10 Multimedia and Social Media Journalism Resource Sites

Here’s a list of useful resources on multimedia journalism:

1. MINDY MCADAMS’ Reporters’ Guide to Multimedia Proficiency is a 42-page PDF of all 15 posts on her blog compiled since Feb, 2009. This is great mini-manual to learn multimedia journalism skills such as how to post an audio interview on your blog, edit video using iMovie or Windows Movie Maker or produce slideshows using Soundslides.

Follow Mindy’s  blog, RSS feed, Twitter feed or Facebook account.

2. NO TRAIN, NO GAIN  has a Multimedia Reporting section that posts some really useful updates. Recent posts on Liveblogging, Multimedia Story-telling, and Ethics in Social Networks.

3. MEDIA HELPING MEDIA has a diverse range of training resources. David Brewer and Craig Kanalley have contributed some useful posts on the social networks and online and multimedia sections such as 30 tips on online news presentation, multiplatform authoring, tips for livetweeting and “Grazing on Rumour, Feeding on Facts”.

4. MARK BRIGGS’ Journalism 2.0: How to Survive and Thrive is two years old but still a worthy resource. You can download the PDF or read it online.

5. KNIGHT DIGITAL MEDIA CENTER’S Tutorials page as a list of useful skills to pick up on such as FTP, creating widgets and geotagging.

6. POYNTER’S NEWS UNIVERSITY has various courses you can follow for free but you need to register first.

7. NEWSLAB.ORG has various tips on its Tools and Resources sections such as Multimedia Planning and Production, Learning From Hyperlocal Failures, and Getting More From Social Media.

8. DIGITAL NEWS JOURNALIST has some interesting tutorials including a 4-part piece on using Google Docs and Caption Writing for Web Slideshows.

9. RYAN THORNBURG’s The Future of News has some interesting how-tos and slide stacks eg: How to Edit for Online and SEO, Social Media and User Generated Content for Journalists and Reporting for Online Media.

10. JOE MURPHY, a Denver web developer and journalist, posts at his Joe Think blog. Some choice posts:
“Towards meaningful metrics”, “Tips on writing headlines”, “Getting your online news site off the ground in 7 steps”.

FOR MULTIMEDIA INSPIRATION visit these sites as suggested by Angela Grant: Kobre Guide, MultimediaShooter, Interactive Narratives, Las Vegas Sun videos, The Globe and Mail multimedia section and News Videographer.

BONUS: 10,000 Words

Six types of news journalists

[from MediaPost]

American journalists are ready and eager to speed up the transition from print to digital, and almost half surveyed believe their newsroom is moving way too slowly.

The Northwestern University’s Media Management Center came to this conclusions in a report, “Life Beyond Print” (3.8M PDF) based on a survey of almost 3,800 print, digital, and hybrid journalists in a cross section of 79 U.S. newsrooms.

The survey classified journalists into six groups:
1. Digitals (12%): They already spend a most of their time working online. They are either online editors or producers, but about 17% are reporters or writers, and more than half are journalism grads. They are newer to journalism (< less than 10 years experience) but are open to change, new career options and more likely to try something new. In a typical newsroom, they likely got the most training last year. 2. Major Shifts(11%): Those who are currently doing the least digital work but would like to increase it by five times. They are the most dissatisfied with their current state, more pessimistic about staying in the business long-term and want the most pronounced changes. An equal mix of reporters, mid-level editors, copy editors, designers and videographers, most of whom have been in the business at least 15 years are deeply engaged online in their personal and social lives, but see a disconnect at work. They could help the newsroom adapt faster, but need a sign they should stay in newspapers.

3. The Moderately Mores (50%): Those who would like to double their current digital activities to achieve a 50-50 split with their print efforts. They have been in news business more than 20 years. They believe their newsroom transition has been too slow although they do think it is headed in the right direction.

