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Broadcasting Social Media

I haven’t been able to post on any of my blogs as much as I’d like because my newsroom is on the race towards launching a one of a kind newscast a week from today. Our goal is to bring a static newscast into a more interactive experience with the help of social media. We’re using a number of tools to bring it all together – Including a product that’s never been used in the United States to broadcast nearly live posts from Twitter and Facebook. (I say nearly because a producer can pick and choose the posts to air. There is a level of moderation to keep potentially inappropriate posts on television.) We asking our viewers (and even you if you want to play) to use #UonTV as our hashtag to contribute content. We’re also asking community leaders to turn in their community events via video. This will replace our interview segments where organizers usually sit on the sit and talk with an anchor for two minute. There might be a live Skype conversation but there will also be pre-recorded Google+ hangouts where we focus on interesting topics of the day. We’re trying to harness the power of social media and encourage our market to jump in and share with us. Here’s a little video where our interactive anchor Sarah Hill explains how the show will work.

We’re very excited to see this site launch. A capstone team of students in my class are helping coordinate and lead the development of the show’s social media desk – a team of people who will keep watch on social conversations for the show. We’re planning on letting this role develop as we learn what works and what doesn’t work for the newscasts. Hopefully we’ll be able to document the experience so other newsrooms can learn from us!

By the way – if you’re curious about what I’m teaching in my class, here’s what this week’s focus is on: Building your name brand online.

5 Reasons Why Journalists Should Play with Google+

I truly believe journalists need to be open to new opportunity to connect with communities and learn how to share. Any time a legitimate organization launches a new way to communicate, I’m going to jump. I’m curious. I’m hungry to connect. I want to learn its potential.

That’s what I’ve done inside Google+. It is a fresh start and I think Google has taken the lessons learned from communities built in Twitter and Facebook. Facebook offers privacy while Twitter allows openness. Both established social networks created ways to build lists and groups to help organize your contacts after the social networks were built. Google+ allows you to establish circles from the start. I have built a personal profile and a non-official professional profile for KOMU8. Inside each space I’ve learned what may work for journalists inside this new and evolving space. I have 5 reasons why you should give it a try.

1. Get in on a social media space from the beginning.
Very few newsrooms quickly jumped into Twitter or Facebook. Many are playing catch up. This is an opportunity for journalists to be there at the beginning. I created a KOMU News account inside Google+ because newsrooms are good at sharing. We vet information, we share and people trust us. Why not become a leader inside a new space?

2. Reach out and find your audience.
The Google+ search is improving by the day. As a person, I’ve created circles of professionals and friends who I want to follow. For the newsroom profile, I’ve created regional profiles where I have circled people who live in different towns, counties and work in different organizations. I’m still trying to see what works best, but when someone comments on a newsroom post, I almost immediately know where that person is from because I can hover my arrow over their name and see what circle they’re in. Take the time to search for major businesses, topics and locations that may show additional people from your area who could be added into a circle. As additional people follow the KOMU8 brand, I look at their profiles and add them into regional circles. If a circle for their area doesn’t exist, I create one. I haven’t decided if regional or employment (or both) circles work best, but it’s worth creating regional Google+ scanners and see if it works when there are more people inside this space!

3. Play with hangouts.
We’ve gone live in two broadcasts (and another in less than an hour) so far with a Google Hangout discussion. It’s simple to find people we trust to attend these hangouts and it’s so cool to have found the technical ability to not only feed our computer into our broadcast control room, but also because you can hear it. We haven’t figured that technical challenge out before. I love how new technology pushes us to try new things. Our broadcast hangouts created quite a buzz. So much, I ended up on a local talk radio show talking about the uses of Google+. We’re having fun and expanding the conversation way beyond this new social network. You can read about our Hangouts here and I wrote an earlier post about it here.

4. Encourage followers to circle others from your organization.
Since we are all in this social media world together, once you have additional folks contributing content into Google+, make sure your followers know about it. I’m regularly updating a list of KOMU8 News folks and making sure each person’s profile is links for easy circling. What’s really great is I can just edit the original post and add the latest names. Then I reshare the post to let our followers know I updated it. I don’t have to recreate this post multiple times. (Think of all of those topics you’ve tried to promote again and again on Facebook. You wouldn’t have to rewrite and rewrite, you can just share and share and share.)

