GHS Newsroom
  • Web Cube: Guidelines for social networking

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    What social media platforms should we use?
    Our newsrooms should set up Facebook fan pages first, then at least one Twitter account.
    How are they different?
    Facebook’s primary purpose for newsrooms is to drive traffic to our Websites through journalism that creates interaction for the user, such as polls, photo galleries and reader callouts for submissions. Twitter should be used to move news and breaking news headlines through a feed from Zope. Twitter can also be used by individual editors, reporters and bloggers to spark and join conversations as well as report ongoing news from a scene.
    Should we create a profile or official business page in Facebook?
    As a business, you should create an official business page. Although the features are not as rich for a business page, if you create a profile you run the risk of having the page deleted by Facebook and having to start from scratch to build a fan base.
    Why should we create a Facebook page?
    Facebook, the leading social networking site, serves as a great way to connect new readers to your site; it is another way to drive more page views. GateHouse Media sites get more referrals from Facebook to our sites than any other social networking site.
    How do I get a Facebook page set up?
    To create a new Facebook page for your newspaper, you must first log in using a personal account. Then go here: www.facebook.com/help/?page=904#!/pages/create.php
    Follow the steps to creating a page, including adding an image. Be sure the image is roughly square to fit the space Facebook provides.
    Learn more about facebook pages here: www.facebook.com/help/?page=904
    How should we use Facebook, and how often should we post?
    Monday through Friday. The goal is to bring fans from Facebook to your website by posting two to four times a day to your Facebook page.
    Here are several ideas for using Facebook:
  • Post one-sentence intros and link to the most interesting stories on your website. The headline on the Facebook page should be more conversational and not a repeat of the headline for the story. For example:
  • Story headline: Smith ousted as city council president
    Facebook post headline: Yet another shakeup at City Hall. Will be interesting to see how new president sets the agenda.
    Don’t post every news story on your site to your Facebook page. Choose the two or three that are likely to get the most attention.
    Page 2 of 5 -
  • Post a link to a story with a related daily poll.
    For example:
    Headline: Check out our daily poll: Have you finished your Christmas shopping? www.link-to-
    If your poll is only on your homepage, provide a link to your homepage and tell readers where to find it on your site.
  • Post links to your online reader content callouts. Every callout should be linked at least once on Facebook. As you receive submissions from your callouts, post a story in Zope and link it on Facebook.
    For example: 10 residents have shared their Halloween photos. Click here to find out how to submit yours.
  • Ask your Facebook fans questions to help generate sources or ideas for stories you're working on. For example: We’re looking for residents who had family survive the big East Coast storm. Know anyone? Let us know.
  • Post two photos from a photo gallery with a headline that says: Photos from Tuesday night’s high school basketball game. Find a dozen more at the link below.
  • How do we promote our page?
    Advertise and link to your Facebook page on your website, e-mail signatures and wherever your paper has a Web presence. Run a house ad in your newspaper letting readers know about the page. Consider a promotion in the rail on your newspaper’s front page.
    What is the “recommend” feature on our stories, and how should we use it?
    When logged in to Facebook, you can click on the recommend button of a story. A link will then appear on your wall for your friends to see. To help drive traffic, you can encourage other newsroom staffers to recommend stories to their friends.
    How can we track success of our Facebook page?
    Reaction and participation to your questions and callouts is one way. Another is to track referrals from Facebook in Google Analytics, under Traffic Sources. Some of our more successful sites are seeing 2-4 percent of pageviews coming from Facebook.
    Learn more about using Facebook here: "Getting the Most Out of Facebook":
    How should we use Twitter?
    Twitter should be used differently than Facebook. First, we recommend newsrooms set up a Twitter section in Zope and publish select headlines to the Twitter feed. Those headlines should be hard news and breaking news. If you have a single Twitter account, you could also feed sports headlines for big games and breaking events. If you have a separate sports Twitter account, publish sports headlines only to that account. Twitter is also a way for editors, reporters and bloggers to interact as individuals with followers, as opposed to Facebook, where readers become fans of the newspaper and website. These should be set up separate from the news headline account.
Page 3 of 5 - Are there tools to manage multiple Twitter accounts?
Yes. One tool is HootSuite (hootsuite.com), a social media dashboard that allows you to manage multiple social media platforms and accounts. Here is a quick-start guide: http://help.hootsuite.com/entries/210935-hootsuite-quick-start-guide
How do we set up a Twitter feed headline section?
