Inspired by this interesting but flawed effort to measure U.S. newspaper Twitter followers, I scoured the Twittersphere to come up with an exhaustive list of Twitter followers for as many U.S. newspapers as I could. I ended up with 200, but I think I’m the only one exhausted. I’m sure there are many I left off the list. Feel free to chime in with the missing papers in the comments section. I say the other list is flawed because it only measures the Twitter followers for the top 25 print circulation papers. Circulation numbers don’t necessarily equal social media reach.
I only counted the top account for each paper (as painful as it was to leave out my own Austin360 Twitter account with its 15,500+ followers). I didn’t combine Twitter followers for all accounts at each paper – just the top account. There are too many to do it otherwise. All accounts were measured in a two-hour span on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010.
Note that the top three papers (and, yes, I included The Onion) were listed for a time on Twitter’s Suggested User’s List, which drew hundreds of thousands of new Twitter users to their accounts. Sure, they would probably be top accounts anyway, but it’s worth noting that Twitter gave them a serious boost.
A special thanks to Erica Smith, who used to track Twitter accounts on her blog before it became unmanageable (believe me, I understand). Her old posts gave me a good starting point.
Note, I tried to keep these to mainstream daily newspapers. There are several alternative papers who have a lot of followers as well.
While we wonder what the business terms of the agreement are, it’s fairly safe to say that this move works for both parties. This is a great step for McClatchy; they now have a partner that can deliver local — nay, hyperlocal — daily deals through its pages. This is also a great step for Groupon, as the company can spread its wings into the not-so-digital community.
This isn’t the news business’ first foray into discounting, however. The Chicago Tribune has its own deals site, Half-Price Chicago, which offers gift certificates at steep discounts.
What are your thoughts on the deal? Is this type of arrangement something a newspaper can pull off with its own sales force, or does partnering with, say, a Groupon or YouSwoop make more sense? Has your news organization considered offering similar deals?
If you haven’t tried Gowalla or Foursquare, the whole idea of “checking in” to a location seems rather absurd – much the way Twitter likely sounded absurd when you first heard about it. However, we now know that Twitter can be used as an effective tool during breaking news events. That point was driven home in Austin during the plane crash into the IRS building. It’s way too early to tell whether Gowalla, Foursquare or any other location-based network will truly hit the mainstream – or be an effective tool for journalists beyond fun marketing.
So what does the Statesman expect to gain from this deal with Gowalla?
* It is very good for marketing. Gowalla is entertaining and addictive to use, so it’s great to have our brand associated with something fun.
* It’s another way to get into mobile devices. The news industry has been trying hard for the past couple of years to go mobile, building iPhone apps, better mobile sites and using Twitter and text messages. This is yet another way to seamlessly put our content and news into smart phones, which weaves our news into the fabric of our city.
* It is a way to get our foot in the door. If this does take off, we’ll be in a good position to do much more with it.
For its part, Gowalla gets exposure and content, two things it needs as it pushes back against not only Foursquare, but Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and others who are jumping into or are already in the location-based field.
We’re starting out with eight Gowalla trips, but plan to expand with more trips and eventually other creative ways of melding our content into Gowalla’s application. It’s a good start – and it’s fun.
Once in place, you’ll be able to get a few articles (unannounced number yet) for free each month but will have to pay a flat fee to get more content after you hit that wall.
Times’ executives have not answered some key questions yet, including the price that the public is going to be asked to pay. Also unanswered is what is the overarching goal: to protect the print product (by creating a barrier to reading the content online, driving people to print) or to boost revenue for online (which is quite a gamble).
Those goals are fraught with peril and nowhere near guaranteed for success. I’m sure a lot of publishers are glad that a player as big as the Times is jumping first.
What do you think? Are you a frequent nytimes.com reader? Will you pay to keep that up in 2011?
The media landscape continues to change, but that doesn’t mean it’s a fight-to-the-death between Old Media and New Media.
TechCrunch’s Robin Wauters took Old Media to task for not being quick enough to report the Michael Jackson’s death, saying new media entities TMZ and Twitter get it, and Old Media essentially is too slow to be relevant anymore. In the comments, there is a mini-war going on, with some people siding with the Chicago Tribune, which says Old Media did the “heavy lifting” in confirming Jackson’s death, and others saying that Twitter and TMZ is all we need anymore.
Instead of asking who will win, why not ask this: Why can’t Old Media and New Media get along?
Old Media should stop pretending like new ways of information aren’t important. Whether Old Media likes it or not, people are getting their news in new ways. The Old Media does need to move quicker. Ask any editor at any newspaper, and he or she will tell you the newsroom needs to always be moving quicker to get news out. Old Media needs New Media for various reasons, not the least of which being that people increasingly are turning to New Media outlets exclusively to get their news.
Meanwhile, New Media needs Old Media, too. Twitter can run rampant with rumors (including a widespread, though false, rumor that actor Jeff Goldblum had died). Old Media is good at doing some “heavy lifting” when it comes to verifying information. Some New Media outlets are good at that, too, but this is the Old Media’s forté.
There’s no reason for this to be a battle. If Old Media is in the New Media world and doing it right, the two can live together harmoniously.
The social media space can be tough to navigate at times. You’ll probably be called out at one point or another — assuming you’re doing your job right — in public.
This is why before you put your news organization out there, it’s good to have a game plan. It’s not only enough to figure out who will be the front man for your newspaper, Web site or broadcast site in social media, you must first figure out:
- How to interact
- Touch points across your organization
Determining one’s editorial voice is key. Whether your tone on the air or in print can be playful or serious, it’s a one-way broadcast. An organization’s official voice is usually that: official. In the social media space, however, you’ll be having conversations with folks, so having a more relaxed, conversational tone is important.
The biggest question you should ask yourself: If your news organization were a person, who would it be? What kind of food would it eat? What kind of music would it listen to? Where would it live? What kinds of stories are most relevant?
Basically, you need to figure out what, when and how your audience likes its content. For instance, if you’re running a Twitter profile for a news broadcaster in Los Angeles, perhaps you set up a separate feed for local traffic alerts. If you run a national site about D.C. politics, you won’t give your followers weather updates. Right?
Basically, instead of providing news, you want to be as helpful as you can be. Instead of thinking of a story in terms of this:
“Big crash on expressway x. Expect delays.”
Think of it like this:
“There’s a crash on expressway x. Here are some alternate routes.”
The emphasis isn’t the news, per se. 99% of social media is figuring out a way to help someone else. This is a good way to do it.
It’s as simple as that, but once you establish yourself in one — or several — areas, feel free to stretch yourself a bit. Post a link from elsewhere on the Web. Re-Tweet some folks. Do something to keep your friends coming back for more.
How to interact
Previously, I said your editorial voice must be informal. Your interactions must be as well. But your role may be more than just editorial. Do you:
- Plan to post links to your content? Obviously.
- Plan on posting links to outside content? Perhaps.
- Have a plan if someone asks you a question? You should.
- Have a plan for when someone gives you a suggestion? This leads me to…
Touch points across your organization
This is a bit of an aside, but think of this scenario: Say someone gives you a hot news tip via Facebook. Who do you give it to? A reporter? An editor? Do you check it out yourself?
This is something to have on paper before you get started in the social space. It’s always good to have contacts throughout your organization, just in case something inspires you. Want to create a promo for your Facebook page? Have someone in your marketing or creative services department at your disposal. Got a news tip? Have an editor you can work with. Has someone suggested a site improvement? You should know someone in the technology department.
It’s important to have something concrete to refer to as you delve into the social media space. Whether you’re a day in, a week in or six months down the road, just having something on paper will help you evaluate your progress.
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.
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.
Traveling to different newsrooms is a big part of my job, and no two newsrooms are completely alike.
I’m an evangelist not just for social media tools, but getting newsrooms and news organizations to interact with readers at a very basic level. Some folks — many of whom are full-time bloggers — are naturally good at it, but when it comes to reporters, many don’t even want to engage readers on the “Comments” section of their stories.
This post will help guide you through this very act. There are a few things to remember, however:
1. Responding to comments is part of your job. Period.
2. Do not judge your readership based on a few bad apples. If you’re a reporter, don’t give up on your digital audience after a couple of crap comments. They’re probably anonymous, anyway.
3. There is no such thing as a one-comment story. If there’s one comment, there are two: the first comment and your response. Once you reach five comments or so, you don’t need to respond to everyone, but it’s good to continue to be a part of the conversation.
Here’s when you absolutely must respond to a reader:
- When a reader has a question about your story. Sometimes, through no fault of anyone’s, there are details that are edited out or just not addressed at all. If a reporter can provide an extra bit of information, it’s incumbent upon them to do it. Hell, there’s nothing wrong with leaving a reader happy.
- If someone bashes you. Sometimes comment boards can spiral out of control, especially when a reader bashes you, but if you respond to an angry reader, it cuts them off at the knees and may ultimately win them over. If the commenter responds, and you have their e-mail address, answer them privately.
- When you feel you have to keep your conversation and comment strings on point. If your comment board allows for threaded comments, this may be a non-issue; however, sometimes the conversation just takes an unexpected turn. Don’t be afraid to jump in and keep folks on track.
Sometimes the conversation can just spiral out of control. Here’s when I think it’s OK to ban a commenter:
- When one of your readers bashes another. Keep folks polite, and they’ll keep coming back.
It may be good to sit down with your site producers and editors to create a clear set of rules — Terms of Service, if you will — for your site. This way, if you ban someone, they’ll know exactly why. Just don’t go ban-happy.
Steward the conversation, and acknowledge your good readers/commenters. If you do, you have a real chance of building community around your blog or beat.
When do you think it’s OK — and not OK — to respond to comments? What’s your rule of thumb?
I came up with this idea as a way to show off all the good work that Texans are doing, and to strengthen the newspaper’s relationship with the community. The Statesman, mainly through Twitter, has built a good reputation in the social media community.
We asked for nominations from the public (through Twitter), which brought in 125 nominees. The 25 winners were chosen by me, @omarg and @broylesa.
Be sure to check out the list of winners and their social media efforts. There’s no question that there are some real social media rock stars in Texas.
The awards show, which was at the new Ballet Austin building in downtown Austin, included a cocktail party with a pianist (so we could hear each other talk) and was catered & sponsored by Opal Divine’s restaurant and Sweet Leaf Tea. We then moved into the ballet’s performance area where we had an auditorium and stage to hand out trophies and say a little about each winner.
We named an overall winner during Sunday’s event. The big winner is Michelle Greer, who is a tireless proponent of using social media for social good.