Posts filed under 'New Tricks'

A guide to Foursquare etiquette

There’s been a lot of talk lately about location-based social gaming platforms such as Foursquare, Loopt and Gowalla.  Even Pete Cashmore recently went so far as to predict Foursquare as next year’s Twitter.

That may or may not be an exaggeration, but according to this data, it seems that more people are — at the very least — starting to explore location-based social networks by linking them up to their existing Twitter and Facebook profiles. However, for users who have just gotten used to Twitter and Facebook, these other networks (and how to act on them) may still seem very foreign.

I recently spoke to a reporter about folks who cheat at Foursquare and other location-based social gaming platforms, and was inspired to write up this quick guide to Foursquare etiquette. (NOTE: While I wrote this guide for Foursquare, it may be applied to other location-based social networks or games that involve “checking in” to a location.)

Here are some Foursquare dos and don’ts:


  • Create new, meaningful locations. Is there a landmark or cool restaurant that hasn’t been added to Foursquare? Do your fellow “Squares” (coining that term for Foursquare users) a favor and add it.
  • Add useful tips to existing locations. Do you have a favorite dish at a local restaurant? Is there a waiter or maître d‘ people should ask for? These are the tips that make location-based social networks (all social networks, really) cool — it’s the fact people are willing to share their local wisdom and preferences with others. If you have something to say about a given location that you think will help someone else out, take a second and add it.
  • Edit incorrect listings. Edit locations that have incorrect addresses and/or phone numbers, or restaurants and venues that are closed. By doing this, you’ll find that you may become a Foursquare Superuser in no time!
  • Share Foursquare promotions and deals with your friends. Know a bar or restaurant offering a great deal through Foursquare? Tell your friends on Facebook, Twitter and in real life.  (For instance, there are several I’ve used: The Drawing Room at Le Passage [occasional client] and David Burke’s Primehouse.) The more people use these deals, the more businesses will create special discounts for Foursquare users. Don’t be shy to proclaim your geekiness to your friends — you may save them some money.
  • Moderate how often you cross-post to Twitter and Facebook. It’s easy to connect your Foursquare account to your Facebook and Twitter profiles; that said, it’s easy to spam your Facebook and Twitter contacts with your check-ins. Be mindful of how often you cross-post, and make sure to cross-post only things you think are important. Going to McDonald’s in a drunken stupor at 4am with someone who’s not your significant other? It may be risky enough to post it on Foursquare, but especially don’t post it elsewhere. (A hat tip to Benedict Wong for this one.)


  • Don’t accept friend requests from people you only know through Twitter or Facebook. When someone signs up for Foursquare, they have the ability to pull in connections through their Twitter and Facebook accounts. If you get a Foursquare invite from someone you know only through those networks, and you’re not comfortable with them knowing where you are, don’t add them, but don’t get weirded out that you’re getting these requests either. I only become Foursquare friends with people I know personally, but that’s my cup of tea. (Another school of thought: “Don’t like ‘em? Don’t Foursquare ‘em.”)
  • Don’t check in to places you don’t actually go to. I work on Chicago’s famed Michigan Avenue, and I take the bus to work each day. If I’m active on Foursquare, I may check in to my job, into the Magnificent Mile and to my apartment (not my real address), but that’s it. Some folks, as they commute via bus, train or car, will check into locations they pass by briefly.There’s no reason to check into locations you don’t spend any time at, so don’t do it.
  • Don’t let Foursquare consume you. Nothing will get you in the doghouse quicker than constantly checking in on Foursquare when you’re on a date. If your Foursquare usage interferes with dates or family time, you’re not enjoying the time you actually spend at that location, so you may want to scale back a bit. If you feel you must check in, however, retreat to the restroom.

Up for discussion:

  • Retroactive check-ins. It’s easy to forget checking in to a location, but if you remember after the fact, will you bother going back to check in to locations you’ve left? (I know I’ve done this on occasion, which is why I didn’t put it in the “Don’t” section.)


Have I missed anything? Do you disagree with something I’ve said? Please feel free to post any additional thoughts you have as comments below.

- Daniel B. Honigman

119 comments December 29th, 2009

How to launch a freelance writing career via Twitter (Case Study)

(NOTE: This is a guest post by Victoria Harres Akers)

Andrew Keys, a landscape designer and blogger, didn’t sign-up for Twitter with the intention of launching a writing career. In the spring of 2009 Andrew hesitantly created his @oakleafgreen Twitter account after a bit of coercion from a friend who told him it would be a great place for him to promote his landscape design firm.

So Andrew set out trying to find the value of Twitter for his business. What he found were people in his industry talking shop and learning from each other.

Intuitively, Andrew made smart connections. He followed people in his industry, including editors at gardening magazines. He stayed engaged, nurtured relationships as they developed and subsequently his investment of time resulted in an invitation to contribute to a national gardening magazine.

Three articles later and Andrew has added “freelance writer” to his resume.

I asked Andrew if he could offer some advice to other writers who would like to use Twitter to network and perhaps even pitch a story. He quickly recommended starting with research.

“Months before I created my Twitter account, I found a long list from a reputable blogger in my industry of her favorite Twitterers,” he says. “When I signed up, I went back to that list, followed everyone on it, joined the conversation and made some good connections.”

Even more connections followed from those initial relationships.

When I asked Andrew if there was one thing he’d done that really stands out as having helped him in his Twitter endeavors, he says, “I was real. That, to me is the crux of Twitter at its best.”

I agree.

“Don’t pigeonhole yourself,” he suggests. “All work and no play makes Andy a dull Twitterer! Keep in mind that Twitter is about being real, and it’s about entertainment…the more well-rounded you are in the discussion you generate, the larger a following you’re likely to gather.”

“In the end, I think that [earnest contribution to discussions] went a lot further in those editors’ minds than if I’d pitched them when we first met,” Andrew says. “And it went a lot further in my mind because I felt I actually came to know them and the rest of my community as people. That’s as valuable as any published article, if not more.”

Here are some final bits of wisdom Andrew shared:

  • Learn and obey the rules of Twittiquette {basically, be polite}
  • Post a photo of your actual face as your avatar
  • Nurture valuable relationships
  • Contribute intelligently to conversations
  • Self-promotion has a place on Twitter, but know when to stop
  • Be yourself and enjoy talking to people


If you’d like to contribute to Old Media, New Tricks, you can reach us through @mediatricks on Twitter.

64 comments December 22nd, 2009

The Google Wave news community

If you are one of the lucky few who scored a Google Wave account, you’ve probably logged in, fumbled around a bit, probably were impressed by the instant nature of it — and you probably got annoyed relatively quickly at Wave’s slowness. If you have enough friends or colleagues who have invites, you might have gotten a peek at Wave’s potential as a collaboration tool.

For journalists, collaboration with the public on news events is the (Google) wave of the future. I wrote about Wave’s potential for journalism for Media Bullseye. If you don’t know what Wave is, here’s a good blog post that explains Wave, written by Omar Gallaga, a colleague of mine at the Statesman.

Having played around with Wave quite a bit, I was ready Tuesday to experiment a bit with Wave’s potential to report and discuss the news. So, I set up a new wave, called it “Austin News”, put out some ground rules and then publicized my experiment through Twitter. Within a few hours, we had more than 100 people talking (mostly) about local news in the wave.

I even embedded a poll to let people say whether they planned to vote on Election Day. Someone went in and edited my poll question to add “or have already voted” since the polls had been opened for a few hours by then:

In five hours, the Austin News wave generated about 70 individual comments, or “wavelets.” The wave overall was a bit slow, somewhat hard to follow and a little buggy. (I couldn’t get a photo to appear, and I think it is because I tried to upload too large of a photo, clogging the system.)

I did, however, see some great discussion; I posted a link to the Texas constitutional amendments that are up for a vote, and people immediately began discussing why anyone should care about them, which are the the most important ones and why. I dropped in topics a few times throughout the day, from the election to the launch of the Texas Tribune to some local economic news. I included links to our stories. People discussed each item as they came in.

There is potential here.

Waves get overloaded after about 50 wavelets, or messages, are added to a particular wave. I’m going to launch another wave tomorrow (a daily edition of waves, of sorts) to keep them from getting too overloaded. I imagine Google will speed this system up quite a bit before opening it up to the public.

