I recently gave a talk about Twitter, its audience, newsjacking and more. Here’s the deck.
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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.
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.
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:
Trust is what many traditional news organizations use to promote their relevance, stating they are a trusted brand to cut through the noise.
The pitch goes something like this: ‘We are a trusted brand, we have been a part of the community for x years… We will continue to tell you what you need to know.’
Toronto startup Newsana (think of it as a nirvana for news junkies) places its trust in the hands of its community of virtual editors.
Newsana is a nirvana for news junkies, curated by news junkies, co-founder Ben Peterson explained in an interview from his Kensington office.
To become a Newsana member, there is a rigorous application process where candidates are verified as actual people with credible social media accounts and a general interest in news. (Peterson said the goal is to weed out trolls and create a community of the most engaged news readers.)
Once a member of the Newsana’s community, contributors/editors have free access to ‘pitch’ links to stories in their choice of five of Newsana’s 40 sections (ie social media, future of news, Canadian politics, etc.).
Why access to only five? Peterson said this ensures community editors focus on areas they know best.
Links to stories are not just posted to Newsana’s site, they are annotated by members. Community Editors making the pitch must give a brief intro to the piece, this may also include editorial comment.
Why submit/share/pitch to Newsana? Other editors can vote on your story, which will elevate it on Newsana’s site, thus giving an editor more credibility, and increasing their standing in the Newsana community.
Pandering to a journalist’s ego and competitiveness is a clever move – I was skeptical until I pitched a story on the senate in Canadian politics section and saw it – and consequently my Newsana rep – elevate.
Naturally this made me want to pitch more stories to the Newsana community of about 1,500 members.
Peterson said he knows this isn’t a large community – yet – but as the site is just in beta, he is confident it will grow.
There are a couple of issues with Newsana: first, it’s only as strong as its members.
Also Newsana’s biggest competitors are the more established, traditional larger social media networks like Twitter, Reddit and Facebook.
How Newsana differs from these competitors are by its “quality” community news curators, Peterson said. These aren’t just old high school pals.
“Our audience is news junkies. These are people who read the news, comment on news… They want the best, highest quality journalism.”
“At the end of the day, people have to figure out where to allocate their time,” Peterson said.
As with all startups, Newsana is focused on establishing a sustainable business model as it builds.
The goal is to build an active, informed community and monetize around that, Peterson said.
Newsana is exploring native-branded content, which might include custom content in one of Newsana’s sections; Premium elements for paying subscribers/editors; and story sponsorship (As an example, Peterson said readers might find the top five innovation stories sponsored by IBM.)
Without a marketing budget, this small start up is relying on what Peterson refers to as the ‘viral co-efficient,’ with members telling their friends about it, and getting the word out.
“Our biggest challenge is to cut through the noise, and make people aware of what we’re doing.”
For Toronto hockey fans, Jan. 9 was a big news day: the firing of Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke was completely unexpected.
Also unexpected was how Canadian Press, the country’s wire service used Storify to tell the story.
Think about it: A wire service, whose business model relies on revenues from subscribers, aggregated reaction to Burke’s firing and posted it online for the general public.
I asked Andrew Lundy, CP’s new Director of Digital (Wednesday was his third day on the job) about the decision to use Storify.
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:
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?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen the Guardian’s fantastic Three Little Pigs advert, detailing how The Guardian might tell the fairy tale in print and online using social media and crowd-sourcing for information/opinions.
(Here’s a link to that advert if you’ve enjoyed your time under said rock.)
This past weekend, The news org (because let’s be honest, The Guardian is so much more than a paper) hosted an Open Weekend: A festival of readers and reasonableness.
During the weekend, Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the Guardian, was asked if the Guardian has rules for Open Journalism. Rusbridger responded via Twitter that they don’t have rules, but 10 ‘ideas’ about what it should look like:
As we set up our Pinterest page, a colleague said to me, “You know that it’s mostly women on Pinterest.”
I paused. “And?…..”
“Well, that’s a good thing, because our Google+ page is seen by mostly men.”
“And it’s mostly crafty lifestyle stuff on Pinterest, so we should put that kind of thing on there.”
I’m not even going to comment on the sexist comment that women are only interested in “crafty lifestyle stuff” (feel free to do so in the comments area below), as such is life in a male-dominated newsroom.
And he’s not off. We set up an Ottawa Citizen Homes page on Facebook last fall, and it has 16 fans. In the first 8 minutes of its existence, our Homes pinboard on Pinterest had 39 followers.