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#Tip: How often should you be posting to social media?

Image by shawncampbell on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Image by shawncampbell on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Social media might be a great tool for communication, but we all know someone who is a chronic over-sharer.

There’s nothing worse than having your timelines full of someone else’s verbal diarrhoea (and if the person in question is you, it’s a sure-fire way to get yourself unfollowed).

So how many times should you be posting to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+?

This post on the Buffer blog highlights the importance of striking “the balance between informative and annoying”.

While it doesn’t exactly deliver a cut-and-dried answer, it does offer recommendations from a range of sources – including Buffer’s own strategy for social sharing.

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#Tip: Here’s how you can password protect a Google form

February 11th, 2014 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists


Google’s range of document formats in Drive have a lot of use for journalists, as the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism’s director of education, Jeremy Caplan, describes in this Google doc.

Google forms are particularly useful in crowdsourcing information and automatically organising it into a spreadsheet, so have been used by Pro Publica, for example, to gather information and sources around stories or by Digital First Media to canvas opinion within organisation about future plans.

Google forms are public by default, so if the questions or topics are sensitive for any reason the platform is a bit of a non-starter.

On his Digital Inspiration blog, Amit Agarwal has posted a simple how-to guide on password protecting Google forms from within the form itself. It is not 100 per cent secure, as Agarwal explains, but will deter any passing visitors.

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#Tip: Use this Chrome plug-in for image verification

January 3rd, 2014 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists
Image by Ivy Dawned on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Image by Ivy Dawned on Flickr. Some rights reserved

We’ve mentioned how useful Google’s Search by Image function can be in verifying images before – like a regular image search in reverse, you put a picture in the search engine and get results based on where it has been used previously – but the tool is also available as a Chrome plug-in.

Once downloaded, just right click on an pic and select “search Google for this image” to get the results.

It won’t tell you whether an image is fake or not but will show you where it has been used before and therefore help you find the source or deduce if it has been misappropriated.

Thanks to Paul Watson for flagging up the plug-in.

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#Tip: Finding ‘real-time coverage’ on Google News

August 20th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Search, Top tips for journalists

If you’re interested in finding out the latest reporting across the web on a given story, Google News offers the ability to view ‘realtime overage’, as highlighted in this post which we came across after it was shared by Gibran Ashraf on the Open Newsroom community set up by Storyful on Google+ (more on that here).

In the post, Google explains how to use the feature:

When you click the top right corner of the news story’s box, it will expand to include a button for “See realtime coverage.” Clicking on this will lead you to a page of articles exclusively about this story that automatically updates with new articles.

This could be useful for journalists who need to keep on top of how others are covering particular stories on their path, or perhaps the latest coverage in breaking news situations.

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link.
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#Tip: Remember these social media shortcuts

Image by Thinkstock

Image by Thinkstock

Social media is a necessary evil in journalism, whether it’s for publishing, sourcing, communicating or networking, and with time being an increasingly precious resource anything to speed up the process is well received.

These social media shortcuts from Quintly hit the nail on the head in that respect, acting as a cheat sheet for quick ways around Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+. Well worth scribbling on a post-it note and sticking to your monitor.

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link.

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#Tip of the day for journalists: Researching with Google Images

October 29th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Search, Top tips for journalists

Colin Meek, who runs’s advanced research skills training course, recently posted two tutorials on his site which look at how to use Google Images as a research tool. According to Meek, “using image search properly can help you focus your research in unexpected ways especially when your research subject has a strong visual element”.

See the first tutorial here, which looks at the “basic and advanced options that demonstrate the potential of images as a research tool”. The second tutorial addresses “the ‘search-by-image’ reverse image search that takes things to a different level”.

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link.

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#Tip of the day from – hosting Google+ Hangouts On Air

A number of news outlets have started experimenting with using Google+ Hangouts to interact with readers, such as by hosting interviews or holding open editorial meetings.

Mashable has collected together some advice on engaging a community using Google+ Hangouts On Air, which allows Hangouts to be broadcast live.