It was the first of many experiments on Wave. I’m excited to see where it leads.

- Robert Quigley

If you have any questions, ideas or suggestions, please leave them as comments below!

15 comments November 3rd, 2009

New Tricks: Set up a YouTube account and customize your channel

Whether you’re a freelancer looking to get your work out there, or whether you’re a blogger at a mainstream media publication looking for an easy way to get your video content on the web, you’ll probably want to create a YouTube account to start a branded channel.

Here are some quick YouTube how-tos:

How to sign up for YouTube

1. Go to and click the “Create Account” link that appears in the top right corner of the page.

2. Enter your desired username, as well as the rest of the information on the page.

3. Once you receive the confirmation e-mail and are logged in, click on your new account name link that appears at the top right side.

4. Click “Profile Setup” and fill in your profile with a photo, your bio, a link to any other social media profile or your company Web site.

How to upload a video to YouTube

1. Click the yellow “Upload” button at the top right of the page. On the next page, click the yellow “Upload Video” button.

2. Find the video you want to upload. Click “Open” once you’ve found it.

3. While the file uploads, be sure to write out a proper, concise title and description for the video. Pick a couple of tags (e.g. “news,” “chicago,” or your publication’s name), and choose a category for your video.

4. To see the video after it’s been uploaded, go to your “My Videos” page and it should appear.

Customize your YouTube channel

A user’s YouTube profile content is presented in what’s called a YouTube channel, and if you’ve created a profile for your brand, you’ll want to customize the look and feel of your channel page.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Go to your YouTube account page and click the “Edit Channel” link on the right side of the page. You’ll be taken to your “My Profile” page.

2. Your default account type will be set as “Youtuber.” There are other types, such as “Reporter” or “Director,” but you’ll may just want to leave it as “YouTuber.”

3. Finally, you may want to customize the look and feel of your Channel. To do this, click the “Channel Design” link on the left side of your “My Profile” page. Once you click through, there are some preset themes you can use, or you can customize your page with special colors – you’ll need the specific color values – or you could upload a picture as your YouTube channel background.

- Daniel B. Honigman

4 comments October 6th, 2009

New Tricks: Use Trendsmap to discover local Twitter trends

I recently found out about a new tool, Trendsmap, that tracks and visually organizes local Twitter trends.

Finally, a service for breaking news reporters to not only find what one’s local digital community is talking about in real time, but who’s talking about it.

For instance, once I moved over to my region, I found conversations about

You can even drill down further into more of the city’s trends, like so:

Trendsmap Chicago

Screenshot of Chicago Twitter trends (via Trendsmap)

Trendsmap is still in development, it seems. For now, the page defaults to a Los Angeles “home” region. (This can easily be worked around.) Also, not every region is included in the trends; only major metropolitan areas.

Regardless, I’ll be keeping an eye on Trendsmap, and reporters should as well. Through the tool, you’ll be able to find sources and build your readership with key influencers who drive the local news conversation.

Here’s a quick demo video from Trendsmap:

Daniel B. Honigman

15 comments September 25th, 2009

New Tricks: Put the ‘social’ in social media

Want to really connect with your community?  Assuming you’ve been working hard to connect with your readers in a virtual world, it’s time to take it a step further and let people know you in the real world.

That’s right: get out of the office! There are several ways to do this, but here are some ideas that we’ve used that have worked well:

  • Join your local Social Media Club chapter. If there isn’t a chapter in your area, get together with a few other social media users in the community and start one. These are great for networking, and you’ll learn all kinds of techniques you can apply to your organization.Attend a tweetup. If you’ve never been to a tweetup, they’re usually an excuse to hang out with others who are interested in social media in your community. Again, great for networking (and having a great time).
  • Volunteer to speak about social media at the local university or at other functions. This is a great way to get your efforts out there, and to hear great feedback.
  • * Host a tweetup. Colonel Tribune has been hosting tweetups for a while now in the Windy City. The attendance is great (often more than 100 people show). The American-Statesman held a tweetup in December, and about 75 people showed. Hosting one is easy. Just call your favorite pub or restaurant and ask them whether they can handle an influx of people on a Thursday or Friday evening. Once that’s nailed down, just send notes out via Twitter (and Facebook, if you’d like) inviting anyone who wants to come. You don’t have to pay for food, drinks or provide a band. All you have to do is organize a little. Colonel Tribune gives out newspaper hats and has given away commemorative Obama papers at his tweetups. The Statesman gave out T-shirts that marketing helped put together. People love these tweetups and will talk about it for a while after they’re over.