In an ideal Google+ world, I would ask our followers to tell us what circles they’d like to be in. I’d love to offer our audience the chance to get extra information if they really like weather or sports or specific news topics like courts, development or politics. These opt-in circles could get live blogs and extra video and images that the average news consumer may not want but our newsroom could deliver it on demand to the appropriate circles. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say we’re tweeting too much information about a specific topic or someone on our Facebook wall says they have heard enough. We could tone down those complaints and actually play more content to those who want it.

5. Experiment and ask people what they’d like to do with Google+.
We’re all in this together. Be open and share what you’re learning and ask what others are learning. Share your ideas and include your audience in the learning. My profile is very open and explains what I do at KOMU8 and the Missouri School of Journalism. I also made sure the KOMU8 profile mentioned I’m the wizard behind the smoke and mirrors. The most interesting input I’ve had so far are from people in my market AND others who are just really interested in what KOMU8 is doing online. I’m getting great input and ideas from far and wide.

I don’t own an Android, but I’ve been told Huddles could have great implications as well for journalists. Maybe an Android journalist could let me know what he or she thinks.

If this is the first post you’ve read from me, feel free to check out my first impression post about G+ and you might be interested in this Google Doc where Google fans put together a guidebook with more than a hundred people adding content to it. I think that’s pretty cool.

Gaga over Google+

I’m hooked. I realize I’m a social networking addict (as someone mentioned to me earlier today) but I’m really enjoying my experience on the new Google Plus.

My invite came through less than 24 hours after the network’s release and I immediately jumped in to share invites with others and figure the space out. The first thing you’ll see when you sign up is the profile in Google+ is the same profile that exists with Google Profiles. I thought that was pretty handy since I had already built mine up a while ago. I was also able to add a link of photos that are my “scrapbook” to personalize things up a bit more.

If you don’t have a Google+ account, you can get ready by adding information to your Google Profiles page (which is available for anyone with a Google account). I’ve found most people who have created a Google Profile are able to easily get into Google+ when a user shares anything to their gmail address. The trick is having that Google Profile ahead of time.

When you arrive inside this new network, I recommend creating circles. This is different from the Facebook lists for a number of reasons. First, when you publish, you pick who listens. Facebook allows you to block certain lists from seeing a post, but you have to pick people individually by name if you want to post something specific. (It’s a four step process.) Second, you can think about Google+ like Twitter. People choose to read your posts and you can choose to add them back into your circles or not. If people don’t like what you post, they can stop following you in a circle. If you don’t like them following you, make sure you only post items specifically to your personal circles and not to the public. I currently have 23. Here’s a look at my growing Google circle (which looks pretty when you roll your mouse over it because it shows the images of the people inside):

Along with Circles, another great G+ (that’s the short, lazy way to say Google+) feature is Google Hangouts. When a person you are following in a circle launches a hangout, you see a notice of it on your stream. If you have a webcam and a microphone, you can jump in. As many as 9 people can be in the hangout at the same time. My first hangout was with Google’s Chief Architect of Social Yonatan Zunger. I had noticed him posting really interesting tips early into the release of G+ and I liked reading his updates. I started a Google circle thanks to him. Many Google employees are openly sharing the developments of the social network and I’m fascinated by the openness of the launch. (Which is COMPLETELY opposite with how Facebook rolls out changes.) I jumped into a public Hangout he had launched and heard many Google fans ask questions and talk about what’s ahead for the project. After that, I launched a few public hangouts. It’s fun when people can get their webcams to work. If you’ve never experienced a Cisco Telepresence Center, a Hangout is a poor man’s version of it. When someone in the Hangout speaks, the video window switches to him or her. It continues to do that until you click on an individual person’s image.

