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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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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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Tool of the week for journalists: Muck Rack

Tool of the week: Muck Rack

What is it? A site that aggregates Twitter and social media feeds for thousands of professional journalists.

How is it of use to journalists? Journalists often break or share vital information first through social media. Muck Rack allows you to monitor trending topics among journalists in real-time. Its aim, according to Muck Rack’s creators, is to deliver “tomorrow’s newspaper to you today”.

Launched in 2009, Muck Rack now draws content from thousands of journalists who use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other sources to break news on a daily basis.

Built around a central directory of verified professionals, Muck Rack now boasts an extensive directory of top journalists from around the world which can be searched by name, publication or even beat.

Professionals only need a valid Twitter account to apply for verification, although the process is heavily vetted to ensure certain standards are met such as relevance of tweets or posts and consistent activity.

The site also emails out a daily analysis of what journalists are saying called the Muck Rack Daily, which is pored over by its editorial team.

Muck Rack dovetails well with previous Journalism.co.uk tool of the week Press Pass, which organises journalists by beat, media outlet or region.

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Economist seeks to build relationships with 1m Facebook fans

The Economist has today announced that it has clocked up one million fans on Facebook.

The fans come from 180 countries, with the largest number living in the United States, followed by India, the UK, Pakistan and Canada, the Economist states in a release.

Last week Nick Blunden, global publisher, digital editions told the Guardian’s Changing Media Summit that “people want to belong and we can monetize that”.

It’s about building relationships on Facebook and monetizing outside.

On the subject of charging for access to content, he said that people will pay for the experience of “being informed”.

Today’s release states:

The Facebook community regularly discusses, debates, comments and share posts, with those regarding world leaders and international events generating the most responses. One of the most popular posts of all time focused on the Economist’s 2009 “The Man Who Screwed An Entire Country” cover and received over 130,000 likes in just a few days.

The Economist states that it “reaches over 3.5 million people through all of its social media properties, including 2.1 million individuals on Twitter and 400,000 users on Google+” and a “growing global circulation” (now 1.5 million including both print and digital), according to figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulation.

The news outlet is now asking readers how they consume the title’s content.

To mark the milestone, the publication has asked its Facebook community to tell or show how they consume Economist content. Fans have been posting their experiences and photos, which include reading indoors, outdoors, by the pool, floating in the dead sea, on tablets and even reading in diapers for one young adopter, aged 13 months.

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Social predicted to overtake search as Guardian traffic driver

The Guardian’s Facebook app has been downloaded eight million times since it was launched six months ago, seeing around 40,000 downloads a day.

Speaking at the Guardian Changing Media Summit, Tanya Cordrey, director of digital development at Guardian News and Media, said the news outlet has been “blown away by the results”.

The “frictionless sharing” app works by readers opting in to share all articles they read with their Facebook friends, generating more traffic for the news site with “no editorial curation”.

She later explained that the Guardian has generated more money through ad revenue from the app than the news organisation spent on building it.

Six months ago Google provided 40 per cent of the Guardian’s traffic. The launch of the Facebook app resulted in a “seismic shift” with social exceeding search as a driver on several occasions in February (see above photograph).

Cordrey predicted:

It’s only a matter of time until social overtakes search for the Guardian.

She said that the audience becomes more global everyday, providing “an amazing opportunity to learn about this new audience”.

It’s the audience we want to learn about rather than the platform [Facebook]

Readers are in “habitual grazing mode”, Cordrey said, traffic peaking in “the middle of the afternoon”.

Addressing those who believe the app has implications for privacy, Cordrey said “we are acutely aware of the critics” but readers are not being driven away or removing content they have read from their Facebook timeline.

“Once people have it, they use it,” Cordrey said, explaining “only a tiny percentage of people” have taken up the option of hiding their reading habits.

Earlier in the day Karla Geci, strategic partner development for Facebook said that it would be “just weird and awkward to read a whole article inside of Facebook”, saying Facebook’s role is enabling “distribution and discovery” rather than taking traffic away from publishers.

Asking herself if frictionless sharing “is creepy”, Geci said:

People are quite interested in being an influencer in their circles. Sharing what you are reading is something you did any way.

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Facebook: Guardian app has 3.9m monthly active users

March 2nd, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Social media and blogging

The Guardian has 3.9 million monthly active users, over half of whom are under 25.

Facebook has today published a “spotlight” on the Guardian’s app on its developer blog.

The app has had more than six million installs, suggesting that more than half of those who have opted in use it regularly.

