A three-person panel spoke Tuesday at the INMA World Congress about the next generation for social media engagement and news publishers.

Convergence, influence, and conscience: These are the three key words Claire Hawley, director of audience acquisition at the Los Angeles Times digital edition, wanted delegates at the 82nd INMA World Congress to take with them after her presentation on Tuesday. In particular, Hawley discussed how the L.A. Times is launching social media advertising packages and exploring how advertisements can reach their audience.

A Times’ Web site registration feature allows users to connect to Facebook and Twitter. And by adding a “like” button on the top of their masthead, the Times staff also tripled the number of “likes” their Web site had on Facebook. 

“With small modifications you can get a lot more audience,” Hawley said. 

The Times, which Hawley said is aiming for an aged 18-34 target audience, is looking at convergence through Google’s Search Plus Your World, which takes into account a user’s network and information when finding search results.

Hawley also emphasised influence, which the newspaper gains by interacting with users. She compared posts on two Times Facebook pages — the main news page, which had a number of “likes” and comments, and then an automated sports feed with little reader feedback.

“You’d think that’d be a no brainer, but we’re still seeing a lot of companies using auto feeds,” she said. “In the long run, this can only hurt you.” 

The Times found that 91% of journalists on Twitter retweet or interact with their followers, Hawley said, and that those feeds were most popular at their respective papers. 

The last trend Hawley spoke about was conscience. Based on poll results collected by the Times, 47% of respondents said they shared links because they felt it would help others.

“Users are going beyond having a conversation,” Hawley said. “They’re using social media as a catalyst for change. Social media is touching more and more points of our lives.”

Tumblr is a different sort of social network — not one about people knowing each other, but “rather it’s about people who are expressing and sharing interests,” Liba Rubenstein, Tumblr’s director of outreach for causes, told INMA World Congress delegates.

“The beauty of Tumblr is the openness of the platform and the simplicity of posting,” Rubenstein said.

Any type of media can be posted to Tumblr, and Rubenstein stressed that the software is easy to navigate and customisable. As for sharing, people don’t simply comment on a post. They “reblog” it — posting it to their own Tumblr.

“A compelling piece of content can spread to influencers,” she said. 

Numerically, Tumblr is reaching new highs in numbers, Rubenstein said.

50 million Tumblr blogs.

140 million monthly uniques and 60 million-plus posts every day.

17 billion monthly pageviews.

122,302 new users on Monday alone.

2,500 posts per second.

Tumblr has recently started allowing people to brand their site. “It’s been incredibly successful,” Rubenstein said. “Basically, Tumblr is reaching out.” 

Tom Sly, head of original programming for YouTube, made it clear he wasn’t a journalist.

But behind a trillion videos uploaded last year and 800 million unique hits to YouTube every month, Sly’s a proven businessman.

“You bring the story and we bring the rest, basically,” he told INMA World Congress delegates. “If you’re producing video content and not making it available on YouTube, you’re missing out.”

Sly presented — appropriately enough — a video timeline about YouTube, which launched in 2005. He asked the audience what it would be like to watch historical events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina on YouTube as opposed to footage on an actual television station.

“Imagine experiencing these events where 4G camera phones and wireless are the norm,” he said. “There’s something visceral that makes these things have universal appeal. When stories break, people have YouTube to understand them.”

Another appeal of posting videos on YouTube, Sly said, was that business have content for the first, second, and even 15th news cycle — and the price is basically zero.

“When you find something you love, you want to share it with people you care about,” he said. “And that’s what YouTube is about.”