FTW Media

Thoughts about New/Social Media

Archive for April 2009

Looking beyond Twitter

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lolcatAs the legendary New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra was rumoured to have said about a restaurant: “Nobody goes there anymore because it’s too crowded.” The same can be said of Twitter’s entrance into mainstream media.

With Oprah joining the Twitter community, and the ridiculous Ashton Vs CNN race, the end of the buzz is near. The cool geeks that first adopted it are now fed up of the constant stream of news about it. Mainstream media knows about it, and can’t stop yammering on about the dreaded microblogging service. While it’s adorable to see how big celebs like Oprah start stumbling around Twitter in the same way an adult watches a toddlertakes his first steps (“aww, look at Oprah twittering — how cute is that?”), the novelty dies out rather fast.

The entrance of the mainstream celebs into Twitter also changes the dynamic of the social network. Where once the sphere was dominated by eager geeks, now it’s become increasingly crowded by a bunch of marketers, brands, gurus, and celebrities that don’t really give a crap about whether you’re the 100,321st or 100,322nd follower. It’s as if Cheers became the watering hole of a bunch of big-talking “I make bank” douchebags and advertising execs. Read the rest of this entry »


Written by John Lim

April 28, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Posted in Social Media

So, you wanna charge for content?

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Whenever the topic of charging for content crops up, industry folks will invariably cite the WSJ.com as proof that it can work. The key thing is that it’s got to be niche content that people are willing to pay for (e.g. financial news). Or so the myth goes.

I say it’s a myth because there’s a whole lot more to it than just offering valuable print content online. Founding editor of WSJ.com Neil Budde offers some invaluable insights into the extreme value they bundled with the WSJ.com subsription:

All of our work went into creating such a valuable subscription package. We knew, for instance, that we’d need to incorporate more than just the news from the print Wall Street Journal. Yes, as Crovitz and Tofel suggested, that content alone has value and is differentiated. But we knew that it alone would not make a compelling enough product online.

* We fought hard within Dow Jones to include a substantial portion of the real-time Dow Jones News Service, for which stock brokers pay $500/year per terminal.

* We lobbied to include reasonable archival content, for which another Dow Jones business unit might have charged another several hundred dollars a year.

* We maintained a sizable 24×7 newsroom to keep the site updated around the clock and to provide extensive editorially curated links from stories to related content.

* We also licensed and integrated into the product databases of corporate information, advanced stock charting capabilities and other useful and valuable features that added to the convenience of online access.

*We allowed users to customize their pages to show the news they want to follow.

When we launched the product, we charged only $49/year for all of this value and worked like mad to convince people it was worth even that modest subscription price.

We also were in an endless “arms race” to keep adding functionality and improving the product to make it more useful and valuable to subscribers and worth more than free offerings.

Even today, they charge only $100/year for all of the features and functionality and a bundle of information worth close to $1,000/year in other formats.

Written by Oon Yeoh

April 24, 2009 at 2:09 am

Posted in New Media

Social media best practices for newsrooms

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Joseph Lasica highlights some innovative use of social media in the newsroom

Written by Oon Yeoh

April 23, 2009 at 3:46 am

Posted in New Media, Social Media

How online and print treat source materials differently

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During the G20 demonstrations, a man named Ian Tomlinson died after being assaulted by the police.

The video of this attack was first published by The Guardian via its website. It was soon picked up by other news media, online and offline.

The interesting (and surprising) thing is that the online guys were more willing to credit The Guardian than the offline guys.

Who says the online tendency is to violate copyright and that the offline one is to respect copyright?

Internet consultant Martin Belam explains the phenomenon.

So the interesting question is why there is such a big difference in the approach taken online and in print. Online the majority of the serious papers were unstinting in linking to and crediting The Guardian, whereas in print there was a much greater reluctance.

Partly it is the nature of the medium. Users on the web are much more promiscuous with their news viewing habits, and know that there are a range of different sites out there. Furthermore, to not link to the original source of a story is considered bad manners on the web, and net-savvy journalists and production staff will tend to link out as a ‘digital native’ instinct.