See the full post on Mashable.

You can also find some pointers and inspiration on using Google+ Hangout in the reports below:

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at email us using this link.


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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.


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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Media release: Study finds 13% of Google searches include journalist photo bylines

April 30th, 2012 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Search, Social media and blogging

More than one in 10 Google UK search results includes at least one journalist photo and bio byline, according to a study by search and social analytics company Searchmetrics.

The study looked at the top 100 search results from 1 million keywords and found that 13 per cent included journalist bios and pictures for the author of articles.

Getting a photo and bio displayed in search results requires a journalist to have a Google+ account and their profile to be linked with news stories (instructions on how to do this are here).

UK writers in the top 20 include Charles Arthur, the Guardian’s technology editor, and Edward Chester, reviews editor at

US journalists dominate the top 20, “meaning UK journalists and publications are missing out on increased visibility, traffic and potential advertising revenue”, according to a release from Searchmetrics.

The author profile feature, known as authorship markup, is something that Google has been rolling out since the end of last year. It includes author profile information with a thumbnail image and links.

The release states:

Journalists and bloggers who write about technology, medical and food topics are among those that are most visible in author profile integrations according to the study by search and social analytics company, Searchmetrics, which analysed Google UK search results relating to one million popular keywords.

Marcus Tober, founder and chief technology officer of Searchmetrics said in a statement:

More writers from US-based sites are appearing in the top 20 because authors generally need to have a profile on the Google+ social network to be displayed in author integrations – and we assume more writers for US sites are on Google+ and also Google has possibly encouraged some US sites to set up their articles for author integrations.

It was surprising to see more than one in ten of the results tested are showing author integrations because this is still a new feature – it’s much higher than I expected.

Searchmetrics top 20 authors with picture and bio bylines

Author, Writes for (includes), Topic, Page 1 integrations*, Total integrations**

  1. Elaine Lemm , NYT,, Food, 581, 1,989
  2. Dr. Melissa Stöppler, WebMDNetwork, Medical, 545, 1,412
  3. Diana Rattray,, Food, 530, 1,529
  4. Tim Fisher,, Technology, 472, 1,897
  5. Alison Doyle,, Job search, 438, 1,442
  6. Dr. William Shiel, WebMDNetwork, Medical,  403, 866
  7. Dr. Ben Wedro,, Medical, 328, 877
  8. Dr. John Cunha, WebMDNetwork, Medical, 328, 790
  9. Bradley Mitchell,, Technology, 321, 1,363
  10. Cathy Wong,, Alt Medicine,  316, 839
  11. Stephanie Jaworski,, Food, 307, 1,005
  12. Laura Porter, Visit Britain,, Travel, 281, 1,929
  13. Edward Chester,, Technology, 264, 733
  14. Luke Westaway, CNET UK, Technology, 254, 1,292
  15. Gordon Laing,, Photography, 248 , 1,200
  16. Charles Arthur, Guardian, Technology, 218, 1,271
  17. Laura K. Lawless, French,, Languages, 218, 705
  18. Hubertus Keil,, Travel, 214, 1,070
  19. Adam Pash, Lifehacker, Lifestyle/Tech, 204, 1,311
  20. Richard Trenholm, CNET UK, Technology, 200, 1,931


*The number of times a writer appears in author profile integrations displayed on the first page of search results in Searchmetrics’s study
**The total number of times a writer appears in author profile integrations displayed in search results in Searchmetrics’s study

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Tool of the week for journalists: Google Follow Your World

Tool of the week: Google Follow Your World

What is it? Add a location and Google will notify you every time a new satellite image is added for that location.

How is it of use to journalists? Mark a location and each time Google updates the satellite and aerial imagery in your area of interest, you will be notified.

Think of it as like Google Alerts for mapping information.

Consider the possibilities for digital journalism in having images showing the changes to the Olympics site, an area of coastal erosion or the development (or lack of change) within the Government enterprise zones.

It is a tool that requires patience as it may take months or even years for Google to update the aerial imagery for your area of interest.

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