4. The Status Quos (14%): They believe the 30% of effort they currently devote to online is sufficient and prefer to see no change. Most believe the pace of change to date has been “about right.” This group is slightly older than the overall population. Nearly half are age 50 or older and 1-in-10 is 60 or older.

5. Turn Back the Clocks (6%): Those nostalgic for a return to print and wish online would go away. They report about 30% of their current effort is spent online, nearly triple the amount they would prefer. This is a group that has tested the online environment and they don’t like it. They less satisfied than their Status Quo colleagues and have the lowest opinion of leaders of all the groups and are least likely, in particular, to believe executives really understand what it takes to put out the newspaper.

6. The Leaders (5%): Publishers, editors and managing editors, most of whom have been in the news business more than 20 years. Most report their roles are primarily print-focused but want to shift to online. Like Digitals, they describe themselves as open to change and optimistic about their career options. The Leaders report spending about 25% of their work effort on online matters, but believe the emphasis should shift to favour digital (53%) over print responsibilities. 28% of Leaders think their job is changing too fast overall, which could reflect the lack of clarity around a business model to sustain digitally delivered journalism but nearly 70% say the newsroom is on the right track. This group reports somewhat greater Internet use outside work than other journalists.

There are differing expectations for leaders among the segments:
* The Digitals want The Leaders to be even more immersed in online trends and to sharpen the digital vision.
* The Major Shifts want more risk-taking.
* The Status Quos generally like what leaders are doing and advocate staying the course.

The study by Vickey Williams, Stacy Lynch and Bob LeBailly, found that online desire in the newsroom is not driven by the fallacy of youth.

The top predictors of wanting to switch to digital are:
1. Heavy Internet use outside work.
2. Online customer knowledge.
3. Openness to change at work and adaptability.
4.Digital training: Receiving training necessary to learn online skills.
5. Personality: Keeping up with company initiatives, online trends and industry changes.

1. Journalists’ passion for the mission is there, but they need basic tools for reinvention and more engaged leadership. More than half of the journalists working primarily in print had no training in the previous year to equip them for a digital transition. One in four journalists reports having had no training at all.

2. There are major gaps between how leaders think they are doing and how staff view them, in such areas as fostering collaboration, seeking out input from employees at all levels, and communicating strategy in a way that relates to employees’ jobs.

3. Senior managers rate research about what online users want low on their list of priorities suggesting that editors are at risk of repeating the errors of the past by not ensuring that everyone in the newsroom develops a deep knowledge of who their readers are and what they want.

4. Despite the turmoil in the industry, the vast majority of the journalists surveyed reported that they were “still satisfied with their jobs and believed they would be in the news business two years from now — and more than half with the same newspaper.”

5. The surveyors advised: “Leaders should encourage all employees to use downtime to edit video, tweet, upload mobile photos to Facebook pages and otherwise keep current in online trends. Even for employees who don’t have any online work responsibilities, the more engaged they are with the Internet on their own, the more eager they will be to transition to online at work.”

Links: Life Beyond Print (3.8M PDF)

10 things I learnt from Mary Meeker’s slides

  1. Apple iPhone + iPod Touch + Apps is the new ecosystem. Apple Mobile share of market will surprise on the upside in near-term.
  2. Mobile Internet will outpace desktop Internet and grow faster than most people expect.
  3. Facebook, and other social networks, on mobile will explode.
  4. Celcos will face serious bandwidth/traffic issues as mobile Internet use explodes.
  5. Celco portals and walled gardens (Maxis, Digi take note) may die in favour of apps from App Store, Android Market and direct browsing.
  6. Mobile and online ad spending will grow in 2010.
  7. Mobile users will pay for premium services.
  8. Location-based services will be the ‘secret sauce’, as real-time, cloud-based mobile services grow rapidly.
  9. Mobile Internet revs will mirror that of Japan’s mix today with mobile ecommerce*, paid services* and advertising growing faster than mobile data.
  10. There is moolah in mobile – it’s an ATM in your pocket, and it’s a very, very deep pocket.

