BusinessWeek.com sees social media as key

In an interview with econsultancy.com, BusinessWeek.com Editor in Chief John A. Byrne discusses the site’s strategy for engaging readers. Byrne says that “We have one overriding goal: to have the deepest and most meaningful engagement with our audience than any other business site in the world. … We see engagement as core to what we do and how we do it.”

In the interview, Byrne makes it clear that the days of one-way communication are over:

Journalism, by and large, has been a product produced by writers and editors and delivered to an audience. That was fine when there was no technology to allow journalists to engage in an ongoing dialogue with readers and to allow for true collaboration between the writers and the readers.

What journalism needs to become is this digital age is a process that embraces and involves your audience at every level, from idea generation to reporting and sourcing and finally to the publication of the article when the journalism then becomes an intellectual camp fire around which you gather an audience to have a thoughtful conversation about the story’s topic.

If done well, that conversation, orchestrated by the writer or editor of the article, has as much or more value to a reader as the journalism itself.

Byrne notes that BusinessWeek.com has 28 blogs and more than 60 Twitter accounts, and cites a favorite example of how one of his writers used social media to great effect:

[S]enior writer Steve Baker … wrote one of the very first articles in the mainstream media on Twitter. But rather than writing that story and delivering it as a finished product to our readers, he engaged the audience in a novel and creative process. He tweeted the topic sentences of his story and asked his followers to tweet back the sentences they thought would logically follow his.

Steve used his blog to report on the back-and-forth of this process to make it accessible to a broader audience who could participate via Twitter or Blogspotting, Steve’s blog on our site.

The result of all this was a much better story on Twitter based on engaging his audience in the reporting of the story.

Newspaper survival tips stress multiplatform reporting

In “12 Things Newspapers Should Do to Survive,” Vadim Lavrusik offers a range of suggestions for “what newspapers should be considering in order to survive and evolve with today’s technology-driven, short-attention-span world.” At the top of his list is “Putting web first and reporting from multiple platforms.” He explains:

Reporters need to focus on primarily gathering information and how to present that information in multiple formats: websites, mobile platforms, social networks and finally print.

The reason? Technology is changing the way people consume news, and though many are still getting their news through traditional print outlets, many others are shifting to get their news through various media, such as television, mobile phones, and the web.

Other tips focus on creating community, integrating real-time reporting and creating content for mobile devices. A good read with lots to get class discussions rolling.

Abandoned blogs and one-Tweet wonders

Debate rages about how “sticky” social media are. While it’s one thing for the average person to abandon a blog or Twitter account after an entry or two, that’s a practice that journalists should not emulate.

Writing in Salon.com, John Swansburg and Jeremy Singer-Vine look at the phenomenon of Orphaned Tweets:

After examining some 300,000 Twitter accounts, a Harvard Business School professor reported last week that 10 percent of the service’s users account for more than 90 percent of tweets. The study dovetails with recent analysis by the media research firm Nielsen asserting that 60 percent of Twitter users do not return from one month to the next. Both findings suggest that, thus far, Twitter has been considerably better at signing up users than keeping them.

Meanwhile, the same thing happens in the blogosphere, as Douglas Quenqua notes in “Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest.” He writes:

According to a 2008 survey by Technorati, which runs a search engine for blogs, only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs the company tracks had been updated in the past 120 days. That translates to 95 percent of blogs being essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the Web, where they become public remnants of a dream — or at least an ambition — unfulfilled.

Judging from conversations with retired bloggers, many of the orphans were cast aside by people who had assumed that once they started blogging, the world would beat a path to their digital door.

The take-away lesson for journalists here is that persistence and engaging writing are the only ways to make your blog or Twitter feed a success.

The Journalist’s Guide to Facebook

Many journalists have Facebook accounts, but not so many realize that there are many ways to use that account for journalistic purposes. In an informative post, Leah Betancourt discusses how to find leads and sources, reach audiences and much more via Facebook. She notes:

Journalists and the institutions they write for are finding Facebook to be an important resource in conducting the reporting that they do. Reporters and media companies are using Facebook to engage with their audience, connect with sources and build their brands.

The post also includes a great deal of useful information on ethics of social media use.

55 useful Web sites

Graphicdesignr writes about visualizing data and highlights free and easy-to-use multimedia tools. His “55 websites you should know about” list is full of useful tools and suggestions for the journalist. Among the recommendations:

“Mashable: Social networking news; there’s something for everyone.”

Social networking and bookmarking:
“Facebook: who isn’t on Facebook these days, Join networks by city, school, employer, and interact with other users.”

RSS aggregators:
“Google Reader: Subscribe to and read blogs and news content.”

Blog platforms:
“WordPress: My favorite blog publishing system. Customizable in design and function, and easy to use.”

Other categories include Web editors, videos, photo editing, photo storage, timelines, slide shows, graphics, maps, and Geocodes.

How does your “social media footprint” compare?

Boris Epstein is CEO and Founder of BINC, a Professional Search Firm that specializes in the Software Marketplace.  He poses a question that more employers are starting to consider:

If all else were equal, like education, work history and general skill set, and I had to evaluate the social media footprints of two candidates to determine which one of them I would contact, which one would I contact and why?

With the amount of information available online to employers, job seekers should not only be conscious about what they post, but should also be actively networking and leaving their own “social media footprint”. The practice is not limited to the unemployed, establishing and maintaining your online persona is a good habit to get into.

Companies today are looking for well-rounded people that can integrate well with their team both professionally and socially. Epstein highlights key points and outlines his criteria for comparing equally skilled job candidates.

Journalists’ guide to Twitter

Leah Betancourt of Mashable.com offers a rundown of the many ways in which journalists have been incorporating Twitter into their work. Betancourt surveys how journalists use the microblogging site to gather information, see what other journalists are reading and talking about, follow groups, track topics in real-time by keyword and much more. Essential reading for today’s journalist!