Since it launched in 2007, Twitter has gone from a single utility to a full-fledged social networking site. Just like Facebook and Google+, it’s now launched “brand pages” that allow owners greater flexibility in controlling how their Twitter page appears.
Don’t worry too much if you can’t rush right out and develop a gorgeous customized Twitter profile. Most people won’t see it. Read more…
Muskegon Public Schools New Social Media Policy an Unenforceable Slap in the Face to Employees and Students
The Muskegon Chronicle (“Personal drinking photos could get teachers fired in Muskegon”) and Michigan Education Report (“More districts eye social media policies”) have reported that the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District has adopted an extraordinarily-restrictive new social media policy (available here courtesy of the Muskegon Chronicle).
The policy implies consequences (ie firing) if any content appears online that shows “use of alcohol, drugs or anything students are prohibited from doing” (students are prohibited from using profanity – so apparently if you tweet the F-bomb that can get you canned). The policy was crafted and adopted at the advice of at the advice of the MAISD legal counsel (which should be the first sign that the policy is problematic; lawyers and social media don’t mix).
Here are some specific problems with the policy (which is very reminiscent of the ban on contact that the Missouri Legislature just repealed):
1. We Don’t Control What is Posted Online Read more…
Update: Senator Brownback has apologized for the actions of his staff which he has characterized as an “overreaction.” This is a commendable move, though it’s unclear if the apology will travel as far and wide as the original story (which I still saw circulating via social media this morning).
The Scene: A group of high school students is touring Topeka, Kansas and visits the Governor’s office. After meeting briefly with Gov. Sam Brownback, a student by the name of Emma Sullivan jokingly tweets the following:
“Just made mean comments at gov. brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot” | November 21, 2011
Rather than let the tweet die a quiet death virtually unseen in the vast sea of digital ether, Brownback’s Communications Director Sherienne Jones-Sontag decided to report Sullivan to her school and turn the entire event into a very public frackus that made the Governor of Kansas look like a moron wasting time with trifling matters and picking on a high school student.
Here’s a breakdown of why the situation was completely mishandled: Read more…
The Pew Center Project for Excellence in Journalism recently published a study (“How Mainstream Media Outlets Use Twitter; Content Analysis Shows an Evolving Relationship“) showing that, despite its myriad applications, most newspapers just use Twitter as a way of regurgitating the content they’re already publishing on pulp or on their websites. Megan Garber at the Nieman Journalism Lab rightly points out that this turns Twitter into “a glorified RSS feed.”
The results of the study are a good insight into why the newspaper industry has suffered such a decline in recent years; they still haven’t embraced social media in a meaningful way. The particularly telling statistic was that during the one-week period when the Twitter accounts were observed, 93 percent of the tweets linked back to a story on the news organization’s website.
In fairness to the newspapers observed, most of them likely have a strategy that divides up the content and engagement among various different Twitter accounts. For example, the Arizona Republic notes that @azcentral is the site they use for news and opinion (they reserve @arizonarepublic for interactions with the newsroom) and fortunately the Pew study methodology noted this. The Pew study took this into account to an extent by measuring what was published by reporters that work for each paper.
One measure of an organization’s level of social media engagement (though admittedly it’s riddled with problems and much-derided by many social media experts) is Klout. For what it’s worth, here are the Klout scores of the 13 news organizations measured (as of November 15, 2011). By comparison, I’m not terribly influential and my Klout score is 54 – the highest Klout score currently is Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) at 100:
- The Huffington Post (@huffingtonpost): 86
- The New York Times (@nytimes): 86
- ABC News (@abc): 83
- The Wall Street Journal (@wsj): 83
- The Washington Post (@washingtonpost): 82
- Fox News (@foxnews): 82
- CNN (@cnn): 81
- MSNBC (@msnbc): 77
- USA Today (@usatoday): 77
- NPR (@nprnews): 76
- The Arizona Republic (@azcentral): 63
- The Daily Caller (@dailycaller): 61
- The Toledo Blade (@toledonews): 46
I was curious to see if some of the non-traditional major newspapers also succumbed to this non-engaging practice of using Twitter so I took a look at the accounts of the St. Petersburg Times (run by the Poynter Institute) and a few of thedaily papers operated by the McClatchy Company, as well as the Grand Rapids Press. My hypothesis was that they would have embraced social media (in this case Twitter) in a more meaningful way than the traditional for-profit newspapers which would show up in a higher volume of tweets and more engagement with individual Twitter users.
During the one-week period between November 8-14, 2011, these were the results:
|Tweets||Links to Own Stories / Others / Pct||Klout Score|
|The St. Petersburg Times (@tampabaycom)||51||48 / 0 (100%)||47|
|McClatchy – Anchorage Daily News (@adndotcom)||100||65 / 15 (81%)||10|
|McClatchy – The Kansas City Star (@kcstar)||213||169 / 20 (89%)||58|
|Grand Rapids Press (@grpress)||50||49 / 1 (98%)||49|
|Total||331 / 36 (90%)|
As you can see, they were pretty much the same as the rest of the newspapers observed in the Pew Study; an average of 90 percent of the links provided were back to their own content.
