How do you build local engagement on Twitter? (via The Buttry Diary)

Steve Buttry nails it with this post in building community engagement on Twitter. The meat of it is this:

However you find people tweeting about your community, the key to engaging them is conversation. If your Twitter feed is a one-way stream of self-promoting headlines and links, people are not likely to engage with it. But if you answer their questions, ask them how they know newsworthy information that they tweet, retweet their observations about community life, they will engage with you.

Excellent advice for anyone or any business on Twitter. He goes on to give tips for using several 3rd party tools and Twitter’s own Advanced Search.

In my experience working with small newsrooms the tools we provide have to be both comprehensive and easy to use. Continue reading “How do you build local engagement on Twitter? (via The Buttry Diary)”

Outing Your Commenters’ Identities

RulesIt’s important to have a clear set of rules.

Your Terms of Use document (terms of service, community guidelines, FAQ, rules of the road, etc.) is your social contract with your site’s users. Whether you craft it to your specific needs or use boilerplate, your Terms are the rules and a good site lives by and enforces those rules.

The rules should lay out what behavior is expected and what is unacceptable in your online community, and what happens the rules are broken. You expect your visitors to abide by the terms, and they should expect the same of you. Continue reading “Outing Your Commenters’ Identities”

New York Times’ iPad app: Advertising done right

NYT app iconThere’s a lot to like in this week’s update to the New York Times’ iPad app. The new version has much more content than the previous “Editor’s Choice” app, the navigation is improved and the app feels much more polished. But it’s the handling and placement of the ads that really impresses me.

In-app advertising so far has been a mixed bag. Many apps rely on ad networks and phone-optimized ad units. Some have created custom ad units, including “sponsored by” messages on the app’s splash screen.

The Times appears to have taken a different approach: their ads make excellent use both of the iPad’s form factor and new user interface features in Apple’s iOS. Continue reading “New York Times’ iPad app: Advertising done right”

Short URL integration idea

“Newspapers who send offline readers to their site should use bit.ly links to monitor if the readers actual visit the site.”

An interesting idea from @cophotog: run shortened URLs, linking directly to the story, in print with most (all?) stories. This could provide an excellent tool for quantifying reader overlap and reader conversions. There are some challenges, though.

  • Even if we assume that shortened URLs all have short shelf lives, relying on a 3rd party shortening service, especially when most are still in startup mode in a bad economy, seems risky.
  • Making a short URL is one more step in an already complex production system
  • Print layouts are often completed before the story makes it to the web CMS, in which case there wouldn’t be a URL to shorten.

So is the data to be gained from such links worth the challenge? Perhaps. Done right, in the right production environment, this could be a powerful tool for gauging readership.

The first step is to eliminate the middle man by running your own short URL service. There appear to be plenty of scripts and CMS plugins popping up to add basic service to most sites so this shouldn’t be a major hurdle.

Picture 3

Once you have a working shortener, it will have to be integrated into the CMS. This would be easiest in shops with a modern, single CMS for web and print. Shops using legacy workflows where print comes before web production will not be able to make use of this. The model for this should be WordPress’ permalink field in the Edit Post screen. The CMS (possibly WordPress, even) should present the story’s final URL in both long and short formats to the author. These URLs would be stored with the story so they can be retrieved by the page layout application or middleware.

During print production, the layout software or middleware application should access the short URL field and allow the data to be placed on the page with the story’s other fields.

Finally, the shortened URLs need to be integrated with the site’s existing analytics package to ensure that the on-site behavior of short URL users is tracked separately from long URL users.

New job update

Quick update… new job going well so far… enormous amount of work to do… need more staff… hiring web editor… searching for new office space… launching 75 new web sites in Feb. No kidding.