Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ Category


The debate on a Twitter edit tool

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Twitter may be releasing an edit tool – but the question is when? Photo via Wikimedia Commons (CC)

It has long been known that Twitter has become an essential social media platform for journalists, either through editorial or career purposes. Yet, there had been recent speculation on if the social network would introduce an edit tool to allow users to edit their tweets.

The most recent speculation came just before last Christmas. This report from The Next Web indicated that users would see an edit feature for a brief period, and would therefore allow these changes to be made. Facebook has a similar editing tool in place where users can edit posts once they are live.

It has been a tool that journalists have been wanting, prompting a discussion on the subject during the #wjchat Twitter chat, held Wednesday evenings at 8 ET/5 PT.

Sara Catania, the vice president for digital at NBC4 Southern California in Los Angeles, an NBC owned station, in a telephone interview for this blog, said it was long overdue, adding there was much excitement when Facebook introduced their tool.

I don’t think you’d find a journalist saying that an editing tool is a bad idea,” Catania said. “There was much celebration when Facebook introduced their tool. We wanted the flexibility to make corrections and add content to a post. Once Facebook enabled that, it created a greater degree of flexibility for us.”

Catania says if a feature is implemented, it should allow the user to look at the edit history, similar to what Facebook does, to show the audience what changes were made,

Those posts are flagged as edited and they can look at the edit trail,” Catania said. “That would be important in a Twitter editing tool. Without that capability, an editing tool would not be as beneficial to news organizations as we would like.”

A spokesperson for Twitter did not respond to a request via email seeking comment for this post.

Catania says overall, an editing tool would be appreciated in the long term by news organizations, especially considering the algorithm Twitter uses, where an incorrect tweet could be retweeted (similar to incidents with the Associated Press on coverage of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17), and a revised tweet could gain less traction as they travel separately.

Accuracy is an expectation,” Catania said. “Twitter challenges and makes it harder to fulfill and carry through that expectation. Having that tool would help that.”

Alex Veeneman is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists based in Chicago. Veeneman also serves as Deputy Editor and writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can tweet him @alex_veeneman or email spjdigital@gmail.com.

Author’s note: This post was updated on August 11 to reflect a correction – KNBC, known as NBC4 Southern California, is an owned and operated station of NBC, and not an affiliate as previously indicated. We apologize for the mistake.

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Throw away your résumé

Find a Job keyboardFile this under “W” for “wake-up call.”

This week, online clothing retailer Zappos gave job seekers a kick in the pants by announcing it now prefers social networking to résumé reading when it chooses hires.

That means instead of sifting through millions of digital missives to find qualified candidates, Zappos will opt for tools that allow it to talk directly with potential hires — social media among them — and hear their responses before even thinking of reading a résumé.

Why the change?

“The problem is, our recruiters are too damn busy,” wrote Zappos senior HR manager Mike Bailen in a post on ERE.net. “Too busy to build real relationships, too busy to WOW our candidates, and too busy to strategically seek out thought leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs who will advance our business and drive our culture forward.”

Zappos last year had about 31,000 job applicants, of which only 1.5 percent of them were hired. “That’s 30,000 times a recruiter had to click and scan through a résumé and cover letter, 30,000 times a rejection template had to be sent, and 30,000 missed opportunities on doing something more meaningful,” Bailen said. Meanwhile, good-fit candidates are trampled by the crowd and may think the company has wasted their time.

So, instead of sending résumés and cover letters as introductions, Zappos prefers prospects first join one of its social networks to get to know the company better, then pursue any further interest by becoming a Zappos Insider, where visitors can strike up conversations with Zappos’s employees and managers about corporate culture.

Zappos’s idea of hiring based on relationships instead of résumés is not new to the marketplace, but this particular approach has a whiff of innovation to it, so it’s wise to think other companies will consider similar approaches — at least in theory.

Sure, it’s time-consuming to sift résumés, and keyword sifting ignores personality and character. But shifting a chunk of the hiring burden to employees and trying to establish personal relationships with applicants at the outset eats up even more of the clock.

