Archives for category: Social Media

Here on Ricochet, I look for examples, commentary and sparks of ideas that can be applied to online journalism. The thing is, we’ve been doing it in one form or another for about 10 years and still, online news sites are so far behind in taking advantage of the Web medium.

Most sites are trying is to engage readers through participation — inviting users to comment, rank, post their own photos and video, etc.

Doing so produces a double-edged sword. On the one hand, users like it because they like being able to vote and point to their stuff on a site that has brand recognition — and even to then find themselves mentioned by name in the traditional platform.

But I’ve heard editors, CTOs, BizDev people and advertisers say that being able to count and quantify the audience and its behavior allows them to refuse to invest in or even kill projects when something doesn’t get sufficient traction.

Chip Griffin at Media Bullseye suggests that those who judge a blog’s success according to the so-called rules of social media should think again.

With so many newspapers now offering a plethora of blogs, news directors and editors should reconsider the terms of success as well.

(via Chris Brogan)

There’ve been some rumblings that Facebook has jumped the shark. (Recall the mid-October Jossip survey about annoying Facebook habits.)

SiliconAlleyInsider yesterday noted that’s political reporter Facebook pages are bombing. This could just be because they chose the wrong subject to launch with. Or because people are just really tired of the political campaign, which seems to have gone on too long already.

I predict within the next 12 months we’ll see users trickle out Facebook’s door and head to the next networking site.

Marshall Kirkpatrick at took a look at the upgraded features in While they look very attactive, I’m getting tired of signing up for yet another social network that will ultimately flame out.

So what does this mean for news organizations? A huge opportunity to further engage a loyal audience and bring in new readers/community members/eyeballs.

Social networks require four things:

  • a community of active users who can connect from any device — desktop, laptop, phone
  • a way to send private and public messages (including comments) to each other and to groups
  • a repository for files of unlimited (or at least very large) size and a way to tag, search and connect those files to other content
  • good, unique, content (which, for news organizations, should be a piece of cake)
  • a way to search, select and rank all types of files, comments, users and content, and share the data anywhere

Think you can do it?

Mashable wants to know: What’s your favorite large-scale social networking site? Voting is open until 11:59 p.m. PST on Dec. 16.

What? you say. The Web is already connected.

Well, not like it could be, according to the people working on OpenID and OAuth. Wired has the story.

What’s interesting is the first widespread testbed of OpenID/OAuth tools will be developed for WordPress, used by lots of bloggers and many major media sites.

I’ve got some thoughts percolating about what this could mean for the online news big picture, but I’m going to sleep on them first.

Mark Zuckerberg apologized for the Beacon mess yesterday, and added a way for all social ads to be turned off — at least within Facebook.

But if you logon to the site, the “Privacy Settings for External Websites” page has a rather confusing message.

Facebook External Sites Privacy Page

On the one hand, the page says, “Please note that these settings only affect notifications on Facebook. You will still be notified on affiliate websites when they send stories to Facebook. You will be able to decline individual stories at that time.”

On the other, it says, “Don’t allow any websites to send stories to my profile.”

Clarity. I’d like clarity.

Computer Associates did some more digging around today and didn’t like what they found. While the privacy announcement is a good first move, they said, data that users now assume isn’t being transmitted still is, and Facebook has not put their privacy policy into their legal notice:

The silent transmission of data about actions on third-party websites to Facebook poses a serious risk, and must be mitigated by both prominent notice to the user, and a binding commitment on Facebook’s part to handle the data properly.

Nevertheless, yesterday’s announcement seemed to placate the masses. Caroline McCarthy at CNet News got some Beacon partner reaction.

Personally, I think what caused so many problems for Facebook’s Beacon launch was arrogance and perhaps greed. They’ve been through the privacy riot before, when news feeds were first introduced. They could have done better, it’s true. But given their past experience, they should have done better by putting their users, and not their advertising partners, first.

