We didn’t get around to posting our links of the week last Friday, so this week’s edition is extra long. Rest assured, you’ll want to bear with us. These are some good reads:
Being an active social media participant can build one’s social capital, but the concept of social capital isn’t new at all. Taylor Davidson from Unstructured Ventures chews on that last piece for a bit.
Live blogging platform CoverItLive gets a business model. If you don’t like CoverItLive, perhaps it’s a good time to consider live blogging in general?
Want to save your job? Of course you do, especially if you’re an online editor. Danny Sanchez from Journalistopia, once again, hits the nail on the head with this handy list of 10 things online editors can do to save their jobs.
Social media, SEO and other new media weapons are great at your disposal, but is your news organization doing enough to change the way it covers the news to survive? Mark Briggs from Journalism 2.0 wants to know.
1. Good traffic. StumbleUpon has the potential to send loads of traffic to your site. The StumbleUpon experience is quite different from that of Digg, however, and users pick categories for sites they wish to Stumble.
2. Ability to become a thought leader in your field. If you’re a tech reporter, being on StumbleUpon can be a good way to introduce yourself to people who enjoy reading tech-related stories. If you read a piece on Engadget or Gizmodo about a new gadget, Stumbling it — especially if you discover it on StumbleUpon — can get you some instant street cred, and build your reputation.
3. Ability to create a following for your content. It’s not good to self-submit too often, but if you have a good reputation, when folks see that you’ve written something, they’re probably:
- more likely to read it
- more likely to share it
- more likely to give you suggestions for future content
Once you get started on there, you may want to write a blog post/Tweet that you’re on StumbleUpon, and that people can follow you there. If you evangelize the service with your readership, they’re more likely to pass the word along to their friends.
Are you on StumbleUpon? I know I am. You can find my profile here.
An often-overlooked way to get quality user-contributed material on your site is to invite readers to blog about specific events on your news site using your software. It’s an excellent way to bring a new voice to your site, and perhaps even cover an event you would not have been able to attend otherwise. At the Statesman, we’ve had reader bloggers, through our Pluck reader blogger software, post from political conventions, a climate change summit in Bali and at Netroots Nation. During the political convention, one of our veteran reporters told me the reader blogger had a fresh point-of-view that made for some good coverage. High praise, indeed.
1. Identify your blogger. Reporters can usually identify, and even contact, some likely candidates. Generally, seek out someone who has a stake in the event. For example, you could find someone who is going to the South by Southwest Festival. Contact this person and explain that you’d like to have him or her blog and explain in detail what that will entail. If you can pay the blogger, great. Often, though, people will blog for free for the thrill of getting the online play. It’s OK if the person has never blogged before – as long as he or she is interesting and willing to share their thoughts, it will be good.
2. Call the person on the phone after he or she has agreed to go over what you expect, what might be fun, how often you think the person should post, etc. It helps sometimes to offer up some blog topic ideas. Be sure to listen to his or her concerns, and address them if possible.
3. Set up the blog for your reader blogger ahead of the event. If your blogger is a true novice, have him or her send in a picture and set it up, along with a nice header and “about” page.
4. Send your blogger detailed instructions on how to access the blog, how to post links, photos and videos, etc.
5. Once your blogger starts posting, give that thing some great play. If you did find a SXSW blogger, put the updates as a link side-by-side with your other festival coverage. Be sure to clearly label the material as a reader blog.
6. When the event is over, call your blogger and share page view statistics and what you enjoyed about the work. Be sure to say “thank you.”
Of course, you could find bloggers who are already posting on their own software and just link to them. You should do that when you find bloggers who are providing relevant information to your readers. What’s good about hosting someone new on your own site, though, is you bring people into the process who wouldn’t otherwise be involved. You can find some great new voices — people who are likely to want to stay involved.
In my work over at the Chicago Tribune, and now Tribune Interactive, I’ve been teaching folks how they can get started on social bookmarking sites.
Part of what led to the traffic increase at the Tribune was partly because I figured it out, and then evangelized it within the newsroom.
Here’s how you can get started there:
1. First, go to Digg and create a profile. It’s good to state your news affiliation somewhere on the profile, but I don’t think you need to have it in your profile name.
2. Fill your profile out completely. Add your avatar, add your name and publication, your interests, etc. If you’re on Twitter, post a link to your Twitter name.
3. Now it’s time to start messing around. But don’t start submitting stories yet. Here are a couple of places you should explore.
- First, you’ll want to look at the Digg section you’re interested in. If you’re a science reporter, Digg has a science section. If you’re a producer, check out the main page.
