The Columbia Journalism Review featured an interesting story this week about how syndicated columnist Connie Schultz uses Facebook as both a news source and a tool for engagement.

Schultz, a former ivoh trustee, has more than 130,000 followers on Facebook. As CJR’s Anna Clark reports:

“The Cleveland-centric feed is infused with national headlines; conversations move between the verdict in the Michael Brelo trial to presidential politics to consent decree between the Department of Justice and the Cleveland Police Department. There’s also a healthy dose of opinionating about LeBron James, naturally, while personal touches — like photos of Schultz’s dog, Franklin — serve as disarming points of connection amid the sometimes spirited debate. (Pointedly, Schultz uses a personal page with public settings, rather than a fan page.)…

“Schultz’s clear-eyed moderation staves off rumor-mongering, heightening the credibility of the page, and other journalists, too, weigh in on the discussion. ‘I don’t want to be a celebrity,’ she adds. ‘I want to be a trusted source.’ And it’s working. For journalists seeking a path to meaningful engagement with readers — not just a way to blast links and hashtags at them — the page is a model.”

Schultz’s posts regularly attract thousands of likes, not just because she posts interesting information but because she regularly interacts with commenters and answers their questions. She also takes a conversational approach to her posts, which are a mix of playful photos, creative musings, and thoughtful commentary. Take one of her latest posts, which generated more than 3,300 likes, 130 shares, and 6,700 comments in less than 24 hours:

 

 

Reader Marcia Bryant said she appreciates that Schultz’s posts create a safe space for honest dialogue and healthy debates. “I like the fact that the toughest online debates I’ve ever had have been on her page,” Bryant told CJR. “Not just because she welcomes a diversity of viewpoints but because I care enough about the community she’s built there that I’m really invested in the conversation.”

The full CJR story is well worth the read.

 

Related: Robert Scoble’s 22 tips for better Facebook engagement (AdWeek)