Twitter's UK in-house journalism expert and friend of the blog Joanna Geary has crowd-sourced a great list of 30 Twitter tools that are useful for journalists:
Some are familiar and essential, but some are brand new to me. Well worth a little time.
Liveblogging so be warned: typos, inaccuracies and vile, vile abuse of grammar and syntax ahead.
Peter is better known as a dramatist, but has always been interested in technology and journalism. He's fascinated by dynasties, power and corruption, as his books show. So, he started going to the pre-trial hearings on the hacking allegations.
And he realised he could tweet it. And he found it a more interesting process than writing conventional articles about it. He knew some of the things coming - but couldn't tweet them until they were told to the jury. That's contempt of court.
He built an audience rapidly - but he couldn't afford
the tickets the loss of earnings from attending the trial to live-tweet the whole thing. He gave up for a few days, and there was a clamour for him to return. Someone suggested that he crowd-fund he tickets. He was initially resistant to this - despite the fact that his book has been crowd-funded. He was funded in 8 hours when he actually capitulated. Why? Because he was providing a service that people wanted.
The financial support came with emotional strings and he found he felt an enormous responsibility to his funders. He generally goes in the annex downstairs rather than the gallery, as he finds you have more freedom to work there, watching the streams, than in the gallery itself. But it's a grim, difficult environment for a writer. Over time, the trial became an incredible drama, unfolding as the trial went on. Why? Both the British justice system and the British media are on trial. That's a precarious situation.
People are following him, including court officials - and they're alert to any prejudicial statement he makes. What British journalism does is mix fact and opinion. That's a completely different situation to court reporting. If you comment, you're in contempt of court - so sticking to just the facts is an incredible discipline. Of course, you can't tweet everything. So he targets every salient fact or date - and the best of the quotes. The only editorial decisions he makes are compressing quotes.
Why did people fund him? Because he's independent - he doesn't work for any of the media organisations.
All his tweets are being archived to be made available as a searchable database on his blog after the event.
Questions from the audience:
Did he do any media law training first? No. He wished he did. But he learnt from other journalist, and from getting it wrong.
He tweets from an iPad with a Logitech keyboard.
Did he pay tax on the crondfunded money? He needs to talk to his accountant about that...
What's the difference between what he does and lifestream of video or audio? How do you database or search or video? The internet is the revenge of words.
The most popular videos they did were the hard-hitting news and documentary work - the one about being in the middle of stories. So, they started building Vice News to focus on that, and launched about a month ago.
The documentary film-making they were doing was labelled news long before they started it calling that. They find the news cycle quite boring - and so do many of their readers. "The News" as it exists now is something you have to be plugging into all the time to understand what is going on.
They wouldn't cover the missing plane, for example, because there's nothing to film, and nothing they can add. They're quite opinionated in their reporting. They want journalists on site, saying what they see in front of them - and what it means. Henru Langston's tweets from the Ukraine racked up 20m impressions. But he followed that up with long-form work, and the camera team were using Instagram and Vine as they worked, which was followed by a documentary. That final result si something that can be looked back on in a year.
They're trying to use as many forms as possible - short form, long form. Whatever it takes to tell the story. Length isn't something they're hugely pre-occupied with. On YouTube they get people watching on average 20 minutes of video. The idea of the short video is beginning to be dispelled - because people are watching on mobile at tablets.
He's not allowed to talk about revenue split with YouTube - but it's easier for content makers to make revenue from their own platforms than YouTube. YouTube is about audience growth for them. They have so many different ways of monetising on their own platforms, that they want to bring people there.
He's always looking for hungry young journalists with access and a desire to tell stories. There's lots of tattooed 22 year olds - and some older heads who stop everyone getting killed. They like growing their own talent. People start by writing for the, and then transition to film-making if they're interested.
Equipment? A lot of it is very conventional. They're not citizen journalists. They use phone for live streaming - and high end cameras with DoP for their serious filming. They spend quite a lot of money per minute you see on screen. What makes it feel "rough" is what they choose to show.
They're always been a counter-culture kind of brand. How will they build news? Do more of it. But they won't chase the news cycle, or cover things they don't think they have anything new to offer.
