Let’s call it a Twitter comeback

In less than two weeks, the new President of the United States brought back a social media outlet that was getting stagnant: Twitter.

I was one of the earlier users of the social media tool. I’ve documented how I’ve used it many times here on this website and in others places including AARP’s blog and YouTube channel. I’ve always seen why the tool is useful for communications. But through the years, I have watched as Twitter did not protect people whose careers and lives were threatened and at times destroyed with the help of anonymous, angry people. I watched many influential women and men stepping back a bit from using the tool because of intense attacks or threat of attacks.

But enter President Donald J. Trump. He has joined a list of public figures who have decided to use social media as the major platform to distribute information and opinion. Twitter reports there are 313 million monthly users. 79 percent of those users live outside the United States. About 38 percent of those users visit Twitter daily. With the current political climate, the number may be higher.

I watched a lot of new people join Twitter recently along with a lot of people who joined but never really used it. My Facebook stream was full of people asking for help as new users. That’s why I decided I wanted to share my years of Twitter use and Twitter trainings to more people. Tonight, I held my first of what may become many Facebook Live lessons. I figured Facebook Live would reach people who are much more comfortable in that space versus the less friendly-feeling world of Twitter.

I broadcast a Twitter training live on the Born Just Right Facebook page since it’s easier to broadcast live from a computer on a brand page versus a personal page.

Using a simple streaming tool, I shared a presentation from my Google Drive and toured Twitter live. It wasn’t perfect but I’m excited to get live lessons rolling. I hope to offer regular tips and tricks. I also hope I’ll hear from more new users with questions that help me tailor future lessons.

Twitter Hack Tips

If you use Twitter, you’ve probably seen messages and tweets that don’t seem right. They include links with generic encouragements or shocking statements that make you want to click on the link. Recently, I’ve seen more and more people across Twitter with these type of messages. The most recent type of hacked accounts auto-send tweets to the people they follow. The messages look like this. (Take note: anytime I see a suspicious tweet, I let the person know so they can fix it as soon as possible.)

If you see any tweet or direct message that looks like this, do not click on the link. If you see a colleague or a friend with a similar tweet, it can’t hurt to give them the heads up that their account may be hacked.

If you think your account was hacked, go to Twitter.com on a browser (you can do something similar on your Twitter app if you only have a phone with you):

1. Log out of Twitter
2. Click “sign in”
3. Click “forgot password”
4. Type in the email affiliated with your Twitter account
5. Follow the steps in your email to create a new password
6. You should be back to normal.

If you were hacked and you sent out public tweets with bad links, it can’t hurt to acknowledge your account was hacked, apologize and feel free to delete any tweets that include hacked messages. That will help prevent others from clicking on the links.

You can also add an additional layer of protection to your Twitter account if you’re willing to connect it to a phone. Here’s how:

1. Go into your Settings on Twitter.com
2. Click on the “Security and Privacy” link on the left-hand side
3. You can choose two options to protect yourself from someone else logging into your account:
   a. Send login verification requests to your cellphone
   b. Send login verification requests to your Twitter phone app
4. This will help verify you are the real account owner looking to change a password on your account. All of these steps will help better protect your use of Twitter and prevent any of your followers from possibly clicking on a hacked link.

All of these steps will help better protect your use of Twitter and prevent any of your followers from possibly clicking on a hacked link.

Tape It Down

I spent the last week visiting the AARP headquarters where I work. I’m a teleworker based in Columbia, Missouri tasked with helping train the entire organization about social media. Those tasks range from understanding the ethics and etiquette behind the use of social media to ways to use it effectively on a personal and professional level. It’s a vast task that I’m trying to do in as logical a manner as possible.

The one resounding theme I taught as I met with groups from all kinds of different portions of the organization was: You need to organize your social media usage or else you will feel completely overwhelmed. I explain it like this:

When you tape down and organize your social media, it is less overwhelming and stressful.

Tape Down Your Social Media!

Imagine you’re in charge of painting a room. You have two options: Tape down the windows and edges or just try to do your best to not paint on the window frames, ceiling and crown molding. Taping down is tedious but when you finally get to painting, it’s a fast and simple (non-stressful) process. Painting without tape is slow, tedious and stressful.

