Social Media

Try It Tuesday:

The aim of Try It Tuesday – if it can be as bold as an aim – is to share a tool a week which might be useful to journalists. It might be new, it might be old but forgotten, or it might be somewhere inbetween. It’ll be something I’ve found useful though and one I’d suggest spending 10 minutes getting to know. 


What? is social networking at its most hyperlocal. Those behind it have been busy writing to millions of homes across the UK urging people to sign up and share local information. Those receiving a letter get a code which automatically selects an area for them to be added to, with the option to opt in to some nearby ones too.

Why? For journalists, especially those with a district beat or patch, Streetlife has the potential to be a great source of stories. I’ve tried it for a few areas and the quality of comment and debate does vary, but in some cases is exceptional. I know of editors in London active on it in their communities, with the most successful ones being the journalists who add to conversations in a way which helps people, rather than just using it to source stories.

The daily update email has become something I read every day. If I’m doing that as a local resident, surely it’s useful to journalists?

Other Try It Tuesday ideas can be found here

18 tools for journalists covering elections

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1. Yatterbox

A great tool originally designed for marketing folk to keep up to date with what is being said about their brand. Select the people or places (eg constituencies) you want to be alerted about when they are referenced, and it’s job done. Works with several social networks but is at its best on Twitter.


2. Facebook interests

Facebook Interests are essentially like Twitter lists, allowing you to build up a list of pages around a particular theme which you can then find very quickly. Once an interests list is created, it should be easy to access on the left-hand side of your desktop page. All activity from the pages you add to an interest list then appear in the same way other posts do on your feed. Given Facebook’s feed generally tries to serve you what it thinks you want, rather than just everything (like Twitter), Facebook Interests ensures you have an easy way to see everything from pages which are important for the election, such as candidates or campaign groups. More details on interests here.


27 ways Yodel brings people together on Twitter

Followers on Twitter will know I’ve had two run-ins with Yodel this Christmas. On the first occasion, the delivery man didn’t knock or leave a card. It was only when I’d checked online I realised my parcel had been delivered to a house down the street. The customer services woman was surprised something like this could happen.

Had she looked on Twitter, she wouldn’t have been.

Then came my appalling attempt at sales shopping on Boxing Day. Gap sent the order out via Yodel. Nothing arrived. I checked online at 2.40pm and by chance the Yodel website told me it had been delivered at 2.34pm. Which was a surprise as the doorbell didn’t ring, no card was left and a quick check of the nearby neighbours revealed no parcel left there.

Yodel’s call centre people – who operate on a scale between friendly but useless and incompetent and rude – insisted I’d signed for it. I rang again, and was told it was at a house about five minutes walk away. Only it wasn’t. As I write this, Yodel are still to tell me where my parcel is because they are waiting to interview the driver, and they don’t work New Year’s Day.

But I’ve found my parcel. Or rather, a house down the street did. In the box they sell eggs from at the end of their drive. Silly me, why didn’t I think to look there for the parcel I’d never signed for which apparently was at a house up the street.

Still, I used to think that few things unite people quite like Christmas. Or a good Cup run. But it appears, searching for Yodel on Twitter, nothing unites people quite like having to deal with Yodel.

The 27 stages of Yodel Hell are outlined below. Merry Christmas. And thanks, Twitter!


Making Twitter work in print

Twitter, as most journalists know, is a great tool for journalists to get stories, share stories, form communities and get reaction.

But making Twitter work in print – a challenge for any newsroom which has to deal with the twin platforms of print and online – can often result in a disappointing experience for the reader.

The problem seems to stem from the fact that Twitter’s character limit – 140 characters per tweet – has resulted in a mini dictionary of short-cut terms which are fully understood on Twitter, but look a little odd out of context.


Still debating the merits of taking Facebook seriously as a journalist? Facebook might just be about to change your mind…

Facebook’s success depends entirely on the relevance of the feed which appears when people first log in, so it’s no surprise that the secret formula which lies behind that service is constantly under review.

Trying to work out how to make the most of that feed has much in common with some of the more darkish arts which surround making the most of search engine optimisation … with similar repercussions dished out by both Google and Facebook if it thinks people are gaming their systems to get a better show. 

Facebook today announced a couple of new changes to Facebook feeds which should be of particular interest to journalists seeking to ensure the content they produce reaches the widest possible audience.


Social media: How knowing how Jeff effs gives you a competitive advantage on social media


Using social media properly means that a last minute dash to the story won’t happen to you.

Swearing. Your parents might have told it’s not big or clever … but when it comes to getting the most out of Twitter, a tactical use of f***, f***ing or s**t could take you a very long way. Joanna Geary, head of news partnerships at Twitter, proved two things when she spoke at the Revival of Local Journalism conference in MediaCity on Wednesday. The first was that the best way to keep a conference audience awake as they enter their post-lunch sleepy phase is to say the thing they least expect. The second was that to get the most out of Twitter, you have to understand the people you are following and how they use Twitter. Which is why a clever Tweetdeck column with a selection of choice words set up as the filter can be the difference between you spotting that first reference to a big story, and just being part of the pack: (more…)

Spin doctors and social media: Can public bodies be trusted to tell it straight?

Harsh but true … but how many public bodies are getting social all wrong?

There’s a theory, normally floated by press officers at organisations who feel they get a raw deal from the the local Press that they don’t actually need the local press any more.

The theory goes that, well, no-one reads local newspapers any more so they don’t have much impact and, well, there’s social media. We’ll talk to people directly! We’re the council/police/hospital, people trust us. And so on.

Previously, that theory didn’t involve social media, it was the rationale for creating council newspapers, with the added benefit of being able to spend tens of thousands of pounds of council advertising budget on getting a one-sided message across.

Now, however, that theory is bust. Reporters who previously saw their stories read by a diminishing number of newspaper readers now know the number reading them online is going up by the day. A story which begins life in a local newsroom can go across the country within minutes. Tesco knows this – which is why its marketing director tells his teams to take queries from local journalists seriously.

Social media is a two-way street for journalists. It makes it easier to get past the myriad of press relation regulations local public organisations have in place,  but it also gives those public bodies the chance to speak to people directly.

The question I want to pose is this:  Is that access to the public being abused?


Tools for journalists: Playing with

While following coverage of the International Festival of Journalism in Perugia earlier this month, I noticed’s Alastair Reid using, a rather fascinating tool for Twitter. since become one of those tools which is part of daily life without even thinking about it, largely because of this:


Tools for journalists: Rediscovering Twazzup


New social media tools come, and some go again. Some gain traction and then fall by the wayside when Twitter changes its API, others struggle to make ends meet and introduce subscription service, while others just get forgotten about.

For me, Twazzup falls into the last category, but having rediscovered it a couple of weeks ago, am finding that it’s still remarkably useful. There are a myriad of Twitter monitoring tools out there, some of which look very sleek, some of which are excellent. But here are six things which I think are behind my persistent return to Twazzup: