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NHM070806

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New Hope Media: Amy Gahran's Online Media Workshop

August 6, 2007

Boulder, CO

 

Amy Gahran's main weblog: Contentious -- news and musings on how we communicate in the online age.

- Amy's bio

 

E-mail Amy

 

Amy's other blogs:

- Poynter's E-Media Tidbits

- The Right Conversation (soon to be folded back into Contentious)

- Boulder Carbon Tax Tracker

- Carless in Boulder

 

Amy's June 2007 Organic Summit presentation notes

 

 

 

 

PARTICIPANTS' BURNING QUESTIONS TODAY:

 

 

 

  1. How to drive traffic to our site, make it easy for people to do what they want on the site, not just present it our way.
  2. How can we integrate the content development and production process.
  3. How do we create content for the web first?
  4. How do we as editors interact with our readers in a way that actually works.
  5. How do you engage and grow our online community
  6. How to make existing web exclusives more successful?
  7. How to make blogs better connected to the rest of the web
  8. Do blogs matter?
  9. How to create links
  10. What tools are out there for blogging, etc.
  11. How do you engage people in a public conversation.
  12. Search engine optimization
  13. How can you be competitors in print and collaborators online?
  14. How much time does it take to keep up a good blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amy's top 10 tips to wrap your brain around today’s online media:

 

 

  1. Be findable, relevant, engaging, and connected.

     

     

  2. Conversation works better than publication (alone). Participate in your communities.

     

     

  3. Go where your communities are, and join them on their terms. (It’s not just about your site or brand.)

     

     

  4. Participate in other communities. All competitors are potential collaborators.

     

     

  5. Think like a kid! Play! Experiment, explore, and be flexible (media, formats, communities, distribution, partners, tools, etc.)

     

     

  6. Never create something that you haven’t already tried for a while, gotten used to, and genuinely like.

     

     

  7. Never build any tool or site you don’t have to. (Use existing tools and services)

     

     

  8. Great content (including from your communities) is the best search engine optimization strategy.

     

     

  9. Be transparent: Whatever you try to hide or introduce by surprise is exactly what will bite you.

     

     

  10. Stay human: It’s really about people and communities -- not technology, not markets, not audiences, not numbers, not brands.

 

 

 Alfresco - open source CMS

 

 

 

Blogs

 

Key features:

  • Reverse-chronological publishing (most recent post at top)
  • Every post has a unique, permanent URL (web address)
  • Categories
  • Can be any kind of content or style

 

Optional & highly desirable features:

  • Feed (RSS)
  • Comments (whether moderated or not)
  • E-mail alerts
  • Multiple authors
  • Tagging
  • Trackbacks
  • Social bookmarking links (Digg, etc.)

 

Advantages:

  • Easy to post and update – allows timeliness
  • Easy to link to: Aids search engine ranks
  • Builds loyalty among opinion leaders
  • Can be ongoing or event-related
  • Very good way to make your content findable, linkable, and distributed
  • If comments are allowed, can be the basis of a strong conversation and community
  • Can be a great way to get more mileage out of content, community, events, etc.
  • Can be a great way to reach new communities or leverage existing ones.

 

Disadvantages:

  • Can be a time sink and burden if you’re not smart about it
  • Can be confusing to online newcomers
  • Layout often isn’t as elegant as print people might like

 

Common problems:

  • Writers making it more work than it needs to be
  • Publishers trying to control the conversation too much, or not participating in it
  • Requiring registration just to post comments
  • No author response to comments
  • No comment spam filtering
  • Not including comments in site search
  • No comment feed

 

 

Example:

- Cooking with Amy - fairly simple blog, hosted on blogspot.

 

 

How to comment on a blog: Try it on my blog, first.

 

 

A blog can be a part of a site

  •  100-mile diet. Combines blog with community, local resources e-mail newsletters, contributed content more. Supports book sales. Started by two professional writers. Problem: no comments
  • Treehugger: Very popular environmental blog and community site, just bought by Discovery Communications. Video, photos, lively community, forums, much more. Problem: too busy.