Social media is no different.

If you tape social media down, you have set up an organizational structure that helps you track information that matters to you to do your job and improve your connection to information that may be personally important. If you don’t set up lists, RSS feeds, search alerts and more, you will feel overwhelmed and stressed.

Setting up lists, feeds, alerts and more can be tedious and annoying. But it is the best way to get your work done without feeling like you’re drowning in a sea of information.

My co-worker, friend and managing editor of the AARP blog, Alejandra Owens (@frijolita) is working on a series on her blog called #GSD (or Get Sh#t Done) and lists a great collection of ways to tape your social media down. She’s also shares how she personally stays up to date and organized. I am actually in the process of re-working my organizational use of social media since I changed jobs. The one thing I can say is no matter what you do in your career, being a part of social media is so much easier when you build a structure to help with how you manage time. Take a look at this presentation I’ve given a handful of times on time management and let me know how you keep social media taped down.

Social Media Time Management from Jen Reeves

Groups are your secret to community

This post was originally written for Dubtizzle on 8.28.12:
Facebook Pages are a great way to extend your public relationship for yourself or your brand. Facebook Subscribe lets you share your personal posts in a public way. As your news feed fills with branding and professional talk (kind of like when Twitter feeds automatically appeared on LinkedIn), you may lose track of actual conversations. There was a time when you could post a question on Twitter or Facebook and you could get a stream of input. It just is not as easy as it used to be.

Mind you, my streams are loud. I have 1,786 friends on Facebook and like or subscribe to more than 2,000 brands or people. When I post a public item, my 50,000+ subscribers have a chance to comment. I follow 5,649 brands and people on Twitter from years and years of using the service. (I started in 2007.) Clearly, my most dominant social media tools are “loud” with nonstop chatter.

You don’t need that many people and brands to feel overwhelmed and watch conversations disappear into the social ether.

Enter Facebook Groups. Sure, there are LinkedIn Groups but where are you when you want to build conversations with customers or clients? How can you grow a relationship with your most committed brand supporters? If Facebook comes to mind, you’re probably right. The difference between Groups and Pages? Groups give you a more personal space to talk to a members-only collection of people.

Groups have different settings depending on how private or public you want your conversations. Secret groups are invite-only. Closed groups are request or invite only but the group names are searchable on Facebook. And then there are open groups. Open groups are searchable and anyone can join. Groups become a more directed conversation than the type of posts you add on a fan page. (Pages use the kind of posts that encourage conversation but also likes and shares.)

There’s another secret you may not know about Facebook groups. Not only is it a great way to create an extra relationship with potential brand ambassadors, you can find groups that benefit your career as well. There are groups for every topic you can think of. Many are focused on career-minded topics that help benefit the members. Other groups help people of similar careers share stories of success and failure. Groups can even be created just to help manage a project.

Let’s say you are a photography business and you want to grow a more personal relationship with your customers or potential customers. Using your Facebook page, you can invite your fans to join an open or closed group where you can share special tips and answer photography questions. (A closed group would require you to approve member requests.) From that group, you may find a small number of super fans who want to spread the word about your business. You could invite them to a special secret group where you can offer special deals or tips. You could even brainstorm ways to spread the word about your awesome business.

Facebook groups are one of the few places where I find I’m participating in excellent debates, conversations and updates on parts of my job that matter to me. At times, it may seem like it’s a spot where only the “cool kids” hang out. But the real power behind it is when you can’t find a group you want to join, just make one of your own. Invite friends, colleagues or clients. It just depends on what you want to get out of the group experience. If there’s any piece of advice to make a Facebook group experience really work for you, it’s to just try it and make it your own.

Thinking back on Twitter

There was a time in history not long ago when Twitter was new. Nowadays it so not new that it doesn’t even need a “T’ as a logo. Twitter updated its logo and made it just a bird. Heck, Twitter even made a pretty video about it:


I used to blog about Twitter all of the time. Interestingly enough, it’s gone mainstream in most parts of the United States… even in portions of the world. Funny. It still hasn’t really caught on in the middle of Missouri where I work. There is a committed group of people using it. There are lots of people who use it as a news and information feed. But where I work and deliver news, Facebook is so dominant.

