A ‘how to blog’ talk got me blogging again.

Long-term work and blogging compadre David Higgerson and I were asked to give a talk on blogging recently.

Obviously David has lots of thoughts on this subject because… pause… he still actually blogs (and there aren’t many journo bloggers from way back when resolutely still plugging away – Hello! Adam and Paul !) Every one seems to be giving up or shifting to Medium.

Anyway, a side effect of having to prepare for the talk, and then deliver it, was that I had to confront the elephant in the room; I have not blogged for So Long. I very much doubt there are legions of readers sobbing into their sleeves over this fact, but the thing with blogging is this: I get out of it much more than I put in; the drafts folder, for example, of this blog is full of completed or half-formed posts that never got published simply because I a) wrote my frustrations away or b) wrote my way into seeing a solution – one that didn’t require me to foist my deathless prose onto the world.

But I love blogging. I love the subtle behaviours that go with it – the etiquette, the styles, the tinkering with sentences to make your point and then the ‘will anyone read it/care’ moments that follow.

It’s taught me about the language, behavioural codes and niceties of Wheaton’s Law, and about how people are likely to interact from behind the safety of a keyboard and anonymity.

When I started putting the talk together I asked Twitter for insights, and so thank you to those who came back with views – some of you will see your tweets featuring in the slides below.

So I thought I’d share the slides on here, and get my blogging mojo going again. What have I got wrong? What have I missed? What do you agree with? All views welcome. David’s going to publish his slides too, and I’ll link to those once they are live.

Anyway, I’m going to talk my own (and contributors’) advice, and just crack on with blogging again. And this time I will be starting posts with the aim of finishing and actually publishing. Who knows, it might even happen,

#ONALondon ‘When news breaks bad: UGC in the newsroom’ session 

Panel: Mandy Jenkins, VP ONA board, head of news, Storyful; Fergus Bell, ONA Ethics committee, and Dig Deeper Media 

Ok, so for this blog post to make much sense you probably need to head straight to http://toolkit.journalists.org and have a look at that, because this is what we’re talking about.

Done that? Good – the roundup from the session starts… now:

In 2012 the first discussions around UGC and eyewitness protection began.

FB we didn’t have the luxury of several years to develop; we needed to come to a level of understanding quite quickly, and so we set up a working group and many conversations have ben held over theyears.

MJ: We are constantly dealing in a world of unknowns and what we have learned has meant we’ve started to figure out the day to day world of news.

The ONA Social Newsgathering Ethics Code is a document to gather the support of news and journalism organisations internationally to endorse a set of standards and practices.

Here’s a quick screen grab:

ONA Social Newsgathering Ethics Code – ONA s Digital ToolkitExample: ‘The Eiffel Tower has gone dark’ – many news organisations were posting on social in the aftermath of the Paris attacks that the tower was switched off out of respect. Actually, the lights are switched off every night.

Example: The video bandied around as being of the Brussels terror attack that turned out to be Moscow, 2011.

MJ: Readers and journalists are coming to standard terms that indicate where we are in a breaking news story. We will say ‘confirmed’ and how we know what we know, or ‘unconfirmed’ or ‘checking’ which says ‘we are looking into this right now’. The transparency is there and our audience can see what our status is with regards to verification of a story.

FB: For journalists, thinking of how we say we are reaching conclusions around stories is an alien concept but what we need to get our heads around is that the audience is now searching social media themselves, and if it doesn’t look as though you are going through a verification process as a professional journalist they may well question why.

Considering the emotional state and safety of contributors is about the way we deal with people who are creating content we need, and who we are using to tell stories.

FB used the example of a campus shooting eyewitness who was asked by hundreds, if not thousands, of media for her experiences – while it was still going on.

Journalists were getting abuse from other people who could see them asking for content.

Storyful approaches it like this:

 

FB: Be aware there is a difference between getting that story when someone is in fear of their life, and when they are safe. If you are communicating with someone who is hiding from a gunman, as in this case, what happens if their phone is not on mute and it makes a noise when they receive a notification?

Or if there is a particular geographic reference point or angle on a photograph that shows where they are?

MJ within your own newsroom there needs to be communication to say if someone has reached out to an eyewitness, so they are not getting bombarded.

