Tips for finding great interview subjects on social media 

Allan I. Fleming

Image by Pixabay

Editors frequently want persons with lived working experience in stories. The dilemma is, where to locate them? I spoke with four freelance reporters about their encounter applying social media to obtain “real” folks to interview. 


Freelancer Erin Boyle regularly takes advantage of Instagram to find sufferers. “Sometimes sufferers are creating a manufacturer pretty much around their health issues identification,” explained Boyle, and, as a end result, they are likely to be receptive to an inquiry from a reporter.

Somewhat than immediate concept them, Boyle nearly often tries to discover an e mail by clicking on the Linktree website link at the top of their Instagram profile. “That’s the connection that will go to either a Linktree that has a listing of all of their choices, or it will go straight to their web page or their podcast or regardless of what it is they are doing,” Boyle explained.

Impartial journalist Sonya Collins mentioned she is snug vetting persons by Instagram. “When you do a hashtag lookup on Instagram, definitely you’re heading to comb via a ton of shots, and you begin to study the captions and discover small tidbits of people’s stories,” Collins said. “So that way you are by now vetting to see if their tale is legit. They’re not putting up in reaction to a ask for that I have produced.”


Collins frequently employs Fb to obtain sufferers with a certain issue or enrolled in a medical demo for a certain sickness. She seems for Fb groups and cautioned reporters to be respectful of each and every Fb group’s rules. “I are inclined to assume that I’m not permitted to publish a thing that claims, ‘I’m looking for a woman with triple damaging breast most cancers to interview.’” As a substitute, Collins finds the directors or moderators of the group in the list of users, and she will immediately concept them for assist in contacting individuals in the team.

Independent journalist Cassidy Chew has identified individuals to interview by carrying out search phrase searches that guide her to a man or woman, not a team Facebook webpage. For illustration, Chew discovered a person with diabetes who experienced reversed the course of his ailment by means of diet program and training. “It can be type of challenging to strategy people on Fb for the reason that they do not know who you are,” Chew reported. “As you would in an e-mail, you use a specialist voice and plainly clarify who you are and what you are seeking for.”


In the spring of 2022, a producer employed Chew to obtain him folks to job interview for a online video collection about health and fitness fairness. For example, for two of the movies she was on the lookout for LBGT youth who had worries remaining at dwelling and Black people impacted by maternal mortality. She uncovered them by exploring for appropriate GoFundMe webpages.

Chew stated it is important, right before reaching out, to do complimentary reconnaissance via Google queries and most likely courtroom information and information experiences, to confirm that individuals are most likely to be who they say they are. 


Collins claimed she has observed LinkedIn to be valuable when wanting for people who are dwelling with a exceptional disorder. Moms and dads will frequently start a foundation to raise revenue, or they will turn out to be speakers. Linkedin is a good place to uncover a person with that kind of specialist endeavor, she claimed.


Freelance journalist Tara Haelle, AHCJ’s main subject leader on clinical experiments, made use of Twitter for a story in a children’s magazine about how specified pets ended up spreading salmonella. “I did a search on Twitter to locate all the folks who had posted about possessing an African dwarf frog,” Haelle mentioned. “And then I achieved out to them, and I requested, ‘Do you by probability have a kid?’ Actually, I never know how else I would have identified small children like that.”

At the time she will get a response, she attempts to vet the particular person, but it is not generally easy. She will undoubtedly look at out their other tweets. “If they tweet about common things like, ‘The basketball activity previous night was great’ or what they experienced for breakfast and then interspersed within just that about time is, ‘Here’s the most up-to-date from the radiologist’ or ‘I went to the health care provider nowadays,’ then that appears quite legit.” And the moment she is conducting the job interview, Haelle may perhaps question for medical information.

With all the turmoil at Twitter due to the fact billionaire Elon Musk acquired the social media system, Haelle suggests she is not specified how a great deal she will be working with it in the long term.

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