Tools to Build an Engaged Online Community


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A PDF slide show of a presentation given at a Social Media Bootcamp given at San Francisco State University on Aug. 28, 2009. The focus is on social media tools that online publishers -- particularly ethnic media publications -- should use to engage and retain an online community.

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Tools to Build an Engaged Online Community

  1. Social Media Bootcamp! Tools for building an engaged online community Seizing the Moment Public Media Collaborative track San Francisco State University, Aug. 28, 2009 JD Lasica
  2. Relax! Flickr photo “relaxation, the maldivian way” by notsogoodphotography (all sites in this talk have been tagged for later retrieval)
  3. Today’s hashtags Flickr photo by prakhar Twitter: #seizing (to tag your tweets) Blogs: seizing (to tag your blog posts)
  4. Handouts  Social news tools & platforms  Geotagging, Flickr & Facebook
  5. 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. ”
  6. Flavors of social media Source:
  7. What we’ll cover today Strategies in the sharing economy Tactics to build community: 1. Breaking news 2. Leverage Twitter 3. Enable conversations 4. Community video 5. Online petitions & causes 6. Geocoding and citizen photography 7. Google Map mashups 8. Facebook communities
  8. Think strategically Flickr photo by jonrawlinson Social media is a universe, not a tool Don’t start with the tools. Start with a plan. Talk with your users about what you’re planning Launch pilot projects, get a toehold Challenge corporate culture of fear
  9. Innovate! "Rocket Man" on Flickr by Dave-F  “We have to change our entire corporate-industry behavior. We’ve got to stop overplanning and over-analyzing and turn our battleship into a speedboat.” —J. Todd Foster, managing editor, Bristol (VA) Herald Courier  Dare to fail. If you’re not failing at something, you’re doing something wrong. (“Fail often, fail fast.”)
  10. What’s important: 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
  11. 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.
  12. Tap into the sharing economy Creative Commons • Rich source of free commercial material. • Flickr: 15 million Attribution licenses • Flickr: 10 million Attribution ShakeAlike licenses
  13. 1. Be first with breaking news SMS alerts Latinos, African Americans > greater use of mobile devices Twitter to break verified news Best usage is to drive users to story on your site Live-blogging of public events Several free useful tools Moblogging to upload photos from mobile device Buzznet, Foneblog, Fotopages, mBlog, mlogs,, Snap, Textamerica, Webshots
  14. SMS alerts • ImpreMedia: 20 alerts/day, 1 million impressions/month • Popular topics: general news, breaking news, New York, politics, entertainment, sports, Mexican futbol league
  15. Live-blogging to drive conversation Useful free tools: • • • Google Docs Examples: Sonia Sotomayor hearings, Rod Blagojevich impeachment
  16. 2. Leverage Twitter China earthquake Mumbai Flight 1549 “Miracle on the Hudson” BusinessWeek: 40 journalists on Twitter. Twestival: $250,000 raised for charity: water in 202 cities on Feb. 12, 2009 (If you need help in setting up a Twitter account, just ask!)
  17. Make Twitter work for you Train your staff on how to use Twitter Not a broadcasting medium to distribute headlines Start by listening & observing, but then: Be human, be conversational, not detatched Unlearn the conventions of journalism @ElDiarioNY: after 5 mo., 5% new traffic from Twitter #1 traffic driver: retweets “Twitter is just amazing. It's the perfect tool for journalists.” — Arturo Duran, Publisher, ImpreMedia Digital (El Diario, La Opinion, et al.)
  18. Tweeting done right: 80-20 Rule Omar Gallaga Austin American Statesman
  19. Twitter accounts page Austin American Statesman content/standing/twitter.html
  20. 3. Enable conversations Avert registration fatigue
  21. Identify & engage influencers Scope out Twitterers with large # followers. How do their interests intersect with your site’s? Learn about how people in your community use social media Connect with social media influencers through,, etc. Ask people around you (neighbors, students, young people in your newsroom) how they use social media
  22. The power of hash tags Find relevant hashtags through or Twitter Search Join (but don’t spam) conversation threads Start your own hashtag Some hashtags to latch on to: #diversity #africa #asia #latino #education #democracy #politics #Obama #news #media #journalism #journchat At left, widget found at:
  23. Get widget-happy! Real-time conversations 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, opinion, culture, sports sections.
  24. 4. 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,, and This is the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, student journalism channel.
  25. Live video streaming ImpreMedia teamed up with the PBS NewsHour to live- stream the Sonia Sotomayor hearings. Went from 20,000 streams last fall during election ʼ09 to 45,000 streams this past spring. PBS provided the signal & video player, ImpreMedia provided the Spanish translations.
  26. 5. Online petitions & causes Enable users to make a difference by signing petitions, which offer an outlet for community engagement. Tap into the national spirit of renewal and reform. Tie them to your opinion pages. Embed an ipetitions app. Partner with Care2 or Facebook Causes.
  27. Promote community service Left: helps you find and share ways to do good in your community. Right: UnitedWeServe: Bottom-up volunteer opportunities at
  28. 6. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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
  31. 7. 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 in Oct. 2007: a living, evolving, interactive news story.
  32. The power of map mashups Everyblock Atlanta Boston Charlotte Chicago Dallas Detroit Houston Los Angeles Miami New York Philadelphia San Francisco San Jose Seattle Washington, DC
  33. Prop 8 mashup An anonymous publisher compiled a mashup of public campaign donations records, including the donors’ street address, and published it.
  34. 8. Facebook communities 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.
  35. Facebook pages See handout for difference between Facebook Groups & Facebook Pages. In most cases, Pages are the better choice.
  36. Sites to admire  Recent comments  Tags  Embedded video  Twitter lifestream  Pointers to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, presence  Global Voices en Español
  37. ... and to steal ideas from Moms Charlotte The Local: Mashable See handouts or:
  38. Closing thoughts Don’t forget: Fail often, fail fast! Create a feedback loop. Bring social media experts who are internal evangelists into your editorial meetings. Flickr photo by trodas Get the big bosses to begin using social media so that they understand it.
  39. Resources Knight Citizen News Network: Social Media Club: & crowd-funded reporting CiiJ: (More resources: See your handout sheets)
  40. Readings Image: Universal McCann: Wave.3 report, March 2008
  41. Let’s discuss! twitter: @jdlasica  @socialbrite