Women make up the majority of users on most social media sites, according to Information is Beautiful.
Here are some popular social networks with a majority of users being female:
- Flickr is 55 percent female.
- Twitter is 57 percent female.
- Facebook is 57 percent female.
- Ning is 59 percent female.
- MySpace is 64 percent female.
YouTube and LinkedIn have an equal ratio of males to female. Digg is the only major social network that is heavily skewed towards males, with 64 percent of users being male.
I have a lot of theories as to why there are more females on social media than men but nothing concrete. It’s clearly important, however, to understand the demographics of each social network, and news organizations — especially newspapers — have struggled for years to attract as many female readers/users as they do with males. Creating more social products can only help attract more females to news products.
Unique visitors can be very misleading, especially since so many Web users are drive by users that stop by to view one Web page, before quickly going elsewhere.
What’s more important is how we engage with our users. Drive by users aren’t worth nearly as much to advertisers (or to content producers) as dedicated users. Try this statistic on for good measure:
Which one of those users is more valuable? Obviously, Facebook users are much more dedicated users than NYTimes.com users. Facebook is also getting less drive by users, and drive by users aren’t that valuable. NYTimes.com is one of the better journalism sites out there, and it does fairly well — as far as news sites are concerned — with time spent per user per month.
But news sites — and most Web sites — can learn a lot from leading social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is continually adding more features to make Facebook sticker: chat, applications (popular games like Farmville are making the site very sticky), the news feed, etc. In fact, time spent on Facebook has soared 699 percent since April 2008.
News organizations need to figure out how to grok what leading social networks are doing, because news Web sites need to get stickier. Clearly, people want to be social. News organizations need to embrace being social and start engaging their users better. News has to become a conversation.
Getting more users is good, but getting more engagement out of each user is better.
I want to share with you a project I’ve been working on, and why I think it illustrates how engagement and interaction are coming to all old medium platforms.
Since earlier this year I have been helping best-selling thriller author Joseph Finder with his social media strategy for his new book Vanished and the book’s main character, Nick Heller. Heller is on Twitter and Facebook (Facebook is an experiment that we just launched this week, while we have been using Twitter for months). But he’s not just tweeting lines from the book or providing a Twitter novelization, but rather Heller’s Twitter account is a complimentary experience to the book that is centered around engagement.
I believe that within a generation it will be expected that characters like Heller will interact with users. The days of one-way experiences are coming to an end. Think of the generation after mine that has grown up with both the Internet and social networks. Do you really think they content with the same products that my grand parents loved? Doubtful.
We really wanted to create an experience for people:
- We interact on social media — If you tweet something worthwhile at Heller, he’ll tweet back at you, in character. Want to know some back story about him? Just ask. Want to ask questions about the case he is working on right now? Just ask. Heller responds to DMs and @replies. He also retweets interesting tweets. There was no point in putting Heller on Twitter if we were going to treat Twitter like it was a book.
- Blurring the lines between reality and fiction — We wanted to create a social media experience that made people believe that Heller was a real person, even if they already knew he was a character (and that the stories of corruption that he discusses could be real). First, Heller is always in character, but he acts like a character in the real world, not a character in a distant novel. Heller might be tweeting about a current investigation that he is working on about an AIG-style firm that involves some misplaced funds and possible corruption. Heller will then tweet links to real news stories about companies that did the same thing. Or if Heller is talking about looking over CCTV footage to find out what happened to someone, he’ll then tweet about how many CCTVs there are in DC, American, the world, etc.
- Additional content — Heller has additional fictional narratives that aren’t in the book that he tweets and talks about. We decided early on that we had to offer additional fictional content on Twitter. We always try to tie these side narratives to either current events or events in the past. This way we can link to news stories and provide facts and figures that help us blur the lines between reality and fiction.
- Creating a great experience even if you’re not a fan — You don’t have to be a fan of Joseph Finder, Nick Heller or Vanished to get value out of Heller’s Twitter feed (or know of any of those). We link to and discuss interesting stories involving politics, political corruption, espionage, corporate espionage, information technology and general stupidity. If you just want awesome links and witty takes on the news and world, Heller is an account worth following.
- Photos, why not? — We have a treasure trove of research photos for this book that we’ll be incorporating into the Twitter feed. Vanished takes place mostly in DC and the surrounding suburbs. All the events in the book either take place at real DC locations or are modeled after real locations. In addition, we’ve used smartphone pics and TwitPic for side narratives too. It’s all about creating an immersive experience.