- Also, check out the “Upcoming” tab on the Digg homepage and on your section. While you’re there, you’ll want to not only Digg stories that are of interest to you, but feel free to comment on a couple of them as well. This will get you noticed by other Diggers.
- While you’re here, start adding some friends. See the people who have submitted stories that appear on the “Upcoming” tab. Add them. Also, you could try adding some folks from the SocialBlade lists; you just don’t want to get caught up in the numbers game.
4. If you’re looking for other folks to connect with, go to the right rail on “Upcoming.” Scroll down a bit. You’ll see something like this:
Check out some of the profiles there. You want to become friends with folks who have strong profiles. Look at:
- where they’re from
- the types of stories they like
- the number of stories they’ve submitted
- the popular ratio
I won’t lie; Digg can be a bit of a time suck. The more you comment on people’s submissions, the more stories you Digg and the more often you reach out to people, the stronger your personal network will become.
You want to become a real person on Digg, and not just someone that’s part of a faceless news organization. This and this, for instance, are probably not the best approaches.
The trick with these five steps is to get noticed, and if you do what I’ve suggested, you’ll do just that.
I recently hosted a panel discussion at the Social Media Jungle at CES2009 about the cross between entrepreneurship and journalism with Etan Horowitz, a tech reporter at the Orlando Sentinel, and Kevin Sablan, head of the Orange County Register’s web task force.
Last week, I was interviewed by Andrew Sorcini, Muhammad Saleem, Reg Saddler and Lidija Davis on The Drill Down podcast about my work with Chicago Tribune and Tribune Interactive.
It turned out to be a great interview, and I had lots of questions from folks following the show live on UStream. If you and your news organization can get exposure through any sort of industry blogs, articles or podcasts, do it. Period. You’ll be doing your company — and your readers — a service by telling them what you’re all about.
It’s about time the news business got back to a little tub thumping. But that’s a blog post for another day.
Twitter can and should be used as the official account for your news organization, much the way @statesman and @ColonelTribune represent the Austin American-Statesman and the Chicago Tribune. Here are 10 tips for Tweeting as your news organization:
1. Follow people who are following you. To be fair, a lot of media accounts miss this important point. It’s in journalists’ DNA to push information out without listening to their audience. Change that.
2. Respond to questions, suggestions and comments. It doesn’t cost you anything but a few minutes’ worth of effort. This simple rule can relatively quickly turn your organization from a seemingly cold, uncaring institution into your audience’s trusted friend.
3. Do not use Twitterfeed. Nothing against the clever third-party vendor that pushes RSS feeds onto Twitter, it’s just that shoving your headlines out mindlessly does not make a good news Twitter account.
3. Be a one-stop shop for information. Retweet your followers’ interesting posts. Link to your competition.
4. Know your audience. Ask them if you’re Tweeting too much. Ask them if they want more. Build a quick survey and ask them to fill it out. What do they want you to Tweet more about? What should you avoid? Listen to what they say and adjust. Do your followers mostly want local news? Give it to them.
5. Trust the person or people Tweeting for your organization. Pick people who have sound news judgment and a knack for finding interesting stories. Talk to them about what you hope to accomplish. Then let them do their thing.
6. Post in a conversational tone. It’s hard to get out of the “President signs bill” headline writing mode, but do it. Think of it as sharing headlines with friends – what you say if you were telling a friend via e-mail about that bill signing?”
7. There’s no real “undo” button in Twitter, and you shouldn’t have a copy editor reading each Tweet. Therefore, take a deep breath before you click the “update” button.
8. It’s not only about driving traffic to your site. You have to keep your community interested in your account or you’ll lose them. Don’ link bait — by that, I mean don’t post lame content just because you can write a clever headline that you think will draw clicks. It might work the first couple of times, but people will stop clicking on your links.
9. Check Twitter Search to see what is being said about your news organization. Jump into conversations if you can be helpful. Do not be combative though.
10. Market your efforts relentlessly. Find a place for Twitter content on your web site. Show it on your evening broadcasts (ala @ricksanchezcnn). Run house ads for your Twitter feeds. Think about hosting a Tweetup, which is basically a big party with your followers. If you’re doing this right, people will want to meet you.
As always, if you have any additional ideas or tips, please post them below!
A couple of months ago, I started exchanging Tweets with @TodayShow, and I wanted to know a bit more about the persona.
Ryan Osborn is a producer at NBC’s Today Show, and he gets social media. As he works in a broadcast newsroom, Ryan faces a completely different set of challenges than what most newspaper folks face.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I always thought that I would be an English teacher but after graduating from Vanderbilt University in 2001, I got a job as an NBC Page (like Kenneth). After giving tours of studios and working on assignments all over 30 Rock, I was hired to work at the front desk of Today in 2002. I became a producer in 2007.