Over half of their audience arrive via social media.
They're safety compliance is pretty much that the same as traditional broadcasters. Their stuff just feels more dangerous because ether show journalists freaking out which other media outlets would cut.
This kerfuffle at the Smáralind shopping centre near Reykjavík, Iceland, last weekend isn't because One Direction are in town. It's because of two stars from Vine, the six-second video-blogging site.
Then I did this:
Vine has been through its maturing period and is rapidly making its way into the "interesting" category...
What can we learn from this?
That's all good news, I think.
Allegedly Gary Vaynerchuk hadn't slept for two days before his talk at LeWeb. I well believe it given how rambling it was. This isn't a conventional chronological liveblog, as I've tried to gather together his thoughts into subject groups...
Everyone cares about dumb fucking data. It doesn't matter how many followers you have - it's how many that care.
If the founders of luxury.com are watching: fuck you. He bought an ad from them on an e-mail newsletter that went to 2m people. He got one order. Breadth doesn't matter - depth does. Worry about open rates, about clicks.
What snapchat is not about is impressions, it's about attention. Whatever you do, the number one thing you have to do is tell your story to someone on the path of making a decision. To do that, you need to get their attention.
Gary can't make something trend on Twitter any more. But he can on Snapchat - by sending thousands of message on Snapchat, by hand. He does wonder if they have any good product people left, based on how shit the last update was. Still, many of the recipients then posted the photo he sent to Twitter with the hashtag he asked them to use.
He thinks Snapchat will go one to many eventually - especially if they want to monetise. They tried with Stories - but it's shit with a shit UI. No-one has figures out how to monetise one to one yet. There might be a $20 a year app that's one to one that might work because it's such a great experience.
Snapchat is a utility to get someone's attention in a very noisy world.
He's built an agency from 20 people to 300 in the past two years. He has no HR manager - he instills the culture through dictatorship, and choosing the hiring. They've fired some talented people because they weren't wiling to be the culture fit he needs.
Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur now. The number of Ivy League students I see thinking they're entrepreneurs, then see them crumple the first taste of adversity they get. For every Instagram, there's 5 million Instashits. We're not in a financial bubble. This is not a cycle - this is the beginning of technology eating everything in our lives. But there is a bubble of entrepreneurship.
He lives his life as if he's on the record all the time. That's a decision he made the moment he had a measure of internet fame. It changes how you behave - and more people are going to think that way. We all under-estimate how much the world is actually going to change. We'll all be flabbergasted by what it becomes in the next 15 years.
People use social wrong - they blast out links to elsewhere. Do your storytelling on social media. Look at the 10 hashtags that are trending and being creative around that- it's 7000% better than truing to create your own. A woman on Pinterest has an intent or an openness to buy. On Facebook she's looking to be informed. Don't give her the same photo in bot places. Stop linking your Twitter and Facebook. It doesn't fucking work.
The stream on Twitter has become so busy that people miss things. You shouldn't worry about tweeting things more than once. If you put out quality content, people will be less worried by it than seeing 10 pieces of crap content from someone else. People need escapism and entertainment. The things on the front page of your phone are the single biggest gateway to the psychology of out society.
He's a big believer in free: give, give, give and then you earn the right to ask for something.
90% of people who speak give the same presentation for three years. He'd rather do all Q&As
If we went in a time machine and showed people bottled water - and that people paid for it, they wouldn't believe it. It took packaging and storytelling. If you can do that with water, you can do it for anything.
Liveblog of Guy Kawasaki talking on stage at LeWeb 10.
A few years ago people were predicting that MySpace would be the operating system of the internet. Now Facebook is close to that. Would you really have invested in Twitter 7 years ago?
Predicting the future is impossible. If you want to leave people doubt that you're an idiot - don't predict the future, because it will leave no doubt that you're an idiot.
Guy loves the idea of bitcoin, because it isn't in the control of Goldman Sachs!
Guy has a team helping manage his social media presence. His approach is different from most social media "experts" - it's a marketing platform for him, not a friend-building one. He's married with four children, he doesn't need any more friends. He doesn't want to be your friend. But he does want to provide you with great content.
