Last week during the election madness I was called in to help out the local newspaper here in the greater Westerly/Pawcatuck area, The Westerly Sun.

I was brought in (at the last minute of course) to help broadcast poll results and election stories using The Westerly Sun’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

This was a simple fix – I installed the social dashboard TweetDeck. However, the larger problem is that social media has yet to be adopted and used by the majority let alone a ‘large’ minority of employees. One employee, Nancy Burns, is responsible for updating The Sun’s Fan Page and Twitter account. With results pouring in at all levels this can become overwhelming – especially without an attention dashboard such as TweetDeck or Hootsuite.

So, I introduced Nancy to Tweetdeck. The results were immediate. In under 5mins I helped walk her through TweetDeck, explaining the various icons and tools available – she loves the automatic URL shortener.

The question I continue to receive from Managing Editor David Tranchida (yes, he’s my father) is how can The Sun use social media to increase profits? Newspapers depend largely upon businesses to generate advertising revenue. Businesses pay to advertise on the newspaper’s website. The goal: increase traffic to The Westerly Sun website.

Here’s the quick solution: post a link including story teaser to the company Fan Page and Twitter account broadcasting the local news to your followers and fans. By clicking on the link it will bring people to your website and increase the amount of traffic to your website ultimately making it more attractive for businesses to use as an advertising platform.

However, I believe there is more that can be done – especially by local news organizations. A local newspaper is the eyes and ears of the town. In this particular case the majority of The Westerly Sun staff have lived and worked in southern RI or Southeastern CT. These reporters and journalists are local experts and can provide local knowledge to the masses. Now, given the revolution of communication during the past two decades anyone who resides in a town can call themselves an area expert. That is the power of new media. This combination can be used to build a robust community.

The Sun has plenty of content to distribute. So the question now is what topic of content to distribute and how frequently should it be broadcasted?