrd and I decided to jumpstart The Dickinson Press' Facebook page, which had been dormant for more than a year.

We posted road conditions, cancelations, closures, pictures of the storm and links to stories we were working on. Thousands clicked on a story about the closure of Interstate 94.

According to Facebook's analytics, our page was reaching an average of 110 unique viewers before the storm. Since restarting it, that number has climbed to an average of 2,100 per day.

That's 2,000 more people who can interact with us, ask us questions, answer ours, submit story ideas, vote in our online polls and be more easily linked to stories on our website.

I'm very much a member of Generation Y when it comes to how I access media. Although I am the editor of this newspaper, I'll admit that I prefer reading our stories and those from other news outlets on my iPhone, iPad or computer screen.

It's amazing how many of the stories I read are derived from Facebook or Twitter browsing. The same is true for almost anyone who uses social media.

It's quick and easy to access and that's why we're bringing you our stories in that same manner. You can find us and like our page simply by searching for The Dickinson Press.

The goal of The Press' Facebook page is to not only share our stories with you, but for you to share your stories and ideas with us. Have you heard of something happening in the area that you think we should be doing a story on, but you don't know our email nor do you have the time to look it up? Simply message us on Facebook.

Maybe you spend more time on Twitter. No problem. We have tweaked our Twitter handle as well so you can now follow us at dickinsonpress. Our Twitter and Facebook are interlinked, so anything posted on one automatically goes to the other.

Perhaps you're more long-winded. You can always start a blog with us at areavoices.com, let us know what you're writing about and maybe you'll find yourself as a featured area blogger on our website's homepage.

One way or another, we want to connect with you, our valuable readers.

Without you, there is no newspaper -- print, online or otherwise.

Monke is the managing editor of The Dickinson Press. Email him at dmonke@thedickinsonpress, send him a tweet at monkebusiness and read his blog at monke.areavoices.com.

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