The Facebook Gravitational Effect

Originally posted at                       Over the next twelve months, the media industry is likely to be split between those who master the Facebook system and those who don’t. A decade or so  ago, for a print publication, going on the internet was seen as the best way to rejuvenate its audience; today, as web news audiences reach a plateau, Facebook is viewed as the most potent traffic booster.

If you are looking for the ultimate cyber black hole, point your browser toward Facebook. Beyond the 500 million users milestone, even more significant gravitational pull await the media industry. Here are facts to keep in mind.

Continue reading “The Facebook Gravitational Effect”

The Social Media Marketing Test

Ouch! Graeme Newell has again delivered a much-needed jab to the midsection.  If you contribute to your station’s social media efforts, at any level, you need to read Graeme’s new blog post The Social Media Marketing Test.  He points out what I’ve been telling partners and clients for months: Social Media is not a new promotion or ad platform. It is a relationship and all the rules of relationships apply.  Give freely, don’t dominate the conversation, Listen to what is being said back,  don’t rush the conversation.

outside the boxNewell writes: I often think that social media marketing has become an oxymoron.  Why?  Because so many companies try to gain entry into this new medium using the outdated tactics of traditional marketing.  Do you have a measurable goal for social media that goes beyond the mass-marketing mindset of “get more followers and make more sales?”

I have seen so many social media campaigns go wildly off course when they are executed using this Madison Avenue mindset.  Social media is not just another form of advertising.  We treat it like a monologue, when it is actually a dialogue.  Social media really is a new form of communication, not just another medium to be included in a traditional marketing plan.

For those of us who grew up in the traditional advertising world, we just can’t help ourselves.   We know that social media is two-way personal interaction, but we still tend to fall back to practiced one-way communication.  In the old ad world, copy space was scarce, and messages were short with succinct calls to action.  It was a world guided by the need to quickly bang the drum and get attention.

The true power of social media is its ability to persuade by socializing, not advertising.  It has a longer selling cycle. This more leisurely pace often chafes the hurried corporate agenda.  Impatience is its most beguiling temptation and most ruinous attribute.  Social media does not tolerate commercial exploitation and over-the-top selling. Yet, a casual read through many company social media pages quickly reveals a disingenuous, transparent selling agenda.  No one wants to be friends with a salesman working a crowd.

Successful social media campaigns have a deeper purpose and are all about human interaction.  Zappos uses it to showcase great customer service.  Ford & Molson use it put a human face on an impersonal company brand.  Dell uses it to battle a perception of bad customers service.

Put your social media posts to the test.  Evaluate your fan page.  These telltale signs show customers they are a sales mark to be harvested, not a friend to be wooed.

Take the Social Media Marketing Test

Getting Your Stories to Show Up on Google News – OTNB Idea

outside the boxSearch Engine Optimization. Everyone who posts content to your news site or channel must understand that:

CONTENT is King,

but KEYWORDS are the keys to the kingdom.

This video from Google lays out the schematic for Google News.
Among the “need-to-knows”:

  • Google News ranks stories from “trusted sources” higher. (determined by clickthrough rates of the source).
  • “Local” matters. Sources nearby are ranked higher than others who pick up a story from another region.
  • Attribution from trusted sources helps: (“the New York Times reported”).
  • Page Rank is less important for news articles.Google understands fresh content will have fewer views.
  • Include transcripts and descriptions with video. Google still is looking for relevant keywords.
  • Press Releases are ranked lower in Google News than news stories. (Question: Does using the phrase “news release” in a story lower its page ranking.
  • Google News provides SEO tips for publishers
    Google News provides SEO tips for publishers

    If you need a review of your web channel, or newsroom staff training, contact me. GRIFF

    When the big storm comes, change your site

    Steve Safran, with MediaReInvent, is out with this important weather reminder:

    With the onset of hurricane season, and the first significant storm threat we’ve faced this year, it’s important that you’re ready for the emergency. I don’t mean having plenty of supplies on hand or having lots of meetings. I mean for your web presence — especially that front page of yours. In a big, breaking news emergency, you have to change it.
    During the California wildfires in October 2007, KFMB did an outstanding job altering its website to give exclusive coverage to the fires.

    KFMB wildfire page

    Read the rest of Steve’s post at his blog.

    Reviews find ‘dangerous pattern’ in morning shows’ health coverage

    Coffee is good for your heart, coffee causes dementia, Orange Juice is good, Orange Juice is bad.  For years, I have coached writers and producers to view medical claims with skepticism.   Few things in life scare me more than a tease offering “new hope for women with breast cancer”,  or “Could this odd looking device end your back pain forever?”

