Posts filed under 'social media'

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

Responding to the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post social media rules

We have a post in the works, but we first wanted to know. What are your thoughts on this and this?

Preliminarily, I see where they’re trying to go with the rules, but do you agree/disagree with them?

7 comments May 14th, 2009

Video of the Week: How do you build community with Chicago news?

Here’s a video I did with Geoff Dougherty of Chi-Town Daily News for KnightPulse. Enjoy:

How do you build community with Chicago news? from Knight Pulse on Vimeo.

Add comment April 29th, 2009

New Tricks: Rules of engagement: How journalists can – and should – respond to comments

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 someone makes a racist, sexist or homophobic comment.

- 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?

24 comments April 6th, 2009

New Tricks: Covering a storm with social media

If you pay attention to your news organization’s Web site numbers, you know that very few things are as popular with your audience than a severe weather event. It doesn’t have to be a hurricane to draw a lot of interest – sometimes just a good thunderstorm can do the trick.

To fully capture that active Web audience during a weather event, you can use social media tools to help report the story. Your news staff can’t be everywhere, but your readers can help.

Here are some things you can do:

1. Start a Twitter weather feed. At the Statesman, we have one that automatically posts the temperature and conditions every six hours (thanks to an RSS feed). During a storm event, an editor can hop on there and start reporting what he or she knows – and ask for reader pictures and reports, through @replies and direct messages. Retweet the good Twitpics and reports from your followers. Even better: use the readers’ Twitpics on your home page. has posted reader photos from Twitter in the centerpiece of the home page several times.

Be sure to get permission and credit (we say “@robquig via Twitter”). If you have reporters using Twitter out in the field during the storm, be sure to retweet their reports or at least let your followers know they’re there and Tweeting. Don’t do that and ignore the readers, though. Retweeting readers is one of the best ways to easily get user-generated content.

2. Build a Google mashup to give readers a way to report conditions in their area. Here’s the one we built a while back that we use for just about any newsworthy weather event. It worked great during a recent hail storm. They’re relatively simple to build (we use Caspio), and people enjoy using it.

3. Have a way for people to share their videos. A few years ago, this would not draw much interest. Now that most digital cameras have pretty good video capabilities, you’re much more likely to get some usable reader videos. If your video player allows for reader uploads, that’s great. Otherwise, have them update to YouTube or Vimeo and e-mail you when they’re uploaded with a link. You can then embed their videos in a blog or on your page.

4. Promote your efforts. If you have a TV station or partner, mention the social media components during that wall-to-wall weather coverage. Tell people how to contribute with reports on Twitter and the mashup. If you have a newspaper or newspaper partner, tease heavily to the Google Mashup in the next day’s paper (include an image of the map with the pins all over it, if possible).

Take advantage of all the tools you have your disposal … and stay dry!

10 comments March 31st, 2009

Video of the Week: Make your Facebook profile private to your co-workers

This isn’t necessarily journalism-related, but you can see where something like this would be helpful. Andrew Ba Tran from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel offers a great video tutorial below. Enjoy.

You can find his full story here.

2 comments February 24th, 2009

New Tricks: A quick Twitter primer

All right, folks. So thanks to us — perhaps — you’ve signed up for Twitter. Here are some rules of the road:

(NOTE: You must be logged in to Twitter for this tutorial to be most effective.)

- Want to reply to someone publicly? Type “@Name” in the text box to respond. You can put the person’s name at the beginning, or you can incorporate the name in your Tweet, like this.

- Not all of your Tweets will benefit your followers, so sometimes it’s good to send a private, direct message. Here’s how you do it:
1. Once you find someone you want to DM, go to their profile page.
2. Click “Direct Message” on the right rail.
3. Send your message.

- Sometimes there’s a big story that’s either ongoing or just developing. You’ll find that savvy Twitter users will tags their Tweets to get them seen as part of the conversation. For instance, the tag for Super Bowl-related Tweets was #superbowl, for Rod Blagojevich-related stories it was #Blagojevich and for the Obama inauguration it was #inaug09. You can find hashtag trends here and on the Twitter Search main page.

- Want to follow someone? Go to their page, and click the little “Follow” button under their avatar. It’s as simple as that.

- You’ll notice that you only have 140 characters per Tweet. So, if you’re posting a link, that means you’ll have to shorten it. My personal favorite right now is It has a nifty metrics dashboard and doesn’t have some of the SEO issues of other URL shorteners. Go to, paste your long link into the box, click the button, and voilĂ  — you have a much shorter link.

And now, for some Twitter etiquette. Or as it’s called, twetiquette. Enjoy this instructional video:

What are your tips?

15 comments February 17th, 2009

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