Assignments v discovery – asking people to create content for you is different to finding content they have made. A snowy day photo shout out is low risk – a hurricane pic shout out is not.

MJ: during the Kenyan mall attack you could see people hiding while journalists reached out to them asking them to shoot video. These people were being asked to put their lives at risk to film for a news organisation. It was very ethically unsound.

Storyful works with content that exists and does not create assignment situations (i.e. asking for content to be created rather than provided post-creation)

FB: I worked with UGC on various uprisings in Libya and other areas and we would never ask them to capture anything that was live. What they captured informed the reporting rather than vice versa. We had a responsibility to their safety.

It is not only about protecting the source who provides the content but also protecting those who are featured in it – like making sure witnesses captured in a video are not identifiable.

Embedding can also be an area that needs negotiation: Sometimes people also don’t realise their content is public – they think it is contained within their network and don’t expect to see if in other media.

In breaking news if you are asking for permission to use something, do you have archive rights? Use beyond one time? Multi-platform? What if people later change their minds? If someone retracts at any point, if you’ve negotiated use on Twitter, you have to comply.  (This is a key point that newsrooms need to understand, as far as I am concerned)

If you throw a bunch of legalese at someone around usage, you aren’t likely to get anywHere.

By being more ethical you can also be more effective.

Keeping journalists safe online

MJ: I have had a member of staff stalked by someone they reached out to in pursuit of a story. We have to know that we are not supermen and superwomen when it comes to dealing with this.

FB: I know investigative journalists who will meet some potentially unsavoury contacts in public places with colleagues nearby. If you have a junior staffer reaching out through social to people, as newsroom managers do you know that staffer’s exit route? Do they know how to protect themselves?

Not everyone is bad out there of course but perhaps if you are able to speak to a source on the phone or company email rather than expose your personal account is useful in some cases.

*Also see the work by the excellent Eyewitness Media Hub. I’ve been some small involvement with this, and and blogged about it here and here.

15 thoughts on innovation for smaller newsrooms

How do you innovate in smaller newsrooms, was one of the questions that was sought to be addressed at the WAN IFRA international newsroom summit I attended in Hamburg on October 5. My answer is an emphatic: “Better, and more ambitiously than anyone tends to give us credit for”.

The big guns, like the NYT and The Guardian, are rightly lauded for the innovative work they do; they also have the staff and resources to make sure those things are done excellently. When you work in a regional newsroom and have a burning idea that you just know will be amazing in terms of providing great coverage of a story, or driving audience engagement, or shaking up the way things are done in your workplace, necessity can be the mother of invention (and innovation).

I see first hand how hard the Trinity Mirror regional newsrooms make their innovation stretch, and the lengths they go to make ideas happen, so it was great to be asked to talk about the opportunities for innovation in smaller newsrooms by WAN IFRA. Innovative, experimental storytelling is not the preserve of large newsrooms.

So these are my points on the how and why of innovation in smaller newsrooms.