- It’s an experiment — We would be the first to admit that sticking a fictional character on Twitter is an experiment, and it may not be a success (although it is low risk). The book isn’t out yet, so it’s hard to determine the success (Nick Heller will be appearing in a four book series over the next four years). Our goal is to provide a complimentary product that serves fans of the book, while also keeping interest up in between books.
- Social media is here to stay — I don’t know if Twitter and Facebook or any of the other current social networks will be around in 10 years, but I do know that the idea that media should be social is here to stay. People like interactivity and smart journalists, musicians, movie stars, book authors, characters in books and movies, etc will grok that.
- If Heller can do it, so can journalists — Journalism and social media go together so well. If people on Twitter are enjoying Heller on Twitter, I certainly think people will enjoy journalists on Twitter. Our research at BeatBlogging.Org indicates that journalists can get a lot of value out of social media. The best advice is to go where your audience is, and people are flocking to social media.
Here are some sample tweets of Nick’s that show the range of what he tweets about:
A response to a question about Heller’s life:
I’m a private spy, @Battleborne. No kids or wife. Not sure if I’ll ever settle down. Too busy with work, investigating firms, politicians…
Got a phone call from my Nephew Gabe. My brother is missing. His wife is in the hospital with a concussion.
Non-shocker of the day: Louisiana ex-congressman William Jefferson convicted of bribery in freezer cash case:http://bit.ly/creOQ
Helping out servicemembers (Heller is ex-military, so he’ll tweet military-related tweets and links for people)
ATM news (Heller requently tweets about the lack of safety at ATMs)
Apparenty arming an ATM with pepper spray is a really bad idea: http://bit.ly/bhB58
High Fructose Corn Syrup, just like sugar, with an extra bit of Mercury thrown in for extra goodness: http://bit.ly/J1Sah
I encourage you to follow Nick Heller on Twitter (@NickHeller) and give me feedback. I’d love to hear what you think.
Best Practices for Businesses on Twitter — Twitter has released a blog post detailing best practices for business on Twitter. It’s well worth your time to check out. Some take home points:
- Think about Twitter as a place to build relationships
- Understand the real-time nature of Twitter
- Before you set up measurement tools, focus on the quality of your engagement, and use your gut to check how things are going. How’s the feedback and interaction with your followers? Are you responding to most or your @messages?
TwitViewer is a scam. DO NOT use the service — Twitter, on its Spam update account, said this, “If you gave your login and password info to TwitViewer, we strongly suggest you change your password now.” Let me repeat, do not use TwitViewer and be very cautious of any site that wants your username and password from Twitter.
69 percent of adults don’t know what Twitter is — From my experience, most people have heard of Twitter, but that don’t really get what it is at all or why it is useful. Some think it’s just like the Facebook status update (it’s not), while others think it’s a way to talk about what you eat (could be).
This problem is compounded by the fact that many of the big name, celebrity users are very poor Twitter users. Sure they have lots of followers, but they are very poor role models for new users.
One of the most interesting tidbits of this study is this: “20% felt Twitter was only for young people.” It’s funny because Twitter is not popular with tweens and teens and is doing so-so with college students. Twitter is popular with professionals in their 20s, 30s and 40s. I’m not sure why this misconception exists, but Twitter is one of the least ageist social networks out there, and there are plenty of successful older Twitters.
Jon Gruber on paywalls — When one of the smartest Web writers and technologists around writes about a topic, it’s well worth reading. Some key parts:
The consumer psychology of web subscriptions for news just doesn’t work out. It’s right there in the language we use to talk about newsstand prices for print periodicals: per copy. A dollar for a newspaper or a few bucks for a glossy magazine feels like a fair price for a copy. Trees have been cut, presses have been rolled, trucks have been driven to get that copy into your hands. Even subscription pricing for printed newspapers and magazines is always stated in the context of how much you can save compared to per-copy prices at the newsstand.
What feels like a fair price for a copy of a web page, on the other hand, is nothing. They’re just ones and zeroes.
Newsstand and subscription prices have never been the main source of revenue for newspapers anyway — advertising is. But they can’t make as much money from web advertising as from print for several reasons. Pre-Internet, newspapers had inordinate control over the supply of news, and therefore over the supply of advertising, and they grew fat on the profits.
Read the full post. Trust me, it’s well worth your time.
Social Journalism: Curate the Real-Time Web — Publish2 released new tools to allow users to curate the real-time Web:
What’s Social Journalism? It’s what you do when you gather information in social media channels and then report it to your readers. Watching a Twitter #hashtag for posts related to a critical local issue or big event, then publishing them in a roundup or sidebar on your news site? That’s Social Journalism. Scanning YouTube for the latest video from a protest, county fair, or city council meeting? That’s Social Journalism.
