Tag Archives: social networking

20 recent hyperlocal developments (June-August 2011)

Ofcom’s Damian Radcliffe produces a regular round-up of developments in hyperlocal publishing. In this guest post he cross-publishes his latest presentation for this summer, as well as the background to the reports.

Ofcom’s 2009 report on Local and Regional Media in the UK identified the increasing role that online hyperlocal media is playing in the local and regional media ecology.

New research in the report identified that

“One in five consumers claimed to use community websites at least monthly, and a third of these said they had increased their use of such websites over the past two years.”

That was two years ago, and since then, this nascent sector has continued to evolve, with the web continuing to offer a space and platform for community expression, engagement and empowerment.

The diversity of these offerings is manifest in the Hyperlocal Voices series found on this website, as well as Talk About Local’s Ten Questions feature, both of which speak to hyperlocal practitioners about their work.

For a wider view of developments in this sector, you may want to look at the bi-monthly series of slides I publish on SlideShare every two months.

Each set of slides typically outlines 20 recent hyperlocal developments; usually 10 from the UK and 10 from the US.

Topics in the current edition include Local TV, hyperlocal coverage of the recent England riots, the rise of location based deals and marketing, as well as the FCC’s report on The Information Needs of Communities.

Feedback and suggestions for future editions – including omissions from current slides – are actively welcomed.

UK newspapers add 213,892 Twitter followers in a month

National UK newspapers had 1,471,936 Twitter followers at the start of September – up 213,892 or 17% on August 1 (when they had 1,258,044 followers).

You can see the September figures (orignally posted here) below or here.

I have more Twitter statistics here.

The age of “My” news

The Huffington Post went social yesterday. Well, more social than it already was.

Personalize, personalize, personalize, said the world of Web 2.0 to news organizations, and they did. Last year, the New York Times came up with TimesPeople, so users could recommend their favorite articles to other readers, and post links directly to social networks such as Facebook. The Washington Post launched MyWashingtonPost, which basically functions like a glorified RSS feature. MyTelegraph, perhaps the most impressive customization service from a newspaper, allows people to set up profile pages, form elaborate networks with fellow readers, and even blog on the Telegraph’s site.

Almost ever since Salon started bought the then-groundbreaking “Well” online community in the eighties, new media entities have been about building online communities around their sites. And news organizations realized–albeit slowly–that the best way to build a loyal reader base online was to not only connect to their readers, but also to connect their readers to other readers.

As J.D. Lasica noted way back in 2002, personalization is–and should be–an intrinsic feature of the Internet medium. In a world where every news site is offering almost the same kind of information (with few exceptions) and cutting-edge multimedia technology, what can make one Web site special? The people, and the ability connect with other people.

“By recognizing the importance of serving hundreds of different readerships simultaneously, online publications are moving toward a higher order of individualized news. No longer can they afford to treat readers as undifferentiated, generalized, lumpen masses,” Lasica wrote in a related piece.

TimesPeople and MyTelegrpah, while admirable ideas in their own right (especially for news Web sites that started by looking like near facsimiles of their print versions), however, come with the requirement that people spend plenty of time on the site, picking their favorite stories, sharing their views on those stories, and connecting with people that might like the same stories.

The Huffington Post is taking this one step further by teaming up with Facebook, linking readers to their Facebook friends, and allowing users to publish their Huffpost activities on their Facebook walls. Like all the personality tests they take and crops they plant in Farmville weren’t enough! But there is some advantage to this. It comes close to the concept of integrating online identities and bringing them to one place: the universal sign-in and network portability that many Internet pundits have insisted should be implemented in order to allow cross-interaction among various social media platforms.

Most personalized news features allow readers to search for their Facebook friends or Twitter followers, but they don’t offer a way to actually integrate the two networks.  Consequently, this involves exclusively spending time on the newspaper’s Web site to form a community or interact with fellow users. Now, if you had a choice between spending a few hours on MyWashingtonPost or Facebook, which would you choose? And how many different media sites do you want to sign into at the start of your day? Hell, I’m just glad TweetDeck allows me to keep track of Facebook and Twitter in one place. And the number of new visitors a page would gain from linking to Facebook would probably offset the time spent by a single user on the site itself.

