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Social networks: 8 ways to engage users with news


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Here's a slightly revised version of the "Social Networks: Engaging Users With News" webinar I gave to a few hundred virtual attendees when I flew out to the Poynter Institute in May. It was part of the News University course I taught under the Knight Digital Media Center leadership series.

The slideshow offers 8 different areas of social networking that news publishers (anyone from a single individual to a full newsroom) can leverage to engage people around news events in a more robust, interactive way.

Published in: News & Politics, Technology

Social networks: 8 ways to engage users with news

  1. 1. Social networks: 8 ways to engage users with news Knight Digital Media Center leadership series Poynter Institute News University webinar St. Petersburg, FL, May 12, 2009 JD Lasica
  2. 2. eee • eeee xxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx all sites in this talk have been tagged for later retrieval
  3. 3. Themes/words you told us Here are some topics that are on your mind:
  4. 4. Today’s presenter JD Lasica • Social media business strategist/consultant at • A former editor at the Sacramento Bee • CNET named him one of top 100 media bloggers in world; blogging since 2001.
  5. 5. What we’ll cover today 1. Blue skies: new approaches to news 2. Google Map mashups 3. Instant social networks 4. Geocoding and citizen photography 5. The awesomeness of Twitter 6. Widgets: tapping into local conversations 7. Facebook & the news 8. Community video
  6. 6. Hashtag Flickr photo by prakhar Today’s hashtag: newsu_sw (for news university social web)
  7. 7. Making sense of all the new terms “Social media: Any online technology or practice that lets us share (content, opinions, insights, experiences, media) and have a conversation about the ideas we care about. ”
  8. 8. 1. Start with a blue sky Flickr photo by jonrawlinson  Be open to new approaches  Silicon Valley’s mantra: Fail often, fail fast (but give it time to work)  Launch pilot projects, get a toehold  Rules of social media still evolving
  9. 9. New currency: Engagement Meaningful metrics: Not just page views "We don't really care about page views as much as we care about comments. If we get 1,000 video views, that is good. The comments are a focus group with our influencers. If they like it, they'll spread it and that helps get us to our objectives." - Jake Brewer, PowerShift
  10. 10. Don’t do all the heavy lifting Flickr photo by Jason Means  Partner with smart people. Use your community.  Use free: Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Digg, CC  Use open source: WordPress (and its plug-ins), Drupal, et al.  Steal good ideas. Build on what’s come before.
  11. 11. Tap into the sharing economy Creative Commons • Rich source of free commercial material. • Flickr: 12.8 million Attribution licenses • Flickr: 8.6 million Attribution ShakeAlike licenses
  12. 12. 2. Visualize news with Google Maps Mash up your data sources Team effort: KPBS worked with volunteers from San Diego State University Geography Dept. to cover the San Diego County wildfires: a living, evolving, interactive news story in October 2007.
  13. 13. Google Maps & Google Earth During the Mumbai attacks, “Jonathan” created this Google Maps as a info-graphic like map of major landmarks in Mumbai. breaking news tool Google Maps can be shared & used to update a story.
  14. 14. The power of map mashups Everyblock Boston Charlotte Chicago Los Angeles Miami New York Philadelphia San Francisco San Jose Seattle Washington, DC
  15. 15. 3. Instant social networks Ning: resource powered by crowd As Hurricane Gustav churned toward the U.S. coastline in Aug. 2008, Andy Carvin of formed a Ning group — Gustav Information Center — and got scores of volunteers to participate in sharing information during the course of a single weekend, largely through the power of Twitter and Facebook. The social network was then turned into the Hurricane Information Center and still tracks storms.
  16. 16. Tap into outside experts If disaster strikes, consider contacting an outside expert to: • Set up a social network devoted to the subject • Participate or manage your forums • Showcase updates from his blog on your site (via RSS or a widget)
  17. 17. 4. Geotagging & citizen photography Visitors to Flickr could see photos of the 2007 disaster taken from Minneapolis multiple vantage points. Many new digital cameras and mobile bridge collapse devices, like the iPhone, come with geotagging enabled by default.
  18. 18. Geotagging an art walk An afternoon with smart phones Dan Gillmor took a class of journalism students at Arizona State University out for a stroll and created a cool Flickr map with more than 120 photos captured with G1 smart phones. “It was absurdly easy,” he says. News organizations should enlist community members with geo- location capable devices to cover designated community events.
  19. 19. Citizen photography in Austin Citizens took scores of photos of the fire that engulfed the Texas governor's mansion on June 8, 2008, tagged them, and posted them to Flickr, left. At top: the Austin American-Statesman’s photo gallery.
  20. 20. Prop 8 mashup An anonymous publisher compiled a mashup of public campaign donations records, including the donors’ street address, and published it.
  21. 21. Community photo albums NewWest.Net NewWest.Net created a group pool on Flickr for readers to add photos to. People have added more than 16,000 photos. groups/newwest
  22. 22. Message for Obama Crowdsourced creativity The UK’s Guardian invited people to submit photos on Flickr with a message for the new president. They turned it into a book using and gave a portion of the profits to development in Uganda.
  23. 23. 5. The awesomeness of Twitter China earthquake Mumbai Flight 1549 BusinessWeek: 40 journalists on Twitter. Twestival: $250,000 raised for charity: water in 202 cities on Feb. 12, 2009
  24. 24. Twitter Vote Report Enlisting watchdogs NPR and techPresident set up a site that let users easily SMS, tweet or phone in the status of polling stations around the U.S. The site received about 10,000 submissions during the election.
  25. 25. Twittering reporters Don’t ghettoize Twitter, Facebook into a ‘social media’ beat @jamesjanega James Janega, Chicago Tribune general assignment reporter @dsarno David Sarno, LA Times business writer @npr100days David Greene, NPR reporter
  26. 26. 6. Widgets tap into conversations The power of widgets Tap into the conversations that are already taking place in your community: Widgets let you post tailored discussions -- both by topic and by geographic location. Create widgets for your business, food, sports, metro sections.
  27. 27. Widgets
  28. 28. 7. Facebook & the news Tap into self-organizing communities A group of students and citizens, outraged at the lack of free drinking water at the new University of University of Central Florida's stadium, launched a Facebook group. The Orlando Sentinel ran a story and used Facebook to spread the word. Stadium officials reversed course, installing 50 free drinking fountains.
  29. 29. Facebook fan page
  30. 30. Facebook as a promotion vehicle Facebook Public Profiles NPR has more than 370,000 fans and uses Facebook as another distribution vehicle.
  31. 31. 8. Community video Video + chat = engagement Think of your site not just as a way to showcase your own journalism but as a platform to connect users with interesting events taking place in the community. Streaming video tools include Kyte, Qik and This is the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, student journalism channel.
  32. 32. Bonus tip: Social news ecosystem Digg: 35 million monthly unique visitors; 80 million outbound links per month; home page story on Digg will send 20,000 to 200,000+ clicks Facebook Connect: Each story shared on Facebook is seen on avg. by 40+ friends. Use it to authenticate comments. Google Friend Connect: Just beginning, with same potential for large network effect.
  33. 33. Closing thoughts • Don’t forget: Fail often! • Bring social media experts who are internal evangelists into your editorial meetings. • Create a feedback loop. • Get the big bosses to begin using social media so that they understand it.
  34. 34. Resources Knight Citizen News Network: Social Media Club: & crowd-funded reporting CiiJ:
  35. 35. Sites to steal ideas from Lifehacker TechCrunch Mashable Rainforest Action Network (
  36. 36. Readings Image: Universal McCann: Wave.3 report, March 2008
  37. 37. Thank you! twitter: @jdlasica Image: