Posts Tagged ‘news’

24 Hour News Cycle to Never Ending Cycle

February 15, 2011

In many circles, cable news, and specifically CNN are credited with creating the 24 hour news cycle.  This is something I am a part of, and understand it.

For discussion sake, lets call the 24 hour news cycle: reporting an event, reporting reaction to an event reporting repercussions of an event, onto the next event.  realistically there is more nuisance to it, but in essence that is the 24 hour news cycle.

With the advent of social media-the time from event to reaction is shorter-there is now instant analysis and instant reaction of events.  Want to track events in Egypt in real-time? Follow the #Jan25 hash tag. Want to go back further, see how the crash of an Air France Jet in Brazil played out in real-time in June 2009. Or think more contemporary, and the fate of Justin Beiber and perhaps the cooling of Beiber Fever?

The point is-for these events (and any others you like Esperanza Spalding, the fallout of the Islanders/Penguins brawl play out for days and months on Twitter and Facebook.

It’s almost quaint to say there is a 24-hour news cycle, when the reality is there is constant reaction and analysis in real-time 24/7 on events days and weeks after they occur.

While it’s still critical to manage the first 24 hours of an event, more and more its being broken down into hour-long cycles.  It will be interesting to watch how this plays out.  2012 will be an interesting campaign cycle–as seen in Egypt, the power of the masses all shouting out at once is tough to manage, and even tougher to silence.

Identity as the Holy Grail

January 31, 2011

Despite my early tempestous relationship with Quora, I have found some great insights and moments to think and contribute.

One of them occurred last night as Quora’s designer posed an interesting thread (I am not sure it was in the form of a question but I supposed that’s OK for an insider) about identity-and specifically mobile identity.  You can read Rebekah’s thoughts here or follow her on Twitter here.

Rebekah poses that identity is more than just your email, or your pictures or your Twitter stream for that matter.  Your digital identity is how you manage access to your attention.  Will you read your Twitter or your Facebook wall?  Will you update your Tumblr or your blog?  How you manage external access to that attention is your identity.  The other pieces (email, SMS, Facebook etc) are all components.

Rebekah believes (and I largely concur) the battleground is your mobile device.  This is the access point to your attention, thus the access point to your identity.

Rebekah and I diverge on one point-which is neither huge or insignificant in that I include tablets as part of that access point.

When talking about the consumer experience in digital media and roadmapping over the next five years, the central figures are your cell phone (the assumption being the curve of feature phone to smart phone conversion holds) and I believe the tablet.  The two devices as Apple has shows work together in a lot of ways, and we’ll see that in 2011 from the likes of Samsung and others who merge the Android OS on phone and tablet.

The reality is, chances are if you read this blog you never leave your house without at least one cell phone (the assumption being that readers of this blog probably carry more than one) and more than 90% of the time the tablet it with you as well.  The laptop is easily forgettable, and the desktop is a distant memory.

When thinking about capturing and holding attention-designers need to think about utility and IA.  Content folks need to think about real estate and connection.

I am convinced the way I got my job at CBS Mobile more than 5 years ago was my understanding of the personal nature of the mobile experience–which means that as a product person I need to be able to clearly make the experience sustainable across devices and across OS experiences.

Understanding the way consumers take in data and control their data intake is at the heart of understanding identity.  In context, a news organization can have this generations equivalent of the Pentagon papers.  Unfortunately just having them is less than half the battle–presenting it to a highly connected audience that demands personalization is the key.

Watch as Faebook, Twitter and products that we don’t know yet introduce new ways to access information-that access point will become the key.  It’s a way to sync your self to your data and your phone (and tablet) are at the hub.

The Front Door to the Information Superhighway

November 3, 2010

I am willing to admit to being old enough to remember the promise of “the internet” as promoted by AOL

Or even before that Prodigy

Those early “web” services provided access to a vast array of information–some of it cataloged, most of it untapped.  Along came independent browsers and broadband at that pretty much all but killed the relative beauty of the dial-up service provider:

For those who did it–who can forget that pleasure of surfing looking for dial-up ports that would work, the second number and more….

As what one of those companies promised “the information superhighway” evolved–along game our friends first at Yahoo then at Google who were able to bring order to the relative chaos.  (Yes, I am leaving out the likes of AltaVista, Lycos etc)–you know the search engine.

Open up the page, type in some keywords and you have a menu of options to choose from.