You can choose to have a chat box open on the side (which was handy in the Hangout you can see above here because one person couldn’t get his webcam to work). You can also choose to look through and watch YouTube video with your Hangout. When you hop into YouTube mode, the other members have to choose to join in to watch. When you start playing the video, your audio is automatically muted. You have to press a button to talk over it. I love that! One other pro tip: You can use Google Translate to translate chat and live conversations during a Hangout.
My other tip: Encourage people in your Hangout to share their favorite YouTube video. (Mine is Thumbs up for Rock and Roll)

Not long after I dug into G+ , I started to look for ways this can be used in a news. I’ll write up another post about that soon. In the meantime, feel free to visit the page if you’re a G+ member: gplus.to/komunews

Some additional tips for Google+ users:
*If you’re following someone who posts a lot and there’s a lot of comments that keep pushing the item back to the top of the page, you can click on the little drop down menu (it’s a little triangle to the right of a post) and chose to mute it. You don’t have to remove that person from a circle, you can just quiet him (or her, even though I haven’t found a “loud” G+ female user).

*If you’ve ever enjoyed Twitter, Google+ is a similar experience. Think of this as a space where you can say more than 140 characters and interact with people you may have never considered interacting with before. (Back in the day, Twitter let me talk to amazing people because they weren’t getting bombarded like they do now that Twitter is so big.)

*The intro page when you first sign up on G+ is worth the read to see how to get things started. The first thing I did was create circles and that got my stream moving.

*I was so excited when I first jumped into G+, I didn’t consider the number of alerts I’d get in my Gmail. I think I had collected 100 before I noticed. Don’t do what I did. Change your settings early on: https://plus.google.com/settings/plus

Social Media Clubhouse – Invigorating Journalism Education

I just wrapped up a fun 20 minute conversation with Joy Mayer and Jeremy Littau at the Social Media Clubhouse just a few blocks away from the SXSW conference. We wanted to share our top three ways social media can invigorate journalism education.

Jeremy talked about how he is introducing the concept of a “classroom without walls.” Joy talked about how journalists should think about reaching her or her audience depending on the story they are working on and where those communities are talking. I talked about how important it is to build an online brand so when you have published work in any form, the information consumers can find out that you’re for real. 

Case in point: Joy talked about a student who completed a fantastic project about interactive museums. It was so good Joy wanted to blog about it. So when she asked the student where she should link when the student’s name showed up on her blog, the student didn’t have any social link that showed her knowledge base. Her blog was unused, her Twitter stream was dry… so it was tough to connect her amazing work to something that shows she’s legit.

I wanted to share a quick summary just in case someone wanted to chat some more here or on @jenleereeves, @mayerjoy and @jeremylittau.

How to get started with Social Media

I have a chance to speak to the Missouri Press Association today with Joy Mayer at the Reynolds Journalism Institute. We have a chance to speak to editors and publishers – many who are lucky to have an engaged audience of readers in small towns across the state. We’re talking today about social media and how it is worth learning about before the core readers age out and the new readers never take their news product into consideration to use as a way to learn about their communities.

But the key tip I hope to share is how to get started in social media. We think this is important because of a little moment I had last week with a large lecture class I’m teaching this semester called Journalism and Democracy. It’s better known as “Journalism for non-journalism majors.” There are 236 students enrolled. All of the students are underclassmen and planning to graduate with a wide range of degrees. There are all kinds of differences until you ask how they got their news of the day. (I took a picture of a portion of the class during our first test of the semester.)

Last week, a class speaker and I asked the class to raise their hands to see who watched television news in the last 24 hours. Four hands went into the air. We asked how many people had read news from a printed material on a newspaper or magazine. Six people put their hand in the air. Then we asked how many people got news from the Internet. All but two people raised their hand. Two people explained they had been so busy with school and work, they had not opened the Internet in the last 24 hours.

Everyone raised their hands when we asked if they learned something new (news or personal, we didn’t differentiate for this question) that day from a social networking tool.

If this class is a peek into the future of news consumption, we better hop into social media and see what the heck is going on here!

But how do you get started?

Let me tell you how I did it. It starts with curiosity.

In 2005, I heard a lot of my students talking about this thing called “Facebook.” They were sharing and distracted and always talking about it. So I hopped in. You just needed an email from .edu account. I had one. So I dug in and created an account. I watched interactions between students. (I had a rule where I would never “friend” a student, but I would accept friend requests. I would only choose to “friend” students after they graduated.) My husband would harass me for using Facebook. But I saw merit in the natural way people interacted with each other. I created a profile for my newsroom and tried to see what kind of interaction I could get in that space. Eventually Facebook created the opportunity to let brands build pages on the site. All of these developments grew while I was already in the space. I understood how it worked because I played with it on a personal level first.