First, set up a section in Zope called Twitter headlines. This section would not surface on your website, but it is a place for content to be published and fed to Twitter. You can then use a free service such as twitterfeed.com, and follow the steps to connect content published to the Zope Twitter headlines URL to your Twitter account.
How many headlines should we move each day to the headline Twitter account?
Publish two to four each day, including your top news stories and any breaking news. Do not overload your followers with tweets. One helpful function in HootSuite is that it allows you to time your tweets. So for non-news content, you could spread appropriate tweets through the day.
Beyond the Twitter headline feed section, here are several ideas for using Twitter:
  • An editor could produce daily tweets of insights or behind-the-scenes activity in the newsroom. For example, tweet a summary of the daily news meeting; tweet followers on decisions you make on what stories to cover; tweet asking for input or advice on how to approach a story; tweet asking for sources or some direction or insight on a particular local issue you plan to cover; tweet asking followers, “What are we missing on this story?”; tweet asking followers for reaction to stories; and tweet your thoughts and observations on current events and daily life in your community. The goal is to join the conversation as a person, not as the institution you represent.
  • A reporter could tweet updates and observations from breaking news events or big news events such as a highly anticipated government meeting, Election Day or a festival.
  • A sports reporter could tweet updates, observations and insights from big games.
  • Should we have a Twitter feed bucket on our homepage?
    You should only if that feed is coming from an account other than the headline account. Those headlines would already be appearing on your homepage in NewsNow or the “breaking news” spots. If tweets from individual reporters and editors are going into that bucket or content from an event is coming in fast (like a high school football game), it serves a different purpose than content already on your homepage, and that bucket would be a god addition.
    How should we promote Twitter?
    Page 4 of 5 - Use the promotions scroll on the new template to encourage fans and followers to sign up, and include links to each page in the navigation on your homepage. Since individual staff members are encouraged to have Twitter accounts, tease a reporter’s Twitter account in a story or an opinion writer’s Twitter account in a column.
    What are Twitter #hashtags, and how should I use them?
    A hashtag — a # symbol in front of a keyword — is a way Twitter users themselves came up with to group tweets in popular categories or tweets related to particular topics. For example, Twitter users use the #NFL hashtag for tweets about professional football. Using hashtags makes it easier for users to search for tweets related to topics of interest. For starters, you should use a hashtag for your community name — #yourtown — whenever you post local news. Aim to include a hashtag with every story you tweet, but at least half of your tweets should include them. Search in Twitter for variations of the topic or theme of the story you are tweeting to see if there is a hashtag already being used. You can check its popularity at hashtags.org. If you cannot find a hashtag for your topic, create a new one and see if it sticks and its use grows.
    What does @ mean in tweets and how should I use it?
    The @ symbol indicates a username of another Twitter user. Use the @ whenever you mention another user in a tweet, as it could help draw eyeballs to your tweet, your account and the content you are linking to. For example, if you tweet a story about high school football injuries from illegal hits, you may ask, "Wonder what @NFLfootballinfo would think about this high school #football story?"
    What are the other features in the “share with friends” function on our websites?
    Along with the option to link stories to your Facebook account and to tweet headlines, the share function includes options to share stories on Google Buzz (google.com/buzz — Google's social media platform) and Digg (digg.com), a social news website that allows users to rank submitted stories by “Digg”-ing or burying them. Both Google Buzz and Digg are ways, like Facebook and Twitter, to increase reader engagement and help drive traffic to your websites.
    How should I use Google Buzz?
    If you choose to use Google Buzz, you must create an account and public profile for your newspaper, similar to what you would do in Facebook. (You can add photos, contact information, background.) The Google Buzz strategy is similar to Facebook. You should post similar content (headlines and reader callouts) and take an interactive approach, asking your followers their opinion on your content. You should also promote Google Buzz in print and online to build a following.
    Page 5 of 5 - How should I use Digg?
    To use Digg, you must first create a profile for your organization. You can then post links to stories for other Digg users to Digg (or Bury). For Digg, post only big news stories or quirky news stories that might have national appeal. The goal here is to get more traffic from individual stories rather than to build reader interaction, as with Facebook, Twitter and Google Buzz.
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