Finally made it to another Third Tuesday Ottawa at the Clocktower last night. Mathew Ingram, the Globe and Mail’s Communities Editor, was speaking on how the G&M uses social media. His presentation was an updated version of the slide deck embedded below. Thanks to Mathew for a great presentation and to Joe Thornley for setting things up.
(I actually got to see this twice yesterday, as Mathew kindly agreed, on very short notice, to present to a group of federal bureaucrats in the afternoon as well. Thanks to @AngelinaMunaret for getting that together also.)
Basically, Mathew outlined for us how the he’s been working at moving the Globe and Mail’s relationship with its readers from treating them as an audience to seeing them as a community. He referred to his efforts as “experiments” – but I’d say that’s a rather modest characterization.
Anyhow, I found what Mathew had to say had a lot of parallels with my experience in government communications — where his peers may be used to having a platform and finding it hard to share, mine are used to being insulated and finding it hard to open up.
If you want to listen to a recording of Mathew’s talk, hop on over to Being Buff where Robin Browne has posted a two-part podcast of the event. Nice work Robin!
Update: just noticed the Richard at Science Library Pad also has a post up on last night’s event.
At the start of the session, Third Tuesday dynamo @thornley challenged us to take the #tto tag to the top of the trending topics in Twitter – unfortunately my Bberry’s wireless signal was not cooperating, so I couldn’t help with this.
Instead, below is a transcript of my notes, tapped in as the event unfolded and edited slightly for clarity. It’s in two parts, the presentation and subsequent Q&A session. For the presentation, I compiled my notes from both versions of Mathew’s talk . For the Q&A I’ve only included notes from the afternoon session, as my thumbs grew tired in the evening!
- Globe’s use of social media classified as experiments – it is new media after all
- Mathew Ingram was a tech reporter at the Globe, now community manager
- aimed at trying to get more public participation around government policy issues
- not many tools out there for this, so social media fills a gap
- took “serious” approach, rather than using tricks to get people to participate – used briefing note model. High bar for participation
- impressed with participation so far
- levereged experts, e.g. David Suzuki, etc.
- cautionary tale: LA Times wikitorial from 2005 – So far G+M has had none of that kind of vandalism
- using tikiwiki as the tool. Free!
Cover It Live:
- widget for live blogging, live discussion
- obvious use is for live events, but also good for chat/Q+A sessions
- hosting live discussions – allows for real time interaction. Couldn’t do that @ G+M before
- works as a box that embeds on a web page
- can embed lots of stuff, full moderation possible, pull in Twitter streams etc.
- widget model – allows “in context” audience participation – embedded right next to normal articles etc.
- allows for full moderation: dashboard for whoever is moderating w/ the usual moderation features.
- about two dozen reporters and staff on Twitter, plus feedbots and some hybrids (corp accounts with real people at the keyboard)
- allow at least some personal connection w readers, immediate feedback, instant info sharing, etc.
- used both for creating articles, stories and promoting them
- used also early warning system – breaking news etc.
- debate over brand presence – corp accts etc.
- personal connection – corp accts don’t have that
- diff people want diff levels of interaction
Why is the Globe doing these things:
- Readers want to connect – G+M benefits from this too
- people want to help, share – give them ways to contribute
- “the people formerly known as the audience” – from audience to community
- trolls vastly outnumberd by people who really do want to engage with you
- social media allows for creators to connect with the conversations arising from their content that have always occurred but traditionally elsewhere (esp. offline)
- aside: daughters’ attitude towards media: if they can’t share it or remix it or contribute to it in some way then it’s broken
Lessons – Policy Wiki:
- need to give people reason to contribute
- need to provide concrete outcome – tell contributors what are you going to do with what they have contributed
- boring works – reasonably high barriers to entry show that its a serious effort, helps to keep trolls away
- setting up the platform is easy. Turning that into community is much more challenging.
Lessons – Cover it live:
- real-time fascinating to (some) people
- but some find it intrusive – immersive therefore chaotic, hard to make sense of the stream of information
- the stream is an “everything all at once” experience, as opposed to traditional way a media site sets it up – articles with related links at the end, etc
- whereas traditional news stories provide more structure, sense making – but can’t tell what’s changed as stories updated
Lessons – Twitter:
- people respond to people much more so than companies or brands
- Grey area b/w private and public, personal and professional.
- Too corporate – miss the point. Power of twitter – instantaneous personal connection.
- need balance from pushing stuff out with real people doing two-way communication
- people want to help, contribute… “crowdsourcing”
- changing who gets cited/sourced in news stories
Q&A – Afternoon Session
Print vs online edition: Is there a holistic strategy or are you working in parallel universes?
- not holistic, learning as we go
- readership online overlaps 20-30% w paper readers.
- when things go right both print + online line up.
- think about audience as community whether online or IRL
Social Media Monitoring?
- media monitoring changing
- keeping ear to the ground much more challenging. Need to keep feelers out in many different ways, on a lot of channels
- traditional media monitoring becoming a smaller and smaller part of job
Policy wiki: what is the context around this initiative?
- how to maintain focus? Your desired focus vs the participants’ focus….
- encouragement – appeal to vandals etc on a human level. “that’s not working for most of us, can you knock it off.”
- if the initiative appears to be a faceless, monolithic entity – people are going to want to throw rocks, write graffiti on the walls. Try to personalize it.
- there are people in your community knows more about your story than you do. Those people can add value if you can find a way to let them
Thoughts on Risk?
- no way to prevent random, trollish commenting on news stories.
- Open to being sued…. Eg crime stories and inside info coming out — this area is a “vast sea of uncertainty”
- mitigation: live blogging tool allows for lots of moderation – fine grained control.
Thoughts on Obama’s live blogging and other social media efforts?
- Obama’s team gave us many great examples of effective use
- always risk of being gamed (eg marijuana proposals being voted up in citizen briefing book)
- but outweighed by benefit of doing this
Thoughts on government engagement online (in terms of media relations)?
- in general – want to respond to correct erroneous info
- when engaging take helpful tack
- be transparent
Social media releases: do these help?
- anytime you can add info, the better
- the more stuff you can give journalists to work with, the better
- news sites love video, images etc.
- globe trying to give as much info as it can to its readers, so good thing if government media relations can help out the globe
- traditional press releases becoming irrelevant – fewer and fewer journalists are paying attention