I did the same thing with Twitter. I created a personal account and a newsroom account in June 2006. I had heard some people talking about the tool and I’d seen how easy it was to share information from your phone by just sending a text message. So I signed up. I would text messages and post quick 140 character messages. For my newsroom, I just posted an RSS feed of links. About a month or two into my personal use of Twitter, I realized how searchable the account was on Google and other search tools. I had used the names of my children in many posts and decided to delete the account so my name wouldn’t be linked to their names. But I returned to Twitter with a new account in October of 2006 after watching how Twitter was used to help relay information during a large group of wildfires in Southern California. I still follow the Los Angeles Fire Department thanks to that event. News and emergency officials used Twitter to share information about safety, the size of fires and rescue efforts. I started talking about journalism and mom stuff on a personal level, but I would call my son “the boy” and my daughter “the girl.” The first time I met up with Twitter followers in my town, they were so excited to meet my children and finally learn their real names.

Working with Twitter is a little trickier to understand how to use on a personal level than Facebook. I highly recommend trying Twitter with  a tool called TweetDeck. Most new Twitter users notice how it makes more sense to read and connect with people. You can search by terms, people and conversations called hashtags – these are chats where everyone includes a word with a hashtag in the front. When you follow the hashtag, you can jump in and converse or just peek in on the conversation. Some of my favorite hashtag conversations are #journchat, #wjchat and #smcedu

I didn’t get to this point where I could easily converse immediately. I warmed up to it. But I kept trying. I would @ a person and see if he or she would respond. I have made friends and colleagues through Twitter. I have learned about my community and found new connections to news consumers.

If you want to read some of my other posts about Twitter, feel free to click here to see my a webinar I did on Twitter a while back that still holds true. Also, I keep track of great tools for journalism that are free or really cheap. I have a great list of Twitter tools included!

I would not be linked to my town the way I am without the help of Twitter and Facebook. It is not the end-all-be-all of journalism. But it is a way to connect with many people who are not consuming my newsroom’s material in the traditional ways. And as my class full of 236 underclassmen become professionals, their communication and information collection styles are going to affect us all. It’s great to jump in before you’re playing catch up.

Checking in to locations… media… and ideas

Check in services first came to my attention when I attended the SXSW Interactive festival in 2009. Foursquare announced a cellphone-based tool that let you “check-in” to your location and let people know where you visited. The more you visited, the more credibility you would gain inside the game. If you check in enough to one spot, you become the Mayor. If you check in enough times based on Foursquare-prescribed settings, you earn “badges.” I have collected 44 so far since I first officially checked into Foursquare in October 2009. (I didn’t join during SXSW because it didn’t allow check ins in my town… In October of that year I started to pretend Chicago was Columbia because I just wanted to play with the technology. Foursquare opened up to all locations in January 2010.)

I like checking in. I love the badges. I love being a mayor. (I fluctuate mayorships between 23 and 26 locations.) I am really busy with work in my newsroom, campus and taking my kids all over the place for activities. I rack up the points, the badges and the mayorships. I love it. I also love the simplicity of sharing my location on Twitter or Facebook if I think there’s a reason behind it (to talk about a sale, concert, activity or something else my friends or followers would like). I’ve met people through Foursquare by checking in and finding other people at that location. I’ve met up with people I know by discovering they were in the same spot as I was just by checking in. It’s all a bit self-centered, but I enjoy the fun behind it. I’m obviously competitive and this is a simple competition to play throughout the day. During SXSW 2010, I discovered the joys of Gowalla and blogged my thoughts about it after the conference. I clearly love this stuff.

But I hit a snag last summer when I had knee surgery. I was stuck in a chair with ice on my leg. I couldn’t check in. But that’s when I discovered the point behind tools liks Miso and Get Glue. You have a chance to check into the media you consume (and with Get Glue, you can also check into the wine you drink) and earn badges. I’m a big Get Glue fan and I’ve earned many “stickers.” You can show them off on Twitter and Facebook just like the location-based tools, but Get Glue also encourages you to play with the site and you can earn real stickers. (Although I’ve requested my stickers a couple of times and they’ve never shown up at my house. I do know other Get Glue users who did get their stickers.) I loved the chance to continue with my checking in obsession but with different material. I instantly envisioned opportunities for broadcast news outlets to encourage people to watch the show live by offering stickers.

