web analytics

Bnet.com discusses businesses dropping websites to concentrate on social media sites like Facebook.

What about journalists and news media?

It makes sense for some businesses to move: Companies like Starbucks and Coca-Cola get up to 80 times as many Facebook page visits as website visits.

These are mass-market companies running one-size-fits-all campaigns. Although Facebook has begun wooing journalists, it isn’t the best place to be.

This may change.

Publishers won’t move media properties to social media sites in a hurry because it would destroy their advertising-led business model. And those publishers using paywalls will be even less interested.

Bnet runs through the pros and cons of businesses switching to social media. Here’s one reason to move:

Easy to acquire. Clicking a “like” button on Facebook or “follow” button on Twitter is a lot easier than filling in the sign up form on a web page. So it is no surprise that many companies find it easier to build a large following on social media platforms.

And here’s a good reason to stick with a website:

Reach all your audience. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, or other services which might reach large segments of your customers, your own website is available to 100 percent of them. That is, as long as your website has been optimized to work on a mobile phone.

I’d like to add another vote in favour of websites. Companies like Facebook are constantly changing their rules of engagement. It is a movable feast. On the other hand, websites are as stable and unchanging as you want them to be.

Is It Time to Shut Down Your Website? | BNET.

The American Society of News Editors lists the 1o best social media practices. The main document is a 50 page PDF with samples and short, case studies.

You probably don’t have time to read all that so here are the top ten points with comments.

  1. Traditional ethics rules still apply online.
    – This separates real journalists from bloggers and other citizen journalists. Ethics are part of your personal brand as a journalist. Forget them at your peril.
  2. Assume everything you write online will become public.
    – there are private channels on most social media tools, use them if you need to, but remember people may still broadcast them later.
  3. Use social media to engage with readers, but professionally.
    – Just because other people are chatty, use bad language and behave badly doesn’t mean you have to. Bad language may only diminish your brand at the edges, but you never did have much margin for error.
  4. Break news on your website, not on Twitter.
    – Apart from anything else, there’s no simple way to turn a tweet into money. At least web traffic may attract advertising revenue.
  5. Beware of perceptions.
    – They are not reality. Remember some of the tweets you see are from professional spinners who are masters of the realm of perceptions.
  6. Independently authenticate anything found on a social networking site.
    Just because someone says something, it ain’t necessarily so.
  7. Always identify yourself as a journalist.
    – I’m not sure how practical this is. My profile says I’m a journalist.  Most people who know me understand I’m a journalist.
  8. Social networks are tools not toys.
    – That doesn’t mean they can’t be fun.
  9. Be transparent and admit when you’re wrong online.
    – I’ve become better at this lately. I thought it was to do with getting older and wiser, but maybe it’s a function of the technology and more accountable news channels. For me it’s one of the best social media practices I’ve learnt to adopt.
  10. Keep internal deliberations confidential.
    – doh!

Good riddance to Google Wave.

I never understood what the fuss was about.

Wave may have been clever programming, but it didn’t do anything other applications already did better. Google has better tools for most Wave tasks.

It did instant messaging although Google already had tools that do the same job.

Wave did communications. Why bother when Gmail is so much better?

Wave was a collaboration tool. Who needs that when collaborating on Google Docs is so easy?

There was a social media twist to Wave, but Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin are all simpler to use and way more polished. Although they each come with problems.

Wave had a bad user interface and was difficult to use.

More importantly, it was difficult to understand what was going on and what one was supposed to do.

That said, Google Wave had some success.

A month ago I had a conversation with Australian journalist Renai LeMay who talks about Twitter journalism.

He has written a few posts on the subject on his blog and elsewhere. The best jumping off point for new readers is Twitter’s impact on media and journalism.

LeMay is a visionary. He has a great grasp of where news journalism and online media may go.

In my earlier post Can Twitter be journalism? I agreed with him in principle. However, I believe only a fraction of journalists use Twitter as an interactive news media.

Twitter journalism broadcast or engagement?

Most use it as a broadcast medium – like an RSS feed. A number have Twitter accounts, but say little of value. Perhaps 40 percent can be said to be serious Twitter journalists.

I may have been overly optimistic bout this estimate. Yesterday the Online Journalism Blog reported on how British newspapers use Twitter. In Newspapers on Twitter – how the Guardian, FT and Times are winning Malcolm Coles writes;

“newspapers have a total of 1,068,898 followers across their 120 official Twitter accounts – with the Guardian, Times and FT the only three papers in the top 10.”

This sounds encouraging. Buried further down the story is the comment:

“Out of 120 accounts, just 16 do something other than running as a glorified RSS feed. The other 114 do no retweeting, no replying to other tweets etc”

Coles also points out the newspaper sites do little in the way of following.

Cluetrain has barely stopped here

Both these points apply to the bulk of Twittering publications in Australian and New Zealand. My guess is journalists are encouraged by managers to promote their stories using the technology, but are actively discouraged from replying and retweeting.

There’s a precedent for this. After all, hardly any online publications in the region ever link to titles owned by other publishers – which means they are missing the point of online publishing somewhat. Until publishers encourage reporters and editors to engage with their audiences, they are going to miss out on the potential of Twitter.

Of course, the journalists who do this best will become media brands in their own right, which will worry the bean counters. But that’s another story…