Maybe because of my market’s use of Twitter, I’ve evolved in the way I use it. Maybe it’s because I follow 5700+ accounts. Maybe because I started too early in Twitter’s history and I haven’t been able to properly build lists. I don’t know. But the way I use Twitter the most is through hashtag-based conversations and conversations I or someone else initialized. I don’t get a chance to just scan the feed as much as I used to. I kind of miss those days. Actually… I have my old scan habits with the way I Instagram and Tumblr. I love keeping up with the people I follow and interact with photos and my Tumblr list is still small enough I can keep up with it. Lately I feel more personally connected to my IG family than my Twitter ones. And no, my market is not a heavy Instagram user just yet. But it has potential. It’s young. After almost five years in the Twitter space, it’s not growing rapidly for my news environment. I wish I could say better of it. Twitter was one of the first spaces I discovered online community around the world. I don’t plan to quit it. But I know it’s changed and I don’t know if it will ever be as much of a go-to network as it is in places like New York City and Seattle. I wonder how many other people feel this way.

Broadcaster versus Engager

A friend of mine in the social journalism world mentioned in a blog post how he isn’t an engager… because it isn’t possible. He’s a broadcaster inside social media. And that made me think. Social media has grown because it’s all about sharing and talking and learning. Why can’t media brands be a part of that and not just broadcast information? It’s a challenge I’ve focused on for years in my career as a journalist and teacher. That dual job gives me so many different perspectives. When I think about what I want to teach and what I want to accomplish in the newsroom, most of the time my goals match. I want to use my work in the newsroom as an example to my students. That motivation leads me to spend a lot of time thinking about what is the right balance between being a broadcaster and an engager.

Here’s what I am seeing: Broadcast journalism-focused students really understand how to broadcast content across multimedia platforms. But I think we need to teach the concept of engagement and listening earlier in the journalism school experience. I have a lot to do to try and encourage, teach and execute a comfortable engagement process for my young journalists to reach our news consumers. To me, engagement is why I got into this journalism business. The idea of connecting to the consumer and helping them better understand where they live and the decisions they make in life is thrilling. Technology makes that goal SO much more real than when I dreamed of it in the early 90’s. Broadcasting content inside social media is just the beginning. There are so many more ways to listen and learn after a newsroom shares information. One of my favorite ways to listen on social sites these days is a site called Kurrently. I stumbled onto a few additional facts beyond a new item our newsroom covered this past week.

In the KOMU 8 newsroom, we had a really difficult coverage of a three year old who died allegedly at the hands of his mom’s boyfriend. According to investigators, initially the boyfriend and mom staged a hit and run accident to try and hide the abuse. The details from the boy’s death was released and it’s all really heartbreaking. The small town where the boy lived had a small candlelight ceremony with a low turnout a day after his death. Comments on the KOMU.com site had a couple of people mention how they did not know about the vigil but they plan to attend an event next week. I hadn’t heard about the vigil until I read through the comments. That tipped me off to do some more searching. I used Kurrently and searched using the boy’s name. Almost immediately, I discovered a photography studio that has been taking yearly pictures of the little boy since he was a baby. The studio put out an album of photos in his honor on Facebook. More heartbreak. An hour or two later, mentions of the vigil started appearing in public Facebook posts. One person posted details, names of organizers and a phone number to one of the organizers. Our newsroom did a story on the event it over the weekend and we’ll be at the vigil later this week.

Instead of considering the job done after our newsroom broadcasted the details, I listened. I searched. I know our market wants to continue to learn more about this situation. According to our chartbeat statistics, it remains a top search item on our site. Simple mentions can go a long way by searching, listening and using tools that help.

The next step is taking the knowledge gained from social media and improve our engagement with our news market. There are ways to do that, no matter what size newsroom you’re juggling. We all are able to broadcast across more platforms and listen in new ways… What about using those skills to follow through with the true purpose of social media and engage? KOMU 8’s U_News show is one way we’re trying to merge traditional broadcasting with engagement. Our audience has a chance to jump into a web cam chat during our 30 minute newscast. We try to use our traditional broadcasting skills to offer our news market the chance to engage with other viewers or to let the truth come out on important issues. We can’t just broadcast our requests for engagement. We have to do the follow through. (By the way, one of my favorite people who talks about engagement is Joy Mayer. I highly recommend reading her insights!)