It’s great to put faces and personalities with the peole you converse with using social media. And people love getting to know the people behind your efforts. It’s a win-win situation, so get out there.

What have you done to put a face on your organization?

5 comments September 2nd, 2009

New Tricks: 5 steps to a successful storystream

NOTE: You may want to check out a few of my previous posts before reading this:


Journalism and social media go together like peas and carrots. (Or, as I prefer, cinnamon ice cream and hot caramel.) You spread social media technologies, philosophies and practices in your newsroom, and as a result, your co-workers may have created Facebook accounts. They may dabble on Twitter. In fact, they may also blog in addition to producing content for print.

These tools are all great as far as information gathering, story distribution and digital brand-building, but they’re not really innovative as far as storytelling formats go. One question I hear a lot from journalists is, “Is this all there is to social media? From a journalistic perspective, what’s next?”

As you know, I’ve been on a bit of a lifestreaming kick over the last several months. Predictably, my short answer has been this: “Storystream your content.”

A storystream helps bring to light, through a chronological narrative, a particular issue, process or concept over a more significant period of time than an eventstream usually covers. Used journalistically, it turns into a collaborative stream of consciousness that tells a story.

Good stories have multiple characters, and a storystream should be no different. For your storystream to be successful, it must consist of multiple points of view.  Think of your storystream as a collaborative or collective narrative, with multiple authors.

Storystreams are new. Storystreams are different. And, most importantly, a storystream can connect a publication to its readers like never before.

My friend Kevin Sablan over at the Orange County Register sketched out what he thinks a storystreaming platform could look like:

Storystreaming platform

Here are some steps to creating a successful storystream:

1. Establish a theme/set parameters: Creating a stream to document the life of an entire city would be immensely difficult. Whether the framework is rigid or abstract, it’s imperative to create parameters for people to express themselves. Some examples:

  • Chicago at night (specific)
  • Hurricane Katrina cleanup (specific)
  • The color blue (abstract)
  • Joy (abstract)

In addition, you’ll need to set rules. Be very specific on the types of submissions you’ll accept, its guidelines — character count, photo resolution, video length, etc. — and, if applicable, content rights.

2. Recruit contributors: Individuals may be able to carry one part of a story, but if your storystream has multiple authors, there will just be more content your readers can relate to.

Think of all those times you asked your readers for user-generated content. It probably seemed a bit disjointed from the rest of your publication’s journalistic activities, or just an afterthought, no? Recruit your readers in the real-time telling of a particular story, and you’ll have more than one person to help you spread the word about your storystream.

For its recent “A Day in the Sun” storystream, the Austin American-Statesman announced the project on its site, on Twitter and Facebook. Announce your project in multiple media with “you”-centric language. After all, the storystream is about your readers, not you per se.

One more note: When you recruit, be sure to refer back to your theme and guidelines regularly.

3. Curate your content: Once your storystream has new contributors, you’ll need someone to oversee the flow of content — and questions — you’ll get from them. Is it the content what you’re looking for? Is it good content? Does it fall within the guidelines you laid out earlier? Curate before you publish and the story will be clearer and better.

4. Promote and syndicate your content: After your storystream begins, talk it up! Re-post your content on:

  • Twitter
  • Flickr
  • Facebook
  • Other blogs
  • Print product

Tell your friends about your project. Tell co-workers, digerati — both local and non-local — and explain to them what the project actually is. They may be so excited, they’ll want to contribute or spread the word.

5. Reward your contributors: Come up with some incentive for your readers to contribute. Invite your storystreamers in for an exclusive tour of the newsroom. Give them a percentage off their newspaper subscription for a couple of months. Give them a T-shirt. Buy them a beer. Do something.

If you follow these steps, your storystream will bring your readers closer to you than ever before. It will also get them excited to be a part of your news brand.

As always, if you have any suggestions, please feel free to post them as comments below!