TimesPeople does allow users to sync up to their Facebook profiles, but in keeping with the NYT’s prioritization of “information” over social networking, the site does not allow users to have much more on their profiles than a name and a location.

HuffPost Social news is also quite a leap from news organizations generating noninteractive Facebook pages that merely feed fans with links to their latest stories (the same counterproductive way in which many use Twitter), with readers occasionally discussing stories of interest to them on discussion boards.

Of course, as with anything else, there are two schools of thought about such personalization, customization, individualization of news consumption. Some believe that it might fragment an already fragmented audience in the new media world.

But, if anything, integrating Web site audiences with social networks should help consolidate these virtual and real communities. Chances are, many of your Facebook friends are people you know–and have known—in real life, in contrast to the exclusively online people you interact with on blogs and discussion forums. This is a way to bring those groups together, defragment the so-called “online-offline” divide. Many of the causes I’ve signed up for on Facebook, for instance, are tangible ones, to save the libraries in the city I live in or promote gay rights at a rally: offline events that can make a difference to the community.

Guardian winning newspaper-URL tweet war

Other people have tweeted (or retweeted) the Guardian’s URLs 328,288 times over the last 4 months – way more than any other UK newspaper, according to my full analysis here.

The FT and Times have more followers on Twitter than the Telegraph and Mail – but they’re not tweeted about as often. The Telegraph is in second place: 120,731 tweets by other people (ie excluding the Telegraph’s own accounts) have included a link to one if its URLs. The Daily Mail is 3rd with 95,851.

How many times each newspaper has had a URL tweeted by someone else

  • Guardian: 328,288
  • Telegraph: 120,731
  • Daily Mail: 95,851
  • The Sun: 33,580
  • Independent: 24,423
  • Times Online: 23,329
  • Mirror: 13,881
  • Express: 2,818
  • FT.com: 691

Continue reading

Newspapers on Twitter – how the Guardian, FT and Times are winning

National 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. That’s according to a massive count of newspaper’s twitter accounts I’ve done (there’s a table of all 120 at that link).

The Guardian’s the clear winner, as its place on the Twitter Suggested User List means that its @GuardianTech account has 831,935 followers – 78% of the total …

@GuardianNews is 2nd with 25,992 followers, @TimesFashion is 3rd with 24,762 and @FinancialTimes 4th with 19,923.

Screenshot of the data

Screenshot of the data

Other findings

  • Glorified RSS 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 (you can see which are which on the full table).
  • No following. These newspaper accounts don’t do much following. Leaving GuardianTech out of it, there are 236,963 followers, but they follow just 59,797. They’re mostly pumping RSS feeds straight to Twitter, and  see no reason to engage with the community.
  • Rapid drop-off There are only 6 Twitter accounts with more than 10,000 followers. I suspect many of these accounts are invisible to most people as the newspapers aren’t engaging much – no RTing of other people’s tweets means those other people don’t have an obvious way to realise the newspaper accounts exist.
  • Sun and Mirror are laggards The Sun and Mirror have work to do – they don’t seem to have much talent at this so far and have few accounts with any followers. The Mail only seems to have one account but it is the 20th largest in terms of followers.

The full spreadsheet of data is here (and I’ll keep it up to date with any accounts the papers forgot to mention on their own sites)… It’s based on official Twitter accounts – not individual journalists’. I’ve rounded up some other Twitter statistics if you’re interested.

8% of Telegraph.co.uk traffic from social sites

Telegraph.co.uk gets an amazing 8% of its visitors from social sites like Digg, Delicious, Reddit and Stumbleupon, Julian Sambles, Head of Audience Development, has revealed.

The figure explains how the Telegraph is now the most popular UK newspaper site.

