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CoveritLive switches to paid-only service

Popular liveblogging platform CoverItLive has announced the end of its free usage tier, becoming an entirely paid for subscription service.

In an email to current subscribers the company wrote:

CoveritLive is introducing new monthly subscription plans based on active usage. These plans provide customers full access to all of CoveritLive’s Premium features – previously unavailable to Basic plan customers — including event feeds, event groups and homepages, live webcam and access to the CoveritLive API. Additionally, we have released several new features including a new dashboard with enhanced metrics, simplified Facebook event implementation and improved user management tools.

With the availability of the new plans and features, we will transition all CoveritLive Basic customers (including your current account) to a new Trial plan on July 1st 2012. The Trial plan will still allow you complete access to CoveritLive functionality for free and with no time limit, but it will now place a limit of 25 event “clicks” (active users who click into or engage with an event) per month on your account.

CoveritLive’s ‘Starter’ subscription costs $9.99 per month and allows for 250 viewers per  month, their ‘Standard’ tier costs $149 per month and allows for up to 10,000 viewers. The current Basic plan for the service will end on 1 July.

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How important are ‘tweet’ and ‘like’ buttons to news publishers?

 

A conversation was sparked on the effect of social media sharing buttons by the designer Oliver Reichenstein on his blog informationArchitects. In the post titled Sweep the Sleaze he writes:

But do these buttons work? It’s hard to say. What we know for sure is that these magic buttons promote their own brands — and that they tend to make you look a little desperate. Not too desperate, just a little bit.

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If you provide excellent content, social media users will take the time to read and talk about it in their networks. That’s what you really want. You don’t want a cheap thumbs up, you want your readers to talk about your content with their own voice.

The Tweet and Like buttons, followed by their lesser rivals Google’s +1 and LinkedIn share buttons are now ubiquitous on news websites. Visitors to the Huffington Post in January 2008 would have been given the option to share an article via Digg, Reddit and Delicious. Now they are given up to 20 ways to share an article just via Facebook alone. Users are certainly being bombarded by myriad sharing options, they are not always that pretty and Reichenstein is approaching the issue as a minimalist designer.

But is Reichenstein right?

Joshua Benton at Nieman Journalism Lab did a little digging into the effectiveness of the Tweet button for a variety of news publishers. Using a Ruby script written by Luigi Montanez , Benton analysed the last 1000 tweets from 37 news sites to find the percentage of tweets emanating from the site’s Tweet button.

The analysis comes with a few caveats so it’s well worth reading the full article but the take-away is that people are using the Tweet button. Of the news sites analysed most had 15 to 30 per cent of their Twitter shares come via their Tweet buttons. Importantly, they act as a starting point to get content onto Twitter and can lead to further retweets or modified retweets.

Facebook Likes are a different story. They are far less visible on another user’s news feeds, especially after Facebook changed the amount of output its Social News feed spits out.

At least one publisher has found positives to removing the Facebook Like button from their site, claiming it increased referrals from Facebook:

Jeff Sonderman writing at Poynter hypothesises there is a strange tension created by having a sharing button on news articles:

One argument in favor of sharing buttons is the psychological phenomenon of “social proof,” where a person entering a new environment tends to conform to the behavior demonstrated by others. How does that apply? The tally of previous shares on a given article could offer social proof to the next reader that it is indeed worth reading and sharing — “just look at all these other people who already have!”

But in this case, social proof is not the only force at work. We also know that many people share content because it makes them look smart and well-informed. Part of that is being among the first to have shared it, and thus not sharing something that’s already well-circulated. In this way, a sharing button could limit the potential spread of your best content.

These buttons are being used but news publishers need to think about how they are being used and how engaged the users of them are. Sonderman thinks Reichenstein gets close to the mark when he states:

If you’re unknown, social media buttons make you look like a dog waiting for the crumbs from the table … That button that says “2 retweets” will be read as: “This is not so great, but please read it anyway? Please?”

If you’re known and your text is not that great the sleaze buttons can look greedy and unfair (yes, people are jealous). “1280 retweets and you want more?—Meh, I think you got enough attention for this piece of junk.”

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Online news startups need help converting readers into supporters

A report by the Washington DC-based J-Lab has found that even though online news startups have access to a wide range of social media tools, they struggle with how to measure their impact. Respondents to the survey, which was funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, said Facebook and Twitter were important for alerting readers to new stories but they did not know how to monitor meaningful engagement.

Nearly 80 per cent of the 278 “digital-first” startups who responded to the survey said they did not have the means to measure whether their social media engagement strategies were converting readers into donors, advertisers, contributors or volunteers.

Jan Schaffer, director of J-Lab’s Institute for Interactive Journalism said:

These small sites can measure interaction with their content, but they don’t have good tools to measure meaningful engagement. This affects both the future of their operations and the impact they can have in their communities.

New analytics tools give news startups some useful data, but survey respondents said their top metric for measuring engagement was still website uniques and page views. One respondent said:

We feel these numbers only give us part of the information we need. We’re interested not just in breadth of engagement but more in depth of engagement.

The report identified a “broadcast” mentality as a weakness in measuring audience engagement. It recommends a number of best practices for news startups when measuring engagement and urged training in the use of currently available analytics tools like ThinkUp, Google Analytics and Hootsuite.

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Bambuser offers free premium accounts to citizen journalists

Bambuser, the live-streaming smartphone app, has announced it will be offering its premium service for free to citizen journalists and activists.

Their premium usage tier usually starts at €99 per month and can cost up to €499 per month. The new premium for citizen journalists will offer unlimited hours of streaming, unlimited storage and an ad-free player. There is also an option to allow Associated Press to make footage available to their media outlets.

Posting on their blog, they said:

At Bambuser we truly believe in free speech and democracy. Over the past years we’ve seen more and more activists and citizen journalists use Bambuser to broadcast real-time information about activities and events when they happen. We think that user generated content broadens the overall picture of what’s actually going on, and is needed to complement professional news reporting.

When traditional media has little or no possibilities to have journalists on site, user generated live streams are essential.

Speaking to The Next Web, Bambuser’s executive chairman Hans Eriksson explained the decision:

We don’t believe ads combined with protests, demonstrations and war-like situations are proper. We know ads are also an issue for the broadcaster as he/she wants the cleanest possible video out. To us, these people are important users and if we can help them to a better total experience in what they’re doing we’re very satisfied.

Bambuser has been used heavily by citizen journalists and activists around the world and came to prominence during the Arab Spring last year. Since then it has been used to monitor the parliamentary elections in Egypt and cover the Occupy Wall Street movement. After footage from the violence in Homs was used by broadcasters around the world the Syrian government blocked the service on its 3G mobile networks.

Citizen journalists and activists can apply for the premium account by emailing info@bambuser.com with their username and a brief description of what they do.

Bambuser is a previous Journalism.co.uk app of the week.

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Bitly launches ‘bitmark’ social bookmarking service

May 29th, 2012 | 28 Comments | Posted by in Social media and blogging

Bitly, the popular link shortener used by the BBC, Independent, Daily Telegraph and many other news websites, has today announced its ‘bitmark’ service.

Anyone who uses social bookmarking sites like Delicious or Pinterest will be familiar with the idea of saving and sharing articles they find interesting. Bitly has added this functionality to its already popular link shortening service.

As Bitly explains on its blog:

So, what are bitmarks? It’s a better name for bookmarks. Bitmarks are the interesting links you collect across the web — a hard to find recipe, an article, an awesomely hysterical video. It’s anything that you find and want to save and maybe even want to easily share. You can organise them into bundles based on a theme or share them with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, and email. You decide whether each bitmark gets published to your public profile or saved privately, so that only you can see it.

Since Bitly started in 2008 more than 25 billion links have been shortened on the site, according to the company. More than 80 million links are shortened on Bitly every day and they are clicked on 300 million times. Its easy-to-use analytics makes it popular with publishers that want to track their social media reach.

Until now it has been used a tool rather than a destination page, but the company hopes the new focus on social bookmarking will foster a community around the site.

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#jpod – News industry approaches to curation and aggregation

Image by art makes me smile on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

This week’s jpod looks at how different publishing platforms in the news industry are approaching curation and aggregation of news, from sources across the web including news outlets, bloggers and social media platforms.

Journalism.co.uk’s news editor Rachel McAthy speaks to:

In the spirit of curation, here is a list of some related reading and resources on this topic:

You can hear future podcasts by signing up to the Journalism.co.uk iTunes podcast feed.

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Tool of the week for journalists: Geofeedia, to locate real-time photos, videos and tweets

Tool of the week: Geofeedia

What is it? A tool that allows you to search for a location and find geolocated tweets, photos and videos.

How is it of use to journalists? This tool offers potential for journalists faced with verifying a breaking news story. Search for a postcode, country, school or sporting stadium and you can see geolocated social media content posted on Twitter, Instagram, Picasa, Flickr and YouTube.

Imagine hearing reports of a fire. With Geofeedia you could enter the address and see what images, videos and tweets are being shared on social media.

Hat tip: Poynter, which has reported that Geofeedia came out of private beta earlier this week.

Find out more about verification by reading this Journalism.co.uk guide.

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Journalist @brianwhelanhack’s rental dispute: As it happened on Twitter

The Storify below outlines the story so far after journalist Brian Whelan, who it’s understood helped break the news over the weekend that the government was considering a missile site on the roof of his apartment building to protect the Olympics, tweeted that he was being “forced” to leave his apartment. His landlord has said she has served notice because of a disagreement relating to the renewal of the tenancy, and that the decision was not related to the missile situation in any way.

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Tweetbot partners with Storify to allow Twitter conversation sharing

Tweetbot, a Twitter client app for iOS and a previous Journalism.co.uk app of the week, has added Storify integration.

Users of the iPhone and iPad Tweetbot app can now easily Storify a conversation they spot on Twitter.

There is no need to move away from Tweetbot to Storify, a tool to allow the curation of social media content, all is done with a swipe and three taps within the app.

Just swipe right on a tweet that is part of a conversation, tweet the conversation and it is automatically Storified.

If you don’t have a Storify account one will be created.

The 2.3 update was released yesterday. Those with the app can update, new users can download from the App Store for £1.99.

Here is a Storify explaining how it works.

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Guardian’s n0tice launches Facebook sharing app

Online noticeboard n0tice has launched a Facebook sharing app, allowing users to “amplify activity” and spread posts virally.

The Guardian set up n0tice as a platform to utilise developments in social, local and mobile. It allows hyperlocals to brand their own noticeboard and keep 85 per cent of the revenue generated by charging for small ads.

A blog post published today states that n0tice’s new Facebook app allows users to automatically post content to their Facebook activity stream.

n0tice will automatically update your Facebook page when you follow people and noticeboards, star things you find interesting, or post reports, events or offers to n0tice.  The app does not share passive actions to your Facebook page such as what you are reading on n0tice.com, only explicit actions that you trigger such as following, posting, reposting, and voting.

The n0tice app for Facebook will help spread things you are doing on n0tice further around the world and help others to discover what’s happening.

 

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