Sharing on Facebook Now More Popular than Sharing by Email — Facebook tops all other Web sites and even e-mail when it comes to sharing content via the AddToAny widget. Yes, this is just one widget, but it is one of the most popular. 24 percent of shares were via Facebook, while e-mail had 11.1 percent and 10.8 percent via Twitter.
Personally, I’m much more likely to share links via Facebook or Twitter than via e-mail, and I suspect this is increasingly becoming the case for many people. Now, we have some data to back up this point.
For content producers, this means getting content onto Facebook. People are using Facebook more and more and sharing is a big part of that.
Confirmed: Digg Just Hijacked Your Twitter Links — “Earlier today we mentioned that Digg.com appears to have changed the behavior of its short URLs so they no longer go to the source of the story for logged-out users: instead they direct visitors to a landing page on Digg ().com.
The change has many negative implications for publishers, including the fact that readers who think they are creating a link to your content are actually just pushing traffic to Digg.”
Content creators, there are plenty of better short url services out there like tr.im, bit.ly and the original, tinyurl.com.
Love it or hate it, spymaster is invading Facebook — Spymaster is now on Facebook, but that’s not the real news here for content creators. The real news is how a viral game like Spymaster has exploded all over Twitter and now Facebook. It’s an innovative concept, and it’s one content creators should study closely.
Twitter’s 1,928 Percent Growth and Other Notable Social Media Stats –This is a great collection of stats. Here is my favorite
- MySpace () leads all social media sites (presumably excluding YouTube ()) in unique video viewers, with 12.9 million.
MySpace is still relevant in the entertainment sector, it’s just stagnant elsewhere. I think we’ll see MySpace drastically change within the next year or two into more of an entertainment portal and less of a traditional social network.
This week’s Leaderboard focuses on live tweeting, the cousin of live blogging.
In many ways, live tweeting is almost the same as live blogging with a service like CoveritLive. But there are differences. First, Twitter is more open and much easier to discover.
People need to know about a CoveritLive live blog ahead of time, but via #hashtags, retweets and @replies, more and more people can discover a journalist live tweeting.
There are negatives from live tweeting, such as having tweets get lost in a stream of other people’s tweets. This can be rectified by embedding a Twitter feed onto a blog or other Web site.
In the end, however, both live tweeting and live blogging offer real promise for journalists and provide a new level of coverage for users.
Tracie Mauriello | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- Mauriello is nominated for her excellent live tweeting of “bonusgate,” a public corruption investigation in Pa. Her fellow reporters in Harrisburg retweeted her excellent work all day long and even relied on her to provide blow-by-blow details of a hearing on the investigation.
- More than 100 lawmakers and staffers from the general assembly were subpoenaed to testify for the defense in this public corruption investigation.
- Mauriello posted what amounts to a day-long account, all on twitter, of a hearing on the investigation. She did this all day long and didn’t stop at any point. It amounts to an interpretive transcript.
- Fellow political reporter Alex Roarty said, “It’s how everybody in the Pa. political community is getting there news from [the hearing].”
- Citizens interested in learning more about this hearing were also treated to a live, interactive transcript of this event. Something like this wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago.
Nick Martin | Heat City
- This non-profit startup focuses on hard news and public interest journalism in the Phoenix area. We especially like the use of social media for soliciting tips. Editor Nick Martin is also active on social networks like Twitter.
- Martin is a very good user of Twitter. He links to interesting stories, solicits tips, interacts with users and more. Too many journalists use their Twitter accounts to just push people to existing content. Martin’s Twitter account offers additional value for fans of Heat City.
- Martin also created a second Twitter account, @SerialShooter, to live tweet from trial of an accused serial shooter.
- Martin has Google ads and a tip jar on the site to support his efforts. It remains to be seen how Heat City will be received by the community — especially those who might send in donations — but Martin has several great examples of how to mix new and social media with public interest journalism.
Ledger Live | The Star-Ledger
- Over the past year this video show from The Star-Ledger has gone from a more traditional show to a show that feels more like a video blog. Users have reacted to the change and the show has become more popular. Many news orgs have jumped head first into video, often hitting their heads at the shallow end of the pool.
- Ledger Live was always an interesting take on a daily news show with a more casual style, but even that wasn’t enough for Web users. People have different expectations for video on the Web, and broadcast standards don’t cut it. Plus, young users are often turned off by network news-style video shows.
