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7 Ways you can improve your Facebook page now

Facebook is a major source of traffic for many news sites and it also presents a unique opportunity to interact directly with readers. Make the most of your Facebook presence and make your Page more engaging with the following tips:

1. Change your profile image

Your Facebook profile image is the first thing potential fans see when they on the arrive on the page. Is yours bold and enticing or a boring waste of space? If you’re looking for ways to liven up your profile image, check out 1stwebdesigner’s gallery of enticing Facebook Page Profile Images.


2. Get a vanity URL

Instead of a long URL like!!?ref=omgsolong the web address to your Facebook Page can be something simple like To shorten your URL, visit or follow this nifty guide. You must have at least 25 fans to receive a custom URL.

3. Spice it up with FBML

Facebook Markup Language or FBML allows developers to add custom HTML or CSS to their Facebook page. You can even make your original content your default tab. For examples of what you can do with FBML, visit the Facebook Pages created by Louis Vuitton, Lady Gaga, and the NHL. For a step-by-step guide to using FBML, read this Mashable post.


4. Promote it on your own site

No man is an island and a Facebook Page shouldn’t be either. Make sure that your readers/viewers know about your Page by promoting it on your main site and including links on your individual articles. You can even add a “Like Box” to your site that displays people who are fans of your Facebook page on your site.


5. Stop having one-way conversations

A common mistake many news organizations who use Facebook make is they post articles or pose questions to their fans but don’t interact or respond to them. Social media isn’t a one-way conversation. Be sure to engage with your readers so they don’t feel like they are talking to a brick wall. Because talking to a brick wall is crazy.

6. Use third-party apps

There are many different third-party apps that you can use to enhance your Facebook page and better interact with your audience. These include Poll, which allows you to create a poll right on your page, YouTube Channel, which as its name suggests allows you to post YouTube videos to your page, and Docs, which enables the posting of documents to Facebook.

7. Create photo albums

Many newsrooms guard their photos like Buckingham Palace and this is understandable…photos can be downloaded and shared on the internet without permission. However, for those photos you do want to share, why not post them to Facebook as a photo gallery? You can even create a photo gallery with a link to where people can see more photos.

If you’re looking for inspiration, check out California Watch (my former employer), who used the gallery feature share photos of California Watch staffers, scenes from a local tea party rally, and supplemental graphics that were paired with stories.

For more inspiration, check out App Storm’s list of the 35 best Facebook Fan Pages. If you don’t have a Facebook page yet, click here for information on how to get started.

Also on 10,000 Words:

10 Ways to track what people are saying about you on Twitter
4 Organizations more tech-savvy than your newsroom
How to turn online social networking into real-life relationships

3 Unique ways to record, edit, and publish your audio

1. Myna

Myna, the online audio editing tool from Aviary, is perfect for audio editing on the go. The editing tool doesn’t require any software installation, yet it has many of the same features as popular programs like Audacity and Adobe Audition.

To get started, just upload your audio using the tool’s import feature or record your audio directly into Myna using a computer mic. Myna allows for multi-track editing, effects such as fades and echos, and you can export the final product to your computer. Check out a video demo of Myna below:

There are two types of people who use Audacity, the free and popular audio editing software: those who use it and those who use it, but secretly wish they were using something else. If you want to explore other options for audio editing software, check out this list of 25 free digital audio editing tools.

2. Monle

If you have a smartphone, you likely have multimedia capabilities like the ability to shoot photos or record videos. With Monle, an iPhone app, you can add audio recording and editing to the list. The app allows you to either record or upload audio into the program and edit it on a four-track system. It has all the features you need to create polished audio, which you can send wirelessly to your computer as a wav file.

Monle, of course, isn’t your only choice for mobile audio editing. There are several apps for mobile phones, including Showcase Net from Vericorder, which can also produce audio slideshows on a mobile platform.


3. Audioboo

AudioBoo, an application available for iPhone and Android, allows the user to record audio messages from a mobile phone and publish them online in what amounts to an audio blog. The tool has a growing user base including
Sky News Radio and BBC London 94.9 FM who use AudioBoo to share journalism-related audio clips that are free from the constraints of traditional broadcasts.

AudioBoo is perfect for sharing raw audio files with a large online audience. For journalists, think audio interviews, nat sound, and other standalone elements that would be interesting to the listening audience.


In the digital age, audio production is all about collaborative gathering and editing and is no longer confined to one or two producers. There are already several online tools like Audiotool that are geared toward musicians and allow several people to collaborate on a single audio project. Newsrooms can take advantage of this technology to allow several journalists to contribute to an audio story, even if they are using different computers or are stationed at various points around the world.