Look at TV stations: if they provide great content 365 days a year, they get to do a telethon. If he provides great content, he gets to market stuff to. Buffer allows him to schedule things to post to all the different social networks. He reads the comments, and if there's a reply, it's him, not the team.
He repeats his tweets four times, eight hours apart. He gets four times the clicks as a result. Look at TV news: they repeat stories all the time. You can't assume people will scroll back to find your tweet. Why just four times? If Guy had a really organised mind, he could create eight links and monitor eight links. But he's probably pushing the edge even for him. He's probably breaking Twitter's ToS already... If people see his tweet twice - they've been on for 16 hours! That says more about them than him.
The most important thing an entrepreneur can do is build a prototype. Not a PowerPoint, not a Pitch. A Prototype. Most plans, forecasts and pitches are total bullshit. They all say roughly the same numbers.
The number two piece of advice? Create a product or service so great that the US industry wants to copy it. That's so different from the French version of service x.
Don't expect your customers to fill in loads of information to get access to a free service. Would you do that? No? Why would they, then? Build something you want to use. Don't go to a conference, listen to 50 year old white men tell you what to build. Create the product you want to use, and hope like hell you're not the only two people in the world who want it.
Investing is - and should be - a local phenomenon. There are so many ways we can lose money at home, why would you want to fly half way around the world to lose money? The ideal number of times you should use the world patent in a presentation is one: "we have a patent pending". Your defensibility should be your passion, your skill and your silliness to change the company to make it work. Create a company and make it scale.
There's nothing he's really looking for right now - but that doesn't stop him falling in love with products, like he did Google+:
If you fall in love - truly fall in love - you'll try to make it work. You don't say to the person "I will continue the relationship if you move to where I am". That's not love. If you're in SF and you want to invest in Paris, you encourage them to create a Delaware corporation and have an SF HQ, leaving the programmers in Paris.
Investors should be race blind, gender blond, sexuality blind and even nationality blind. Just look for a great frickin' prototype.
Twitter drives a tenth of the traffic that Facebook does to news sites. So why are journalists so obsessed with Twitter?
Well, there's a good reason:
The reason, I think, is that Twitter is simply more useful for our jobs. For better or worse, it's where news breaks today. It's also where a lot of real-time reporting happens.
And a bad one:
The fact that so many journalists are on Twitter has made Twitter incredibly professionally valuable to journalists. Tweeting your articles ensures they're seen -- and discussed, and retweeted -- within a community that includes not just your friends and peers, but the people who might hire you someday.
There's also one he doesn't mention: Facebook is harder to use than Twitter. To get maximum return from it journalistically, you have to cultivate a subscriber community, understand how the algorithm-that-replaced-Edgerank works, and be prepared to maintain a community so that your posts keep appearing in news feeds. Twitter looks broadcast-y enough that journalists can get their heads around it easily.
Still, missed opportunity...
Custom timelines are an entirely new type of timeline -- one that you create. You name it, and choose the Tweets you want to add to it, either by hand or programmatically using the API (more on that below). This means that when the conversation around an event or topic takes off on Twitter, you have the opportunity to create a timeline that surfaces what you believe to be the most noteworthy, relevant Tweets.
Looks almost like a shot across the bow of Storify. If you're using it to curate Tweets and nothing but, you can now do it natively within Twitter - and do so without replying on a third party. That said, Storify has much more power than that, as a genuine multi-platform curational tool.
Neville has created a good example of it in use.
It might be a good time to start culling the politicians you follow on Twitter. Buzzfeed's Jim Waterson explains why Labour spammed its followers' Twitter feeds:
It's an attempt to recreate blanket broadcast-style coverage on Twitter. And if 4.5m people really did see this one tweet about energy bills then it would be an equivalent reach to the BBC's Six O'Clock News.
I suspect we're about to find out if people are prepared to accept politicians treating Twitter as a primarily broadcast medium. I have to say, if any group if people I followed did that, I'd unfollow the lot of them.
Nice piece of reporting by Buzzfeed.
