Social media and platform resources

Social media and platform resources for small, independent and nonprofit newsrooms

Note: This page was last updated in September 2019 and is intended only for members of the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), the Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION), the Detroit Journalism Cooperative, the NJ News Commons, the Colorado Media Project and the Association of Alternative Newsmedia organizations under a Facebook and Knight Foundation-supported program to enhance the social media skills of small, independent and nonprofit news organizations. The program is being coordinated by the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University.

In mid-2017, the Center for Cooperative Media launched a project funded by Knight Foundation that aimed to help small, local, independent and nonprofit news organizations better utilize social media to grow audience and revenue.

The project was coordinated in partnership with the Institute for Nonprofit News and the Local Independent Online News Publishers organizations, as well as the Detroit Journalism Cooperative and the NJ News Commons. We began working closely with Facebook first through the Facebook Journalism Project.

Since then, the project has expanded quite a bit and will continue at least through the end of 2019. In addition to social media training, the program offers newsletter, analytics, membership and search engine optimization training. The program is now also open to members of the Colorado Media Project and the Association of Alternative Newsmedia.

Below is a list of links to basic tools and channels you should know about as it relates to some of the major social platforms, as well as resources you have access to as part of this project. 

Training opportunities

1. Audience Development, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Newsletter, Analytics and Membership Fundamentals programs

In late 2017, we launched a project we called the Facebook Fundamentals desk. You can read more about it here. The program paired news orgs with consultants for one-on-one sessions focusing on basics for Facebook. In 2018, we expanded it to include more of a wider audience development fundamentals focus, as well as webinars specifically for Facebook and Google. Then in 2019 we added more sessions on newsletters, analytics, membership and LinkedIn.

Below are sessions currently available to INN, LION, DJC, NJNC, CMP and AAN members:

  • Audience Development Fundamentals and open office hours: This program offers one-on-one sessions (up to three hours each) in which either consultant Ashley Woods Branch or Meena Thiruvengadam will walk through some of the basics you should consider when it comes to your overall audience strategy. You can also sign up for a shorter session if you have a specific question you want help with. Ashley and Meena’s bios are below. You can sign up with Ashley here and Meena here.
  • Facebook Fundamentals: This program offers small-group webinars with a focus on Facebook.
  • Google Fundamentals: This program offers small-group webinars with a focus on Google and search.
  • LinkedIn Fundamentals: This program offers small-group webinars with a focus on LinkedIn.
  • Newsletter Fundamentals: This program offers small-group webinars with a focus on growing newsletter subscriber lists.
  • Analytics Fundamentals: This program offers small-group webinars with a focus on Google Analytics and segmenting your audience to put an emphasis on loyal readers.
  • Membership Fundamentals: This program offers small-group webinars with a focus on membership programs for news and information entities.
2. A beginner’s guide to community-powered social media marketing

This series from Red Root Marketing offers short video lessons and downloadable templates with simple hyperlocal social media marketing strategies and techniques to help news organizations gain brand awareness, grow audiences and build community engagement. Lessons are organized by four simple milestones that every news organization needs to grow their audience. (Watch this video to get a sneak peek.) We have 15 passes to the courses, which are available on the Teachable platform. To request access to one of those 15 credentials, please email Stefanie Murray at [email protected].

3. Social media marketing: How to use Facebook, Instagram and YouTube’s ads and marketing platforms

We worked with Toya Wilson-Smith in 2018 and 2019 on an intensive series of training webinars designed to help you better leverage social media marketing platforms to grow your audience, email lists and revenue. We have offered a basic webinar for those just getting started, an intermediate webinar, and an advanced session, as well as open office hours and one-on-one coaching opportunities. The full documentation from those trainings is linked below under the “resources” section. We don’t have any paid social sessions planned for fall 2019, but if you are interested in joining one, contact Stefanie Murray at [email protected]. We’ll add sessions if there is enough interest!

4. Verification

Verification is one of the most common questions we get as part of this project, and it’s changed quite a bit over the last several years! We hosted a series of webinars to help you with this topic. You can also visit this tip sheet for more information, but note that we’ll be publishing a new and more updated tip sheet in September 2019.

