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Archives: September 2012

Patch Unveils A New Site, Focused on Social and Mobile

Patch.com, AOL’s hyperlocal news experiment, is rolling out a new site today. In true new media fashion, the company designed the mobile site first, and the new format places heavy emphasis on social elements.

I got a preview of it on Friday from co-founder and CEO Jon Brod, chief content officer Rachel Feddersen and creative director Abel Lenz, who enthusiastically introduced the site as a shift from the soap-box model to a town square model. “This is a platform for communities to better organize day to day life,” said Feddersen, “we’re about making lives in towns better.”

So what’s different about the new Patch? According to Brod, it’s “the marriage of Journalism with a big J and the social elements of a community platform.” Read more

From Twitter’s Headquarters, Data-Driven Best Practices For Journalists

Mark Luckie speaking to journalists at Twitter headquarters.

SAN FRANCISCO — Every time I train a new reporter on how to use Tweetdeck or set up a Twitter account, I get the questions about “best practices.” You probably do, too, as you train your news staff. Sure, we can tell them to use hashtags and at-replies, but then you get the question of “Why?” because, of course, you’re training journalists. Now you have the why.

Twitter’s Mark Luckie (original founder of this blog) announced a few Twitter best practices for journalists at Twitter’s headquarters for journalists at the ONA conference. All of his tips and tricks have real, hard data to back up how those practices increase engagement and followers. The slideshow was posted in blog post format on Twitter’s blog, but here are a few key points (most of which you probably already know, in general).

For their research methodology, Twitter looked at 150+ journalists and news publishers and analyzed thousands of tweets over a six-month period.

  1. Tweet your beat and tweet it live: For people who post a concentrated number of tweets in a short time span (i.e. liveblogging coverage), follower growth is 50 percent more than average.
  2. Use hashtags for context: Yep, we all know this one, but you probably didn’t know that it can increase engagement almost 100 percent (2x) for individuals and 50 percent (1.5x) for brands.
  3. @Cite your sources: This stat is a bit confusing, but it says that brands that tweet 20 percent fewer URLs and 100 percent more @mentions grow followers 17 percent more than average. This means you should mix up your tweet style to post a mixture of links and mentions to grow your audience. Again, probably something we all already knew.
  4. Share what you’re reading: News accounts receive 100 percent more (2x) active engagement on a high-performing tweet when a URL is included. Also, use that retweet button!

You can read the full list of recommendations with examples on Twitter’s blog →

Repost.us: The YouTube Of News Articles Lets You Embed News Stories Anywhere

SAN FRANCISCO — YouTube videos are embeddable; why can’t news stories be embeddable? That was the question asked at the Collaboration vs. Competition session at the 2012 Online News Association conference by founders of Repost.us, whose product does exactly that.

Repost.us is a repository of millions of free articles from top publishers that others can “repost” (e.g. smartly syndicate) on their own sites using embed code that retains original content, links, ad tags, etc. You can embed the stories on your WordPress blog or Blogger blog or any other website with just a few clicks. On the other end of the spectrum, you can also syndicate your content for other publishers to repost.

I’m a fan of this concept because it lets publishers control their own brand and track their content as it appears on different platforms, with an option of using their own ad tags and analytics to make money from that syndication. As updates are made to a piece of content, those updates flow through to all the other versions that are embedded on the web, and meaning publishers get full, true ownership of their content online.

Don’t want your competitors to reap the benefits of reposting your content? Or maybe you disagree with another site’s mission and don’t want your brand associated with it? Repost.us lets your essentially blacklist certain domains from reposting your content, and you can blacklist retroactively to remove your content from another site.

In terms of SEO, Repost.us uses a javascript embed to render the content on the page, which search engines read as a link back to the original publisher, which can boost traffic back to the original source. The only red flag that might be  a problem for some newsrooms  is that content isn’t editable by the site syndicator. If you repost a news article with a typo or factual error, you’d have to contact the original author to get it changed.

As Jeff Jarvis says, Repost.us represents a reverse link economy.  And it’s about time (he’s been writing about the concept since 2008).

What do you think?

What One Alt-Weekly Is Doing to Stay Relevant

In a move to stay relevant in the changing media landscape, The Boston Phoenix will merge with its sister publication, Stuff, today. The new pub, called The Phoenix, will combine The Boston Phoenix’s news content with Stuff’s coverage of lifestyle topics. The newspaper has suffered in recent years due to classifieds moving to the Web, and hopes that the new format will attract more advertisers. Editor-at-large Peter Kadzis told The Boston Globe that though the paper does not have a readership problem, “a sizable number of style-related advertisers—fashion and high-end liquor, for example—prefer glossy pages.” Read more

Six Ideas for Journalists’ New Twitter Header Image

Twitter announced yesterday it will allow users to further personalize their Twitter page with a header photo behind their userpic and bio.

The move is reminiscent of Facebook’s cover photo, but played a bit differently since it includes your info and short bio all centered over top of it. The header photos will apparently follow you and be visible even on mobile phones or tablets. Honestly, it’s not really something most users will look at, since many people read Twitter through readers or their phone or their own stream, but it’s another way to brand yourself to people following your organization or looking at your profile for the first time, so why not take advantage of it?

Here are a few quick examples to inspire you of how journalists and news organizations are already using the space:

@WashingtonPost

Read more

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