If you’re looking for inspiration for your collaborative audio projects, check out the video below of a choral piece constructed from 250 individual performances. For this unique project, each person seen in the clip submitted a video of themselves voicing a part of the composition “Lux Aurumque,” composed by Eric Whitacre. The individual videos were then edited together and the stunning result was uploaded to YouTube.

Collaboration and crowdsourcing… the future of audio is here.


Also on 10,000 Words:

9 Tips for recording audio for the web
Where to find free sound effects and royalty-free music
How to record audio that doesn’t take hours to edit

Location! Location! Location! How journalists can use location-based services

With the advent of location-based social networks like Foursquare and Gowalla, mainstream media newsrooms have been searching for ways to harness these networks. The results have ranged from brilliant to questionably outlandish, but we’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible. Here are a few ideas and examples of ways to take location-based social media to the next level:

We, the people

To celebrate their 2010 graduation ceremony, the students of St. Edward’s University in Texas submitted photos, tweets, and Facebook posts with their mobile phones and aggregated them using the social, location-based service Whrrl. The result is a multimedia experience that showcases the ceremony from the viewpoint of those who lived it.

Mass aggregation of first-person media isn’t new and since the launch of projects like CNN’s The Moment, they have proved to have major newsworthiness. Using a site like Whrrl to make it easy for a large group to share a variety of media is something media organizations should explore and gravitate toward.

Movie reviews

The mobile application Flixster has many awesome features, one of which is its ability to find movie theaters near the smartphone user and instantly provide showtimes and sometimes ways to order tickets.

Newsrooms, especially entertainment publications, can capitalize on this idea by creating apps or check-in alerts that provide movie reviews from newsroom critics when the mobile user is near a movie theater. With a little extra tinkering, an app can also aggregate reviews from other locals or like-minded movie viewers.

Real estate listings

In the same vein, newsrooms can make better use of their real estate listings by creating an app that lists available housing near the mobile user, using the phone’s built in GPS. Imagine walking in a neighborhood and seeing a listing of apartments for rent, sortable by price and with comments from others. There are a couple of real estate apps already, including ZipRealty and Zillow that newsrooms can learn from.

Of course, there are several media organizations who are already making the most of their content — and their audience — to provide a valuable, location-based service. The Independent Film Channel recently solicited its membership for tips on quirky locales around America. Foursquare members can opt to receive these user-submitted alerts when they check in to select locations. Wall Street Journal readers who check in to specific restaurants can read restaurants the site has reviewed.

Sports fans should check out ESPN Passport which allows mobile users to check-in to sports venues and keep track of games they’ve attended. You can also use the app to take photos of a match in progress and share with others in the arena. The Scoop, The New York Times’ mobile guide to New York, is also a pioneer in marrying existing content with mobile and GPS capabilities.

Location-based services can do anything from report the location of local crimes to point out road hazards submitted by other users. So far though, the majority of those companies that are exploring and taking advantage of the technology fall outside of the journalism realm. Hopefully, as these services and social media applications become more mainstream, newsrooms will be more likely to adopt them for their own uses.

Also on 10,000 Words:

5 iPhone applications that can revolutionize mobile journalism
15 Awesome interactive maps from the New York Times
Why news media should not wait to develop iPad apps

5 Things I've learned about building a personal brand and why everything you've heard is bogus

A question I get asked a lot is how I built a successful personal brand. How did I build 10,000 Words from a rough-around-the-edges personal blog to a popular and well-trafficked resource?

Usually when people ask the question they lean closely in and expect me to mention social networks like Twitter, reader engagement, cross-platform integration, and all the other social media guru-isms floating around the web. While those are a part of the equation, building a strong personal brand transcends technology and tools. A successful “personal” brand requires you to be a “person” and sometimes to think outside of “thinking outside the box.”

Be nice

There are many talented people out there competing for work and the attention of online readers and communities. What separates the talented from the equally talented but successful, is a good, genuine, likeable personality. You don’t have to be Mr. or Ms. Smiley Face, but people appreciate kindness and humanity. Being arrogant, antisocial, cliquish, or rude will turn many people off and damage your personal brand.

Think of your favorite restaurant experience: you likely told other people about that restaurant not just because the food was great or the decor was beautiful, but because you perhaps received great service or the waiter or host was especially kind or accommodating.

You can only tell people how great you are, but the true test of a strong personal brand is what others think of you and how likely they are to sing your praises.

Show don’t tell

Many of those who have strong personal brands are not necessarily the most knowledgeable or the biggest experts in the field, but those who share a bit of themselves with others. Instead of just telling people what they should be doing, share your personal experiences and why certain strategies or techniques have worked for you. Make your work available online and tell other people how you did it. Be open and honest.