Furthermore, the process has a privacy issue; Zappos expects some Insider dialog to take place in public.

“My guess is that Zappos will have thousands of inquiries. Some of them will be from people who are very needy and want to keep checking in,” Peter Cappelli of the Wharton Center for Human Resources told E-Commerce Times. “If the recruiters don’t have time to do that, will the regular employees? How are they going to get their work done?”

To be clear, Zappos isn’t dispensing with résumés entirely. The company still will request a printable version of a prospect’s work history as a marker. Zappos also will employ talent-acquisition technology to sort through desired qualifications and aptitudes in those histories.

But by trying what seems an audacious approach, Zappos serves up a reminder that the way we look for jobs is changing just as fast as the job market itself, and that job hunters should plan to do more than just hand out résumés and cover letters.

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David Sheets is a freelance writer and editor, Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at dksheets@gmail.com, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

 

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Snapchat snafu serves as an important reminder

Snapchat logoToday, many Snapchat users are no doubt gnawing their nails over the clothing-sparse selfies and booze-infused party pics they shared on assumptions of privacy. They’re wondering whether insulting memes and embarrassing explanations will result.

They’re probably kicking themselves over believing Snapchat was different from other social sites, and kicking themselves again for ignoring the reality of digital secrecy — that there really is no such thing.

On Thursday, Snapchat, the mobile messaging service that distinguished itself by guaranteeing all of its clients’ sharing was time-limited and disposable, agreed to settle Federal Communications Commission charges that it could not deliver on that guarantee. The settlement comes despite insinuations and accusations that the guarantee lacked legitimacy from the start.

As punishment, Snapchat must restate its privacy goals and live up to them while under federal surveillance for the next 10 years. No monetary penalty was announced, but in our fast-moving digital world the surveillance period is tantamount to living with a parole officer for two lifetimes, and trying to sneak past the guard could invite a fatal smack in the wallet.

Snapchat apologized in brief on its blog, alleging that some of the FTC’s charges were addressed well before Thursday’s announcement and concluding its mea culpa by saying, “We are devoted to promoting user privacy and giving Snapchatters control over how and with whom they communicate. That’s something we’ve always taken seriously and always will.”

But promises are made to be broken, and a tech startup’s erstwhile intent lacks armor against those who merely feign concern for anyone’s social well-being. The Snapchat snafu thus serves as yet another piquant reminder that a person’s secrets are best protected by their owners and not by anyone who’s capable of putting a dollar value on indiscretion.

And so, the reminders go out again, to journalists and non-journalists alike:

  • Don’t trust your privacy to anything digital.
  • Don’t consider any kind of social networking to be a secret conversation. Your first clue? It has the word “social” is its name.
  • Don’t talk to people online in ways you wouldn’t talk to them in person.
  • Don’t share digital data unsecured or unencoded.
  • Don’t think Snapchat’s apology amounts to an epilogue on this story.

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David Sheets is a freelance writer and editor, Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at dksheets@gmail.com, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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Learn how to be an investigative journalist, for free

Knight Foundation logoHave you ever wanted to learn about investigative journalism but felt you didn’t have the money or enough flexibility in your schedule to do it?

The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas knows the feeling.

That’s why the center intends to offer a five-week open online training course covering the nuts and bolts of investigative journalism, for free.

Yes. Free.

The course, “Investigative Journalism for the Digital Age,” begins Monday, May 12, and concludes June 14. Among the planned topics are general concepts about conducting investigations, finding and cultivating sources, analyzing digital data and databases, sifting through social media for useful information, and presenting stories with attention to fairness and ethics.

Four instructors will present multiple videos edited in a college-style classroom format. The instructors are Brant Houston, who teaches investigative journalism and advanced reporting at the University of Illinois; Michael Berens, an investigative reporter for the Seattle Times and winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting; Steve Doig, data journalism specialist at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism; and Lise Olson, senior investigative reporter at the Houston Chronicle.