But as technology improved, so did the capabilities of the information providers.  No longer was having a lane on the great information superhighway enough–we needed attention.  So came the skill of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing). In essence rigging the system–making my content the top of the search returns, after all we all know no one scrolls.

But alas, internet time waits for no one.  The AOL commercial at the top of this post is from 1995.  A mere 15 years later, and that front door to content has once again morphed.

Think about the way you discover things on-line (if you are even still using a computer or laptop).  Yes, search engines still have their place.  And yes you still have that Yahoo email, but how do you find things?

My bet is more than 70% of the time its through your social networks.  An interesting link on your friends Facebook wall like this one?  Maybe something from your Twitter stream that looks like this?

The reality is we are so connected to our networks, that search engines are a secondary source.  Case in point, over the weekend when Fox Networks and Cablevision settled the two-week imbroglio (it’s the NY Post headline writer in me-sorry) about retransmission, it was on Facebook I found out.  My confirmation was from Twitter, before I hit Google to find out the details.

{Couple of interesting asides here:  1-nornally I get this information first from Twitter, but on an early Saturday evening, my Facebook network was right on it.  2-the email from Cablevision came 5 hours later (a comment on email as a point of dissemination)}.

Our social networks are the touch point we use between information and our day-to-day–and its possible that the front door to the vast reaches of the information superhighway have changed again–from 256k dial-up–to 140 characters.

Where we get and share information is an evolving point of contact, and very individualistic–because it has to serve our needs.  I know 90% of my Twitter is mobile, and less than 5% of my computer based Twitter is on twitter.com.

Think about where and how you get information–and see if perhaps its time for a tune up, or realignment.

From Film at 11 to We are Here Right Now

October 14, 2010

I don’t consider myself to be old, however, my daughters (the older one especially) likes to remind me that I am creeping up there in years.  So it’s with that backdrop perhaps that I got a little nostalgic as I was watching the live video of the miners being pulled safely from their underground home of more than two months.

I am old enough to remember the tag line “Film at 11.”  Now I don’t remember it in my professional experience–but growing up I can remember Chuck Scarborough on WNBC (Channel 4 in NYC) or the late Bill Beutel on WABC (channel 7 in NYC) saying that line during what I later learned was the :57:30 cut-in.  You know it as a tease for the late news that comes during primetime viewing.

For those without the reference–here is a one time ABC News colleague of mine Christina Lund with the familiar tagline (this one delivered on KABC-Los Angeles in 1976)

And that’s what happened.  If you wanted to see the story you waited for the news to come on.  In talking to some of the long-timers at places I work or have worked, by 1976 the conversion to videotape was well underway-but the myth of film at 11 lived on for years beyond that.

Fast forward to Tuesday night into Wednesday and the miners.  Gone was the quaint notion of video.  Obsolete the idea of waiting 10 minutes, much less until 11.  This (like so many events) played out in real-time in bits and bites transferred in real-time around the world–with instant commentary from Twitter, blogs and news organizations like CBS (where I work) CNN, NBC etc.

And as all of this was going on — generally in that lull when the rescue capsule was being sent back down to the miners and being reloaded and resurfacing — I was able to think about the change I have seen in the news model both as a consumer and a professional.

I did wait for film (or video) at 11.  I can remember when a reporter going live was a big deal.  I’ve sprinted across snow-covered fields in New Hampshire to a feed point to make slot.

I’ve also pulled out an air-card or MiFi and upload a video file, used QIK to send breaking news video back and updated a story via Twitter using my smart phone camera.

I am not sure I know the “tipping” point in all of this-when the idea of waiting became quaint, but its a good thing.  News  is a commodity as is information.

While I truly do not think “back in the day” that information was being hoarded and doled out–there was a certain eloquence to it.  I also would not have been subjected to Ali Velshi on CNN cramming himself into a model of the rescue capsule.

And that’s not to pick on Mr. Velshi (whom I do not know). It’s the rest of the story.  Because we demand to see these things unfold in real-time and unedited, the ability to package and present may be a victim.

Flashback to January of 2010 and the Miracle on the Hudson.  Gripping pictures, a story with a happy ending–and miles of instant analysis.

Even when the news is bleakest–9/11 is the moment that leaps to mind the need to “fill the void” was evident.  I can even think back to the crash of TWA flight 800 off the coast of Long Island–and the long night I spent on a boat listening to coverage that did not equate with what I was seeing (my Nextel died so I was on my own until the boat came in)–but it’s not all bad, it really is not.