Link: Mary Meeker’s presentation
*Mobile ecommerce = retail sales of physical and digital goods ie. music, games, ringtones, wallpapers, avatars. Mobile paid services = real-time banking, brokerage, hotel + travel booking

Mobile media as a force for change

Full script of the extended presentation on “Mobile and social media as a force for change.”

Hi. My name is Julian and I have five stories to share with you on today. One from Iran, one from India, one from Kenya and, because I really don’t like government slogans, 2 from Malaysia.

1. IRAN: This is Neda Agha-Soltan. She was 26, an university student in Teheran studying philosophy, music and was planning to learn how to play the piano. She’d already ordered the piano.

On June 20, 2009, at around 6:30 p.m, Neda was stuck in a traffic jam for more than an hour inside a Peugeot 206 with a poorly working air conditioner. She and her music teacher, a family friend, decided to get out of the car for some fresh air.

The two were near where protesters were marching and chanting. Suddenly, Neda is on the ground — felled by a single gunshot wound to the chest.

Cameraphone footage show men kneeling beside her trying to help. But it is too late. Neda’s eyes roll back, her body falls limp and blood streams from her mouth and nose. The teacher is heard calling out: “Neda, do not be afraid, do not be afraid.”

She died on the way to hospital. Later, a witness said her last words were: “I am burning, I am burning!” Neda neither supported Mousavi nor Ahmadinejab, the two candidates in the elections.

Here is the video. Warning to weak-hearted — the scenes are graphic and explicit.

Neda became the symbol of injustice in Iran. Her killer was never found. Protesters took the streets with the graphic images of her bloodied face. By marching they risked arrest, and possibly a bullet themselves.

The online community used Neda icons and badges on blogs and personal sites and replaced avatars with Free Iran buttons in sympathy.

In France, a 40th memorial day march was held in her honour and the marchers held up Neda images to their faces as if to say “We are all Neda”.

The video struck a chord with sympathisers around the world. President Obama himself described it as “heartbreaking.” To date (Oct 20, 2009) it has racked over 4.6 million views from various copies on YouTube and other sites. The trending topic #neda on Twitter continues to be used until today on any news coming out of Iran.

I tell you this story without ever having stepped in Iran. But based on Neda’s story and the 17 others reportedly killed in protests on the streets of Teheran, there is definitely an underlying and seething unhappiness in Iran.

These people were young, urban, self-motivated and self-organising as far as we can tell. There was no backing from any invested party. They marched because they were angry on the results of an election that didn’t reflect their beliefs. I don’t even think Mousavi or Ahmadinejab knew what was going on until the protests began.

The bottomline, the peaceful protesters connected with each other, armed only with their mobilephones and the power of social media skills.

Anthropologist Margaret Mead said it best: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

2. INDIA: The second story takes us to Mangalore, in India in Jan, 2009. A group of about 40 followers of Hindu fundamentalist group Sri Ram Sena pulled out women found drinking at two bars in Mangalore and then proceeded to beat them up. Two women were hospitalized. The videos of the attacks were shot with cameraphones and posted on YouTube.

Sri Ram Sena chief Pramod Muthalik (left) condoned the beating of women , Nisha Susan (right) fought back with Facebook

The man on the left is Sri Ram Sena Chief Pramod Muthalik. His organisation also planned to protest the upcoming Valentine’s Day and he warned any couples found in restaurants and pubs would be dragged to the nearest temple to be married. Thank god, good sense prevailed and police arrested most of the men involved in the incidents and Muthalik himself was held on the eve of Valentine’s Day.

But the incident riled many people around the world who saw the videos. Tehelka journalist Nisha Susan turned to Facebook and formed a protest group called “The Consortium of Pubgoing, Loose and Forward women”. Within days, the group grew exponentially, and Susan decided to launch an offline activity via a blog: the Gandhigiri-inspired Pink Chaddi campaign.