Mashable reports on a complete abuse of New York Comic Con attendees' Twitter accounts:
Fans, celebrities and press attending New York Comic Con on Thursday sent out laudatory tweets expressing excitement to be at the annual convention — or at least it looked like they did, as the tweets were published entirely without their permission or knowledge.
What's worse is that they don't even seem particularly sorry they did it:
As you may have seen yesterday, there were some posts to Twitter and Facebook issued by New York Comic Con on behalf of attendees after RFID badges were registered. This was an opt-in function after signing in, but we were probably too enthusiastic in our messaging and eagerness to spread the good word about NYCC.
As the word spreads that social media can powerfully extend the reach of events like this, I'd lay good money on further abuses like this happening.
Photo by NY Big Apple and used under a Creative Commons licence
I think he begrudges me the username "adders" in so many places...
In a few weeks, I'll be up in front of a variety of journalism students, teaching them about live-tweeting events. Despite what some people have taken from my post on Social Media Week London, I think good event live-tweeting is a really useful resource. But it's a very, very tricky thing to do well.
There are three things I'll be suggesting to the students that can make the difference between ordinary live-tweeting and really useful tweets. I'll present them here for the criticism and appraisal of anyone who is interested.
(I'm aware that Rob Mansfield has posted something similar, but I'm dumping my thoughts out here before I read that.)
This sounds obvious, but it's easy to miss. Is what you're tweeting really news?
There's a temptation to tweet things that in some way badge you with what they're saying: "Hey, look, I know that social media use should be authentic". This is rarely useful to others. Concentrate on sharing things that you find genuinely surprising or useful, not those that confirm your existing beliefs.
Really good live-tweeters can construct a narrative of a speaker's thoughts through selective tweeting. That's a skill you can hone over time.
Context is everything. I once saw a tweet from a conference that accurately reproduced a speaker's words (about the growing power of the amateur photographer), but missed the context (a service to help professional photographers). Many people not in the room assumed that he was celebrating the fall of the professional photog, not trying to arrest it. That's about context. An isolated soundbite without the context of the quote can be deeply misleading.
If you can't quote it without the context being clear - don't tweet it.
You can't rely on people reading the whole of your stream either. People dip in and out of Twitter, and once a tweet is retweeted, all context from surrounding tweets is lost.
Remember that the hashtag and geotagging your tweets are both useful context. The former aids discovery, the latter aids verification, suggesting you were actually on site, rather than repeating something heard elsewhere.
Every time you quote someone, attribute that quote to them. Don't rely on flagging it up in the first tweet quoting them - that context is easily lost. Where possible, use their twitter username. It'll save you characters, and allow people interested in what they had to say to find them and follow them. If you know you will be live tweeting an event, you can research this in advance. If you are an event organiser and want to encourage people to tweet, put the Twitter username of the speaker up somewhere in the venue in a persistent manner.
Is this is a lot to cram into 140 characters? Yes, it is. But that's the skill of using Twitter well.
Feedback gratefully received…
Euan Semple on the recent Twitter abuse issues:
Bullies gain strength from that audience. The audience is to blame for not saying anything. Sure their hardcore mates would have egged them on but there must have been some at the periphery who felt uncomfortable and should have spoken up.
Social consequences are the most powerful deterrent in a social space like Twitter. And we can't create those by appealing to Twitter itself.
Do all those fine folks on Twitter represent a good cross-section of the general public?
Overall, the reaction to political events on Twitter reflects a combination of the unique profile of active Twitter users and the extent to which events engage different communities and draw the comments of active users. While this provides an interesting look into how communities of interest respond to different circumstances, it does not reliably correlate with the overall reaction of adults nationwide.
tl;dr: Not so much:
At times the Twitter conversation is more liberal than survey responses, while at other times it is more conservative. Often it is the overall negativity that stands out. Much of the difference may have to do with both the narrow sliver of the public represented on Twitter as well as who among that slice chose to take part in any one conversation.
The Pew Research Centre report on Twitter reaction to events makes for fascinating reading.