But rewind a few months earlier and the Huffington Post started offering badges of honor for people who interacted with the site at a certain level. The Type-A Parent site started doing the same thing recently where members can earn “achievements.”

I’m listing all of these earning opportunities because I think I might have an idea to help engage my local audience as we head into the 2012 presidential campaign season. I’ve written before about how I have learned from failure of my Smart Decision ’08 project where I combined newsrooms to deliver an incredibly deep amount of information leading up to the 2008 election. The biggest problem was I never found a way to engage with news consumer and I could not get people who were interested in educating themselves through out site to participate and share. But what if I worked with a community of engaged citizens and used their help to encourage other people in our market to join in with the help of social awards. These would be badges of honor that would prove a person is educating himself or herself leading up to the election. Those badges could be posted on Twitter, Facebook or even their personal websites. I think it could be a really fun way to share, collect and encourage news consumers to participate in an election project. I’m just throwing this idea out there… but I want to find someone who wants to play! This could grow into a really fun project.

QR Codes

There are SO many people who have blogged about QR codes and have used them a LOT more than me. But this evening, I spoke to a group of young journalists who were really interested in how I put together my current business card. My QR code that takes you to the About page of this website. I use a WordPress plugin that helps mobile users view this site in a phone-friendly format. My business card gets a biographical enhancement for anyone who has a QR code reader on their phone. I’m including a look a portion of my card to give you an idea of how I it looks.

The Missouri School of Journalism’s student association held a really smart event last night. Professors and professionals from the area met with students for a “Networking Social.” The idea was to meet and greet and get experience talking to people you don’t know. I spoke to a number of freshmen, sophomores and juniors from the journalism school. We had all kinds of conversations. I loved it. Everyone introduced themselves, gave me solid eye contact and seemed to pay attention to what I had to say. Somehow, my experience turned into a mini-career counseling session to the many students I met.

After meet and greet time ended, the “pros” sat on a panel and gave tips on how to network.

My main tips:

  • Don’t stare at your phone all the time during conferences. I’ve made more contacts walking in the hallways and meeting areas by looking up and making eye contact.
  • Don’t travel in packs at events. Separate. Don’t see the people you know during a conference until at the end of the day during a conference. That way you have no choice but to meet new people during sessions and hallway wandering time.
  • Find creative ways to meet people. I bring power strips to conferences that eat up battery power. So why not share? During the SXSW10 conference, I came up with one simple rule: If you plug into my power strip, you need to introduce yourself. No requirement to trade cards, no further networking required. But by the end of the conference, I was using the #powerfriends hashtag on Twitter. Anyone who happened to use my power strip could network with me on Twitter thanks to the hashtag. It was fun. And nerdy.
  • Follow up. One you’ve made all kinds of contacts, follow up with an email. Make notes on a notebook or even the person’s business cards so you remember who they are when you send that note. You never know when one of those new contacts can become your new best friend. (By the way, I don’t always successfully follow through with this tip. I wish I was better at this. I honestly think I need to schedule full days away from the newsroom just to focus on networking.)

The big question at the end of the event was: How the heck did you make that QR code on your business card?

Here’s how I did it. First I searched “QR code generator.” That’s how I discovered Kaywa‘s generator. All you have to do is type in the information you want added into the code. (In my case, it’s a link to my website.) You can choose which size QR code you would like to create. Once you create it, you can embed it into a website. Or you can just save the image. Once I had my image, I went to Moo to create my  new business card. The site lets you give it whatever look you want and you can attach an image on the details side. It isn’t that complicated, but it makes a clean looking business card that has a talking point the moment you hand it over to your new contact. (Plus it’s just fun to compare QR code readers and talk about tech tools that I like.)

Have fun!

Manning the election fort

My newsroom is buzzing around preparing for election night coverage. My nerd-self is buzzing about the cool ways you can participate in election day online. The one we’re looking forward to the most at KOMU is our CoverItLive chat we’re planning online tonight. We have experts, candidates and candidate representatives jumping in to give our online viewers a chance to ask questions and get a new perspective on election night. You’ll be able to view the chat starting at 7:00 p.m. CT.