To mock the fact these religious conservatives are called Chaddi-wallas – people who wear big, loose underwear – The idea was to send Sri Ram Sena cadres pink underwear. Over 39,000 people joined the Facebook group within ten days from all over the world and dispatched a variety of underwear to Sena’s offices. The group page was later hacked.

But the protest had already struck a chord with women and women supporters around the world. They were encouraged to write whatever they felt on the underwear – these women (above) scrawled Discrimination, Bigotry and Intolerance, then sent the pic and underwears off.

The Pink Panty Protest was non-violent. It shamed the perpetrators and brought global attention to the issue. It wasn’t easy like an email petition which wouldn’t have had the same impact. The protesters had to mail in the panties. The unusual protest received worldwide coverage.

Clay Shirky in his book Here Comes Everybody says efforts like these suggest how ridiculously easy it is to organize people now. “The cost of all kinds of group activity – sharing, cooperation and collective action – have fallen so far so fast that activities previously hidden beneath the floor are now coming to light.” He has gone so far as to call what is happening a revolution — “When we change the way we communicate, we change society.”

3. KENYA: This third story is from Kenya. The United Nations agency Habitat is working with 15 youth groups to build businesses through microfinancing and the use of mobile phones in the slums of Nairobi.

This is Kibera in Nairobi. It is the largest urban slum in East Africa with an estimated population of between 600,000 to 1.2 million inhabitants. Kibera accounts for less than 1% of Nairobi’s total area, but holds more than a quarter of its population.

Kibera is one of the most studied slums in Africa, not only because it sits in the centre of the modern city, but also because Habitat, the United Nations’ agency for human settlements, is headquartered close by. Ban Ki-moon visited the settlement within a month of his selection as UN secretary-general.

Kibera is heavily polluted by garbage and contaminated with human and animal faeces, thanks to the open sewage system and the lack of sanitation and no regular supply of running water.

The dam water that people use is the root to cholera and typhoid. It is estimated that one-fifth of the 2.2 million Kenyans living with HIV/AIDS live in Kibera. Access to a cheap alcohol called Changaa, drugs and glue-sniffing has led to crime, rape and and unwanted pregnancies. Just 20% of Kibera has electricity. This place is the closest version of what you would call hell on earth. The children and youth here often ask “Why was I born here?”.

The government, UN-Habitat and a contingent of NGOs, charities and churches, have made brave attempts to lift these settlements out of squalor. On Sept 16, 2009, the Kenyan government started moving families out of Kibera as part of a mass relocation project, which is expected to take five years. However, more than 80 people – a mix of “landlords” and residents – have gone to court to fight the government from demolishing their shacks. If you had watched the science-fiction movie District 9, shot in South Africa, you will find many parallels to what is going on in Kibera. If you read our local newspapers you will find parallels to Kampung Buah Pala and other squatter re-settlement issues.

But there is hope and it comes in the form of a Mobile Movement. Here is the video that is self-explanatory on the initiative.

4. MALAYSIA: TWESTIVAL: My fourth story is closer to home. This is about the Twestival movement which is reaching hundreds of thousands of Twitter users across the world and here in Malaysia too. Twestival is an event run via Twitter and combination of the words Twitter + Festival. It started from an idea a group of friends had in Britain to do something for a charity – something real-world and meaningful from all their chatter and friendship in the online world. Twestivals allowed tweeters to meet and socialize in person over drinks, music and entertainment and tie the social event to a fundraising activity.

The first global Twestival
was held in Feb 12, 2009 across 200+ cities. It raised US$250,000 that went to non-profit charity:water. Charity:water builds wells in African countries and raises awareness about the serious issue of contaminated water in the developing world.

On Sept 12, 2009 there was a second global Twestival event, and participants could raise money for local charities of their choice. In Malaysia, the KL Twestival was organized in two weeks, via Twitter, SMS, Facebook and blogs and utilized the talents and financial support of the local Twittersphere to make this happen.