The reason many blogs are successful is because the blogger has shared their personality with readers and based their posts on personal experiences. My career took off when I stopped hiding behind the big orange 10,000 Words icon and started putting my face out there figuratively and literally.

Say Yes!!

I’m tired. Between work and 10,000 Words there are nights when I just want to crawl up next to the TV and eat Oreos in my PJs. But if I receive an invitation to an event, social gathering, or some opportunity for professional development or to meet new people and I have the time and the capacity to do so, I will attend. You never who you’re going to meet and, by doing so, when you’ll have an opportunity to share your work and yourself with others.

Not too long ago, I was at a conference and after a long day of workshops I faced the decision of either going back to the hotel room or attending a post-conference networking session. Suffice it to say I would not have my current position if I hadn’t opted to attend the session. Follow the example of Jim Carrey in the movie Yes Man and learn to say yes to new and unique opportunities… you never know where they may lead.

Do a favor for someone

There’s a running joke/mantra in the design community that real designers don’t do favors. This means no missing cat posters, no websites for friends, nothing that won’t put a dollar in your pocket. Despite this prevailing line of thought, it’s the occasional favor that helps people remember you and your work. If you do them a solid now, they are very likely to remember you down the line. And though the benefits may not be immediately tangible, I cannot put into words how many times a small favor has turned into a big professional reward.

I know I’ve advocated before for getting paid for what you do, but if you love what you do enough, you will be willing to share your time and expertise with others without expecting something in return. This doesn’t mean you should do every favor you’re asked to do, but often those most in need of a favor are the most likely to help you later down the line.

Ditch the “rules” and follow your passion

There are a million social media experts, online gurus, media mavens, and the like who have a million rules for what you should do to grow your personal brand. Forget what the experts say and follow your own plan.

Don’t tweet because you have to, do it because you want to. Start a blog because you have something to say, not because you are told to do so. You will find that your message will be stronger and you will be more passionate about your personal brand if you forge your own path.

Also on 10,000 Words:

15 Journalists’ outstanding personal portfolios
What exactly is a social media editor/manager?
25 Things I’ve Learned About Journalism

6 Exceptional multimedia student projects

Journalism classes and schools, like professional newsrooms, have the opportunity to create large-scale multimedia projects that are the product of a collaboration between participants. These projects focus on a single subject or issue and tell one story in multiple ways.

The label “student journalist” for some may conjure up images of second-rate work that is not ready for prime time. However, the projects below show just how great the multimedia journalism produced by J-schools students are and the potential student groups have to create interesting, vibrant, and diverse multimedia news stories.

1. Hunger in the Golden State

A project of the USC Annenberg School for Journalism & Communication and California Watch, Hunger in the Golden State explores the problem of food scarcity and waste among California residents and what’s being done about it. The humanity of the stories included on the site is augmented by the different ways they are told: the site includes print stories, slideshows, radio broadcasts, and social media components.

2. BARThood

Students at UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism tell the stories of the patrons of BART — the San Francisco Bay Area transit system — in this comprehensive online news package. Among the text stories and slideshows that are common to this type of project, is an interesting data component for each BART station. A stylish data visualization appears on each page that illustrates statistics like the ethnicity and income level of riders and mode of transportation to the station.

3. Greening the Grid

Greening the Grid, a 2009 project of the students of the University of Miami School of Communication (look for online journalism titan Greg Linch among its participants), documents sustainable energy projects in the Czech Republic and the United States. Among the individual stories is this video that illustrates a farm powered by cow manure and this one documenting a 1981 Mercedes Benz powered by discarded vegetable oil.

4. Streets of Dreams: People and Places of Downtown Phoenix

The students of ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications encourage you to follow along as they explore the passions of the residents of Phoenix, Arizona and the city they call home. The story of several Phoenix neighborhoods and the unique people who live there are illustrated by video, photo, and text stories.

5. Multimedia Standards

Unlike the previously mentioned projects, Multimedia Standards, also produced by University of Miami students focuses on the craft of journalism itself. Participants questioned leaders in online/digital journalism about the state of the industry and presented the recorded answers in an easily navigable grid. The site also includes a useful “Resources” page with links to RSS feeds to some of the top journalism blogs on the web.

6. Powering a Nation: The Truth About Energy

News21, a collaborative initiative of several universities across the United States, produces several outstanding multimedia projects every year. UNC Chapel Hill’s “Powering a Nation” is one of several standouts and tackles the issue of energy in the United States. Like other News21 projects, the site features print stories, interactive elements, and more. The students pushed the story even further by creating interactive news games that invite readers to solve real problems like balancing carbon emissions and energy use.

Also on 10,000 Words:

3 Ways journalism classes are making education more interactive
News media and college students: A match made in heaven?
Journalism Grads: 30 Things You Should Do This Summer