Case study on storystreaming: A day in the sun

September 3rd, 2009

If you’re looking for the Next Big Thing in blogging and social media, it’s already here in the form of lifestreaming. Thanks to really easy-to-use (and fun) software by Posterous, lifestreaming and storystreaming are going mainstream.

Daniel Honigman, on this blog, has posted some great tips and tricks on lifestreaming and storystreaming.

Inspired by Daniel’s enthusiasm, I have been noodling over what might be the best uses for this at a mainstream media operation. At statesman.com, we ran our first full storystreaming experiment this past weekend, with great success.

Here’s what we did.

I organized how we did it by showing that we followed the steps that Daniel suggested in a recent blog post:

The theme

We’ve had 67 days over 100 degrees this year in Austin. That’s hot, even for us. As we zero in on breaking the all-time record of 69 days, we wanted to get the community involved. Posterous, which allows for easy collaboration and easy submission of content, seemed perfect for the job. (Note: Here’s a guide on how to use Posterous.)

Recruiting contributors

We used our popular Weather Watch blog to explain to readers what we wanted. In a nutshell, we wanted their photos and a short description of what they were doing on a hot Sunday. We sent links out through several of our Twitter channels and through the Statesman’s Facebook fan page.

Curating the content

When you create a new blog on Posterous, you are given the option to let “anyone” contribute. We checked that box. It gives you an e-mail address that anyone can use to submit a photo, text, audio, video, etc. When something is sent by an outside user, the owners of the lifestream can go in and see the entries and approve them before they appear on the blog.

At the Statesman, we had several people tasked on that Sunday with checking the queue for new submissions. We approved most of the 70 submissions we received, only ignoring ones that were off topic.

Promoting and syndicating content

We talked up our project as much as possible through social media, though prominent placement on the statesman.com home page and through a prominent solicitation in print. I personally DM’d several influencers on Twitter and was looking on Sunday for people posting Twitpics that fit our guidelines so I could ask them to send those into our project. We set up a Twitter account, @Austinheat, that used Posterous’ “auto post” functionality to tweet links to each entry. We also could have sent the content to Flickr, Facebook and dozens of other services using the “auto post.”

Rewarding the contributors

We showed off the submissions prominently online (it was the centerpiece of the statesman.com home page Monday morning) and in print (we chose some of the better pictures and ran them in our daily roundup in our Metro & State section).

The results for us

We put the photos into a gallery on statesman.com, and it was the top page-view driver for our site on Monday with more than 70,000 page views. We also gained some valuable experience using Posterous and proved the concept for future projects. We published the content we received several ways: Posterous, Twitter, in our photo gallery and in print. That type of cross-platform publishing is healthy.

The results for the community

The quality of the pictures were really good. Some were funny, some were artistic, and all were thoughtful. Through this project, Central Texans could all feel the pain of a hot summer and share a small slice of their lives.

Conclusions

  • Posterous is a really good platform. Everyone involved in the project on this end said so, and we didn’t get complaints from the public.
  • I wish we had used a Statesman e-mail address (that would forward to Posterous) because “post@austinheat.posterous.com” is a lot to type on an iPhone.
  • We used this mainly as a way to gather user photos. Considering Posterous’ potential, we could have done much more. Besides photos, there’s no reason we couldn’t curate videos, audio, text, tweets, and other content in a future lifestream project. We will look to use it for a richer experience next time.
  • We didn’t syndicate the content out as much as we could have. Posterous allows you to push it out to dozens of platforms. We used a few. Why not a Flickr stream?
  • The only incentive we offered was a chance to participate (and perhaps get published in print). Although we pushed this pretty hard, we received only 70 submissions. To really take advantage of this community functionality in the future, we might offer a bigger incentive (a giveaway to the best entry, etc.)
  • Despite all the “I wishes”, I thought it was a success. We enjoyed the experiment.

I personally have some more ideas for using this in the future, from eventstreaming the Austin City Limits Music Festival and South by Southwest to storystreaming coverage of a sports season. I know some of my colleagues here were inspired by the platform’s potential as well.

Has any other mainstream media outlet used these techniques effectively yet? I’d love to hear how it went.

— Robert Quigley, social media editor at the Austin American-Statesman

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Entry Filed under: blogging,case study,lifestreaming,social media

  • http://www.stephanieromanski.com Stephanie

    Fantastic! Thanks for sharing this. The potential is there and I particularly liked your conclusions and things that can be improved for the next storystream. Very helpful Rob!

  • Pingback: Storystreaming and the Future of News – A Case Study on the Austin Statesman Project | Lifestream Blog

  • chucknelson

    Robert: Great idea.

