Hyperlocal venture Everyblock, owned by msnbc.com, relaunched yesterday with a sleek new design and several fresh features geared towards cultivating neighborhood communities. The site’s previous incarnation served as a kind of block-by-block news feed, aggregating crime statistics, restaurant reviews and local events. With yesterday’s relaunch, new social elements have been integrated into the site that encourage users to share and interact with their neighbors both online and off. So what are these changes, and what insight do they give us into the future of hyperlocal news? Let’s take a look.
Archives: March 2011
A 404 page is the standard web page displayed when an online visitor calls a page that doesn’t exist on the site’s server. The error can happen for a variety of reasons, including a mistyping a URL or clicking a dead link.
The error code itself may be standard, but the 404 page doesn’t have to be. Many news websites create special 404 pages that include site navigation, search options, links to popular site features, or any combination of the above to ensure the visitor doesn’t arrive at a dead end.
Below are examples of standard and creative 404 pages from various media websites:
The term “community manager” has been around for a while. However with the growth of social media in business, it’s turned into more of a buzz term. Do a search online for “Community Manager Job” and you’ll get hundreds, if not thousands, of results.
In an insightful post on the Econsultancy blog, they make an effort to clear up some of the smoke about what exactly a community manager is, and what they job really entails.
The author summed up the job title and purpose nicely:
Community managers are trained specialists, who guide and engage with the members of a community. They may get involved with setting the overall strategy for the community, working closely with the brands.
For our purposes, the “brand” is the newspaper. If the newspaper is smart and up with the times, then at the very least they are active in three areas: Story commenting on the website, a Facebook Fan Page, and a Twitter Page.
Uprising in Egypt. Earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Missile strikes in Libya.
Major news has broken in every corner of the world during the past few weeks. In that time, Matthew Keys has proven himself to be a must follow for the latest from these hot spots.
Keys, 24, is a new style aggregation journalist. From his home in Sacramento, Calif., Keys even altered his sleep schedule so he can be awake to bring the latest developments from Japan.
“What my audience is looking for is somebody who, in a time of crisis, or in a time of breaking news, will just get to the facts,” he said.
Better known as Producer Matthew, Keys worked until October as a Web producer at KTXL, Sacramento’s Fox affiliate and is now unemployed. He considers himself an early adopter to social media, joining Twitter in February 2007. The service arguably began getting mainstream attention during that March’s South by Southwest Interactive Conference.
Keys still considers himself a journalist. Why? Everything he tweets or retweets he ensures comes from a credible source, or it is something he could verify.
“About 90 percent of the information I put out comes from a media source that I can verify with them,” he said.
“This is information that I’m putting out for my audience but it’s really coming from a third party,” he said.
While Keys agrees that Twitter is an excellent way to get news, he dismisses the notion that it will become a police scanner.
“Most people can listen to a police scanner and know that about 100 percent of the information that they’re getting from the scanner is going to be accurate, because it’s coming from law enforcement sources,” he said. “If you’re following someone in law enforcement on Twitter, absolutely. But you could also be following an account — like the Steve Jobs account — and if you’re new to Twitter, you’re not gonna know that Steve Jobs doesn’t have a Twitter account.”
“I don’t think it’s ever going to be the main source of news,” he said.
Keys also maintains an active Tumblr presence.
“The use that I have for Tumblr is for photos — a lot of people on Tumblr like photos,” he said. “They’re very visual. They don’t necessarily like to read a lot. They like video. They like audio. It’s very multimedia rich.”
Keys says being a citizen journalist has helped his reputation more than working at KTXL.
Over at iMedia Connection, Daniel Flamberg wrote an interesting post called 5 Steps Toward Better Facebook Fan Engagement. For brands, this is a great guide to get started on the right path to better engagement with fans. But his tips are also useful for newspapers and new organizations, so I’ve decided to remix it a bit.
Here are four ways newspapers and news organizations can better use Facebook to engage readers:
Be human. Often news organizations use their Facebook page as a platform for pushing stories. Little attempt is made at engaging readers, driving people to the page, or creating a reason for people to want to stick around. Within the organization, assign someone as the “face” of the news organization on Facebook. Readers will feel more comfortable engaging and sharing if they feel like they’re talking to a person, not a nameless brand. For an example, look at Face of Fox 30 in Jacksonville, Florida.
Relax. Ultimately the news organization is the “voice” of the readers and the community it covers. Be conscious of that in the updating of the Fan Page. Avoid being rigid and mechanical. Instead be as conversational as possible. Read what you’re planning to write. Does it sound like it was auto-posted? If so, re-write it.
Hold the sales pitch. If the primary function of your newspaper’s Fan Page is to increase print subs, shut it down. Delete the page and re-invest that time into your other advertising efforts. Notice I’m not saying don’t ever sell. There’s a time and a place for it on you Fan Page. Include a post once or twice a week about it, but don’t do more than that. Your fan page is about engagement, conversation, and sharing news and information. Increasing your print subs comes a distant fourth or fifth on the priority list.
Be helpful. Online people will write complaints and vent about a company or a service, and assume that no-one is listening. Venting into the ether makes them feel better. Try not to let that happen on your Facebook page. If someone posts a comment complaining about an aspect of the newspaper, respond to it and try to fix the issue. You should also be actively encouraging you readers to “Like” the paper on Facebook. Tell them that editors actively monitor the page and will respond to queries quickly.
However none of these tips will do a thing to help if you aren’t actively involved in the community that you’re building on Facebook. A recent post by Amy Taylor at the Brains on Fire blog summed that up nicely:
You can manage a city from behind a desk, but if you want to understand community, you have to become a part of it. You have to get in it. You can’t just listen for the heartbeat, you have to be a part of the heartbeat.
I can’t promise that these four principles will grow your Fan Page by hundreds every day. But they will help to ensure that the people who decide to “Like” your newspaper on Facebook are remaining engaged and interested in what the newspaper has to say and share.