Martin Belam pretended to be a ghost on twitter - and discovered the misogyny lurking in our political debate:
Then I announced that the next guest was going to be Emmeline Pankhurst, the first time it had featured a woman. Within a couple of minutes I got the first negative tweet I’d ever received directed at the account. And then a few minutes after that, without yet having tweeted in character, I got someone complaining that it was all going to be about feminism. And during the show people tweeted things like “Why are there no men on Woman’s hour?” at me.
It's a pretty disturbing read, rendered more so by the fact that these feelings are rendered in low level humour rather than outright abuse.
Marco Arment has used the demise of Google Reader to explore how Google has changed since the rise of Facebook - and how the big three web players (Facebook, Twitter and Google) are no longer "webby" in the sense we once used the word:
The bigger problem is that they’ve abandoned interoperability. RSS, semantic markup, microformats, and open APIs all enable interoperability, but the big players don’t want that — they want to lock you in, shut out competitors, and make a service so proprietary that even if you could get your data out, it would be either useless (no alternatives to import into) or cripplingly lonely (empty social networks).
The rather annoying part of all of this is that these services initially built their success on open web principles:
That world formed the web’s foundations — without that world to build on, Google, Facebook, and Twitter couldn’t exist. But they’ve now grown so large that everything from that web-native world is now a threat to them, and they want to shut it down. “Sunset” it. “Clean it up.” “Retire” it. Get it out of the way so they can get even bigger and build even bigger proprietary barriers to anyone trying to claim their territory.
I can see the appeal of the proprietary platforms to both individuals and companies. Brands want single companies they can deal with, while individuals don't want all the hassle of maintaining the infrastructure to support their presence. Companies, though, should think twice before handing their online profile over to a company like Facebook who can change - and diminish that presence - at a whim. Facebook can be part of a strategy, but should never be the only home to it, unless you're willing to cede effective ownership of your presence to a third party - two third parties, if you're using an outside agency to a mange that work for you. Equally, individuals who have a vested interest in maintaining a web presence - artists, consultants and the like - should be wary of putting time and effort into a platform they can't extract their data from.
I think it's beholden to those of us who remember and understand what the open web standards were about - interoperability, data portability and their ilk - to keep fighting those battles, and to keep promoting their benefits to the people who "own" content and materials that they value. Those proprietary platforms are useful, and shouldn't be ignored. But they shouldn't be trusted, either. Who knows which service will be the next to be shut down - and how easy it will be to reclaim your data and content.
Or, as Marco puts it:
Well, fuck them, and fuck that.
Update: Just after posting, I saw Neville Hobson tweet this:
Further evidence, if you needed it, that Google is slowly backing away from providing useful tools that link their systems with yours.
This is sorta fun: my Twitter life captured as a video, including most popular Tweets and photos.
Sadly, it's not embeddable, so you'll have to click through.
Hello Adam Tinworth,
Your request to be included in Twitter Cards has been approved. We've activated Summary and Photo cards for *.onemanandhisblog.com.
I'm becoming such a markup geek.
(No idea what I'm talking about? Here's the Twitter cards documentation)
Update: It's working...
Laura Hazard Owen, writing for Paid Content, identifies why the "social media has killed RSS" idea doesn't apply to many of us:
The best thing about Google Reader, from my point of view, is that it allows me to scan a lot of information quickly, with the assurance that I'm not missing anything. That's why, for me, it fills a completely different role than the (equally useful) Twitter does. Twitter provides a snapshot of a moment in time, and you're likely to miss tweets as they whiz by; Google Reader stores everything. The search on Google Reader is also vastly better than the search on Twitter, and it goes back indefinitely.
Twitter is where I go to find out what's happening. My RSS reader is where I go to become informed.
Well, that was something to wake up to...
Twitter has indeed been hacked, with 250,000 accounts exposed, mine amongst them.
This week, we detected unusual access patterns that led to us identifying unauthorized access attempts to Twitter user data. We discovered one live attack and were able to shut it down in process moments later. However, our investigation has thus far indicated that the attackers may have had access to limited user information - usernames, email addresses, session tokens and encrypted/salted versions of passwords - for approximately 250,000 users.
I'm now behind a nice, secure password randomly generated by 1Password.