 

 

Workload advice:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeds & Feed Readers

 

Very, very, very important! Both for publishing/syndicating your content and keeping on top of online media.

 

A feed is a way for people or online services to instantly find out about your latest content, without having to visit your site or check their e-mail.

 

Key skill: Subscribing to a feed

- I'll demo using MyYahoo and Newsfire.

 

OK free feed readers to start with:

- My Yahoo

- Google Reader (here's a video tutorial I did on Google Reader)

- Newsgator Online

 

My favorite: NewsFire (for Mac, cheap)

 

Feeds are good for:

- Ego surfing

- Topic monitoring

- Distributing your content (to aggregators like Technorati, and more), all kinds of media

- Allowing subscriptions (keeps your audience connected to you)

- Advertising venue ($$$)

 

Burn your feeds through feedburner to get good stats on usage and lots of simple, useful services.

- total stats pro - paid option is worth it

- Yes, your feed can bear your domain

 

 

 

 

Forums

 

Message-board-style site for ongoing discussion where participants get to raise topics.

 

Key features

  • Sections (broad general topics)
  • Threads
  • Posts

 

Optional and highly desirable features:

  • User registration (confirm process, not onerous, aids accountability)
  • E-mail distribution
  • Privacy and search engine indexing options
  • Feeds (for public forums_
  • Some HTML allowed (links)
  • Flagging
  • User profiles
  • Initial post moderation

 

Advantages

  • Allows community creativity (great for editorial R&D)
  • Builds loyalty among opinion leaders
  • Great source of content that you can repurpose (depending on terms of use)

 

Disadvantages

  • Can be time-consuming to manage and moderate
  • Can be hard to cultivate a lively, constructive community
  • Layout is often confusing
  • Can be difficult to find the good stuff

 

Common problems

  • Flame wars
  • Off-topic threads
  • Repetition
  • Doldrums
  • Bad interface

 

 

Examples:

 

 

Wanna play with a forum? Google groups

 

 

 

Social media

 

Social bookmarking - tools for recommending links

- Digg (here's my video tutorial on that. Look what I just found at the top of newly popular on Digg.)

- Hugg (like Digg, but for the environment, from Treehugger)

- del.icio.us

 

 

Adding social bookmarking buttons can drive traffic to your site. The Food Channel does this.

 

Media-sharing services

- Blip.tv (video, very good quality and user inteface)

 

- YouTube (video, very popular, but tech problems due to its popularity)

- Flickr (photo sharing)

 

Tagging: Popular aspect of social media (and blogging) -- community members get to categorize content on the fly. Helps make your content findable.

  • Try searching for tags in many popular social media services via keotag

 

Advantages

  • Makes you very, very findable.
  • Boost search engine ranking
  • Ahead-of-the-curve leads
  • Versatile, customizeable feeds make it easy to follow very specific topics
  • Easy way to draw attention to your content (teasers)
  • Allows people to carry your brand for you by embedding
  • Allows discussion through comments
  • Increasingly popular in US
  • Great way to find blogs, communities

 

Disadvantages

  • Requires more production skills (media, and online prep) and time to prepare
  • You give up a lot of control and context.
  • Not user-friendly to newbies

 

 

 

 

Podcasting

 

Downloadable media delivered by feed. Can be video or audio.

 

I'll demo in iTunes

 

 

Advantages

  • Human voice is powerful and compelling
  • People subscribe and then get your content regularly
  • Tends to be remarkably “viral” – people recommend podcasts a lot

 

 

Disadvantages

  • Requires production and online prep skills
  • Right now, requires a somewhat tech-savvy audience. They need to know how to use a podcatcher (even itunes) and have an mp3 player.
  • Commenting/feedback is not easy

 

Tips:

  • Include your URL and e-mail at beginning/end of each episode
  • Keep episodes short
  • Get it listed in iTunes
  • Listen to podcasts!
  • Have a blog to support the podcast. Post “show notes” there. Allow comments.

 

 

 

 

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