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 Click to see the invitation to this Tweetup

Click to see the invitation to this Tweetup

Reminder: Tweetup tonight for GoC web types!

Sez the organizer, @mjmclean:

#Pint2.0

Calling GoC web folks. Many twitter connections-let’s get real and raise a pint to our collective successes and another to our challenges!

Where?
Heart&Crown – Preston St.
353 preston street, Ottawa, Canada
When?
May 12, 2009
What time?
4:30 – 8pm

RSVP to the invite here.

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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.

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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!

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Presentation

Intro:

  • 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

Policy Wiki:

  • 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.

Twitter:

  • 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.

About communities:

  • 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

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I call trend – government orgs setting up their own ‘pedias. Last week I posted about the attention that GCpedia is getting. Today I just stumbled across another recently launched ‘pedia – Calgarypedia.

It’s (you guessed it) an attempt at a wikipedia for Calgary. Set up by an org called Calgary Economic Development, which sounds like it’s an agency of the municipal administration.

Unlike GCpedia, this ‘pedia is open to the public.

Not much action so far on this wiki from what I see, but I really liked this contrib to the Introducing Calgary page:

Calgary Economy

Main Article: Industry in Calgary

OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL OIL!

(Spotted via the Government 2.0 Best Practices wiki.)

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Fascinating discussions around the office last week about incorporating social media in communications strategies.

Got me thinking about different tactics that government could adopt in terms of layers of engagement with the participatory web.

Each layer builds on the previous, or to put it another way, governments can’t engage at deeper layers without doing preceding ones also. Risk – and reward – is magnified as you pass from one layer to the next.

Here’s a quick, high-level sketch of how I’m starting to think of this:

1. Passive monitoring. Activities like following RSS feeds and using alerts to see what the world is saying about you online, to find out where (or if) the conversations about you are taking place. Passive because you are not participating in the online conversation about you, but merely watching as it unfolds. This layer of engagement is the lowest risk and requires the lightest workload, but is the base for all that follows. ROI: it’s market research, which is pretty valuable in its own right.

2. Reactive engagement. At this layer, you are commenting around the web – on others’ blog posts, news items, in forums. You are going to where the conversations are and engaging people there (thinking here of examples like Dell and how they used this approach to get past the Dell Hell thing). Big jump in workload here, requires sustained efforts. Needs agility to respond quickly, good judgement about what’s worth responding to and how to respond appropriately. ROI: helps build credibility and reputation over time. Shows that you are listening. Shows a government that is working at staying relevant to its citizenry. Risks: if done wrong or abandoned, will actually further weaken credibility.

3. Proactive community leadership: This layer entails hosting some form of community site, whether a blog or forum or (gasp!) social network. This entails bringing the conversation to you, allowing your critics onto your turf so to speak (thinking here of the US Transportation Security Administration blog as an example, and Dell is doing this also with it’s blogging efforts and its IdeaStorm community site). More importantly, the idea here is that you are beginning to lead in the creation of a community around your program or initiative. Highest workload at this point, as you need consistently good stream of fresh content on top of all the monitoring and reactive commenting that you are already doing. (And it all has to be translated if you are in the GoC. ) Not to mention time for moderating comments. ROI: allows you to be proactive in telling your story, can lead to enhanced reputation online (building as opposed to just protecting brand). & if you are successful in doing this, everybody will be in awe, since you are govt. :+) Risks: same as #2 but an order of magnitude higher due to increased visibility.

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This blog is pretty drab ain’t it?

I’m gonna try to overcome that by using this formula:

Flickr + Creative Commons = Images (that are better than my posts LOL).

I’ve noticed how lotsa folks snag great shots from Flickr and post them on their blogs. But how to find decent shots without going crazy trying to sift through more than 2 billion images? (That mind-boggling number according to Flickr’s community manager Heather Champ — h/t Brian Oberkirch.)

So, a little poking around on the internets and I found this handy handy tutorial on how to do it.

Here’s the coles notes version of the tutorial: Go to the Creative Commons “Attribution license” search page on Flickr. You can snag photos under this CC license and use them at will — all you need to do is credit the source by linking back to their Flickr profile.

Nice work also by Flickr to enable the community to easily do this kind of thing.

Time to get visual:

Is a Flickr image good if its thumbnail isn’t?

(Photo: kevindooley)

Found this via an attribution license search on “get visual.” Interesing shot. Plus the photographer talks about Marshall McLuhan in his comments on the photo. Good enough for me!

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