What was interesting was that the period of time observed for the Anchorage Daily News was during a massive storm which dramatically changed the way the paper used Twitter. It was far more likely to retweet breaking news from other Twitter users, as well as link to other sites (such as the National Oceanographic and Aeronautic Administration – NOAA). This change begs the question; if it’s important to martial all information regardless of source during an emergency, why isn’t that the case during the regular news day?
Here’s some advice for the newspapers (for what it’s worth):
1. Acknowledge and Engage Followers:
While it’s certainly reasonable for any given news organization to tweet links back to its content, that shouldn’t make up the bulk of the tweets. Twitter offers a unique opportunity to interact one-on-one with readers in a very timely fashion. The organizations that use Twitter well participate in the online community and acknowledge their customers/constituents – speaking personally to them and sharing what they publish(by re-tweeting “RT-ing” them).
2. Embrace Social Media Conventions:
There’s an interesting phenomenon going on right now where news organizations are worried about re-tweeting content from other users because they fear it is perceived as an “endorsement” of the person (some go so far as to expressly mention in their Twitter descriptions that RTs are not an endorsement). Be not afraid, journos! RTs are only sometimes an endorsement, and if some of your readers are too stupid to note the difference – you probably don’t need them anyway.
What was particularly shameful was the lack of use of hashtags in tweets. NPR didn’t use a single hashtag during the entire period they were observed. That’s shameful. Hashtags are signposts that allow people (and algorithms) to identify relevant content, and they facilitate discussion around a topic. They should be a priority for any Twitter user to include whenever the 140 character limit permits.
3. Give Your Social Media Presence a Face:
By this I mean an actual face. Of a person. Not a logo, but a person. Everyone knows that there’s a person behind every social media presence, yet most organizations conduct themselves on social media as though a giant machine is adding copy and triggering the “send” button. Of the Twitter accounts measured, only five readily identified who was tweeting on behalf of the organization (The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Arizona Republic, The Daily Caller, and the Toledo Blade).
4. Learn From Your Reporters:
In my experience, I’ve found journalists are frequently adept at using social media – Twitter in particular. They’re personal, timely, and engaging. They get social media conventions, and they’re not afraid to participate (even using Twitter to gather news and find interview subjects). That’s one of the reasons why #JournChat (a weekly dialog involving reporters and public relations pros) is my favorite Tweet Chat
Right now, the Southern Illinois University Carbondale is in the middle of a contract negotiation dispute which has resulted in a strike by the tenured faculty. As one would expect in a situation such as this, the faculty has urged its supporters to be vocal on the union’s behalf and some students took to the SIU Carbondale Facebook Fan Page to urge a resolution to the contract dispute.
Unfortunately, the SIU Carbondale administrators of the page began deleting those messages. One report noted that they began by deleting only the messages of support for the faculty, but later began deleting all messages related to the dispute – and even went so far as to ban some users. Read more…
[Updated] Earlier this morning, Dan Gaydou (President of the newly-minted Mlive Media Group) announced that the Booth papers: Grand Rapids Press, Kalamazoo Gazette, Flint Journal, Jackson Citizen-Patriot and Muskegon Chronicle will be cutting distribution down to three days a week – Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. The announcements characterize the new venture as a “digital-first company.” Another big announcement was that MLive Media Group will merge with Advance Central Services Michigan.
What does it mean for the citizens of Michigan? I’m afraid it will be less detail and less of a local focus in their news coverage.
Even in the announcement of the move was somewhat disconcerting (and even incestuous): Read more…
The much-maligned yet sickeningly-addictive social media scoring platform Klout has revamped their scoring system and disclosed more information about the algorithms they use to establish the rankings they publish about users. Overall I like the move, first because the scoring appears to be improving (and I say that as someone whose score took a ten-point hit) and second because the transparency will help silence some of the haters (of which I used to be one). Read more…
Jesse Stanchak at Smartblog on Social Media recently posted a blog entry giving advice on how to retain followers on social media (“How you’re secretly driving away your followers — and what you can do to stop it”).
While it’s certainly important to make sure your messages suit the medium they’re using, I have two points of disagreement with this advice:
1) Self-Censorship Reduces Authenticity (Authenticity is the Currency of Social Media)
As I noted in the comments, the problem with logic like this is that it’s operating under the assumption that bigger is better. It’s the sort of logic that has made network TV unwatchable by aiming for the “least objectionable program” (LOP) standard developed in the 1960s for television audiences. While that’s okay for some people for whom that is their appeal (say a milquetoast like Ryan Seacrest) but for the vast majority that’s not how social media operates most effectively. Read more…
Burr Tweet (n) : A post on Twitter specifically-engineered to be retweeted and circulated by other users. Characteristics of Burr Tweets:
- They add value to multiple users or an entire audience segment
- They are typically highly-relevant to a specific context (time/place/event)
- They are around 120 characters so they may be easily re-tweeted (in either format)
"...and you shall have no pie."As my parents tell it, when I was an infant my first word wasn't a word - it was an entire sentence. Very little has changed.
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