  1. Know your audience – who are you trying to reach, where are they at various points in the day, what devices are they using, what platforms are they moving towards? How does your idea fit into that, and support the over-arching goal of growth and engagement? Knowing the answers means you’ll make decisions that connect your content to the people you want to reach.
  2. Resources are finite. Be realistic – how likely is it that you are going to spend several months and several thousand pounds developing a ‘look how innovative we are’ game or piece of content. So where can you piggyback? What 3rd party tools exist to help you tell your stories in other ways? Is your idea the best way of reaching your desired audience anyway?
  3. Most questions that begin ‘how to I connect with X audience?’ end in an answer that contains, to a greater or lesser extent, ‘social media’. If you’re a regional newsroom you need to get your social, mobile, local approach right.
  4. Something cannot work on one mobile OS and ‘sort of’ work on another. Either it works on mobile, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, don’t do it; you’re just halving your potential audience reach.
  5. Run a trial, assess the value – share the knowledge. If it works, great – you’ve got a best practice model to refine across other newsrooms who know they are getting a tried and tested success. If it doesn’t, you know you’ve used the resources wisely and attempted something that you can still take learnings from.
  6. Publish where your audience is; make those pieces of content entry points for your other platforms too
  7. Use analytics to help inform all your decision-making.
  8. Newsrooms that harness that expertise can achieve faster culture shift
  9. Using 3rd party tools that work on your platforms is a practical solution for small newsrooms – just make sure a) they don’t break your platforms and b) they work on mobile
  10. Share that knowledge where possible – collaboration = creativity. Hack days, social media cafes, training days, help build relationships, community engagement and  spark ideas
  11. Free your content – don’t just work in a CMS silo. Not everything has to drag the audience back to your website. We need content packages that go out into the world with their boots on, editorially and commercially. The disaggregation of the homepage is happening; news providers have to have a sound plan for ‘discovered content’.
  12. Be an early bird: Beta testing is a great option for small, agile newsrooms. Startups knock on many, many doors with their idea; it’s good to give time and attention to them because you never know when it’s going to develop into a mutually beneficial relationship. Or, to put it another way, be nice, because you never know where someone – or some start-up – is going to wind up.
  13. What resources can you devote – staff, time and cash? What stops being done to make way for your project? Honestly, if your great idea is going to suck the air out of other projects, and test colleagues’ patience and work flows, you’ve got to know it’s worth it and be able to articulate the benefits.
  14. Just because others do it, it doesn’t mean it will be right for you. Sometimes the resources, the audience and the returns mean that a great idea in one newsroom is a lukewarm one in another. That’s ok if you’ve looked at it from every angle and can’t replicate the success, what can you take out of it? There probably are elements that will work.
  15. Where’s the money? What are the commercial opportunities of your idea and have you involved commercial colleagues at an early enough point that they can a) think how it might be of interest to their clients and b) where they can point out opportunities you’ve missed? Generally speaking, newsrooms don’t talk to Advertising enough, but we’re fast enough to employ the Patented Journalist Eyeroll when they fail to sell around planned content they found out about 3 days ago, but that we’ve been working on for the best part of a fortnight.

Dealing with witnesses: Why the Eyewitness Media Hub’s guidelines are so important for journalism

1-vHcTaVsjY_18XKO_wKaygg

A while ago I was asked to join a group of journalists assembled with the aim of providing some input into Eyewitness Media Hub’s principles for journalists working with UGC* – user generated content (or ‘other people’s words and images’, as non-journalists might say).

It was a privilege to be involved in the discussions and workshop around such important issues, and as a mainstream journalist it’s really important to me that my world view of our working practices gets stretched and challenged regularly.

Anyway, EMH took on an enormous piece of work and, from a bazillion clauses, sub-clauses and “yes, but…” moments, has distilled the best practice down into 6 simple steps.

Go and look at them with full context on the EMH website, and do please read the version on Medium with lovely sharable graphics because they explain things beautifully, and succinctly.

However, as I’ve got your eyeballs for a moment, here’s a pared-down version, with my input in (these):