By rallying together, under short timescales, for a single aim on the same day, the KL Twestival was a small but significant success. There was entertainment, music and dance performances, an auction and participants left with goodie bags.

A number of sponsors and celebrities came in in short notice and every sign-up was announced on Twitter – so you could see it in real-time. The event raised RM11,000 and two free desktop PCs with broadband access which went to a deserving home for delinquents in Klang.

On Sunday, (Oct 18) the PCs were delivered to the home and a friend who helped organize it said the pastor of the house was so grateful for the money and PCs he hugged him.

The common grounds again: The Twestival participants were young or young-at-heart, self-motivated, armed with mobile devices and the power of social media.

This is Niki Cheong. He perhaps exemplifies the demographic we have been talking about all day today. He was a co-organizer of the event.

He is an assistant editor for The Star, the largest English daily in Malaysia, he writes a column called Bangsar Boy, he manages several reporters under him including a section called R.AGE, he is a blogger and manages his own personal website.

He also helps train the young teenage journalists who attend the B.R.A.Ts programme and teaches them journalism and multimedia skills. He dabbles in theater and has over 1,650 friends on Facebook, and 1,770 followers on Twitter. Niki has been involved in media activities for the last 15 years, and get this he just turned 30. In a sense, Niki is the kind of person we look to to bring change in this country.

Full disclosure — I met Niki through our training efforts. For the past three years we have been training journalists and media professionals in various industries on multimedia skills.

As former IT journalists ourselves, my partner Anita and I were shocked at the huge gap with those who had the skills and those who didn’t. So we designed and developed modules on how to use Google for research, how to edit audio and photos, how to conduct interviews via email, instant messaging and Skype, how to write for the web, and we extended the training to other companies on how to use social media, how to monitor your brand online and engage with your online constituents, how to fight negative feedback online or react to an incriminating video, how to do effective media relations and crisis communications in the online world.

We are still surprised that many companies, even public-listed companies still don’t get it. They put up walls and lock off YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, photo sites and blogs. But how will they firewall this – the mobilephone? These companies fail everyday to tap a golden resource – the very youths we spoke of in Iran, India, in Kenya and in small ways here in Malaysia.

5. MALAYSIA: CITIZEN JOURNALISM: My last story is about Malaysiakini, the independent news site that hits a milestone in its tenth year in Malaysia in November. Malaysiakini has been profitable for the last four years. Its pageviews on some days exceed that of The Star Online. It has successfully built a subscription model that works, and even advertisers that were previously terrified to advertise have come in.

Malaysiakini started an interesting project last year to train citizen journalists – people who were keen on reporting on the news they were witnessing. The course is short and intensive and covers all the tools to equip Malaysians with the know-how to be responsible citizen journalists.

These CJs submit videos every week and some are picked up and published by Malaysiakini.com. I would like to show you one example done by Jimmy Leow in Penang, of an uncompleted highway in Balik Pulau and the danger it poses.Remember this is done by someone who only recently learnt about scripting, handling videocams,, editing and putting a whole package together for a news site. Shortly after the video was posted, the agency responsible for the project re-started it.

Here in summary are what I hope you takeaway from these stories.
1. Everyone is the media.
2. We are no longer passive consumers, we are ACTIVE participants, creators, producers and organizers.
3. This change is fundamental, permanent and messy.
Live with it.

Slides and video: on Slideshare. A shortened version of this presentation was made at GoMobile Conference 2009 on Oct 20, 2009.

The rise of Twitter

A Burson-Marsteller July 2009 study of Fortune 100 companies surprisingly found that more companies had a presence on Twitter (54%) than on Facebook (29%).

Comparing the use of Twitter vs. Facebook vs. corporate blogs, the study states about one-fifth of Fortune 100 firms only used one of the three channels and those companies were overwhelmingly likely to choose Twitter (76%) over Facebook (14%) or blogging (10%).

Companies that used two of the three channels were most likely to have a blog plus a Twitter account (64%).

