Connecting with the younger audience

As the United State’s most popular social network, Facebook is working with media outlets to help them leverage social media to expand their reach.

On Tuesday, Facebook’s Justin Osofsky gave a presentation at a Hacks/Hackers event in New York City discussing the use of Facebook’s social sharing features. On slide 13 of his presentation — which is embedded below — he showed a graph comparing the age of users clicking like buttons and newspaper subscribers. The median age of people clicking the like button is 34 and the median age of newspaper subscribers is 51.

Facebook  also created a media section on its website and wrote an posting titled “The Value of a Liker” to further encourage media outlets to take advantage of Facebook’s ability to reach a younger audience.

Newspaper usage at Iowa State

A recent article by Bill Krueger published by the Poynter Institute suggested that college students are more likely to read the print edition of their school’s newspaper. I went out on campus and found people reading the Iowa State Daily to see if they also preferred the print edition.

Awakening to a new set of possibilities

I’ve recently reached a crossroads in my life. I started my journalism education with the intention of working in print for the rest of my life. Fast forward two years and so much has changed.

Let me preface this post by saying I am still very much in love with print. I still read a newspaper daily, but I am no longer sure that working on the print side of a news organization is in my future.

In the last year I have fallen in love with the innovation and the possibilities that the internet presents us as journalists.

We are no longer bound by the number of inches available in the print edition. We now have limitless space — which we should use constructively, just because we can publish a 200 inch story doesn’t mean we should. We have endless options for engaging and openly communicating with our community. The people who read our papers — or watch our programs — are no longer idle observers in the news process, they have become active participants.

I don’t know what the future will bring and I still know that I would be happy working on the print side, but the allure of constant change, interaction with the community and endless possibilities will no longer go unnoticed on my radar.

I have begun capturing part of the allure and am pleased to report that as of August 2010, I have stopped focusing on the print product at the Iowa State Daily and am pleased to be serving as the online editor. I even hosted my first live chat this week as the Daily held its annual editors meeting with Iowa State University President Gregory Geoffroy.

Kill the feed already

Congratulations (insert name of news organization here).

You joined Twitter, but if you enabled Twitterfeed or RSS integration your success stops there. If you turned on these services you’re failing to utilize all that Twitter has to offer.

Using Twitterfeed or RSS integration means you are using Twitter as a broadcast medium. It’s not. It’s so much more and you’re failing to use it to its fullest potential.

First off, the tweets these services send out often leave something to be desired. They rarely leave room for traditional retweets. They usually just spit out a headline and the start of a story. Cutoff headlines and leads are also a common problem, not to mention an annoyance for your followers. What about mentioning that awesome video your staff created to go with the story?

Second, consider the timing. Automatic services usually have a delay of about an hour.  So, you need to think about what time your content is going online. I have seen several newspapers posting  several stories around 1 a.m., which means their tweets are going out around 2 a.m. How many of your followers will be checking Twitter at 2 a.m.? Improving your workflow could counter this problem, but it doesn’t reverse all the negatives of an automated service.

Another problem with automated services is that often send multiple tweets in a short amount of time. I don’t know about you, but when I see 10 tweets in three minutes from one organization I get annoyed and tend to skip over all of them.

What about crowdsourcing? Are you following important leaders in your community? Twitter is a two-way communication channel. Start listening. Find out what’s going on in your community, find sources for your next big project or get more information on the latest breaking news event. Best yet, interact with your community. Talk to the people using your service, find ways to improve and connect with them.

I know it’s a lot of work to turn off the automation, but the benefits will make it worth your effort. Look at other news organizations, find ones that aren’t using automatic services and talk to the people in charge of their social media accounts, experiment and find a way to make Twitter work for you.

If you’re looking for some tips look at the various training materials Steve Buttry has prepared, read JouranlismNext by Mark Briggs or look for seminars hosted by groups like SPJ, Poynter or your local press association.

Internship Catch-22

I wrote this post for a class blog a few months back.

Since then, a lot has changed. While I still stand behind my belief that in this day and age most journalism students will have to work two internships to satisfy graduation requirements, there are exceptions. My hard work and numerous applications paid off and earlier this spring I was offered two different internships for the summer. I also want to send kudos to a close friend and co-worker, Jessie Opoien, who will be interning with the money unit of CNN in New York.

I will be starting Monday as a copy editing intern for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus in the Quad-Cities. I am thrilled to have found an internship that satisfies my graduation requirements and will help me grow as a journalist. I will probably post some of the things that I learn on here and I promise to start posting regularly again.

Will my job still exist?

For my thoughts on how my views of my future in journalism have changed over the last year and a half, check out this blog post I wrote for a journalism class.

Customer service a tweet away

Tired of listening to cheesy hold music for hours? With more people using Twitter, customer service departments have started following suit.

In my previous blog post, I discussed how building an online community around your brand also has customer service benefits, but what if your only goal is to provide customer service via Twitter?

Providing customer service via Twitter is a complicated task, but it centers around your responsiveness to your customers.

Searching for and promoting your brand on twitter are essential. Your customers need to know you are on Twitter.

The second key is responsiveness. If people are tweeting frustration about your brand and these tweets go unanswered, the view of your brand will decrease.

Take a look at Seesmic’s Support, @askseesmic.

A Twitter user was frustrated at a change to the way the Seesmic application handles retweets and tweeted the following:

@BrookeLogan09: Seesmic i HATE u for messing w/ the RT system

Seesmic responded quickly with:

@askseesmic: @BrookeLogan09 which app is this for? Let me know here to listen and help! thanks! ^cw

About six tweets and 30 minutes later @BrookeLogan09 had her problem solved and gratefully tweeted:

@BrookeLogan09: Seesmic team is THE BEST!!!!! —-> @askseesmic

Seesmic not only found a tweet that wasn’t directed at them, but solved the problem in a public manner. Anyone can see this exchange and note that Seesmic is responsive to the needs of their customers.

The one downfall is if you fail to help a customer, you are likely to get called out on it.

Last week, Claire Celsi, a PR professional from Des Moines, Iowa, called Dell out on the numerous problems she had with various products.

Her first tweet on this issue expressed her total frustration at the situation she was in.

@clairecelsi: Computer repair guy just called. 6 month old, lightly used Dell laptop blew a hard drive, under warranty. Dell sucks. DELL SUCKS

Over the next few days Celsi continued to tweet about her situation, even mentioning @dell. Without success she directed tweets at @dell and @teamblackhawk, Dell’s sales team for home users.

Eventually, @schippers mentioned that @lionelatdell may be able to help and Lionel reached out to her.

Celsi’s experience transitioned to e-mail and you can follow how her story turned out in her blog post here.

While Celsi’s experience may not be typical, it highlights the need to actively monitor your brand on Twitter because if you don’t the results will linger in cyberspace forever.

Here are some of the other companies I found providing customer service via Twitter: AT&T, Comcast, Constant Contact, CoTweet (who also supplies an application to help companies manage their Twitter accounts) and HootSuite (another maker of a Twitter application for businesses).

Do you have stories about getting help via Twitter? Comment and let me know.