  1. Consider the physical and emotional welfare of the eyewitnesses you speak to during breaking news events (I have spoken to people who were so shaken by what they’d just been involved in, they didn’t even know I was media, despite me telling them. I imagine a stranger saying “hello, this is my name and title” is classed by the brain as extraneous information compared to the WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING information it’s trying to process. Try to publish footage already captured (Again, it’s often amazing how obliging your average member of the public can be. They will unthinkingly and unwittingly put themselves in, or back in, harm’s way just to be co-operative, helpful and show the story. Others do it because they want that brush with fame – both are equally damaging, potentially). Appreciate the eyewitness may be completely overwhelmed. (This is an opportunity to be a human being, and not take advantage of them. I think probably Vivien Ayling, who witnessed the Shoreham tragedy and then drove on, obviously in deep shock, to her workplace. I caught a radio interview with her a few days later, and a) she was getting a huge amount of social media abuse for driving on to work – instead of what? Staying and getting caught in the fire? Being in the way of the rescue services? – and b) reporters were allegedly waiting for her at home, have steamrollered her son to get into the house. She didn’t even think of asking them to leave, poor woman).
  2. When you’re asking people if you can use their content, do explain how it will be used, and where and what you’re planning to do with it. Also, tell them about syndication, including the who and where. (I’ve explained the syndication opportunity to Liverpool people who have, for example, given us videos, and the stipulation comes back that they’re fine for it be bought by other organisations but it cannot go to The Sun. Also, historically, people have had no idea what syndication of their content means: I think that will change, especially as more organisations like Storyful appear; but in the meantime, if they don’t ask, we should make sure they’re told).
  3. If you’re embedding content, without speaking to the creator, think about reasonable expectation of where it might appear. (But, tbh, get explicit permission every time, if you can. It just saves a heap of problems later and, frankly, if someone doesn’t want you to use their stuff, and finds out you have, you could find the ensuing Tweetstorm and drain on your time trying to right a wrong outweighs the click value. Also, TinEye and Google Reverse Image Search are commonly used nowadays; it can also cost you more financially, once you’ve annoyed someone through non-communication).
  4. When it comes to images, think about the impact of what you’re publishing might have on people pictured/broadcast, or their family. (Blur isn’t a cop-out; it’s a mature way of telling a story while acknowledging the impact of what you’re publishing can have. We can be so terrified of bottling it, or not using the same photo in the same way as another publication, sometimes. Competition is a good thing, and being bold and brave as journalists is generally the right way to go. All I’m saying is: It’s rare you can cause harm by shielding people)
  5. Ask how someone who has created the content you’re publishing wants to be credited. This may mean you need to explain the potential pros and cons (like, you’ll get a lot of social media kudos and follows – you’ll also get deluged by other media wanting to use it, and they will contact you directly instead of going through our syndication department (see #2). And, no, Photo: Twitter, or Video: YouTube is not a byline.  Sometimes people will choose pseudonyms, or request anonymity, often they won’t. What they do need is a choice.
  6. Treat people fairly; ask them if they would like recompense if their content is being used to make money for the publisher. And here we are at the delicate business of finance, at which point most newsrooms will twitch their skirts around their ankles and dither because UGC IS FREE, ISN’T IT? Not always, and not if you want a relationship with your audience, and a reputation for fair dealing. Often people don’t want money but it’s a conversation that should be had.

*I think Other People’s Content is probably the honest way of putting things, because it doesn’t set the Wo/Man In The Street on a different footing to a freelance photographer. If you want what they’ve made, you need to treat them both well and fairly, whether payment is requested or expected or not. Because, well, ethics. And not being a dick.

Off with their heads! Crimes against cropping in tweets

Update: Some more cropping tools. This one, which is – I think – called Favicon Generatorwas suggested by @ourman and Twitshot by @xxnapoleonsolo. Thanks chaps.

When it comes to critiquing others’ work, I am very much of the ‘there but for the grace of God…’ school of thought. I’m fairly sure, for example, there are enough spelling and grammar issues over the course of this blog’s eight or so years to make the average sub editor’s heart sink.

But.. there is a new-ish thing that is quietly driving me nuts and, as more titles latch on to the idea of Tweet+image+link = More Engagement it’s spreading like a weed.

It’s the phenomenon of Headless Subject Matter. Here are some examples (and I’m sorry, titles below, to pick you out – another time search would have revealed several different offenders I’m sure)…

The Headless Royal (thankfully not in the wives of Henry VIII sense)

TweetDeck
I’m assuming the £1 beauty product she can’t live without is for her hands?

The Headless-But-Clothed-So-That’s-Something Pop Sensation

Miley's smile may or may not have reached her eyes
Miley’s smile may or may not have reached her eyes

The Headless Only People In The World To Have Married, Ever

The answer, apparently, is ‘get her entire head in a Vogue social media post’

The Headless My-Dress-Cost-Less-Than-A-Tonne-So -I’m-Spinning-With-Joy Model

Visible hair, invisible head
Visible hair, invisible head

And finally, two Cropping Crimes for tragic Jagger. Poisoned (allegedly) and now beheaded – what is this? The 13th century?

_32__Twitter

My dog's got no nose. etc etc
My dog’s got no nose. etc etc

The thing is, even when it looks normal in the tweet, the preview (these examples are from Twitter and Tweetdeck) often doesn’t. I learned bitter lessons last week, as I selected, cropped, uploaded, posted, checked… and then deleted photos on both Twitter and Facebook posts because I’d sized them wrongly.  Eventually Google (or Audience Review, to be accurate) provided me with a key: Use a 2:1 ratio, with the best upload size being 1024×512, as this scales down well to 440×220.