Many of the companies surveyed do not even have a blog (68 percent) but instead have embraced Twitter.

So what are these companies using Twitter for?
1. Company news updates
2. Customer service
3. Direct marketing responses
4. Promotions, deals and contests
5. Employee recruitment

Examples of companies on Twitter: @SearsDeals, @WalmartSpecials, @Lowes, @BestBuy, and @VerizonNewsroom. Many have multiple accounts eg: ATT has accounts for Small Biz, Mobile Music, News, and Job Recruitment among others.

Earlier, Compete reported that Twitter and Facebook had pretty flat months in July and August 2009.

Twitter chalked a sliver of rise in uniques of 1.27% with 23.58m visitors but a -2.99% drop in visits, down to 148.65m. Facebook had 122.22m unique visitors in August; a -0.37% drop compared to July, but it grew to 2.2b visits in the same period, rising 4.69%. MySpace, Bebo and hi5 dropped unique visitors by -6.73%, -7.68% and -15.36%, respectively.

An earlier report from comScore, states that Twitter passed a fairly big milestone in July of 50 million unique visitors worldwide, reaching 51.6 million unique visitors at the end of the month. In US visitors, Twitter grew to 21.2 million uniques from 20m in June, representing 41 percent of traffic. International visits now represents 59 percent of traffic.

Note that estimates only count traffic to Twitter.com whereas many users may not even go to the site and update via various popular Twitter clients ie. Tweetdeck, Twitterfeed, Twhirl, Twitterberry, Twitterrific, Twitterfon, Hootsuite and Seesmic.

Mashable: Flat month for social media
Burson-Marsteller and Fortune 100 social media study
Burston-Marsteller report on Slideshare
eMarketer: Marketers embrace Twitter over Facebook

Taking the twit out of Twitter

My recent presentation:

20 ways to measure social media ROI

Justifying your ROI for social media can be done quantitatively or qualitatively.

1. Blogs: Number of posts, visitors, comments, repeat posts of your posts.
2. Twitter: Number of followers, tweets, re-tweets, clicks to short links (use bit.ly)
3. YouTube: Number of views, number of embeds
4. Facebook: Number of fans, number of repost of status messages, number of views of videos, photos
5. Campaigns: Sales revs, new leads, new subscribers, traffic on landing page, conversions, number of people who filled up follow-up form, used coupon, took up offer, bought stuff, number who visited or viewed campaign, or downloaded app or widget.

6. Blog/Twitter/Facebook Comments: Positive/negative/neutral
7. Google: Do a search comparison on keywords with your competitor
8. Interaction and conversations: What are people blogging/tweeting about the campaign, product, service or company – for or against, did you learn something, solve a customer complaint, avert a crisis, find new ways to save costs or discover useful feedback for management?

Free tools to track and monitor:
09.Google Analytics
10. Google Alerts
11. Tweetbeep
12. Social Mention
13. Xinu
14. Feedburner
15. Social Too
16. BoardTracker
17. BackType
18. KeoTag
19. Compete
20. Trackur

8 lessons from Best Job In The World campaign

Rohit Bhargava posted his view on the viral social media campaign by Tourism Queensland for an AUD$150,000 dream job as an island caretaker that was eventually won by Ben Southall:

6 Lessons From the Best Marketing Campaign Ever (edited the sub-heads)

1. MAKE IT BELIEVABLE. Many marketing groups would never make a claim if they can’t provide substantial evidence. How might Tourism Queensland prove that their job is the best in the world? They can’t. But it is believable because it is a beautiful place and fits what many people’s definition of a dream job might be.

2. TELL A GOOD STORY: It’s not about how much you spend. One of the major benefits of smart public relations and social media is that it scales in a way that advertising typically doesn’t. In other words, you don’t have to pay more to get more. The real trick is to have something worthwhile to say that people can’t help talking about. You need a good story.