I also think it is a cultural output of being in a traditional media business. In print, you don’t really want to give your readers any excuse to alter their purchasing choice. Especially not by pointing out that a rival had a massive scoop, even as you are required to follow their setting of the day’s news agenda.

Written by Oon Yeoh

April 21, 2009 at 2:01 am

Posted in New Media

On Williams & Stone

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An interesting profile of Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone. (Tks, Jack for the link).

Money graph:

The real Twitter revolution may prove to be much more everyday. When I stop for a latte at Peet’s Coffee on the way to the interview, the manager tells me that he plans to start sending out tweets to let regular customers know when a table is open. He isn’t alone. A Manhattan bakery twitters when warm cookies come out of the oven. “It’s those small stories that really inspire us,” says Mr. Stone. “Those are the things that transform people’s lives.”

Written by Oon Yeoh

April 20, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Posted in Social Media

User interaction the hot new metric

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Typically, a news site’s metrics are unique visitors and page views. Certainly that’s how we do it at The Edge.

BusinessWeek, however, breaks away from tradition and instead focuses on user interaction.

Money graph from BusinessWeek‘s John Byrne:

It’s important because we value, and so measure and gauge, all our interactions with our readers on BusinessWeek.com — including commenting on a story or blog post. The next level is how our writers and editors engage our readers in a conversation, and also welcoming our readers to write longer pieces for us, or to report (at least once a week) a reader-suggested story. We’re also engaging with BW readers on other sites, such our Ning network that served as a forum to generate and debate stimulus spending priorities for the Obama administration, or interactions involving our 50+ staffers on Twitter. If we don’t listen to our readers and interact with them, and then act on the feedback and suggestions they’re giving us, we’re dead in the water. That applies to any media brand today, not just BusinessWeek. We’re just making it more of a priority, including featuring readers on an equal plane with our writers — on our home page, for example, our featured reader is given more prominence than even a Jack & Suzy Welch.

Erik Ulken, former editor for interactive technology at the Los Angeles Times, lists down some useful new metrics:

  • Internal metrics: Statistics about engagement that takes place on your site
    • Comments posted: Shows how much users are inclined to react to a topic, or supply insights of their own.
    • Return commenters: In other words, how many people comment multiple times on the same item? This is a measure of conversation around a topic. (Kudos to the Guardian’s Kevin Anderson for this idea.)
    • Times e-mailed: Reveals how often users are sharing this information with friends. This metric probably skews toward neophyte users, as more experienced users are presumably less likely to use an “e-mail this” feature.
    • Average time spent on page: Shows how thoroughly users are consuming the content, perhaps? Lots of asterisks, though, as John points out.
  • External metrics: Statistics about how people share and discuss your content elsewhere
    • Tweets/retweets: Measures how “viral” this content is in a social network. There’s also geographic information embedded in these tweets that could tell you where a topic resonates particularly strongly.
    • Diggs: Another measure of the viral nature of a topic. Given Digg’s audience, this metric might favor content that appeals to a techie crowd.
    • Delicious saves: Shows how many users stored this page with an eye toward returning to it. This metric could be particularly useful for ongoing features that you want to build a regular user base for.
    • Inbound links from blogs: Quantifies the discussion taking place in the blogosphere. This could help you identify the blogs that are most attuned to the content you produce — as opposed to just the ones that send you the most visitors (which are not necessarily the most engaged users).

Written by Oon Yeoh

April 18, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Posted in New Media

Quality is the biz model for streaming video (Part II)

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Earlier, I had said that that quality was the biz model for streaming video. Here’s the latest development on that front.

YouTube is invading Hulu territory.

The main question is whether the professional content that YouTube will be offering will be made available to international audiences. Hulu is only available to US audiences.

I suspect due to licensing restrictions, the professional content on YouTube will be restricted to American audiences in the way that iTunes and even some audio books in Audible are restricted to American consumers.

Written by Oon Yeoh

April 18, 2009 at 2:01 am

Posted in New Media