Dispatches from the living amongst journalism's walking dead

Month: June 2009

Recommended reading for June 22-25

These are my recommended links for June 22nd through June 25th:

Recommended reading for June 16th – 17th

These are my recommended links for June 15th through June 17th:

Recommended reading for June 15

Study Finds Online Video Usage Dramatically Overstated | MediaPost Publications
This study seems to conflict with others like it, but it seems believable, at least, that it’s too early to call it quits for TV.

Recommended reading for June 10th-12th

These are my recommended links for June 10th through June 12th:

  • 5 Twitter Tools to Help You Manage Unfollowers | WebProNews – I can’t recommend Qwitter to anyone – it simply doesn’t work. Try these other services to keep an eye on who is unfollowing you – and possibly why.
  • Paid Twitter Streams Are Here: Super Chirp – Is this the end of the world as we know it? Maybe. I’m not ruling out that a good Twitter stream is worth paying for – I just haven’t seen it yet.
  • A new Colonel Tribune? – Daniel Honigman, the voice and creator of Colonel Tribune, is no longer with the Tribune. While I give him big congrats for getting out of the business on his talents in social media, I don’t think Colonel Tribune can really be the same with a new voice. We see this on a smaller scale when we change voices behind @cincienquirer – anyone can see the difference.
  • The ‘branding’ of the journalist – Editors Weblog – I’m always bugging the reporters at my paper to market themselves as brands – particularly in the current job climate.
  • Facebook | Recession Survivors – You’ll need to log into Facebook to see it, but this project is an excellent example of how news outlets can use the crowdsourcing tools built into Facebook to involve the community in a story. Click on the videos tab to see the fan videos that Facebook users have contributed to this project.
  • To Tweet? To Twitter? The Final Word On Proper Twitter Lingo – The AP Stylebook has officially added Twitter and it’s words for usage (“to tweet” “to Twitter”). Who says we’re behind?
  • Lead, Follow or Block: When to Use Twitter’s Block Function – A reporter today asked me about Twitter’s block function – when it should be used and what exactly it does. I found this post to be helpful in explaining the issue (the comments also add some insight).
  • Twitter Dividends | Knight Digital Media Center Weblog – This was an interesting discussion amongst alums of the Knight Digital Media Center’s fellowship workshops about what sort of gains news organizations can or should expect from Twitter. Yours truly is part of this discussion – and I suggest the answer doesn’t lie in analytics.

Facebook URLs for the rest of us

The other day, I wrote about the new Facebook vanity URLs being made available Saturday.

In case you hadn’t heard, Facebook has decided to let Fan Pages with less than 1,000 fans get a custom URL – but they’ll have to wait until June 28.

You can reserve a name right now so long as it is trademarked and you have the trademark registration number by going here. Of course, if you’re like me and have no idea if your name is trademarked or if there’s a registration, you’ll just have to wait.

How to: Sign up and start your Twitter account

While getting a Twitter account is fast and easy, it does have a lot of little decisions along the way that can affect how your finished account turns out. If you’re not very comfortable signing up for new web accounts or you’d just like to have a guide to set up Twitter, consider this your wizard.

Signing up

1.    Go to www.twitter.com

2.    Click on the green button that says “Get started – Join”

3.    On the first sign-in screen, put in:

a.    Your full real name (so people can find you)
b.    A username, which will be how people know you on Twitter. You might want to use your full name or first initial and last name (no spaces).
c.    A password you can easily remember
d.    An email address
e.    Create your account

4.    Yay! you have a Twitter account. From here on our, you can sign in at www.twitter.com with this login info. You  can refer people to your Twitter account by sending them to http://www.twitter.com/yourusername.
5.    The next screens will walk you through finding people to “follow” – or subscribe to – on Twitter.
a.    Skip their suggested users (at the bottom of the screen, hit skip).
b.    If you have a Hotmail, Gmail or other online email account, you can see if the people in your address book are on Twitter. Enter your email address and password and it will scan your address book.
c.    On the next screen, it automatically selects all of your email contacts on Twitter for you to follow. De-select those you don’t want to follow right away.
d.    On the next screen, do not prompt Twitter to invite your contacts that aren’t on Twitter to join (hit skip at the bottom of that screen).

Setting up your account the first time

Now its time to set up your account. Sign in to Twitter, if you aren’t signed in already, at www.twitter.com. Click on Settings in the top right corner of the screen.

A few tips:

  • Be sure to fill out your profile info as completely as possible and add a short bio. At least include a real name, position, affiliation and city.
  • Don’t protect your updates. Twitter works best when you are open and transparent.
  • Under the profile tab, add a website link of some kind. You may choose to use a link to your blog or Facebook accounts if you have them, or just put in the link to some of your work that may help describe you.
  • Add a photo to your account under the profile tab. You need to have an image on Twitter – do not use the default. It doesn’t have to be a photo of you, but it’d recommend that for the sake of transparency (it also makes people more likely to follow you).
  • If you do not have a Smartphone, follow the instructions under Devices to set up your cell phone to update Twitter and/or receive direct messages. Twitter was developed for sharing info on the go and if you don’t use it on a mobile device, you aren’t getting the full experience.
  • Under the Notices tab, make sure to check the checkboxes for new follower and direct message emails. It helps you to keep track of your account and connections.
  • Click on Design to change the background or colors on your Twitter page. At some point you might want to design a background that includes more info, images or contact information for you.