3. USE YOUTUBE, IT’S FREE: Focus on content, not traffic. The typical marketing campaign focuses on traffic to some kind of site. For Tourism Queensland, the biggest payoff of this campaign was having over 34,000 videos on YouTube from people around the world talking about how much they love Queensland. Aggregate the views of all those videos, and multiply them over the long term and you’ll start to understand the true impact of their campaign.

4. EMPOWER USERS TO SHARE AND VOTE: Create an inherent reason for people to share. Another element of this campaign that worked extremely well was the fact that there was voting enabled on the videos. What this meant was that after someone submitted their video, they had an incentive to share it with everyone in their social network online to try and get more votes.

5. USE THE INFLUENCERS: Don’t underestimate the power of content creators. Most recent statistics point to some number between 1% and 10% of the user base of any social network are the active content creators. Though these percentages may seem small, the potential impact of some of these individuals are vast online. It could easily become the secret weapon for your next marketing campaign.

6. LEAVE IT ONLINE, RIDE THE WAVE: Give your promotion a shelf life. The best thing about this campaign may just be the content yet to come. Ben, the winner, just started blogging and sharing videos and photos, but the content is already engaging, high quality and inspires you to dream of making it to Queensland yourself. Over the next six months, his itinerary will take him across the state of Queensland and unlock many other unique opportunities. Best of all, this content will live on far beyond the time span of the campaign.

I added two more of my own:
7. DON’T FAKE IT: Tourism Queensland almost derailed its own campaign when it posted a fake video resume of a woman named “Tegan” getting a reef tattoo in order to win the job. The woman was a staff of the advertising agency linked to the authority, and even the tattoo was a transfer.

8. MAKE SURE SERVER IS UP TO MARK: The overwhelming number of applications slowed down the server leaving many left out in the cold.

CumminsNitro Brisbane won the Grand Prix at the International Cannes Advertising Festival for the campaign.

10 step guide to social networks

This is an oldie but goodie from Cynthia Medina at Amadeus University:

The top 10 things we recommend to do before implementing a social network.

1. MANAGEMENT TRAINING: Have your management staff attend a Web 2.0 awareness training that describes social networks, blog, wikis, discussion boards, and social bookmarking. If management understands the differences between these technologies, it will be easier to determine whether you really need a social network.

2. STAFF TRAINING: After you determine you want to implement a social network, have the entire staff attend the same training your management staff attended. It’s only fair they understand this as well since they will be the ones using it, right?

3.SPOT CHAMPIONS: Observe which of your staff members really get excited about these changes. You will need some ambassadors to drive the change in your organization, and these are usually the ones that like change or technology.

4. FORMULATE POLICY: Come up with a Social Network policy. Everyone should know exactly what can and cannot be posted. Also, include employee contributions in their annual objectives to help ensure they’ll contribute content.

5. START WITH FACEBOOK: Before investing in software, start with one of the top social networks. The best one to start with is Facebook, which allows businesses to create a business page that is available to all Facebook users as well as non-users.

6. START POSTING: After you create the business page, have your ambassadors post notes (”blog post” in Facebook terms), discussions, videos, pictures, etc., that are related to your business. They can also create groups of special interest that promote certain travel destinations or types of travelers. Get some more tips on what to post from our article “What’s all that Web 2.0 stuff?“

7. GROW THE TEAM: Allow your staff to also create their own personal Facebook page. This way they can network with your existing customers and get new ones. They can also become fans of your business page and help you promote your business.

8. APPOINT MODERATORS: Assign some of the staff to moderate your business page. You need to make sure that everything that gets posted on your page is in good taste and doesn’t harm your business. Having someone moderate the page and delete distasteful comments will keep your page clean.

9. SPREAD THE WORD: Include your Facebook business page URL in all communications sent to customers. The more people see it, the more they will remember it. Tell everyone you are on Facebook…this is seen as a positive thing.

10. QUALITY MATTERS: Use your business page to communicate your business news and promote your specials. The quantity and the quality of the content posted on your business page is very important. The more you post, the more people will come back. Again, quality is very important.