- The Nieman Lab reports that the changes were brought about by the Ledger beginning to understand how people consume video: “The show used to broadcast live at noon, but few viewers remembered to pull up the live stream on the newspaper’s schedule. Others didn’t understand they could watch past episodes on demand. Over time, the newspaper found that the Ledger Live audience was not particularly interested in watching a videotaped version of print news, which forced the show to become more topical. Donohue still addresses important news, but not in the way the newspaper does. He’s more dynamic — he even takes calls sometimes — in an effort to let readers and viewers peer into the newsroom.”
- The videos got shorter and were longer a part of a giant video package, like the news shows of yesterday. People consume video on the Web in bits and chunks, and that is something the new Ledger Live has tapped into. People also like to interact on the Web, and Ledger Live has become more interactive as well.
- The idea of doing a video show as almost a video blog is an idea to watch. The Star-Ledger has seen a lot of upheaval over the last year, but it is trying some really innovative ideas and experiments.
Ten issues I have with Twitter (and its community) — There are some very legitimate issues listed here, and I hope many of them will be fixed in time. First, Twitter does need a better search engine. There is a so much information on Twitter, and it is a real shame that is so hard to sort through.
Content producers, you should be actively lobbying Twitter to improve its search engine. It can help us all do our jobs better.
The other big issue listed here, for me at least, is groups. Twitter needs them. Now that people are following more and more people, it’s getting harder and harder to track the conversation. If I could create groups ala FriendFeed, and put my friends into groups like journalism, social media, Web dev, politics, news, etc that would make my job a lot easier.
Yes, TweetDeck has groups, but they are only contained within the application itself, not within the whole Twitter universe. FriendFeed is an excellent model for Twitter groups.
Seesmic’s Browser Client Is Like Gmail For Twitter — For content producers who aren’t allowed to install Twitter applications — or any applications without way too much approval — Seesmic’s browser client should be a big help. Seesmic’s browser client allows for multi-columns, which can make Twitter much more usable and efficient.
Seesmic also brings over all your saved searches from the Twitter.com client. This is worth checking out. I prefer TweetDeck, but then again, I can install whatever I want on my computers. If you want a more advanced Twitter experience, but aren’t allowed to install desktop applications or you don’t want to deal with all that, than Seesmic’s new Web client is your best bet.
Tumblr Submissions: Create Your Own Community-Powered Blog — This sums it up well, “With free content from your readers, what’s your excuse for not updating your blog?” Tumblr’s new submission feature may be a good way to tap into — trusted — community members for links.
Location-Based Services: Are You Using Them? — Location-based services are still in their infancy and mostly appeal to tech-savvy people. That, like social media was a few years ago, will be quickly changing. Location-based services make a lot of sense for geographically-based news orgs.
HOW TO: Manage Social Media Goals and Expectations –You’re not going to get 1,000,000 followers on Twitter overnight — or ever — and it takes time to build up a solid reputation on social media sites. Having realistic goals and expectations will make your social media experience much better.
Social media is about people, conversations, friendships, education, and communication. Social media is not a race. If you get over-competitive with people over followers, retweets, and popularity, you lose sight of the communication and learning aspects of social media, and the fun gets sucked right out.
When you are setting your social media expectations and goals, remember to avoid pitfalls that many enter. Really assess what you want to get out of your experience. If you do this early, you can avoid the frustration of aimless wandering quickly.
Mashable has a piece today noting that the new social media editor at The New York Times doesn’t appear to be very active on social media.
We think the answer to their question is clear as day. Yes, of course a social media editor should be all over social media.
News orgs should have social media phenoms as their social media editors. Someone who eats, sleeps and breaths social media. A journalist who can’t get enough of it and understands how social media can improve journalism.
Now, maybe @NYT_JenPreston will become that phenom, but she has already called her role “more internal,” meaning that she doesn’t plan on being more active on networks like Twitter, at least for the time being. I can’t imagine how someone who isn’t actively engaging in social media can direct others, especially on what’s next.
Certainly, you can listen to what others are saying, read sites like BeatBlogging.Org and grok what is and isn’t working on social media. Being an avid social media user, however, is probably the only way to innovate and see what’s next.
There are some very talent social media editors at traditional news organizations: Robert Quigley and Andrew Nystrom come to mind. Both are dedicated social media employees who were into social media before they got jobs in social media, not after. By being active and passionate social media users, I think they are well positioned to see what’s next and how to make their news orgs’ use of social media better than the rest.
We certainly wish Ms. Preston the best of luck at the Times and hope she does a wonderful job in her role. We do think she has a point about listening, and many so-called social media experts would benefit from more listening. By listening, she’ll certainly be able to understand what others are doing and why they are doing it. In the end, however, we think being active on social media (and loving every second of it) is a key part of being a social media editor.