The overwhelming rush of social

As I teach and lead a newsroom at the same time, it’s incredible to think of the number of ways newsrooms can deliver information. When a reporter goes out to a story, we expect him or her to deliver information from a cellphone via Twitter with text, photos and video. We expect a written news story for the web along with possibly additional information and documentation. Then they must get multiple versions of a broadcast story  that may include on air time on the set or from a live location. That is a lot to do for any person who is at any point in a career as a journalist.

It’s so fascinating how I continue to help coordinate and expand the roles of journalists in my newsroom. It’s also led me to expand my attentions. I no longer have one central place (like this site) where I share all of my knowledge. I have Twitter (which I’ve used since October 2006), Facebook (since March 2005), LinkedIn (since April 2006), my Google+ page (which is new), Facebook journalism and blogging groups, my course Facebook page, my course Tumblr, my course blog, and my advocacy site and its many social outlets. (Oh, and I love Instagram.) I juggle all of these resources while encouraging my students to focus on one work brand (KOMU or KBIA) and one personal brand (on a portfolio to help them get a job).

It’s no wonder my brain feels busy all of the time.

With my experimentation of so many different tools, I wouldn’t recommend this mode of sharing. Keep it centralized as you build your identity online. Leave comments and share links of information that come from smart people you want to know and talk to. Write strong blog posts and find others who will be interested in what you have to say. You can’t assume they’ll come to you and learn. If you snag a job that lets you experiment… that’s when things can start to get messy. The important thing is to find ways to report back the lessons you’ve learned. I’m lucky to have a class and a newsroom where I can do that. I also get to share my knowledge in spaces like #wjchat and at local meetings for hacks/hackersIRE.

Of course, there’s this space as well. And it feels good to get back to sharing my knowledge here again.

(Photo courtesy of Aramil Liadon/Flickr)

UPDATE: I guess I should clarify after reading my student Max’s blog post. This is what happens when I dump the thoughts in my head. I juggle a thousand different social media tools for many, many different purposes. When I say focus, I mean focus on yourself, your interests and experiment for yourself (a portfolio and social media energy for yourself) and your career (managing multiple social tools for your workplace) before you start adding all kinds of other projects.

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.

Twitter Talk: Why you should “get” it

I know Twitter will not be used by every person in the world. I’ve never expected that to happen. But for a very long time (search Twitter on this page, and you’ll see years of me bringing it up) I’ve felt the need to explain why journalists should use it.

I’m still talking about it… and not everyone believes me. Unfortunately, the more mainstream Twitter gets, the bigger mistakes people make when they take Twitter information and twist it around without even knowing they missed the point.

Here’s the perfect example… and it’s pretty terrible because New York Times journalist (who really knows her stuff around social media) Jennifer Preston was slammed by a conservative writer who claimed she was biased by retweeting a person running social media for the White House. Preston created a really helpful Storify that explains what happens: Continue reading →

SXSW – Real live Twitter

I’m attending my third South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas for the next week. I’m lucky to have a job that helps pitch in on an expensive but incredibly engaging experience with tens of thousands of people who tend to think and interact in social media like I do.

So many people think like me that I had a realization today about this conference: SXSW is like a live Twitter experience.

Before you laugh, let me explain.

In Twitter, you can follow conversations and join in at any time. It’s a fun way to meet new people and share thoughts. It isn’t rude to interrupt. It’s common to just talk. That type of experience happens all the time at SXSW.

After I talked about the SXSW experience with a first-time-to-SXSW friend who traveled to Austin with me today, I had this big aha moment. We spent two hours in the car driving to the airport discussing the conference experience. By that point, I was in “SXSW mode” and caught myself randomly talking socially to someone in the bathroom as if I was already in Austin. There is this flow of conversation here that you can’t have anywhere else. It’s the ebb and flow of ideas that can course through every nerdy location across this downtown area.

I brought this up to a few people after I had picked up my badge and became and official conference attendee. They seemed to agree with my vision.

SXSW is a live Twitter feed. And if people I randomly talk to at this conference don’t like it… Well, they’re missing out on the core fun of this event! #SAST