Tuesday afternoon, someone previously unknown to the Twitter world, Jennifer Preston, jumped into the fray with this tweet:“Hi, I’m the NYT’s new social media editor. More details later. How should @nytimes be using Twitter?”
Quite an introduction not only as the new social media editor, but also to Twitter. Her question drew a swift response.
The Times, which is nearing 1 million followers of its main Twitter account as of this blog post’s publishing, is one of the last big media accounts to send out an RSS feed of stories on Twitter.
We at Old Media New Tricks offer congratulations to her on the new job, and an answer to her question:
Interact with your followers, and follow them. The Times account only follows Times employees right now and does not respond to followers. There’s a reason this is called “social” media. Yes, there are 1 million people who are following the account. That’s because of the Times‘ well-earned brand name recognition and excellence in reporting.
Want to get with the times, Times? Treat those 1 million followers to an interactive experience on Twitter. Answer their questions. Retweet their posts. If Ashton Kutcher can do it with even more followers, then the Times can do it, too.
happn.in is a great way of discovering local Twitter trends. Here’s how to use it:
1. Go to the site and click on your city. (To add a new city, suggest it on the site’s feedback form.)
2. You can either click on a specific local Twitter trend from the front page, or you can click through to the home page for your city. (Here are the pages for Chicago and Austin.)
3. Not only can you see the trends, but you can click through to the person who posted the Tweet. In the small amount of time I’ve used it, I’ve found a dozen new people to follow, all in my area, who I didn’t know before.
happen.in seems to be another great weapon to add to your Twitter arsenal. (Twarsenal?)
A lot has happened in the social media/journalism world lately. Here’s some stuff you should read:
First, a quick history lesson by Robert Niles over at OJR. His post, “How a 1995 court case kept the newspaper industry from competing online,” is a great summary of the Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy court case. He also notes the failure to engage the audience online is not the only factor in the news industry’s decline. I like to think it’s a major one.
If you’re a reporter or editor, you know that you have to do a bit of tweaking in your Web searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Sometimes it’s easy to find a static Web page, but finding sentiment about a topic may be tricky.
As a result, Google has announced the release of a bigger search toolkit. When you do a search, try clicking the “Show Options” link that appears right below the search box once the initial results page comes up.
If you were to do a search for “Daniel Honigman” this page will come up. (As you can see, I’m not too exciting.)
You can find my name mentioned on Web sites, in videos and in forums. For you, this is a great opportunity for you to find groups of people talking about your idea; these are potentially the same people who may be linking to your story when it’s published.
The “reviews” results are a bit tricky for search terms that aren’t reviewable, like your name — unless your supervisor posts your employee reviews publicly — but for products and services, the new Google search appears to be spot-on.
Try a few of these searches out. Please let me know if this works.
But once you get your audience, what can you do with them? Here are a couple of ideas:
1. If you get a tip as a result of your social media efforts, acknowledge your audience in the stories themselves. If you say you got a tip via Twitter, link to that person’s profile. You should not relinquish any opportunity to say “thank you.”
2. Create a forum for people to answer each other’s questions about a breaking news item. For instance, if there’s a large teacher’s strike, set up a forum for teachers to not only talk with each other, but with students and parents as well.
- Create a place, possibly, for your reporters to interact with potential sources
- Create a place for your audience to ask your reporters questions. Sometimes, these questions and/or tips could turn into stories. Of course, you thank the audience member for the idea or question that turned into a story.
- Create a place for your audience to answer each other’s questions.
- If the conversation is good, you’ll find that you may get a few new registered users as a direct result of your forums.
3. After the story runs its cycle, it could be worth reaching out to your followers — especially if the story was local — and ask for input. Ask them:
- Did they like your coverage?
- What did your readers find most useful?
- How can you improve?
Remember, as my friend Jason Falls says, your participation will be a key component in making your social media efforts successful.
At this time, if you find you’re in the good graces of your followers, it could be a good time to ask them to register for your site, sign up for your e-newsletters, text alerts and the like. Bring them into your fold, and you may find it’s fairly easy to make a buck or two along the way. Tell them that their involvement not only helps you make a case for your continued presence on the social Web, but it in fact helps fund your future social media projects.
Why? Because you’ll find it just may.
Do you have any ideas on how to build community around breaking news? Post them as comments, and we’ll shoot them down — kidding — or we may include them in future posts. We’ll probably have a couple of more posts about this particular topic.