75,000 visitors a day

The Telegraph had about 28 million unique visitors in March, which means social sites are sending it almost 75,000 unique visitors a day.

Search engines are responsible for about a third of the Telegraph’s traffic Julian also revealed – or about 300,000 unique visitors a day.

This means the Telegraph gets 1 social visitor for every 4 search ones – an astonishingly high ratio.

You can read more of what Julian said about the Telegraph’s social media strategy here. The statistics were originally given for an article on social sites on FUMSI.

Facebook, Dunblane and a 2 page apology from the Express – a lesson in online journalism ethics


2 weeks ago the Scottish Sunday Express led with this cover story (PDF) on how the survivors of the Dunblane massacre were turning 18 and – shock, horror – drinking and making rude gestures. Reporter Paula Murray, it seemed, had “managed to inveigle her way into a Facebook friendship with teenagers from the town and write a salacious piece about their “antics”, based on information culled from their profiles.” You can read it in full here (text) and also here (PDF). The original was quickly taken down.

So far, so middle market. But what happened next was an abject lesson for the Express – and Paula – in how things have changed for journalists who will do anything for a ‘story’. Continue reading

The services of the ‘semantic web’

Many of the services that are being developed as part of the ‘semantic web’ are necessarily works in progress, but they all contribute to extending the success of this burgeoning area of technology. There are plenty more popping up all the time, but for the purposes of this post I have loosely grouped some prominent sites into specialities – social networking, search and browsing – before briefly explaining their uses.

Continue reading

External links: the 8 stages of linking out denial

Do you have a link problem? You can handle linking. It’s just one post/article/page without a link. You can link whenever you want to. Or can you?

Where are you on this scale …? (Originally posted here.)

1 Don’t link to anyone

Link to other sites? But people will leave my site. They won’t click on my ads. They won’t read other pages. I’ll leak page rank. No way.

2 Add URLs but don’t make them hyperlinks

OK, that’s a bit ridiculous. If I’m talking about other organisations, I can’t pretend they don’t have a website. I know, I’ll put web addresses in. But i won’t make them hyperlinks. Brilliant, yes?

3 Add an ‘external links’ box

Even I’m finding that no hyperlink thing annoying when I go back to an old page and have to copy and paste the damn things.

I suppose I should have some links on my page. I’ll put them in a box. Over there (down a bit …). I’m going to use some sort of internal redirect or annoying javascript, though, to make sure I don’t pass any page rank. Mwah, hah hah.

4 Put some links in the copy

I don’t seem to be getting many inbound links. I guess I’m not playing fair. I know, I’ll sort out my workflow so that it’s possible to add links easily inside the actual copy. But I’m still not passing any pagerank. I’m going to put “rel=nofollow” on every link.

5 Give my users some google juice

Commenters seem thin on the ground. Maybe I’ll let them link to their own sites. I’ll use some annoying javascript to hide the links from google though. Most of my commenters are probably spammers, and I can’t trust them to police their own community, after all.

6 Link when I have to. And remove nofollow and any other annoying tricks

That seemed to make everyone happier. There are a few proper links on my pages. And people seem to want to link to me now that I’m playing fair with my links.

7 Acknowledge my sources

Oops. Spoke to soon. Been outed as pinching someone else’s idea and not attributing it. From now on, I’m going to make sure I always link to everyone I should.

8 Enlightenment: Make linking part & parcel of what I do

Internet. Inter as in inter-connected. Net as in network.

I get it now. I’m going to become a trusted source for information and advice, AND of what else people should read elsewhere on the internet. Blimey, more and more people are visiting my site and linking to it. Continue reading

Why the kids don’t use Twitter (and other insights on online community)

In case you don’t know of danah boyd – the online communities academic who recently joined Microsoft – you should. She recently made a presentation to her new colleagues which manages to combine a potted history of social media, insights into how adults and youth use them differently, and how society is being shaped by the above. It’s well worth reading in full, but here’s a nugget from the middle act: Continue reading