And when it comes to tools, I use Canva, PicMonkey and Spruce (all are excellent for overlaying text too, although I found I had to close and reopen Spruce each time I wanted to upload a new pic).

Links with photos in Facebook also have a nasty tendency to crop in unfortunate ways. I tend to get around this by uploading a specific image rather than going with whatever the link generates. I found this post very helpful in choosing sizes.

So, a minor gripe in the scheme of things but it’s something that takes just minutes to get right, and it makes all the difference in the world.

The how and why of Twitter lurking


It looks like there’s an interesting new paper out on social media use. I can’t be entirely sure because, y’know, academic paywalls, but when I saw this, I had to know a bit more…

The abstract is here, but on the whole it’s less exciting than the tweet: ‘TWEET OR BE SACKED’ is a good headline.

It struck a note with me as I spoke at the WAN IFRA International News Summit this week, about overcoming blockers in newsroom culture change. (My slides are at the end of this post and Julie Posetti‘s overview of the main takeaways is here)

I only touched briefly on the place social media has in changing newsroom culture, but two points seemed to strike a chord with the audience:

1. A strong social media presence for a journalist should be expected, not requested

2. Social media is our judge and jury and we should not only conduct ourselves accordingly, but be prepared for all outcomes.

With regards to point 1, the recent furore about whether NYT executives tweeted or not was valid – they should be tweeting; in my view they need to lead by example. Also if these people don’t have interesting news and views to discuss and share, the Times needs to take another look at its recruitment policy.

Point 2 was made for (hopefully) editorial leaders to take on board, because if you’re in charge of a mainstream media team you have to know what people are saying about you and your title. In fact, you should be a committed Twitter Lurker.

You might not always tweet a lot; there are times when newsroom managers would no doubt quite like to tweet about work-elated events but discretion proves the better part of valour. Nevertheless, even when you’re not active on Twitter, you should be actively consuming Twitter.

Editorial leaders really have be plugged into the conversation at a deep level, knowing what people are saying about them or their brand, and ready to respond or advise on a response, if need be.

My view is, if I heard someone in the pub sharing untrue information about a title I edited, I’d step in and correct them. It’s no different on Twitter – put people straight on inaccuracies, answer questions when they don’t expect an answer – and with a few straightforward tools you can make your brand the omnipotent voice you like to think it is.

It’s not hard to be a good Twitter Lurker, and you don’t need to be especially adept either. So, some things I’d say are useful for editorial leaders…

1. Be an admin: Your brand’s Twitter account is run by people you trust, obviously, and asking to be an admin isn’t undermining what they do. But social is a publishing platform with, ultimately, your name on the deeds if something goes terribly wrong. You should also be able to access the back end – although you may never need to. Know the Twitter login details so you can tweet as your brand if need be.

2. Put your brand’s tweets and @mentions in a Tweetdeck column, so you can see what people are responding to, or a-ing you about. Basic, but it’s very easy to quickly pick up on what story has really clicked with your audience, whether your account is more about broadcast than conversation, or how well it responds to a burgeoning Twitterstorm. A good social media editor can head a spat off with a few polite tweets and a 🙂 It’s an art form.

3. Set up and save Twitter searches around your brand, and your company. Not the @-names but the full text – ‘Nowhere Times’, not @nowwheretimes – and monitor it for conversations where you are being talked about but not talked to. I enjoy a good subtweet as much as the next person, but if you’re a councillor opting to sneakily spread misinformation, you shouldn’t get away with it. (This is the perfect riposte for a snarky mayor, btw)…

  4. Use private Twitter lists. You might not want to follow people who continually talk down you/your brand, but you do want to know what they are saying about it/you. So… set up a private Twitter list (call it something really satisfying too) and add them too it. They will have no idea and you can always keep on top of their misinformation. People who call the Liverpool Echo the Oldham Echo,  tend to get a tweet off me with its Old Hall Street address – anorak-y but hugely satisfying.