I do a lot of listening and researching for BeatBlogging.Org, but many of my best lessons were learned from doing (and sometimes falling flat on my face). I’ve been a Twitter use since 2007 and how I tweet and why I tweet has changed considerably since I first started. I’m always learning new lessons by both listening and doing.
Social media is one of those things that is hard to fully understand and appreciate without getting your hands dirty. It is, in many ways, quite similar to blogging. Most people don’t fully understand the power of blogging until they do it. But for most bloggers (and social media users) there is that ah-ha moment, and I’m not sure if that ah-ha moment can come from just listening and researching.
I think what has been most important for me in my social media research and use has been my enjoyment of social media. Most successful people on social media (outside of celebrities) are successful because they genuinely enjoy being on social media and interacting with people. I don’t mind following both my personal account @jiconoclast and tracking what people are saying to @MsBeat, because I genuinely enjoy my time on Twitter.
Toronto’s Globe and Mail’s main story today on riots in China featured five photos that originally appeared on Twitter from citizens in China.
The wire service Reuters originally curated the images, and the Globe and Mail grabbed them from the service, citing both Reuters and Twitter for the photos. China is a country with tight media controls and a vast Internet filtering strategy that would have traditionally made it difficult for photos like these to be made public. But social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Flickr are making it hard for China’s censors to keep up with its citizens.
The Internet, and social media in particular, are making it difficult for authoritarian regimes around the world to control the flow of data into and, perhaps more importantly, out of their countries. China’s fabled “Great Firewall of China” is really intended to keep citizens from accessing information produced outside of China on such hot button topics like democracy and Tienanmen. The Great Firewall was not designed to keep information from flowing from Chinese citizens to the wider world, especially in real time.
Social media is having a big impact on both journalism and the wider world. While western news agencies struggle to get images out of China and Iran, Twitter and other social networks are providing a near limitless flow of information and media. In this case, a mainstream media story was combined with photos from a social network to tell a more complete story of the current unrest in China.
Rather than fear social media and other emerging Web technologies, news organizations should embrace these new technologies. In this case, the Globe and Mail was able to print five incredible photos that illustrate the upheaval and deadly violence in China. These photos would not be possible without social media, and the world would be poorer without these photos.
And while this is a journalism site, it’s pretty amazing to also see the impact that Twitter and other social media are having on totalitarian regimes like China and Iran. It may have been possible a few decades ago to keep unrest under wraps or at least limit its exposure to the world, but that is no longer the case. People have stories to tell and social media is emerging as the premier platform to tell individual stories, especially in the face of oppression and censorship.
It’s also worth noting that the Globe and Mail didn’t turn its nose up at non-professional photos on its front page. While the photos grabbed by cell phones aren’t award-winning quality, they are often more than adequate to tell a story. These photos are powerful not because of the technology behind them, but rather because of the subjects they capture and the stories they tell.
People all over the world are constantly taking photos and posting them to social media sites. News organizations need to learn how to harness this mass of information. While many of the photos are duds, there are plenty of gems.
To find these five gems, journalists at Reuters had to sift through many photos. As social media continues to proliferate, curation will become an increasingly important skill for journalists to have.
Facebook’s ‘09 Revenue to Top $500 Million — Facebook is starting to take off as a company and expects to have billions of dollars of yearly revenue within five years. See, you can make money off the Internet.
News orgs need to start developing platforms and communities. Making money off of just reporting will be a tough sell moving forward.
How I tweet: Just the FAQs — This is how a master tweeter Guy Kawasaki tweets. Learn from the best.
A few tidbits:
- Guy follows everyone back because that allows people to Direct Message him. DMs are limited to 140 characters and Guy finds them much more efficient than e-mail.
- Guy uses TweetDeck on his Mac. It’s probably the best desktop application around (available on Windows and Linux too).
Search photos on Twitter with twicsy — This is the best photo search for Twitter that I’ve found so far. A useful tool for content producers.
14 iPhone Apps With Push Notification for Productivity — By far our favorite use of Push notifications on the iPhone so far are instant messaging applications. Now a content producer can stay logged into IM on the go and the iPhone will pop up notifications when new IMs arrive.
Twitter Cops: Nobody cares what your eating — This is a hilarious Twitter spoof video. The video highlights something to take note of, however. Most people probably don’t care about the mundane details of your lives. But Twitter can be a fantastic tool for work. This video contains strong language. (link via @NickHeller)