Because all of those sources, all of that information–gives us the power to be the packager.  Yes, news organizations need to be the gatekeeper.  But I can be my own editor and decide what makes sense.

So turn to Twitter, see what your social network is sharing via Facebook–check the blogs watch the video–its part of the human experience and its the job of my colleagues and me to make sure its there for you with context.

Would You Believe?

July 15, 2010

It was one of those days when through varied implied and implicit connections I managed to have conversations I had a seven in the morning ring true by four in the afternoon–without having any knowledge that one would lead to the other.  It’s a true Maxwell Smart, “Would you believe?” moment.

In the morning I was talking to a commuting buddy of mine about how blogs and social network can drive the news cycle.  The example we were discussing was the issue reported in the iPhone 4 device.  Here’s a good write through on that if you need the background.

The upshot of the discussion though was how a few bloggers can grab hold of something–and drive via Twitter, Facebook and comments a story until the “main stream” media picks up on it.

So today–what would happen if the BP capping of the well spewing oil in the Gulf was staged.

Step away for a moment.  How easy would it be for them to design a set similar to the one we’ve seen for more than 80 days from the bottom of the Gulf of oil spewing.  But this time–with no oil and this cap in place?  Switch the video source–and what do you know, it’s a capped well, right?

A few conspiracy theorists blog about this.  Spread it via Twitter.  A few Facebook shares–and you have a rumor ready to rumble along.

The final connection to all of this was an email today that CBS News was going to support the News Literacy Project.  One of the goals of this project is to help primarily students differentiate fact and fiction in this connected world.

Play it out–in Dallas in November of 1963.  Imagine a wired world, with instant mobile images and video.  Twitter to share the news far and wide and the second gunman theory? What would that look like today?

Would you believe we have the power to make things happen–to make people listen.  I guess it’s equally important to have something to say.

Wired For Action. Now What?

July 1, 2010

For whatever set of reasons this year, the NHL and NBA kicked off free agency on the same today-today.  Now while most of the sports minded NYC folks are focused on where’s LeBron James is going-will it be Knicks, Nets or much to everyone in NYC’s dismay elsewhere-I’ve been focused on NHL free agency.  Are the Islanders really only a big defenseman and back-up goalie away from NHL relevancy?

So I muddle through my morning commute with all the LeBron talk–and now I am in the office and raring to go.  My Twitter bud BD Gallof has his excellent site Hockey Independent primed for action.  And over there is another Twitter (and I met him a long time ago when I worked for News 12) bud Chris Botta who once worked for the Islanders and now is a writer covering the NHL for Fanhouse and keeps a really good all things Islanders Blog up and running on my computer at work along with my Tweetdeck.

Now all I need is word that Eric Nystrom is coming home.  Aaron Asham or Andy Sutton will get a return engagement in Uniondale.  Garth Snow spent some of Charles Wang’s money to bring in Jordan Leopold (of all the moves this is the one I was hoping for, but was least likely to happen).

So I am all set, raring to go–and what happens?  Well the hated cross town Rangers sign an enforcer to a four-year contract.  The Devils make some nice pick ups.  The Sabers signs Leopold.  Any my beloved NY Islanders?  Nothing.

Now, I am very sure Garth Snow (Isles GM for those uninitiated) is working the phones and “sticking to the plan.”  But still–just once for all that prep it would have been nice to see some good Islanders news go by.

Alas–thanks for a pretty interesting season Marty Biron-we’ll see you on Broadway.  Jeff Tambellini–best of luck in Vancouver.

For those left waiting for the Uniondale crew to make a move–its nine days until the mini-camp game at the Coliseum and then a little more than two months until the puck drops.

OK-back to baseball.  Lets go Mets.

Your Social Media Influence

May 9, 2010

Something I spend time thinking about is how to gauge influence on social networks and how to gauge the impact social networks have in propagating ideas, content and ultimately in the commercial sense–clicks.

In full disclosure, I think about this from two perspectives-1) as a professional working at CBS News and charged with helping to grow audience in no small part by leveraging social networks and 2) as a straight up user of social media who would love for people to be active on this blog, view my You Tube channel (maybe not that so much) etc.