The Guardian’s app, which launched at September’s Facebook f8 conference, encourages “frictionless sharing” and those who opt in to the app to allow their Facebook friends to see what they are reading.

Less than two months after the Guardian’s app was released, the news outlet said the app was delivering an additional one million hits per day.

As well as encouraging younger readers, the Guardian’s app is also giving older content a new lease of life, as Martin Belam, one of those working on the app at the Guardian explains in this blog post.

 

 

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New York Times gets new-look Facebook page with timeline of 160-year history

February 29th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Social media and blogging

The New York Times is among several US media outlets to adopt a new-style Facebook page.

The page makes the most of the timeline feature, adding photos and anecdotes from the Grey Lady’s 160-year history, inviting readers in to the newsroom.

Announcing the timeline on its Facebook page, the New York Times says:

We’re pleased to introduce our timeline, which highlights select moments from our 160+ year history. Come into the newsroom on the night of the 1928 presidential election. See our reporters at work during the 1977 blackout. You’ll even find a guest appearance by Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s. We plan to update our http://www.facebook.com/nytimes timeline frequently with key milestones from 1851 through the present. Take a look and let us know what you think.

The new-style pages were announced by Facebook today, already adopted by US TV show Today and People, and were among a number of features released at the Facebook Marketing Conference (fMC) in New York City.

Facebook describes the layout, which “includes a cover photo, larger story sizes, better tools to manage a page and more”, as designed to “help business and organisations better share their story and connect with people”.

Update:  There are a couple of handy posts on how to create a great news-style Facebook page and timeline for your news organisation. Here is some advice from Lost Remote and here are a few tips from Zombie Journalism.

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Journalism.co.uk’s top 10 stories on Facebook in 2011

December 23rd, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in About us, Lists, Traffic

Click the above image to connect with Journalism.co.uk on Facebook

After taking a look at the top 10 Facebook news stories of 2011 and the top 10 Twitter news stories of 2011, we’ve compiled a list of the most shared, liked and commented on Journalism.co.uk news stories and blog posts published in 2011.

1. Julian Assange wins Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism (5,268 likes, 1,523 shares, 768 comments)

2. Guardian predicts 1m installs of Facebook app in first month (613 likes, 85 shares, 95 comments)

3. BBC developing new iPhone app for field reporters (98 likes, 172 shares, 80 comments)

4. Daily Mail criticised over Amanda Knox guilty story (53 likes, 86 shares, 138 comments)

5. How to: become a roaming reporter (62 likes, 37 shares, 85 comments)

6. Al Jazeera English hits US screens after New York cable deal (75 likes, 60 shares, 33 comments)

7. ‘Is there a better way of doing this?': Johann Hari responds to plagiarism accusations (12 likes, 47 shares, 88 comments)

8. Bahrain to sue Independent over ‘defamatory’ articles (99 likes, 31 shares, 2 comments)

9. #jpod: How journalists can best use Facebook pages (58 likes, 53 shares, 4 comments)

10. London riots: Five ways journalists used online tools (40 likes, 64 shares, 10 comments)

Data was gathered using Searchmetrics.

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Tool of the week for journalists – Rippla, for tracking the social ‘ripples’ of news stories

Tool of the week: Rippla

What is it? A tool that allows you to monitor the social media “ripples” of a news story

How is it of use to journalists? Rippla was launched last month as a tool that tracks how news and information reaches into people’s conversations on social media.

It may be interesting to find out that the story with the most “ripples” is currently the Mail Online’s Hilarious video shows cat stroking crying baby and sending him to sleep, followed by George Monbiot’s Guardian comment This bastardised libertarianism makes ‘freedom’ an instrument of oppression, But what is particularly helpful for journalists is the ripples tracker.

Ripples tracker allows you to enter the URL or a news story and see how many times it has been shared on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks and find out how many bit.ly click-throughs the post has received.

Rippla also offers news sites a widget than can be added (as embedded below), which displays the most socially shared news stories.

Most popular news stories
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Tool of the week for journalists – Facebook Search

Tool of the week: Facebook Search

What is it? A tool that allows you to search Facebook without logging in

How is it of use to journalists? Social media searches have become a key part of newsgathering process. This tool is a search engine for Facebook. It allows you to search if you are not logged in of if you don’t have a Facebook account.

Based on Facebook’s API, it allows you to search posts, photos, people, pages, groups and events.

As well as being useful for searching by keyword, it is also a good way to test to see if the page for your news site comes up in a search.

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