5. If someone does want to get into it online, ask yourself a few questions before responding. Are they simply grandstanding? (Generally, they don’t want a response, they want a reaction) What are their follower numbers like? Are they an egg? If they don’t even have an avatar, they aren’t usually that active or followed.   Does their tweet make any sense or are they swearing? (I won’t talk to you on the phone if you swear at me, I’m not making an exception in digital life) Are they agent provocateurs? (if their Twitter stream comprises complaints, whinges and attacks then there’s a good chance they just enjoy annoying people)

There are, of course, lots of options for monitoring conversations – IFTTT.com is one of my favourite online helpers, and a host of new Twitter trackers have recently been created.

My WAN-IFRA slides from the Changing Newsroom Culture session

A short guide to longform


Embed from Getty Images

It sounds like one of the speakers to hear this year was Aron Philhofer at #hhldn this week, when he levelled some zingers at mainstream media for complacency about their future.

I wasn’t there, but Richard Kendall very thoughtfully grabbed a lot of the tweets around his talk into a Storify and it makes a fascinating read (which will probably have a lot of digital journalists punching the air in agreement).

One of the interesting things to me was the subsequent discussion around immersive longform, an we at Trinity Mirror have ventured into recently, courtesy of working with Shorthand on some projects.

I love immersive storytelling; it’s important to me that a good tale gets a good telling, but the reading experience has to be a rewarding thing if an audience is going to stick with it.

One of the points Aron Pilhofer made was that the New York Times‘ Snowfall immersive story measured page views, but missed the more important metrics. He’s right: PVs and UUs don’t show the true impact. I wouldn’t say discount them entirely –   collating all the metrics to get a rounded picture is important – but they are only a small element.

Talking on Twitter with Andy Dickinson the next day:

Sparking:

Some of the metrics that matter (imo, anyway) – the completion rate, active reading time, the device used, the recirculation rate, how the story is retaining users…  And then there’s the social side of things: How someone interacts with the content; shares it on Twitter without @-ing the brand or author (ie. tweeting the link with a comment rather than retweeting);  likes, comments or shares it on Facebook, pins on Pinterest or on other social book marking sites. The number of unique users for a piece of storytelling that took several days to complete might be low in comparison to those piling on to read a breaking football transfer story. If you went by PVs you might conclude it the game wasn’t worth the candle.

But PVs and UUs miss the point. It’s abut how invested people are in the piece – the time they spend reading it, the multimedia they engage with, the emotions exhibited the words they use when sharing it, and how often they return to it. This is valuable information to help inform future decisions (and commercial opportunities).

I’ve learned plenty from working with Shorthand; it has driven home  the benefits of collaborating outside the mainstream media. It made me put the needs of the mobile reader above everyone else, and it also helped me think about story structures in a new way.

Every time we make an immersive story now I think we improve on previous efforts, mainly because we endeavour to learn from things that tripped us up along the way. Getting text, multimedia and various 3rd party content tools to play nicely together isn’t always easy, whether you’re thinking of doing it in your own CMS or via another platform.

Shorthand’s Rachel Bartlett spoke to Maria Breslin (Liverpool Echo), Paul Gallagher (MEN) and myself recently about our experiences and I’ll link to her piece once it’s live. My longform learnings are pretty simple:

Storyboard it

When I edited newspapers, in common with quite a few other editors I think, I often sketched out the front page I wanted, complete with blurbs, ads and smiley or frowny stick people (depending on whether the subjects of the p1 photograph were calamity-struck or not) on A3 paper.  It helped me visualise if and how the elements of the front fitted together; the fit of the overall package.

Storyboarding an immersive read is a great way of seeing if you have a flow to the narrative, or whether you’re stacking multimedia unnecessarily, overloading some sections with content, and whether it has a strong ending. The final section needs to be as rewarding a read as the opening one.

Device-check it

Build a draft, see how it looks on mobile, desktop and tablet. Refine the draft, check it across devices again. When we built the LFC ‘We Go Again’ story it had beautiful graphics for each player, created by the TMR Data Unit. On desktop these looked really great; on mobile they were a) too small to read and b) required the reader to scroll until March 2015 to get to the end of the graphics. In the end, graphics for key players were redone and these featured in mobile-friendly format. It’s missing a ‘Suarez’s Biting Stats’ graphic, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Browser-check it

During the build of NC&J Media’s Great North Run ‘One Million Stories’ tribute, oddness was discovered. The story displayed beautifully everywhere except IE10, although every other iteration of IE was acceptable. Some checking showed that IE10 is the tenth most popular browser for their users (Chrome and mobile Safari came top.) Tenth wasn’t enough to be a deal breaker but incorporating some helpful advice about using Chrome or a similar modern browser in the promotional marketing was a smart idea.