Each week’s work can be completed at the student’s own pace; however, quizzes will be given at the conclusion of each instruction module. Students can request a certificate of completion at the course’s conclusion for a small fee.

The lessons are not just convenient; they’re essential.

“These days, if you don’t know how to tap the Internet, explore the World Wide Web, explore Facebook, use Twitter, use all sorts of social media and search tools, you’re basically illiterate as an investigative reporter,” Olson says in a video that introduces the course.

Anyone who is interested should register now at the Knight Center’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) site. The center is supported by the Knight Foundation.

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David Sheets is a freelance writer and editor, Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at dksheets@gmail.com, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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Instagram now lets you embed photos, video on websites

Instagram logoInstagram expanded its image-sharing capabilities Wednesday.

The social networking service unveiled a new feature that allows Web embedding for user photos and video. Before Wednesday, most sharing outside Instagram was limited to other social sharing sites such as Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr and Twitter.

Now, users can find share buttons next to their images appearing on Instagram’s website. Clicking on the button, located just south of the comment button, opens a small window containing an embed code that can be pasted into blogs, Web pages and news articles.

Below that code in the same window is a publish button. The photo or video includes an Instagram identity wherever it’s published.

As for technical details, that’s all Instagram said about the new feature. The rest of the service’s news release Wednesday dwelled on content ownership, which Instagram insists will remain with the image’s owner.

“Your embedded photo or video appears with your Instagram user name, and clicking on the Instagram logo will take people to your page on Instagram.com,” the release said.

In December, Instagram changed its terms-of-use policy to permit all user content as fodder for “paid or sponsored content or promotions.” The only way to avoid this was for users to delete their accounts.

Subsequent outcry from privacy advocates as well as Instagram users forced the service to apologize and change the policy after one day.

Instagram launched in 2010 originally for Apple platforms but grew to include Android devices in April 2012. That same month, Facebook acquired Instagram for about $1 billion in cash and stock.

 

David Sheets is a freelance editor, Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at dksheets@gmail.com, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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With Twitter, Sometimes Timing Is Everything

 

There’s more to Twitter than just crafting a good Tweet, using the right hashtag and including links.

In many ways, the timing can make or break your Tweet.

Take this Tweet by Robbie Brown of the New York Times. He sent it out in the middle of the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead on Sunday, Dec. 2. It leads readers to an article he wrote about the town where many of the show’s scenes are filmed.

Brown Tweeted right about the time many of the show’s 10 million viewers were trolling Twitter looking for Walking Dead information and chatter.

In an interview last week, he said the timing was coincidental. It just so happened his story was posted right before the episode aired.

But, Brown also knew that it might pick up some extra eyeballs as a result.

“Because so many people watch TV with their phone in their hands like I did, I figured some people would be looking for something to do during a commercial break,” Brown said.

So while several studies have found the best time to do your tweeting is Monday through Thursday between 1 and 3 p.m., that’s more of a general guideline.

Considering your audience, and applying a little common sense, will help boost the number of eyeballs your tweet — and your article — will receive.

Jodie Mozdzer Gil is an assistant professor of multimedia journalism at Southern Connecticut State University. She previously reported for the Valley Independent Sentinel, the Hartford Courant and the Waterbury Republican American. You can follow her on Twitter @mozactly.

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Quora lets you know who’s Online Now

These days, when we need ready answers to pressing questions, faster certainly is better. And in our mobile-media world, faster is also essential.

That’s why the question-and-answer website Quora may have added horsepower to the information race with the introduction this week of Online Now, a feature that puts likely experts and admitted novices together with just a click.

Online Now appears as a gray note by the names of frequent knowledge contributors who are online at that moment, allowing the inquisitive to post pressing questions by clicking a blue “Free to Ask” button that moves those questions higher in priority than general queries.

Details of the exchange appear only in Quora’s Ask to Answer section, which constitutes a list of contributors the site believes is best suited to answer particular questions. The Online Now feature can be tweaked to indicate who is the answerer or questioner, or can be turned off, in the user settings.