5. Instant Articles, AMP and Apple News

As part of this project, we’re able to offer help from a developer for organizations who want to test Facebook’s Instant Articles, Google’s AMP or Apple News. Most of our work so far as been focused on Instant Articles and AMP. Visit this page to read more about what they offer (note this tipsheet doesn’t include the new subscription options available in some), as well as the pros and cons of each. If you are interested in help, please contact Stefanie Murray at [email protected].

6. One-on-one consulting

As part of this program, the Center for Cooperative Media has secured consultants who are available to work directly with INN, LION, DJC and NJNC organizations on audience development strategy relating to social platforms.

This program will pay for a limited number of hours of individual coaching for you with one of the consultants; hourly maximums vary by consultant. The consultants are listed below.

The consultants include:

  • Susy Schultz, president of Public Narrative. Susy specializes in teaching new ways to engage the community in journalism and journalism with the community, especially using social platforms.
  • David Beard, an independent consultant. Dave’s areas of expertise are growing audience for newsletters, developing alternate revenue streams, partnerships and overall content strategy.
  • Ned Berke is an audience development strategist. He currently works with publications both global and local to innovate audience-driven business models in his roles at the Tow-Knight Center and the Center for Cooperative Media.
  • Toya Wilson-Smith is the co-founder of NexGeneration Digital Marketing Agency, Inc. and developed Simply Social Marketing Academy, a social media marketing educational company to assist local business owners to leverage the internet to increase their brand awareness. With a background in corporate sales and a M.B.A. in marketing, Toya is known for her ability to simplify complex and fast changing technology topics to people of all ages and with various backgrounds.
  • Martin Halo has taught at Montclair State University’s School of Communication and Media since 2013. He specializes in digital media and content creation, including film and web. Martin also heads a creative agency, Percy Cole Media, which develops websites for small business and touring musicians based in New York, Nashville, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
  • Ashley Woods Branch is the founder of Detour, a local news startup using email, social media and IRL events to build community, spotlight neighborhood-level issues and provide local news through an equitable perspective. She also coaches local, nonprofit and emerging news organizations on audience-focused strategies like: startup business plans, newsletters, membership programs, partnerships and social media marketing. Ashley previously led consumer experience and digital strategy at the Detroit Free Press and was the editor of HuffPost’s Detroit bureau. She is a 2019 Marshall Memorial Fellow, 2018 Information Accelerator winner, and a 2018 visiting Neiman Fellow at Harvard University.
  • Meena Thiruvengadem is a digital strategy consultant who works at the intersection of audience and revenue. She has led global audience teams at Bloomberg and Business Insider, developing strategic partnerships and driving sharp increases in audience, revenue and traffic across platforms. She works closely with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, SmartNews and Flipboard. She has a track record of building audiences for a variety of publishers and journalists and training journalists in social media best practices.
  • To request a consulting session, please contact Stefanie Murray at [email protected].
7. Twitter Training for Journalists

Twitter hosted a round of training for journalists in fall 2018, the first it had offered in a long time. More details are below. These webinars were open to any journalist.  Replays are available below, and the password for all of them is midtermwebinars.

Resources we’ve compiled for you

The following links have been compiled as part of this project and will continue to be updated as we add more resources. If we’re missing a link you think should be added here, email Stefanie Murray at [email protected].

Articles we’ve written and documentation we’ve collected as part of this project include:



Social media marketing documentation

Below you will find resources compiled from Toya Wilson-Smith’s basic, intermediate and advanced social media marketing webinars:

Important info to know on Facebook

Facebook communication channels — journalists

Facebook communication channels — general business

Advertising on Facebook

Tools, training and other materials

Nonprofits on Facebook

Links you should review regarding Nonprofits on Facebook:

  • First, you should be sure that one of the categories that your Facebook Page is set up as is “nonprofit” so you can be easily found when people search, and so you can register as a nonprofit on Facebook. Note that your page can have up to three different categories.
  • Register as a nonprofit on Facebook. After you’ve done this, then you can activate the “Donate” button on your Facebook Page, which will allow you to accept donations via the platform, and then you can also enable the “Fundraiser” tab on your page, which will allow people to fundraise for you.
  • Overview of Facebook’s fundraising tools.
  • Tips for how to grab people’s attention on Facebook.

If you have any questions, let us know! Email Stefanie Murray at [email protected].

About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. The Center is supported with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Democracy Fund. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism, and in doing so serve New Jersey residents. For more information, visit