Have an analytics plan

Twice the analytics caused problems, once due to a glitch and once simply because we didn’t know what we wanted to track; now it’s fairly obvious what the important statistics are. Social, real-time, engagement and user-data-over-time all need to be considered.

Think like a user

Shorthand advises around 20 sections is optimum for UX; the first draft of the MEN’s Blue Moon Rising was about double this. Then you try to read it as the audience would, and realise you’ve stopped reading and are just scrolling.  Just think how you’d react if you were reading the piece, and then you’ll probably slash it in half. I can’t even be bothered to click through to the second page of a Storify half the time, and I suspect my attention span is pretty typical of most people’s so I try to bear that in mind when thinking about longer reads. As with many things in life, just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.

 

 

Social media monitoring and analytics (infographic)

Not 100% sure who I owe a hat tip to for tweeting a link to this infographic about social media monitoring (I suspect David Thackeray though).
It is exceptionally useful, anyway, and I thought I would store it on my blog as it’s a reference source I will probably come back to in the future.

The World of Social Media Monitoring and Analytics

Powered by Demand Metric – See more at: http://www.demandmetric.com/content/world-social-media-monitoring-and-analytics-infographic#sthash.MfJdn18b.dpuf

Tweetdeck: A short user guide to getting the most out of it

tweetdeck
(Photo credit: estherbester)
I ran my first Webex training session this week; it was a 45 minute run-through of How To Be a Tweetdeck Ninja, which contained my tips for getting the most out of Facebook. 
Ahem.
I’ve used Tweetdeck for years and I like the Chrome extension very much – I personally find Tweetdeck the desktop tool for Twitter I wouldn’t be without (one other being Buffer). 
So when asked to give some colleagues an introduction to Tweetdeck, and others a bit of a power-user insight, it was a chance to sift through what is useful or not to me, and share it. 
Because Trinity Mirror uses Google Apps, I’ve slanted the presentation to the Google Chrome Store Tweetdeck extension – obviously that isn’t a prerequisite to using Tweetdeck. 
Having not used Webex before (other than a nice, safe ‘this is how it works’  session between me and the trainer) it was a little nerve-wracking but, used properly it is a great tool for engaged learning. (My main learning outcome was that background noise can hugely impact on the sound quality.)
Anyway, before the session started I did ask the Twitter hivemind for its thoughts on what was good and bad about Tweetdeck, and and then pulled a selection together into a custom timeline* of the responses: 

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+”://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js”;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,”script”,”twitter-wjs”);

There was also a powerpoint sent around as an aide memoir, which I’ve uploaded to Scribd

Enhanced by Zemanta

Definitely NOT another ‘How Journalists Should Use Pinterest’ post.

I’ve read various articles recently about Why Companies Should Be Using Pinterest (I haven’t saved any of them, but Zemanta will no doubt provide the latest selection as I write this – it’s like trying to put down a hydra). 
However, any social media wrangler in a newsroom knows a site has to be proven earn its keep before more than tentative attention is invested. And how do you even start to overcome this chicken/egg scenario? It’s a Google+ sized problem for most of us. 
But this week I was asked to share some of my tips for using it, and as I started to set them down I realised that I wasn’t thinking about how to use it as a journalist and ‘drive audience’ I was writing out my learnings as a user. I’ve set up various accounts and boards on titles I’ve worked on but I also use it myself, for all sorts of things.  “My name is Alison, and I’m a Pinner”.
I found it very useful as a student, for example and these are the boards that consistently pick up followers because they’re really niche (that was my first learning outcome).

I like Pinterest for sharing and driving lifestyle and Buzzfeed-style traffic – it’s easy to create boards, followers – once secured – are loyal; every time they log in, your content is highly visible, as it displays automatically on their homepage. But although it’s a visual site, Pinterest is branching out, as it announced this week

Articles will now have more information – including the headline, author, story description and link – right on the pin. So when you find articles about things you’re passionate about… they’re easier to save and organise. 