12 comments September 1st, 2009

New Tricks: Use FriendFeed to keep up with your digital contacts

As newsrooms become more digital, it becomes more important for reporters, editors and producers to keep up with digital contacts and readers. The thing is, the social Web tends to be a very, well, “What have you done for me lately?” sort of place. In order to stay on top of things, you must monitor and respond to your contacts’:

  • blog posts
  • tweets
  • Facebook posts
  • other comments

This can become rather tiresome, especially if one looks at it as work — that’s a different blog post altogether — but it’s something that must be done nonetheless.

Last month, I blogged my thoughts on lifestreaming, and how it is to become the future of the web. I believe a feed-like (as opposed to blog-like) lifestreaming service, FriendFeed, may be the key to streamlining one’s digital activities.

You might not see an immediate benefit to using FriendFeed. In fact, you may think, “This looks just like Twitter. And FriendFeed just got bought by Facebook. Why would I use it?” Here are three reasons why you should use FriendFeed:

1. FriendFeed, when used properly, compiles all digital activity in one place. Forming a deep digital relationship with your contacts and readers take time, but if you read and respond to their blog posts, tweets, Facebook status updates, blog comments, Flickr photo posts and everything else, there’s a good chance your relationship will improve quickly. (Of course, you don’t respond to everything; focus on your influencers.)

FriendFeed compiles everything in an easily navigable stream, and it links directly to their posts. Just click through and respond, either on their FriendFeed page or — better yet — on the page itself.

2. Build your digital street cred. Many digital professionals are on Twitter. They’re not on FriendFeed yet; it still has that “geeky” early-adopter feel. If you’re on FriendFeed, and you use it to keep up with your contacts — not to mention make new ones — it makes you stand out.

3. Your good influencer/blogger contacts are there. There’s a good chance that any blogger worth their salt is on FriendFeed. If your contacts are in the space, you should be there too. Period.

FriendFeed, in my mind, is the new RSS reader. If you use an RSS reader (e.g. Google Reader) to keep up with your contacts, give FriendFeed a try. You can find me on FriendFeed here.


NOTE: I derived this post from one I wrote for the Weber Shandwick “Social Studies” blog.

3 comments August 14th, 2009

New Tricks: How to use Posterous

I’ve recently signed up for Posterous, a lifestreaming site that may very well be the next shiny Web 2.0 tool.

What is lifestreaming, you ask? It’s a way of aggregating your life — photos, videos, articles and blog posts — in one place. In a recent post, I say lifestreaming can be thought of as a linear, time-based scrapbook. A Web 2.0 version of “Being John Malkovich,” sort of.

It’s simple enough to sign up for Posterous:

1. First, go to the Posterous registration page. Select your URL — e.g. is the default, but you can install Posterous as the CMS on your personal blog — as well as your password. Enter your contact e-mail address. One word of advice: Use an e-mail account that you can access from your mobile device easily; this way you can upload photos and videos directly to your page, instead of just using SMS for the posts.

Be sure to fill out your profile completely. Add a bio and a photo, because if you don’t, your page’s sidebar will appear quite sparse.

2. Create a contact on your phone for Posterous. Enter the telephone number in as 41411. (It’s a short code — definition here — so that’s why the number is only five digits. Enter the e-mail address as post [at] posterous [dot] com. (Use the actual symbols for “at” and “dot,” not the bracketed words. Just saying.)

Now create some test posts, like I did here and here, just so you can get the hang of it. If you have the iPhone 3.0 software, you can even upload your audio recordings directly to the site by e-mailing them to post [at] posterous [dot] com.

3. Add the “Share to Posterous” link to your browser. This will make it easy for you to take any content you want from the Web and post it directly to your Posterous site. Go to this page, scroll about halfway down, and literally drag the button to the top of your browser.

4. Share/post a photo or video through the bookmarklet: To share a photo or video, just open up the URL for the photo specifically, like this stunning picture of yours truly or this classic Michael Jackson music video.

Click the “Share on Posterous” link on your browser, and a window will open, like so:

Posterous photo

Chances are the picture’s file name will be the default headline. Change the “title” field to whatever you want your post’s headline to be. Post your written content into the “Your Comment” field below the photo. (Warning: Be sure to change your headline now, because you won’t be able to re-save it for SEO purposes. To change the URL, you’ll have to start all over. You don’t want to do that.)