“This is especially fun if you are in the mood to answer certain topics,” explained Joel Lewenstein, a designer at Quora, in a blog post on the subject. “Maybe you saw a movie or a sporting event, fell in love with a new restaurant, or just finished a book. When you feel like answering questions about a specific topic that you know, Online Now will send people your way.”

Demand for faster responses on Quora has grown since the site released mobile app versions starting last year with the iPhone, said Marc Bodnick, a member of Quora’s business team, in an interview with PCMag.com. He says mobile use makes up about 25 percent of all Quora traffic.

David Sheets is a freelance editor, Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at dksheets@gmail.com, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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10 Ways Newspapers Are Using Pinterest (Besides Fluff)

Note: This post appeared in the September/October issue of Quill

Pinterest might have a reputation as a social network for sharing recipes and fashion tips, but news organizations across the country are embracing Pinterest in innovating ways.

In case you’re not acquainted, Pinterest is an image-based social network where users post links and photos onto different topic boards. The posts show up as a stream of images, like photos pinned to a bulletin board.

Each user can create and pin to dozens of different topic boards, to share different types of content. Like with Twitter, you can follow other people – or individual boards – on Pinterest, to see what items they are pinning.

The simplicity and visual appeal give posters a different approach to attract interest for their content.

Several newspapers are using Pinterest for fashion, food and other features items. The New York Times, for example, started its Pinterest page in June with boards on shoes, food and fashion.

But the visual power of the social network can extend well beyond fluff stories, as the following examples show.

 

Front Pages: Several news organizations have boards that highlight their front page each day. The pins link back to the newspapers’ websites.

Quotes: Lack a photo? You can do like the Wall Street Journal and the Mercury News: grab wacky pull quotes from a story to draw a reader in. Pins link directly to the article.

User-Submitted Content News organizations have created boards for everything from prom pictures to engagement announcements, to share their readers’ content with a broader audience.

Staff Bios: Many news organizations are posting photos of staff members, with contact info and links to their content on the news site.

Illustrations: The Wall Street Journal has a board of its “hedcuts,” those dot-ink portraits that have become a signature illustration in each day’s newspaper. The illustrations are impressive on their own. But a sea of the illustrations on a Pinterest board is a fascinating back door to interesting stories you might have missed in print, or online.

Different twist on political candidates: The Washington Post has boards for biographical information about presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, for a different approach to profiles about the candidates, complete with childhood and wedding photos.

Outside content: The Guardian of London has a board called “On Our Radar,” in which the news organization links to news stories it finds from other sources.

Profiles: The Des Moines Register has a board called “Interesting People” that links to news stories, blog posts and other features about people in Des Moines.

Special projects: Digital First Media newspapers have a Pinterest board for their special reporting project on homecoming veterans.

Community Guides: From The Morning Journal’s guide to Ohio golf courses, to the Denver Post’s Favorite Colorado Places board, newspapers are using the visual ability of Pinterest to offer a public service to readers.

The key, as with any social network, is engaging your audience. Invite readers to contribute their own content to boards, as the Atlanta Journal Constitution does.

And make sure you aren’t spamming your readers with feeds of only your content. Keep the pins interesting – and don’t be afraid to share content that isn’t from your news site.

Want to learn more, or find other newspapers who are using Pinterest? Follow Joanne Phillips on Pinterest or Twitter. She’s tracking new newspapers that join in and has a great board with more than 150 different news Pinterest sites.

Jodie Mozdzer Gil is an assistant professor of multimedia journalism at Southern Connecticut State University. She previously reported for the Valley Independent Sentinel, the Hartford Courant and the Waterbury Republican American. You can follow her on Twitter @mozactly.

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GlowTrend joins growing list of social networking sites

If you’ve noticed some nudging and elbowing lately in cyberspace, it may be due to the crowded social networking field making room for yet another potential player.

That player is called GlowTrend, and though it looks and feels like Facebook, founder Michael Wellman Jr. promises much more.

