September 30, 2009

8 ways to use social media in the newsroom

8 ways screenshot

JD LasicaFor the annual conference of the Online News Association this weekend, I’ve pulled together two new printable handouts: 8 ways to use social media in the newsroom, available at, and 6 Twitter tools for journalists (PDF — and see the accompanying post). I’m speaking on the aptly named Social Media Mania panel on Saturday.

I think these are two of the nicer handouts I’ve produced, using Apple Pages, part of the iWork suite. These downloadable documents are part of the ongoing series of social media guides and tutorials that Socialbrite has been producing for social change organizations, nonprofits, journalists and anyone interested in effective use of social media.

While the PDFs are spiffy-looking, they’re less than optimal for search engines and for the disabled, so I’ll mirror the handouts here in html.

8 ways to use social media in the newsroom


1An uber-aggregator of your feeds, FriendFeed is like Twitter but easier to organize. You can post more than 140 characters, organize private or public rooms and get a feed of your friends as an e-mail. But FriendFeed is more than an aggregation tool: It’s a virtual watering hole where you can see what’s on the mind of your friends and colleagues.

Search the real-time Web

2Find out what people are talking about online right now — chances are you can turn a meme into a story. Tools include Twitter Search, Tweetmeme, OneRiot, Scoopler.

Flip out!

flip3We’re all multimedia journalists now, right? Never let another eye-catching moment or newsworthy subject slip by: A Flip cam ($199 for hi-def version) lets you easily add a visual element to a story. Users are more likely to jump into a conversation around a video on your site than a text-only article. Kodak’s Zi8 is also a good choice. Continue reading

September 25, 2009

How to get more followers on Twitter

Horseshoe Magnet

John Haydon
If you’re using Twitter for your organization or business, at some point you’ll want to increase the number of folks following you on Twitter.
I know what some of you are thinking. “It isn’t about the number of followers you have!”
That’s true — to a point.

3 reasons why getting more followers is good business

  • Follower numbers are social proof of what you offer on Twitter. It’s not the only reason people choose to click follow, but it is a check box.
  • Increasing your followers spreads your message. Remember the last time you met a group of completely new people? Maybe at a party, or an event? Seeds were planted, pigeons were launched.
  • Increasing your followers is good for current followers. They want to meet new people too, right? I can’t count how many times I’ve been the “connector” between someone I just met, and a long-time follower. Win, win, win!

When you’re ready to increase your followers, you want to do it in a way that builds trust and self respect. And don’t be this guy:


How to increase your followers

Take your time. A building’s foundation takes hard work and patience. Any shortcuts in the process won’t allow the building to confidently stand on it year after year. Putting in sincere hard work with respect to building our Twitter network is also easy way to stand out — simply because no one wants to do hard work anymore! So be patient — and don’t rush the process.

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August 21, 2009

How nonprofits can use Twitter hashtags

hashtags image

Photo by Mansikka

Tips on how to facilitate conversation around a tag

Beth KanterWhat is a #hashtag?

A hashtag is the symbol: #. (See the definition in Socialbrite’s glossary.) It is also a Twitter term that describes a keyword, prefixed by that symbol, that helps people track conversations on Twitter.

The hashtags site, a centralized directory of hashtags on Twitter, also offers a good definition:

Hashtags are a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to your tweets. They’re like tags on Flickr, only added inline to your post. You create a hashtag simply by prefixing a word with a hash symbol: #hashtag.

A brief history of hash tags
Chris Messina is credited with starting hashtags and has written about how to make them most useful. According to the Twitter Fan Wiki, hashtags were popularized during the San Diego forest fires in 2007 when Nate Ritter used the hashtag “#sandiegofire” to identify his updates related to the disaster.

Nonprofit use #1: Events and conferences

Since those early days, hashtags have been used in different ways by nonprofits. One of the most frequent applications has been to use them at events and conferences. It’s not uncommon to see the “official” hashtag included with the promotional information about the event, even events or conferences that are not technology focused. Continue reading

August 18, 2009

Tweet for a cure to end SMA


JD LasicaThe Gwendolyn Strong Foundation is among the new breed of foundations making creative use of social media.

Founder Bill Strong, whose 22-month-old daughter, Gwendolyn, has a terminal, degenerative disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Bill writes in to tell us: “SMA is the leading genetic killer of children, yet almost completely unheard of. There is currently no treatment and no cure, but there is hope as researchers have publicly stated that a cure is attainable in the next five years if provided the resources. As you can imagine, it is our mission to raise awareness about SMA and help put an end to this horrible disease.”

“SMA is the leading genetic killer of children, yet almost completely unheard of.”

One way Bill and the foundation are raising awareness is through their inventive use of Twitter. They built an app — — that allows users to have the foundation tweet the person’s Congressperson when he or she enters a zip code. The tweet encourages legislators to co-sponsor legislation currently in Congress, the SMA Treatment Acceleration Act, sponsored by Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-RI, and its counterpart in the Senate, S. 1158. (See the news announcement.) The legislation, if passed, would lead to research to put an end to SMA.

Plunk in your zip code and give it a try. 07407 spits out Twitter IDs and hashtags for:

@senatormenendez – Sen. Robert Menendez (D. NJ)
#RepStevenRothman (D. NJ)
#SenFrankLautenberg (D. NJ)
It is important to me that you cosponsor the #SMATreatmentAccelerationAct, H.R. 2149 & S. 1158!

Continue reading

August 6, 2009

99 foundations that actively use Twitter

Beth Kanter this week cited 10 examples of thought leadership from foundations:


And the Philanthropy411 Blog listed 90 foundations that tweet (and foundation staffers who tweet), along with a Google spreadsheet showing how many people they’re following and how many followers they have, as well as additional notes. Together with the comments on the Philanthropy411 blog, here is an updated list of:

99 foundations that actively use Twitter


August 5, 2009

Charity 2.0: How to address scaling and cause fatigue?

Photo by Seerjith

Beth KanterCNET’s Caroline McCarthy published an article called “Crowded Roads Ahead for Charity 2.0” based on an interview with Toby Daniels of Think Social and Scott Harrison of charity:water reflecting on how the landscape has changed for fundraising on social networks. (Disclaimer:  I am on an advisory group for Think Social and I’m a huge fan of Scott Harrison, Twestival, and charity:water)

There’s great fodder for discussion from the ideas in the article.

Toby Daniels and Scott Harrison raised important questions about whether the approach used for Twestival back in Feburary 2009 — described as part fundraiser, party publicity blitz — is sustainable given the dramatic growth of Twitter and other social media outlets like Facebook. The article points out that many, many more organizations and individuals are using social networks to spread the word about their fundraising efforts and solicit donations from friends and this could lead to cause fatigue (as was discussed a few months ago on Social Edge).

As the Web is flooded with more and more charity initiatives, both large, well-established ones and new nonprofits created specifically with harnessing social media in mind, problems can arise. At best, donations could be spread too thin, rendering many organizations less effective.

Of more concern is the fact that the influx of charities and nonprofits to platforms like Facebook and Twitter could result in noise, congestion, and outright apathy. Spreading awareness of a good cause grows difficult when that good cause starts to seem like spam. If one tweet after another is seeking donations, people might just get fed up.

Continue reading