Category Archives: Social

Don’t Drink and Tweet – a handy guide to Twitter

I recently gave a talk about Twitter, its audience, newsjacking and more. Here’s the deck.

Got any tips to share? You can leave them below, or Tweet me!

Slideshare not behaving? Go here.

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Watching a hashtag spoil

Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake mock those talking in hashtags in this great spot.

More than a few times, I’ve found myself in the uncomfortable position of selecting a hashtag.

The key goal to selecting a hashtag is hoping people will use it. And use it as you intended.

Without the necessary foresight, a hashtag can go bad in an instant.

Case in point this week is Carleton University’s upcoming 75th anniversary in 2017, and its very public launch of its website and branding #DistinctlyCarleton. The University even devoted a full page to the campaign.

I’m sure the communications folks were hoping to read lovely comments from faculty, staff, students and alumnae when they tweeted about the relaunch:

Continue reading Watching a hashtag spoil

5 fundamental things you must understand about Twitter

twitter-policies

Such a lovely, silly name for such an important social media tool.

In my last post, I wrote the five fundamental things you must know about Facebook. In it, I called Twitter a ‘sexy flirt.’ Some of my Twitter followers took offence to that, and pointed out how often I’m on the social media tool.

It’s true – I tweet a lot. Last night I live blogged/tweeted a fascinating debate on Canada’s Press Gallery, asking ‘Does it matter?’ It was great to get immediate feedback from twitter followers on the statements made by panelists in real time.

So, to give my close companion – sexy flirt that Twitter is – its due, I’m going to offer five fundamentals you must know about Twitter.

Continue reading 5 fundamental things you must understand about Twitter

5 fundamental things you must understand about Facebook

facebookI’m not denying that Twitter is sexy. Something about those 140 characters is so alluring. Perhaps it’s the challenge of displaying wit and intellect in a soundbite.

I love Twitter, don’t get me wrong.

But I also find it interesting that during conversations I’ve had with people (journalists, politicos, public relations/communications professionals) about social media, they think Twitter first. There’s no doubt that there are some key influencers on Twitter.

The New York Times’ David Carr recently said at a Boston University recent conference on narrative:

‘Being big on Twitter is like being big in Japan. You can’t use it as a metric of your actual reach.’

Twitter may be a sexy flirt, but Facebook is a player.

Continue reading 5 fundamental things you must understand about Facebook

Why humans are better than computers at social media analytics

No, not this Data. BIG data.
No, not this Data. BIG data.

When it comes to understanding what is being said about you/your company/your product via social media – and whether it’s positive or negative – humans have the edge.

Or, at least it’s possible for those who can understand context, inflection and emphasis. Shocker.

See that? Sarcasm. It’s the bane of online communication. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve written an email or blasted out a sarcastic tweet that was misunderstood.

That’s why Jim Sterne thinks understanding social media analytics is so much more than measuring RT’s, hits, mentions with data tools.

Computers crunch numbers, analysis is real work that must be done by people, Sterne said during his talk at a recent Third Tuesday Ottawa event.

When examining social media data, the greatest understanding isn’t during a “Eureka!” moment, Sterne said.

Rather, more can be gained from asking “That’s funny… I wonder why that happened?”

Just as in journalism, asking the right question will help you understand the story more fully.

Quite a few times during Sterne’s talk, I found many parallels between social media analytics and things we practice naturally in journalism.

Sterne spoke of intuition, and this need for understanding as important as intelligence and knowledge when looking at data.

Creativity is essential – when examining social media metrics, we need to look from a different perspective, Sterne said. And then he delivered this gem, which all journalists can probably identify with:

The goal to presenting social media analytics is story telling, Sterne said.

“Don’t just crank out numbers in reports,” he said. Help people understand your audience, who the typical person is who you are appealing to.

“And sure, if someone comes at you looking for statistics, give them all the charts and graphs they want,” he added.

One point I took issue with was Sterne’s response to a question about real-time analytics. They’re not accurate enough, he said. You need to have a broader perspective of what’s out there – and real-time is drilled down too far.

“The problem is you look at the last data point, and not the whole picture,” Sterne said.

I disagree. When it comes to social media, you need to be on top of what is out there, whether you are dealing with crisis communications or customer service. I think you need to look at the forest and  the trees.

How to make things go viral

virusWhat you write is meaningless if it isn’t getting an audience.

In the multimedia journalism course I teach at Carleton’s journalism school, and in the Ottawa Citizen newsroom where I work my ‘day job’, I’m often speaking about headlines and SEO.

