Social Media 201 at #UNITY12: Useful Links

A big thank you to the two Angies — Angela Kim of Yahoo! and Angie Goff of NBC Washington — for paneling it with me today at the UNITY Journalism convention. UNITY brings together the minority journalism organizations for one giant confab every four years, and I’m really happy to have moderated this (hopefully practical) talk about tools you can use to better engage with your audiences online.

Links and examples from the presentation:

Yahoo! Homes on Pinterest
An example of how Yahoo! developed an identity on Pinterest.

Marketplace: Your Neighborhood Through Your Eyes
A Public Insight Network project using photos to tell a story. Any news organization can get involved with the Public Insight Network by contacting American Public Media.

Yahoo! Sports on Instagram
An example of what you can do with your reporting team’s photos on Instagram.

Down But Not Out
How Yahoo! Finance aggregated user-generated content on a simple, free Tumblr.

Social Cam
Allows you to update a story in the field or set the scene before a liveshot for your Twitter/Facebook audience. You can also capture moments during commercial breaks.

Demonstrating Free Apps – “App of The Day”
To better integrate tech products with your television audience, most newsrooms have the capability to allow talent to introduce and demonstrate free apps.

Encourage the audience to interact with you ask questions. Also builds your own social media brand.

Google + and Google Hangout Tutorial
KOMU-TV in Columbia, Missouri rocks their Google+ presence. This quick video tutorial shows viewers how to get on Google+ and participate in a hangout.

Questions? Feedback? Leave a message in the comments or tweet me.

SXSW 2011: Community Engagement Strategies

The actual panel is called “Community Engagement Strategies: Rational Debate or Herding Cats?” The panelists are from Drew Curtis from Fark, Erik Martin from Reddit and Tucker Max (you know who he is.) “I’m usually concerned about offending people on panels, but I’ve got Tucker with me, so I’m safe,” Curtis said.


Max: Something real and tangible that accomplishes something that’s of value to people’s lives. Rotary club, web activist group “Anonymous”, etc. A group of people who have common goals and are accountable to each other to take action that adds to people’s lives.


If all you care about are numbers, and you don’t care if it’s shit, then the community is useless. If your comments suck and detract from your website, people won’t want to go there. Chicago Tribune or Sun Times just shut down their comments section on their comments pages.


How are the comments sorted? Chronological or reverse chron? Who replied to my comment? Where are my comments? Why I am hitting “recommend” when it does nothing? What is the point of recommendations if they don’t affect the order or filter of the comments?


Strong community sites have FAQs or user agreement pages that are updated frequently, linked out, actively something you can refer people to. They’re user-centered.

Writers should participate in comments. Interact with the audience, update their stories based on comments. “If they’re not bothering to also communicate, then why do you need to even have that section.” Read your feedback. Roger Ebert goes into people’s comments and responds to them. He’s going to argue about movies, spends the time and does it. So his blog is so great.

Care about quality comment sections and the community of commenters. Rageful comment sections give you cheap traffic, and so then mainstream media take less chances. Panelists feel like news organizations dependent on ad revenue have no incentive to improve user experience. “Improving user experience costs them money,” said Max, about news orgs that don’t prioritize user engagement.

Re: Moderation. Have published rules and your unpublished norms. What’s your ethic? Nice? Dickish? Communities are like five-year-olds. Whatever baselines you set, you have to enforce them. The guidelines you set will create the community that you want.


Some people need to have an honest debate without using their real name, but Max argues having ID attached to comments is important for “meaningful debate.”

“Do you see a lot of meaningful debates in the comments sections of political blogs?” Max asks. “What’s the signal to noise ratio? It’s not worth it for me, negotiating with all the angry rageful trolls to find something useful. You cna clearly have a good community where everyone’s anonymous, but toward creating meaningful discourse in a comments section of a political site, name and face are key. Then there’s at least a modicum of accountability behind it. This person can now look at what I look like and know where I might be coming from. I don’t feel like it’s a crucial for a community, but it depends on what kind of community you want to have. You want to have a meaningful debate, you gotta hold people accountable for their opinions.”