So, I can go into my Twitter and be pleasantly surprised that I have 1200+ followers. I can go onto Facebook and see that I have 700+ friends.  I can go onto Plurk and realize I have 150+ fans and friends.  I can hit up Friend Feed and see 350+ friends.  But what does it all mean, outside of the fact that I am not the only one with too much free time? (As an aside, one day I would love to figure out how much overlap there is).

So, the question then is I am able to reach 2500+ people on any one of several social networks, but what do they think of my message?  and how do I measure the value of my contributions? And then how does the way I influence my network mimic the way CBS News Twitter influences the 1.5 million followers it has, or the 73,000+ that Katie Couric has on her follower list (after all this is my bread and butter, right?)

For that answer, fortunately the smart folks at the Harvard Business Review have some thoughts, and its more than just a straight up numbers game.  HBR did a follow-up on some great thoughts and research by Adi Avint from August 2009.  His “Million Followers Fallacy” post opines that just the number of followers a user has is not a true indication of their reach.  Yes, a million people may read your thoughts 140 characters at a time–but given the nature of Twitter, probably not.

Instead, HBR suggests looking more at @ mentions and re-tweets as a better gauge of influence.  Meeyoung Cha opines that follower count as a stand-alone metric is a popularity contest, and not a true measure of influence.

follower count is not sufficient to capture the influence of a user (i.e., the ability of an user to sway the opinions of her followers). It only shows how popular the user is (i.e., the size of her audience). But, as we showed in our paper, retweets and mentions, which measure the audience responsiveness to a user’s tweets, do not correlate strongly with number of followers.

I have long argued that Twitter is more about conversation-and being responsive to what the people I follow post and more importantly be able to control the information flow that I consumer and tap into a stream of personal interest.  That can be Mets updates from a variety of sources, or the latest on the Islanders–the value of Twitter to me is the connection to information I am searching for, in real-time and in a passive state (all I have to do is open up a Twitter client on my laptop or mobile device).

Now I work for a major mass media news organization–and there is little doubt of the influence that CBS News will have on today’s news and ongoing stories throughout the news cycle.  But for me, Twitter (and the others listed) are more about niche topics and that is where the true value of Twitter comes from.

Cha says early research shows smaller publishers and smaller business-not just collecting followers have a competitive advantage:

But when it comes to non-popular or even niche topics, small businesses and opinion leaders were far more effective in engaging audience than mass media.

But the true measure of influence is still a work in progress.  Twitter is an easy study because of the open nature of the platform–but is simply counting RT’s and @’s enough to say “A” is more influential than “C”?  Because it’s a matter of what the interaction is.

The interesting Twitter data though comes from a different (June 2009) HBR study–the 10% most prolific Twitter users are responsible for 90% of the Tweets.

Which can lead to an easy conclusion that Twitter is a great content filter, able to sort through a cacophony of data.  Yes, some of it is gossipy, and yes there are still those who want (or need) the validation of the million follower club…

But the goal has to be engagement–both personally and professionally.  Imagine the folks at NASCAR if they read my Tweet taking a swipe at NASCAR:

Kind of a NASCAR in suburbia feel, no? http://mypict.me/6E8p73:11 PM May 2nd via UberTwitter

Knowing their social media strategy is to fan me up–and follow me?

It’s not the follower count, but the message.  As Mel Karmazin once said (in my presence at a meeting), “Content is King,” it’s up to us to maximize its value–and engage our audience.

Tone Down the Chatter

April 23, 2010

There’s a guy on Twitter (at least I think he’s a guy) who goes by Cheap Suits who is pretty insightful, shares good information and is always open to real conversation.  One day, and we went back and forth some on it, Cheap Suits likened FourSquare location tweets to white noise–and I don’t disagree with Cheap Suits about that.

We disagree on the utility of sites like FourSquare and Gowalla, we don’t disagree on the utility of sharing my location with all on Twitter.  I’ve blogged on this subject as well.

But to me, the bigger problem with Twitter is all of the “tricky” ways companies are trying to use Twitter, and somehow they think its like its not even noticeable.

Now, I have a friend who I introduced to Twitter more than two years ago who now has a thriving consulting business based on telling people who to fill in 140 characters and hit Tweet–and that’s fine.

This morning, I was in a deli near the LIRR train station where I get the train in the morning picking up a cup of coffee and two people were having a pretty heated discussion over the companies that manufacture tow trucks.  I have to admit, I have never even given this a second thought, but here these two people were deep into it–hemi vs. tranny, payload vs. horsepower.