“I wanted a social site that would bring everything that’s good in other social media sites into one place and still be able to work with the other places,” Wellman said in a news release Tuesday. “That’s why we let you connect to GlowTrend through the other major social media sites.”

Yes, GlowTrend intends to be all things to all comers, Besides incorporating thumbs-up “likes,” friend suggestions, an instant messenger, company pages, and an interactive event calendar, a la Facebook, GlowTrend also intends to serve as an iTunes-type music storefront, where musicians can upload and sell their own works, a Google Plus-inspired video chat interface, and a Craigslist-kind-of classifieds section that ostensibly would help the site generate income, among other features.

Meanwhile, a mobile app is in development, Wellman says.

The site used to be called “MyFaceZone” until Wellman decided to put more distance between his site’s identity and that of his chief rival. Though the official launch came Tuesday, GlowTrend has been gaining fans since the domain name went live in June.

And despite the official launch, a few kinks remain. Wellman’s own GlowTrend page contained more troubleshooting announcements than social interactions. (The site’s servers nestle near Wichita, Kan.)

“Sorry for the delay everyone for the photo issue,” the Wasilla, Alaska, native wrote regarding a days-long glitch in uploading profile photos. “We are trying to get resolved. You can still import (other) photos.”

GlowTrend’s privacy policy promises little better than other social sites, saying no personal information will be sold, though allowing that member content will be seen as “aggregated demographic information” worth sharing with “business partners, trusted affiliates and advertisers.”

But this is Wellman’s third try at launching a social network, he says. Maybe now he has it all figured out.

David Sheets is a former content editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a candidate for Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at dksheets@gmail.com, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

 

 

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How to make your Facebook page a news hub, not just a list of links to your site

In my latest column in the Quill magazine about steps that college media can take to go digital first, I mentioned that you should use social media as an end in itself, not just the means to an end:

Social media drives lots of traffic to your website, no doubt. The CU Independent’s Facebook page is the source of half the page views to its website. But don’t treat social media as merely a marketing tool. That’s how newspapers thought of their websites in the early years, parking their online staff in their marketing departments or libraries. Since not everyone will click through to your website, be sure your social media presence has its own following.

I got an email today from Christine Jessel of WUOT, the U of Tennessee’s public radio station, asking for clarification about my point and what Facebook-only content I’d recommend posting. Here’s what I sent her in reply:

One way to make a Facebook page a destination in itself instead of just a pass-through (hopefully) for people to click on to your paper’s website, is to expand your “coverage” and include links to not only your site, but also to stories from your competitors.

So, here in Boulder we have the metro daily papers in Denver and Boulder, as well as the irritating “youth-oriented” daily that’s published by the Boulder Daily Camera that people think of as the CU school paper, and of course the local TV stations. When news happens that of interest to students, not only about the campus but in the larger community, I think it’s an opportunity for us to tweet and Facebook about it and link to other sources, including competitors.

I think readers appreciate that you’re being generous and willing to become a hub of news and information that’s of interest to them, and will become trained to come back to your Facebook page to keep up with news. That’s an easy way to cover more stories than just what runs in the paper or website.

Like the last comment I made in my Quill column, this advice about linking to your competitors is advice I’ve given to newsrooms for a decade or more now, not just advice for college papers or radio stations. I realize it goes against the grain of newsroom staff, especially management, to acknowledge your competition and — gasp — even send traffic their way!

But you know what? It’s 2012, and your audience doesn’t just read your stuff. Your audience reads your news stories, or watches your station’s newscasts, and then does what we all do: Click to other sites to read more, to see what other sources are saying, to get a fuller picture of the news they care about.

If you think you have an exclusive relationship with your readers in this networked age, you’re dreaming. Dreaming of an earlier media era.

The truth is, if you link to your competitors, your readers will apprciate the step you’re saving them, and appreciate your open-mindedness. And like I said to Christine, they’ll soon come to your site (or Facebook page) first, and visit the other sites you direct them to, but click the “back” button and return to your site because you’re shown them you’re a onestop hub for the news that matters to them.

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