We started asking reporters in our newsroom to start writing headlines about two years ago. At first, they were nervous. For decades newspapers have employed journalists whose sole purpose was to write a beautiful headline.

I tell students to think about crafting a headline that will attract search engine robots. Yes, I said robots. (I tell students to visualize these bots like the spiders that creep around in Minority Report, pulling open eyelids to scan and confirm identities.

Continue reading How to make things go viral

10 observations from my 14-day social media break up

For 14 days, this was my social media avatar.
For 14 days, this was my social media avatar.

Those who know me know my relationship with social media tends towards the addiction end of the scale. At the very least it wasn’t normal.

It’s not normal to wake up at 4 a.m., go to the bathroom and check your twitter feed before returning to bed. (Or before heading out for an early-morning run.)

It may have been kismet that I read Baratunde Thurston’s piece for Fast Company on leaving the internet for 25 days shortly before my own summer vacation began. This, I thought, is something I should/could do.

I wasn’t ready to give up the internet. I am a news lover, after all.

I did cut off all social media, allowed myself to check my gmail twice a day only, closed down my work email (after telling my bosses they could reach me on my cell or at my gmail account), and relied completely on my mobile browsers on my phone and iPad for news.

My phone became a mobile browser, camera and of course… a phone.

I went through various stages of grief during my break,  and noted the following observations:

Continue reading 10 observations from my 14-day social media break up

Online and in the loop: How social media is changing politics and political reporting

Moderator Andrew Potter, David Reevely, Nick Taylor-Vaisey and Joanna Smith.
Moderator Andrew Potter, David Reevely, Nick Taylor-Vaisey and Joanna Smith.

Sneezing in space, putting a snowplough on the mayor’s car, and the appropriate level of snark in a tweet were up for discussion during two panels at Carleton University last week.

The event, titled ‘On the Hill, Online and in the loop: how social media is changing politics and reporting’ was co-presented by Carleton’s School of Journalism and Communication, and the Canadian Journalism Foundation.

(full disclosure: I organized this event with the CJF)

Two panels on both end of the social media spectrum took to the stage.

Politicians, including Marc Garneau, Liberal MP for Westmount-Ville Marie, Megan Leslie, NDP MP for Halifax and Jim Watson, Ottawa’s mayor shared their thoughts. Chris Waddell, Director of Carleton’s School of Journalism and Communication moderated.

Up first was a discussion with Ottawa’s top social media political reporters: Glen McGregor from the Ottawa Citizen, Kady O’Malley from CBC.ca, David Reevely from the Ottawa Citizen, Joanna Smith from the Toronto Star and Nick Taylor-Vaisey from Macleans.

Andrew Potter, Managing Editor at The Ottawa Citizen, moderated what he called “the most incestuous panel I’ve ever sat on.”

Continue reading Online and in the loop: How social media is changing politics and political reporting

The ethics of using user-generated content

While social media platforms have vastly increased the speed by which a reader can submit content, an ONA ethics panel agreed that traditional verification of sources is more important than ever.

During a panel of the Ethics the Community Newsroom, Jennifer Preston of the New York Times pointed out that her paper has been publishing user-generated content for centuries – in the form of letters to the editor from readers.

User-generated content (UGC) is not new, but the need for verification is more important than ever before, Preston said.

Fergus Bell, Senior Producer and Digital Newsgatherer for the Associated Press in London said that when he finds content he’d like to put out on the AP wire, he has a system of sourcing and verification that includes:

Continue reading The ethics of using user-generated content

ONA’s Social media debate: Best practices vs. bad habits

This was a great debate at the Online News Association conference. Rather than try to sum it up, I decided to post as a Q&A.

Panel members included:

Eric Carvin, Social Media Editor, Associated Press
Liz Heron, Director of Social Media, Wall Street Journal
Niketa Patel, Social Media PM, CNN
Anthony De Rosa, Social Media Editor and columnist, Reuters

Q: Liking people and organizations on Facebook – does the terminology need to be changed?

Heron: I don’t get too hung up on it. I don’t see liking as a personal endorsement, people aren’t going to think you’re endorsing that person

Patel:– Should be following people who have the same beat, and follow as many people as you can

Carvin: :At AP, we recommend that journalists follow opponents of a candidate as well as original candidate

De Rosa: I think you have to have common sense, don’t go out of your way to stray from perception

Heron: It allows for more transparency, allows for more scrutinty and bias, but it’s worth it to be out there and more available to people

Q: When is it appropriate to be tweeting/sharing unconfirmed reports?

Continue reading ONA’s Social media debate: Best practices vs. bad habits