What are your official duties?
I am a producer at NBC’s Today. My official duties are different everyday but most often I work a late shift and contribute to the breaking news coverage on our broadcast.
What unofficial roles have you taken on?
I twitter under the alias of @todayshow.
What prompted you — and the Today Show — to take the social media plunge? What made you decide to get on Twitter?
Beyond the obvious answer of being one part of a big media company trying to connect with an audience in several new ways, my own interest in Twitter goes back to SXSW. I heard a lot of buzz about the technology while at the same time I had no clue how it worked. I remember thinking it was a great tool for local media and a cool way to create a discussion online while also making no money. My initial thought was it might be a useful way to connect people that come down to our plaza everyday. I think that holding signs up for cameras on Rockefeller Plaza is a similar impulse to twittering. However, for several different reasons the idea never happened. In the meantime our marketing team had started an account that was updated automatically by Twitterfeed. I remember reading it and thinking that it was a robot. So when our show traveled to Beijing to cover the Olympics, I thought it might be the right opportunity to start posting manually. After talking to our executive producer, Jim Bell, I began posting.
Do your co-workers and bosses get what you do? How do you explain it to them? Do you even bother?
I am really lucky because Jim has been very supportive. I think I also benefit from his wife being one our closest followers. You have to remember that while Twitter has gone mainstream among tech saavy crowds, it is still really confusing for most to understand. I try to explain it to my co-workers as much as possible. I have learned a lot from following Jim Long (@newmediajim) who is a cameraman for NBC News in our Washington Bureau. He was way ahead of his time.
A lot of news-related Twitter accounts are just that: news driven. @TodayShow, however, seems to have the role of promoting its show and, even more so, its talent. Where do you balance? Do you have a rule of thumb?
My biggest concern and something I am most aware of is that I never want to give the impression that I am talking for or trying to be the voice of Matt, Meredith, Ann, or Al. I try to promote things they are doing and their segments on the show but my rule of thumb is only post stuff that would be appropriate for the broadcast.
Something like the Today Show seems like it has enough penetration so that people know what it is. What’s your main goal of being in the social Web?
Getting to be a part of the Today brand is an honor and it has been exciting to see our followers respond. However, I also feel a lot of pressure not to screw it up. My main goal is to connect with our viewers and help share what I believe is some of the best content on the web. Yet I would be lying if I didn’t say that my other goal is to get a few more clicks at www.todayshow.com
The golden rule in broadcast television has been to never, ever mention the competition. In the social space, mentioning your competition and linking to other good content is the norm. How do you balance the two on Twitter? Do you think it will ever be possible for a major broadcaster to mention or link to competition, either online or on the air?
This is a tricky question and not sure how to answer it. Our show does an incredible job of covering it all every morning. It hasn’t happened yet where I have felt the need to link to any of our competition but if the time comes I would do it. We are all part of “the link economy”.
What are three tips you have for folks in mainstream broadcast media looking to use social media?
1) Don’t rely on Twitterfeed. In my mind, it is the equivalent of spam. It is harder work to post manually, but you will quickly start seeing results.
2) Don’t listen to critics. You are going to hear a lot about how these sites lack business models and are a waste of time. Right now that is a fair point but now is the time to start figuring them out. Create a killer account that will make everybody look good.
3) Have fun. This is something I want to improve on our account. The audience online is smart and can be intimidating. Try to make them laugh and you can’t go wrong.
If you have any questions for Ryan, please feel free to post them as comments below. He’s also on Twitter.
Ahh, it’s Friday. Here are some interesting things we read this week:
A year or so ago, Paul Bradshaw wrote on how journalism could — gasp –make some money. We think his post is still valid.
Chuck Peters from C3 muses on the building blocks of any online relationship: attention and trust.
Got some extra time at work? Muhammad Saleem posted this graphic, created by Nina Simon, titled “What Can You Accomplish In One Week of Web 2.0?” Need something to show your newsroom compatriots? This is it.
Want to start doing more video on your Web site? Better get cracking.Cliff Etzel, author of Solo Video Journalist, even posted an interesting graphic.
Want to learn how to blog your beat well? Patrick Thornton of Beatblogging suggests you follow these folks.
A couple of weeks ago, we interviewedAron Pilhofer over at the New York Times. Eric Ulken, a former “whiz kid” at the Los Angeles Times — he’ll always be a whiz kid to me — just visited Aron in NYC. Here’s his post on the NYT’s use of data.