  • http://eschnou.com eschnou

    Hi Robert,

    Very interesting post, that links well to what we have been trying to do at http://storytlr.com. I suggest you have a look and see if it could support your use cases.

    If you have only 30 secs, just have a look at this story to get the idea:
    http://www.alardw.com/story/2037-nightnike-2009

  • http://twitter.com/mediatuner MediaTuner

    It would have been a lot easier if they had used MediaTuner. MediaTuner allows you to easily create LifeStreams, NewsStreams and TopicStreams, and display Tweets, Photos, Videos, Audio, News Links, and even Live Video – all in an Embeddable Flash Player.

    For a good example of a dynamic MediaTuner NewsStream, take a look at the Hurricane Jimena MediaTuner:

    http://bit.ly/3JQFVl

    http://www.mediatuner.com

    This comment was originally posted on Lifestream Blog

  • http://twitter.com/mediatuner MediaTuner

    Hi Robert, you can also try using http://www.MediaTuner.com. Users can upload videos to YouTube and they can tag each video with a unique tag. Photos can be uploaded to Flickr, tagged with a unique tag, and Tweets with a specific #tag. All media elements will display either automatically or manually (moderated by you) in a embeddable MediaTuner Player.

    Great for Events, Breaking News and LiveStreams.

    Take a look at the NewsStream for Hurricane Jimena for a good example:

    http://bit.ly/3JQFVl

    And Jaycee Dugard's LifeStream:
    http://bit.ly/vTIYc

    David

  • http://disqus.com/people/Rockstarbabu Rockstarbabu

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    and i must tell you its really helpful for me .
    I am obsessive and protective of this aspect of her upbringing, because I was never taught that I belonged anywhere, that anything I did really mattered, and here I remain, somewhat adrift, up some kind of creek with no paddle
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    This comment was originally posted on Lifestream Blog

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  • suerodman

    What a great idea. I might try Posterous for my blog. Why not push this content out to relevant blogs in the area too? I write a blog called http://www.fieldtripswithsue.com. It's about inexpensive things to do in and around metro Atlanta. I get a good bit of traffic from the AJC's blogs. It dawned on me last week, that I could be sending a good bit of traffic to AJC as well. My blog is an award winning blog, but I do it on the side. I don't get paid and I actually have a real job consulting plus three kids. Not much time to really research the stories. But the AJC's Inside Access has recently had some fantastic “Know Before You Go” stories and the writer Jamie does a great job of bringing in the knowledge of other AJC writers. I started making comments on my posts sending folks there for more information. I'm not sure they get the link juice that way, but it's a start. Newspapers should look at local blogs as the teaser for their more in-depth stories. It might also be worth putting some advertising dollars on specific blogs to generate traffic back to specific sections and/or newspaper blogs.

  • http://oldmedianewtricks.com dan360man

    I like it. It's a slightly different presentation, but I like the interactivity.

  • BryanPerson

    Rob:

    Only just finding out about your storystreaming experiment from August 30 (a little behind on my RSS reading)–and I love it! What a thoughtful use of Posterous' anyone-can-contribute functionality; plus, the photos are simply outstanding! This already has me kicking around some ideas for something similar at an upcoming Social Media Breakfast. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Also, Shel Holtz (@Shel on Twitter) was raving about this project on the Monday, September 7 edition of the For Immediate Release Podcast. Here's the link to the episode page: http://budurl.com/FIR2009Sep07 Start at the 21:28 mark.

    Bryan | @BryanPerson

  • http://oldmedianewtricks.com dan360man

    Thanks for posting this link, Bryan. I wish I could scroll directly to that mark, but it doesn't seem like I can!

  • BryanPerson

    Dan, try this. Right click to download the .mp3 file directly to your desktop or hard drive: http://media.libsyn.com/media/fir/fir-481.mp3

    Open it in iTunes or the audio program of your choice, and then scroll forward.

  • http://oldmedianewtricks.com dan360man

    Duh. Thanks.

  • http://hightalk.net/ George F. Snell III

    I'm still a old-school blogger at heart, but I like Posterous. It's fast and carefree – and it has great functionality and an easy interface. Hard not to see lifestreaming going more mainstream in the years to come.

  • sliss33

    Did an experiment at the SunSentinel with our teenlink reporters covering Obama's school speech and it went pretty smoothly. We hit a little snag because they treated it like a blog and sent too much text, but I will definitely be trying it again. Thanks for the post.

  • http://oldmedianewtricks.com dan360man

    Did you use your regular blog platform, Seth, or more of a storystreaming platform?

  • sliss33

    storystreaming in posterous

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