Ah, flu season. Today, the New York Times reported reasons why the flu spreads more easily in winter. (WebMD ran a shorter story on the same topic in late October.)

By coincidence, the AP reported a story about flu vaccines being ruined by improper storage.

Since the flu shorts are top of mind — National Influenza Vaccination Week ended Sunday, you know — now might be a good time to think about health-related tools, such as a local map of who’s sick and where; where to get a vaccinated, who to turn to for answers and even a database on what local clinics have reported spoiled vaccines.

Just a thought.

A recent report by Trendwatching says creating, maintaining and increasing status through lifestyle, not just (or even rather than) material goods, will be the top trend of the new year.

This should come as no surprise. As luxury has become heavily advertised to the public, people have turned to other forms of exclusivity to increase their status. Look at the rise of online social networks like aSmallWorld, CarbonNYC and ChosenVIP that claim tight little circles of well-connected (in the real world) and often high-net worth members.

But there’s also been a backlash against conspicuous consumption, reflected by a rise in philanthropy, buying local and going green. And these, too, have become status symbols, as they don’t come cheap either.

The Trendwatcher study notes that one of the outgrowths of being well connected online is being highly aware of what’s going on in your own neighborhood. In other words, 2008 could finally be the year that sites highly focused on anything and everything going on in neighborhoods may finally get their due.

Already, sites like StreetAdvisor, 9 Neighbors, Placeblogger and the much-touted LoudonExtra have become popular community sites.

Yelp and Angie’s List, which offer recommendations and advice on everything from restaurants to handymen, have also become go-to resources for people seeking advice from locals in the know.

So take heed and get your hyperlocal strategies in place. The influx of the curious looking to be well-connected and well-informed online is coming.

Public broadcasters will be gathering in Los Angeles in February for the annual IMA2008 conference.

This year’s conference lineup looks to have a lot of sessions that non-public media people might be interested in, such as:

  • how a single staff can manage the work of putting content on many platforms
  • best practices and new developments in using online services to cover emergencies (as exemplified by KPBS coverage of the California wildfires)
  • collaborating with “independent voices”
  • and, of course, covering the elections

Early registration deadline is Dec. 10. The conference runs from the Feb. 19-23 at the chi-chi Omni Hotel in downtown L.A.

Check it out: Digg Images is live. And Photobucket includes Digg links on all its pages.

As of this moment, the most recent images were “made popular” 11 days ago. Let’s give it 24 hours to see how quickly the community catches on.


Digg will finally open a user-submitted photo section sometime tonight, along with an improved tag structure.

In fact, you may find that you can’t get very deep to Digg for the moment, ’cause the tech crew needs to “make some changes.”

The launch could suck away traffic from sites that host user-submitted photos and video, but we’ll have to see just what the page and the features look like — and how much pull Digg still has.

One way to attract and retain user submissions is to become the dominant player in your local readership area, in other words, to be bigger than Digg in your market. Since people like to hear and see their names in the news, I’d suggest making that a bigger part of your news strategy.

I’ve been writing quite a lot about Beacon lately, I admit. However, Facebook has become the dominant player in social networking, and it seems worth it to keep a watchful eye on the company’s moves.

On Friday, PC World reported a Computer Associates security researcher discovered Beacon transmits user data to Facebook, even if the user is not logged into the site and has declined to broadcast Beacon partner data.

This seems contrary to Facebook’s promise of privacy and definitely not what users have demanded.

Seems like history repeating.

Several years ago, there were reports, including one in the New York Times, that websites were dropping cookies onto user hard drives and revealing all sorts of information previously thought to have been private.

Then came word that retailers were using those cookies to target ads and change product prices. People purchasing the same thing on the same site were charged different costs based on their browsing behavior, which was stored in the cookies.

So though I am in the camp that thinks Facebook is not to be trusted and has made a huge business blunder, I wonder what other sites (including news and blogger sites) have been grabbing, storing and using cookie data for fun and profit but not making it obvious?