    Morning Show Health Coverage needs Rx
    Morning Show Health Coverage needs Rx

    Now, monitoring the health claims on television has become a vocation.   HealthNewsReview is put together by University of Minnesota journalism professor Gary Schwitzer and his team of two dozen health-news reviewers.  Every producer in the country should be looking at this.

    More from Susan Perry at the MinnPost:

    I seldom watch the morning network news shows. For one thing, I’m usually at my computer in the early morning hours, writing this blog. But I also like to keep my blood pressure at a low, calm level. I find much of the news reporting on the morning news shows frustratingly shallow.

    Wanting to throw a cup of coffee at the TV set is not good, I believe, for one’s blood pressure.

    University of Minnesota journalism professor Gary Schwitzer and his team of two dozen health-news reviewers do watch the morning news shows — or, at least, the health segments on them. They then publish their reviews of those segments on Schwitzer’s indispensable (for health consumers as well as health journalists) online site HealthNewsReview.

    What they’ve found lately is disturbing, if not all that surprising. As Schwitzer wrote Monday in a “publisher’s note”:

    By reviewing health news coverage every day, we are able to see big pictures of clear patterns unfolding that the casual day-to-day news consumer may miss.

    One picture is quite clear. The morning health news segments on ABC, CBS and NBC do the following regularly:

    • Unquestioningly promote new drugs and new technologies

    • Feed the “worried well” by raising unrealistic expectations of unproven technologies that may produce more harm than good

    • Fail to ask tough questions

    • Make any discussion of health care reform that much more difficult

    He then lists some of the network news segments that back up those perceptions. Here are a few recent examples with Schwitzer’s comments: Continue reading “Reviews find ‘dangerous pattern’ in morning shows’ health coverage”

    Tips for Covering the economy

    Covering the economy? Who isn’t, these days? But it’s not always easy figuring out which business and financial stories to pursue, much less how to make sense of them.   RTNDA is offering assistance.  Here is a notice I got today from them. 

    Money Matters can help. This online resource from the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation and sponsored by NEFE, the National Endowment for Financial Education, offers story ideas, tipsheets and examples of what other news organizations are doing. We update it several times a week with fresh content that you can put to use immediately. We also provide links to background, online tools, and training opportunities for journalists in all media. We hope you’ll check in often to see what’s new. Please contribute your own suggestions and story examples by adding a comment to any page or by sending us an email.

    Earlier this year, The RTNDA Communicator Magazine featured a couple of my ideas.  Here is a link to that:

    TwitterDead – Schott’s Vocab Blog –

    TwitterDead – Schott’s Vocab Blog –

    Celebrities whose deaths have been erroneously reported in cyberspace.

    “Viruses may spread quickly on the Internet, but hoaxes can be pretty contagious, too,” Monica Corcoran wrote recently in The Times:

    In the same week that Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died, the Web became a hotbed of made-up death reports about various celebrities.

    Jeff Goldblum was the first to go. A headline on Google News read, “Jeff Goldblum Has Died, Falls to Death on Set!” Details were murky, but just specific enough to sound plausible. The story went that Mr. Goldblum, 56, had plummeted off the 60-foot Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand while filming a movie.

    What started out as a prank soon took on a life of its own. Twitter users retweeted the item, and the community became an echo chamber. Facebook members chimed in.

    By the week’s end, the celebrity death toll had turned into a conga line.

    Other “late” celebrities included: George Clooney, Miley Cyrus, Harrison Ford, Natalie Portman, Randy Jackson and Britney Spears.

    OTNB IDEA: Share Web Style Guides

    Every news operation should have a style guide, but as anyone whose ever written one can tell you, the writing can be frustrating and unrewarding.

    Aside from the obvious benefit of having everyone working off the same page, one of the biggest benefits of a style guide is the Writing Guidelines.

    In her blog, Advancing the Story: Broadcast Journalism in a Multimedia World, Deb Halpern Wenger says, “One of  the criticisms leveled at TV news sites is the hit-or-miss quality of the writing. Part of the problem, as many in the broadcast industry freely admit, is a discomfort with or lack of knowledge about writing in “print style.”

    Luckily, some forward thinking news organizations put their style guides online and they are generally loaded with help for punctuation, titles, capitalization rules, etc.

    Times of London:
    BBC (pdf):

    AP sells its style book:

    Why share this stuff? Dean Wright, Global Editor for Ethics, Innovation and News Standards says transparency, service, and geography are behind Reuters decision to publish their styleguide.

    “As we’ve seen over the past decade, the barriers to publishing have dropped so that anyone with an idea and a computer can be a publisher. But it’s also become clear that publishers have a varying standard of truth, fairness and style. Our handbook is a good place for budding journalists to begin. Reuters serves a global audience and the handbook recognises the cultural and political differences that our journalists face in reporting for the world.”