If you use Twitter, there’s the Twitter Vote Report project. All you have to do is go to your polling place, tweet about your experience and add “#votereport” to your tweet to get registered onto a national map of polling places. The site is also asking you to participate even if you don’t use Twitter. You can send a text message starting with #votereport to 66937 (MOZES). Also, you can call 567-258-VOTE (8683) or 208-272-9024. There are even apps for iPhone and Android users.

Facebook is targeting all users ages 18 and up to vote. There’s a notice at the top of each person’s newsfeed reminding you to vote. You can also tell others you voted by posting a vote badge onto your wall. Facebook also created a voter page where you can search for your polling place using Google Maps.

To top things off, Foursquare has created a map that tracks the number of polling place check ins across the country. It created a special “I Voted” badge and website for members to add to their collection. To get the badge, all you have to do is say #ivoted into the Foursquare message. You can also post it to Twitter by adding #votereport to include it into the Twitter Vote Report at the same time. (By the way, if you like Gowalla, you can get an “I Voted” pin if you use the word “vote” or “voted” when you check in.)

These are just a few of the interactive ways to share your participation on election day. I hope you get a chance to go out and vote!

ONA “aha” moment

I’m attending the Online News Association conference this week… and I have an hour to decompress before the next meetup. I thought I’d brain dump a few things about the experience and lessons I learned today.

In the last session I attended, I sat near a woman who said she felt this was the first conference she attended where journalists are positive about the industry. One of my friends mentioned “journalism is NOT dead!” when he checked into the conference on Foursquare.

We’re feeling kind of good here.

To add to it, I feel really lucky I get to touch two worlds inside journalism – higher education and professional practice. I get to attend presentations and meet with really smart people while thinking along both of these worlds. What can I share with my students? What can I use in my newsroom? I leaves my brain spinning and with very little room to remember the names of people I’ve met. (Sorry.)

But I wanted to share an “aha” moment that I know a lot of other online journalists have already had… But it took me to attend a Google search presentation and then another panel on analytics to convince me to make a change in how I run my news website and how I teach. I need to teach trends.

Trends. Why am I behind on this? Oh, I knew it existed, but hadn’t spent time to think about its potential. I know I can’t use the excuse that I’m busy. All of our newsrooms are busy. I need to think about trends because there are search engines and tools out there that could HAND me access to more engagement with my audience. These are tools that could give my students the tools to get that next job and better engage with their audience when they move to a new community.

It’s a little “aha” moment where I had to wake myself out of the “analytics can tell me what I need to know” attitude.

I walked up to Will Sullivan (aka Journerdism) who is running for the ONA 2011 Board of Directors and is a 2010-11 Reynolds Journalism Institute fellow. He was at the St. Louis Post Dispatch before the fellowship and I casually asked if his paper was watching search trends. And of course he said yes. I’m so thankful I attended this event to remind me about tools that are out there that can help! Of course search statistics don’t mean everything. But it is something I should be doing for my newsroom to help move us forward and do our very best in covering our market.

It was a good “aha” moment.

(For those of you who are curious, I plan to spend more time with Google Trends. Also, check out the Google Insights page. That’s how I created the trends grid above. It shows the ebb and flow of search about the Online News Association since 2004 in the United States. It’s not the only tool out there, but it’s pretty fun to play with.)

A wonderful time of the year

It’s the week leading up to Homecoming at the University of Missouri. Back when I was a student here, it didn’t mean very much to me. It was annoying to see all of the crowds while I needed to study. But now that I’m a professor, I’ve found Homecoming is a powerful opportunity to bring together many of my former students and classmates.

This year is the seventh time I’ve taken advantage of the Homecoming event and invited as many people as possible to meet current students so they can share lessons learned in the “real world.” Last year, I even had a couple of students live blog the event so alumni could participate even if they couldn’t attend the event.

This year, I’m pondering on another idea… What if journalists (mostly alumni) shared their thoughts even in advance of our big Friday lunch bonanza so more lessons learned can go to our current students (and even others in the industry – we’re all looking to learn as we move along with our careers). So… if you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #journotips and share the lessons you’ve learned in your career. If you have a chance to attend my lunch, warning – ESPN GameDay has taken over my lunch location, so I’m working on a new one as soon as possible.