Do this for a year while using and analyzing the “Insight” reports that Facebook offers. You can track stats on page views, discussions, video plays and more, plus you can export the data. Use it to assess changes or enhancements you need to make on your business page or to help you in your decision making later on.

When the year is up, you’ll be a social network expert and will be able to make a better decision on whether to buy software or develop your own social network. You might even decide to continue with Facebook. There is nothing wrong with using a free service.


So, don’t jump on the band wagon just because others are. You need to know if it’s going to work for your business. To help you in your research, check out this list of Business & Travel Social Networks. Download it, sign up and test them. It’s what I do (well, as long as they’re free). This is the only way you will know what others are really doing and what you can do for your business.

Corporate guide to social media

(Credit: Venn diagram based on DespairWear T-shirt)

Joshua-Michele Ross has outlined a simple guide for employers and employees on use of social media tools:


1. LEAD BY EXAMPLE. Leaders should model the behavior they would like to see their employees take. A corollary to this rule: don’t delegate social media to interns or people who can’t possibly represent your culture and brand.

2. PERFORMANCE MATTERS, NOT PRODUCTIVITY. Build your policies around job performance, not fuzzy concerns about productivity. If your employees are using Facebook at work, they are also likely checking work email after dinner or at odd hours of the day. Don’t ask them to give up the former if you expect them to continue the latter. If you have good performance measurements, playing the “lost productivity” card is a canard.

3. ENCOURAGE USE. Encourage employees to engage and interact with one another and with customers eg: Zappos

4. DON’T BLOCK SITE. Don’t block your employees from any site that is already talking about your products or that you would like to see talking up your products (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and so on.). I have had many experiences sending instructional material to clients and having them tell me that they can’t view the video or site at work. Enough said.

5. PROVIDE TRAINING. The social web is a cultural phenomenon; don’t go there without a guide. Consider providing some form of education for your employees. You can use one of your own power-user employees or bring someone in – but get educated.

6. BEGIN FROM A POSITION OF TRUST. Most employees have common sense. Begin with a set of possibilities first (increasing awareness, improving customer service, gaining customer insight and so on) then draw up a list of worst-case scenarios (bad mouthing the company, inappropriate language, leaking IP, to name a few). Modify the guiding principles to help mitigate the risks you’ve identified.

Once you embrace having your employees participate in the social Web, give them a few basic guiding principles in how they conduct themselves. You can start with these:


1. LISTEN BEFORE YOU TALK. Before entering any conversation, understand the context. Who are you speaking to? Is this a forum for “trolls and griefers?” Is there a good reason for you to join the conversation? If your answer is yes, then follow these rules of engagement:

2. SAY WHO YOU ARE. In responding to any work-related social media activities always disclose your work relationship.

3. SHOW YOUR PERSONALITY. You weren’t hired to be an automaton. Be conversational while remaining professional. If your personal life is one that you (or your employer) don’t want to mix up with your work, then consider establishing both private and public profiles, with appropriate sharing settings.

4. RESPOND TO IDEAS NOT TO PEOPLE. In the context of business, always argue over ideas not personalities. Don’t question motives but stay focused on the merit of ideas.

5. KNOW YOUR FACTS AND CITE SOURCES. When making claims, always refer to your sources, using hyperlinks when possible. Always give proper attribution (by linkbacks, public mentions, re-tweets and so on).

6. STAY ON RECORD. Everything you say can (and likely will) be used in the court of public opinion — forever. So assume you’re “on the record.” Never say anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face and in the presence of others. Never use profanity or demeaning language.

7. IF YOU RESPOND TO A PROBLEM, YOU OWN IT. If you become the point of contact for a customer or employee complaint, stay with it until it is resolved.


7 Golden Rules of Social Media
10 Golden Rules of Social Media
5 (then 17) Rules of Social Media Optimization
5 Pillars of Social Media Marketing
6 Social Media Myths

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