5. Share/post a story through the bookmarklet: Say there’s a story you want to share on your Posterous page. Simple enough. First, find the URL for what you want to share. Then click on the Posterous bookmarklet. A similar window will pop up.

If the story has one main graphic, it will automatically show up in the box. If the page has multiple graphics, you’ll be able to cycle through them. If you don’t like any of them, just click on the picture — the HTML code will show up — and just delete it.

Add some text below the graphic, and be remember to give your post a title. You should end up with something like this.

6. Post content via e-mail: Just open a blank e-mail — it must be from an account you registered on Posterous — and enter your headline in the subject box. Now enter the body text as the main e-mail message. Send it to post [at] posterous [dot] com.

7. Post content via your mobile phone: Posting content from your phone is simple. There are several ways to do it:

  • Post via SMS: Just write be sure to write the word “POST” before the text you want to be your headline. Text it to 41411 and you’ll get something like this. Unfortunately, your post won’t have any body text initially, just a headline. You can always go back and change this later, though. NOTE: One thing — if you post via SMS, your full text will appear, but the post URL seems to have an 81-character limit.
  • Post via e-mail: just open a blank e-mail and send it to post [at] posterous [dot] com. Your post headline will go in the subject box and the body text will go, well, in the body of your e-mail.
  • You can also send cell phone photos via e-mail. If you’re using an iPhone, first make sure you upgrade to iPhone 3.0 software. Open your Camera Roll, select one or multiple photos and “Copy” them. (You can do this with the upgraded software.) Then open a new e-mail and “Paste” the photos into the body of the e-mail. To add text above the photos, just type it above the first photo. Your final post will look like this if you have one photo or this if you have multiple photos. Nifty, huh?

8. Now it’s time to link Posterous to your social media accounts. Posterous allows you to link your profiles on Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, as well as your WordPress, Blogspot or Xanga-powered blog for either automatic or select syndication. Just click the “Add a service” button at the top of the page, and Posterous will set it up almost automatically.

If you only want to post to one page, just e-mail your posts to [name of the service] [at] Posterous [dot] com.

And if you like the service so much, you want to pull in your current blog and switch platforms, you can import your existing posts to Posterous.

For your viewing pleasure, here’s a video fellow Chicagoan @Outsanity created for his blog about Posterous. Enjoy:

Please let me know if I left anything out of this post, and let us know if you like Posterous as much as we do.

35 comments July 2nd, 2009

New Tricks: Does a re-tweet equal an endorsement?

I was just reading this post by Julie Posetti over at PBS’ Mediashift blog, and this section jumped out at me:

When I raised concerns this week about the practice of tweeters who openly identify as professional journalists re-tweeting without verification, in the context of the indiscriminate dissemination of tweets claiming to emanate from Iran, I found myself engaged in a lively discussion on Twitter. I asserted that when Patrick LaForge, an editor at the New York Times, re-tweeted (without acknowledgement of verification or absence thereof) a list of Iranian tweeters sourced from expert blogger Dave Winer (who had, in turn, passed on the list without verifying its contents) it amounted to an approval of that list, LaForge disagreed. NYU’s Jay Rosen then reminded me not to expect open systems like Twitter to behave in the same manner expected of editorial systems.

But while I agree with Rosen, my concern wasn’t directed at the unmediated Twittersphere. Rather it was directed at the way journalists approach this flood of information.

I learned this lesson firsthand from James Janega, one of my reporters when I was over at Tribune Interactive. Last year, when he was down in New Orleans covering Hurricane Gustav on James quickly defused a rumor that was swirling around about residents without identification not being allowed to evacuate the city. Since Gustav was the first large hurricane to strike New Orleans since Katrina, this had the potential to be an incendiary story.

Except it wasn’t true.

James did what any reporter would do: He picked up the phone. But we found out about the rumor through our social media contacts. (Here’s a great interview with James on JD Lasica’s blog,

So here’s a quick poll for you: Do you think a re-tweet equals an endorsement? Why? What’s your take?

Would love to post some answers! (Click here to take the survey.)

37 comments June 23rd, 2009

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