From here, you’re ready to start Tweeting! Check out the Twitter Guide on this site for some tips, best practices and how-tos on Twitter.

Promoting your work online

You’re a reporter, blogger or photographer – and we all know you’re working hard. There’s only so much your website and newspaper can do to get readers to your stories – the rest is up to you. You are in charge of your own “brand” as a professional journalist, so here’s some ways to get your work to more people:

•    Tweet links to your stories, photos and blog entries on Twitter.

•    Link to your stories or some of your photos on Facebook.

How? From your Facebook profile page, click in the empty box where it says “what’s on your mind”? It gives you the option to add a link. Paste in the URL to your story. Now all your Facebook connections can find your stories.
•    If you’re a blogger, put the RSS feed to your blog on Facebook.
How? On your profile page, click on Settings just under the “What’s on your mind?” box. From here, you can add links to blogs and other social networking sites (if you’re into that sort of thing).
•    Add your stories about national topics to Publish2.com.

Wha? It’s a site just for journalists and news organizations to share news between sites.  Submit your story there and it could show up as an “additional link” on lots of other websites like this: http://www.sfgate.com/webdb/jobcuts/
•    If you’re on Twitter – make sure people know it.

Put your Twitter link into your outgoing email signature and with your online updates.
Submit your Twitter account for inclusion onto “expertise” sites like http://muckrack.com and http://wefollow.com or manage your account on http://twellow.com.

Get a Facebook url of your own

Facebook announced today that starting this Saturday, they will begin offering vanity URLs – custom web addresses – for all of their users.

As it is right now, Facebook offers these links to select businesses and entities (like the New York Times). Soon, pages* and profiles will be eligible to receive them on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Why would this be useful to you?

Just like every other social media site, a vanity URL would be an easy-to-guess, short and direct path t your Facebook page. As it is now, you are merely a long series of numbers according to Facebook. If someone goes to search for you on Facebook, they may or may not find the right person with your name. If you have facebook.com/your.name, it’ll be easy to find and simple for you to link it in your emails, put it on business cards, etc.

Because it is the Internet, there will inevitably be a mad dash for these vanity URLs. If you have a common name or you want to be sure to get your company’s name first, you’d better hustle. They are available at http://facebook.com/username on midnight Saturday.

* Mashable notes that pages will not be able to get a vanity url unless they have at least 1,000 fans and have to have been created before May 30. Better get to recruiting new fans (I know I will).

Recommended reading for June 8th

These are my recommended links for June 8th:

Facebook primer for journalists added

In case you didn’t notice, I’ve added a new Resources link to the site. I’ve linked to some of the basic social media primers I’ve been creating to help Enquirer staff get acclimated to Facebook and Twitter – with more to come.

The Facebook for Professionals manual, in particular, should come in handy if you’re new to Facebook and want to know more about its setup or if you’ve been using it primarily for personal reasons and want to make a privacy wall to start using it to make professional connections.

The two charts are diagrams of Facebook and Twitter home pages to explain what’s there and how it works.

In the future, I hope to add more intro information for RSS readers, Digg, Publish2 and more. Stay tuned.

Recommended reading for May 28th-June 2nd

These are my recommended links for May 28th through June 2nd:

  • 10 Must-Haves for Your Social Media Policy – As always, Mashable pulls together the tips that can help us all – individuals or businesses and news orgs – better develop our social media strategies.
  • Keyword Streamgraphs on Twitter – This site creates a visualization of the last 1000 tweets on a certain keyword. It doesn’t really make anything useful data-wise, but it is a great little thing you can link to out of your coverage of an issue or to track your buzz on an ongoing story. Mine is made for mapping who mentions “Reds” – but you can change the link to be any keyword.
  • How to Mine Twitter for Information – Great tips on getting data from Twitter to track buzzwords and trends over time.
  • Collaborative Reporting Tools | Publish2 – This new offering from Publish2 – which is a great tool if you haven’t used it – can be used in a lot of ways. It can be used to gather news tips, crowdsource stories and allow multiple people to contribute to reporting.
  • JournoTwit – The twitter client that’s not just for journalists… – This tool is still in development, but it has great potential. It is similar too, though not as good as, Tweetdeck – only online-based. If you could make the columns customizable, I’d be switching today.
  • Journalism.co.uk : BBC double-checks journalists’ ‘professional’ tweets – I guarantee there are reporters and editor that read this and think, “What a great idea!” No, it isn’t. Twitter is “right now” – not “ten minutes from now.” If you need an editor to make sure your tweets don’t have libel, spelling or factual error, you shouldn’t be tweeting. Period.
  • Commentary: Why Twitter won’t save journalism or kill it | McClatchy – A fairly honest overview of Twitter from someone who isn’t “in the tank” like me. While I think it is short-sighted to say Twitter won’t revolutionize journalism (maybe not Twitter – but something like it can and will), it’s at least giving the service a shot.

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