And share, it should add. I like the idea; it takes away some of the issues around Pinterest’s laid-back (to say the least) attitude towards ownership and copyright; it does have a certain ‘if the user doesn’t care, why should we?’ attitude towards that. 
Thinking about how I use Pinterest (ie. without my work hat on) gave me some ideas about how you can use it with your work hat on. So here are some of my tips on getting the most out of Pinterest, written with my enthusiast’s hat on. This is definitely NOT another ‘How Journalists Should Use Pinterest’ set of tips: 
1. Spend some minutes through the day reviewing http://www.pinterest.com/popular/ – you can see at a glance what’s hot (bit like Twitter’s trending list. 
2. Linking your social media accounts to follow mutual users offers a quick if haphazard community base that you can build on and tweak as you go. These people are already engaged with you on other platforms and are so likely to be interested in the visuals you pin 
3. It is female oriented, but there are football clubs doing their thing with success. Pinning badges with slogans and inspirational quotes from club heroes, that link through to more visual content, is likely to be more shared.

4. Joining a group (also called a community) board (you need to be invited to do so) dramatically boosts your own followers and drives repins when you’re starting out. 

There is a basic directory of group boards http://www.pinterest.com/groupboards/ but there’s nothing as useful or discovery-linked as, say, Twello. 

You might need to do some speculative following and emailing of your appropriate pins to get invited to the board but once you do, repin numbers can shoot up. I was invited to join a popular ‘Home’ board courtesy of my ‘Next Home Ideas’ board – and my follower numbers have consistently grown since then for other boards too. 


5. Pinterest users may not realise it, but they are a content farmer’s dream. People will use the search facility to look for ‘cute puppy’ ‘lose weight fast’ ‘10 amazing [whatever] facts’. It’s like e-How, but actually not annoying. 

6. A feature in print about someone who’d lost 10 stone for their wedding, that was pinned as ‘lose weight for your wedding, fast’ works across the Alpha Female categories of Food&Drink, Health&Fitness and Weddings, and is a quick, permanent, win.


7. Category boards search is your friend. If the audience isn’t using search, they go straight to the categories list.

Pinterest categories that attract significant followers and repins are all around lifestyle –

Home Decor, Animals, Food&Drink, Health&Fitness (just look a the Popular category to see just how much) and after that probably Hair&Beauty, Weddings and Women’s Fashion with maybe Travel too. 

These give you access to people who are motivated to re-pin and share content, possibly it in smaller niche numbers but pins around celeb fashion and how to replicate it have worked well for me in the past. 


8. Pinterest categories are alphabetised so Animals is the first category anyone browsing the site sees. A great board of regularly updated, pinned animal pix linking to stories will capture the idle browser and also build up followers quickly.
It doesn’t have to be about cute puppies – true life stories are hugely shareable (although if you find yourself welling up at the amazingness of US animals, I advise running the tale – tail? – through Snopes.com before you believe a word) as people like to add their own comments under the pin. It also means you get user engagement and comments to reverse publish if desired.

9. Don’t beware Geeks; they bring gifts of audience and sharing. The Geek category is very engaged. Doctor Who, Sherlock, Harry Potter, nerd affirmations… all these things are shared repeatedly. For newspapers with access to celebrity interviews, film reviews etc, or photogenic locations where shows or films beloved of the Geeks have been shot or have featured (hello, Cardiff!) it’s, well, a gift.

10. Embedding pins within your own CMS allows you the opportunity to invite your audience back over to Pinterest to discover stories they might have previously missed, sign up, start following you, etc etc.
11. Because Pinterest has integrated Facebook login options and actively encourages users to follow that route, a user has to opt out of it cross-posting their activity onto their Facebook stream. And I guess there are many, many pinners who simply miss the ‘Skip’ option Facebook hands them.
So, from a media point of view, there’s the potential of hitting two new audiences when someone repins you – once on Pinterest, and once on their Facebook profile.

12. Finally, adding the ‘pin it’ button to your bookmarks bar is the fastest way to pin something to your boards quickly from the Record site. It’s here http://about.pinterest.com/goodies/ under the apps. It makes life a lot easier!
And you can also add a Pinterest widget button to let users pin your stories off the site, of course, should your developers be feeling kindly disposed towards doing some coding.

Enhanced by Zemanta