I was taken with the passion of the conversation (and honestly had a few minutes to kill) so I pulled out my BlackBerry and Tweeted this.

Now I am being followed by the likes of TruckYellow, OpenRoadTruckers, Route66 and UglyMudGuards.

Clearly based on that one Tweet I am the right target for these companies and organizations, right?

No, instead, in a very sly way these guys use search terms and I supposed my tweeting the word truck, or Chevy got me noticed.

Well guys, I have a ton of respect for truckers-I really do.  But I am not following back–because honestly, I don’t need the extra chatter in my Twit stream.

Maybe I am a throwback, but as Twitter founder Biz Stone told CBS News’ Katie Couric this week, Twitter is still about conversation.  And since I am shameless about self promotion, if you like Katie Couric, and have an iPhone please get the @KatieCouric iPhone app.  But please stop listening to Twitter (ie searching) without context.  It’s just plain annoying.

SEO or SNO

March 24, 2010

A few days ago I was part of an interesting discussion (while I was at work it was not directly about what I do) about the value and importance of SEO (search engine optimization for the uninitiated) and emerging value of SNO (social network optimization-could I be coining that one?).

Contextually, if you have a website, blog or some other kind of online presence-the traffic you derive from people either hitting a bookmark or typing your URL into a browser is not all that valuable.  The reason being that you have a core audience, and that is really not going anywhere.  The traffic your derive from someone finding your content from a search engine though is new to you, and a chance to grow your audience–and increase your reach.

There are very specific strategies you can take to optimized your content to index better on search engines–this is a science after all.  If you are able to get into the 70% range of traffic from search engine referrals, you are in pretty good shape–this means when someone opens Google, Yahoo, Bing etc and enters a search term you get a click.  If your content is good, perhaps three or four clicks.

And the analytics for referral traffic is pretty mature.  You know which search engines work for you, which pieces of content index best and which terms are driving into your site.

Social networks though are a little tougher to predict.  The analytics side on referrals is solid, but the variables are in the way URLs are crafted for social networks and the way they are shared.

I read recently (in an email from a friend) that one of the networks drives eight click throughs for every piece of content that is posted on Facebook.  Think about that math for a moment. One million people see a specific piece of content and 10% share it with their Facebook wall.  So 100,000 Facebook posts are generated from a piece of content.  Eight people click on each of those 100k postings-generating 800,000 new visitors to your site.  You have almost doubled your audience by doing nothing more than having a piece of content that your customers want to share. (This math does not include any clicks generated from your Facebook Fan Page).

So, now the subjective question, how do you optimize for social networks–and should you optimize for every social network or focus on one or two?

Since people who write blogs like these like to create lists of best practices here’s mine on this question:

  1. Understand your audience.  Know the demographic and make up of your audience.  This will help you make the right choice on which social networks you should focus on.
  2. Automating links and sharing them to Twitter and Facebook is simply social network clutter.  Get real people to engage with your content and share it.  Those real people can be you and your team-but this is social networks and people who use them don’t want to “bott’d” to.
  3. Be active–on Twitter RT someone’s posting of your content, on Facebook comment (don’t just like) someone’s posting.  Help foster your community.

Tweet, Tweet the NHL Trading Deadline

March 4, 2010

I would not call it a defining moment for the distribution of news and information–that Twitter is great way to find out about events and get some instant thoughts.  Instead I would call yesterday’s run up to the NHL trade deadline as a very insightful way that the paradigm has changed.

NHL reporters and commentators were hugely active on Twitter–updating all the trades and rumors.  I follow a bunch on this list (along with other sports folks).  This was updated before sites, before blogs, before TSN radio–and as each trade occurred, they became trending topics in Canada and in some cases the US.

I live in a hockey market with three teams, and limited coverage (not to mention the spat my team is having with a one-time team exec and now NHL blogger)-so any hockey news is helpful.  The wealth of information and insight from the Twitter-crowd was (and is) great.

Its how I found out Andy Sutton is worth a second round draft choice.  Its how I found out my team will keep 2.5 goalies for the rest of the season.  Its how I found out that at the NHL trade deadline, it was all about role players–nary a blockbuster in the bunch.

As always, its important to know your sources and dig a little deeper–but still for that top line/headline it’s very effective.


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