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Denver Post photoMy Tuesday blog post about the value of archival photos for Facebook engagement caught the attention of Allen Klosowski, Digital First Media’s senior director, social media and mobile.

Allen, who is based in Denver, called my suggestion to the attention of his colleagues Eric Lubbers and Dan Petty in the Denver Post newsroom. “They ran with it, and it’s now going to be a standard feature,” Allen said in an email. “Nice engagement and it seemed to boost the post that came up next.”

The photo above, as you can see, got lots of shares and likes. (It also got more than 40 comments, but I can’t show them all in a screen grab.)

I think the short, pithy questions that Maryanne MacLeod of the Macomb Daily uses with some of her archival photos (below) tend to get stronger engagement. But I also like the idea of inviting people to click for more old photos on your website. I’d like to see how it works if someone combines the two techniques. This much is clear: Remember-when photos are an effective engagement tool. Please let me know how your newsroom is using them and what works well (or doesn’t work) for you.

Who remembers

Plum pit

Update: Susan Steade of the San Jose Mercury News sends along some more experience with photo archives (edited from two emails):

We started compiling archival slideshows at MercuryNews.com last summer, and now have a collection of them. The favorite so far, on the defunct amusement park Frontier Village, has gotten about 26,000 page views. Beauty queens; bars, taverns and discos; and cheerleaders and twirlers have each gotten 12,000-15,000 so far.

The slideshows have an article template that displays links to the previous collections. In a month or so we’ll be adding favorite “remember when” stories to the section.

I don’t think they’ve been getting much play on Facebook. We do have a Pinterest board for the archival photos, though, and we’ve been tweeting them out.

That’s Halle Berry at age 20 in a Miss World pageant from the Merc’s Archive Photos Pinboard.

Early responses on Twitter:

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Those old photos your newsroom has stashed away in file cabinets? They might be engagement gold on Facebook.

Check out this photo posted yesterday by Maryanne MacLeod of the Macomb Daily:

Who remembers

In 20 hours, more than 1,000 people shared that on their Facebook walls, more than 3,000 people liked it (nearly as many as like the Macomb Daily) and more than 600 have commented (the combined totals have gone up by more than 200 just since I grabbed that screen grab and started writing). The numbers above don’t show this, but Maryanne reports that more than 84,000 people have looked at the photo.

Feb. 27 update: Maryanne reports that 150,000 people have viewed the post, generating 1,656 shares, 1,139 comments and 5,562 likes. She did a story about all the response to the photo.

Resuming the original post: This isn’t the first time I’ve shared a success story with remember-when photos from the Macomb Daily’s Facebook page. In my post on Facebook engagement tips last October, I noted a photo of the Plum Pit that went viral with more than 11,000 likes.  (more…)

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Update: The runaway winner for the best Digital First Valentine’s engagement project is the Saratogian, with The Crazy Things We Do for Love. The Saratogian won 365 votes out of 750 votes cast, or 49 percent, a landslide in a 10-way race. A box of Valentine’s candy will be shipped out today to the new (and obviously successful engagement editor Aubree Cutkomp for the newsroom to share.

A second-place box will go out to the Reporter-Herald, which got 133 votes or 18 percent. Defending champion Smart magazine in York, Pa., got 78 votes, just over 10 percent. Thanks to all the newsrooms who participated, and congratulations on lots of successful engagement. Scroll down to read about the winning projects and the rest.

Here’s the original post: As lovers prepare to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Digital First newsrooms are engaging their communities in romance and fun.

Last year, I sent off boxes of Valentine’s candy to the York Daily Record and the Morning  Sun to reward their Valentine’s engagement, voted the best by readers of my blog. I was probably going to let the holiday slide by without note here, but Jessica Benes of the Reporter-Herald in Loveland, Colo., asked if I was going to reprise the contest. So I asked my colleagues to send me their accounts of what they were doing. I’ll let them make their pitches here (in the order submitted, with light editing).

After you’ve read them, please scroll back up here to vote. Again, the winning newsroom gets a Priority Mail box stuffed with Valentine’s candy.

It’s too late for you to compete for the candy if you’re not listed here, but it’s probably not too late to steal one of these ideas (give credit, please, as Jennifer Connor did in the final entry here) for some Valentine’s fun this week.

(more…)

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I need to correct a correction about whether and how news brands are allowed to post Associated Press photos on Facebook: You can’t.

My post last month about effective Facebook engagement originally said that you couldn’t post AP photos on Facebook. I should have nailed this down at the time and linked to a source, but I didn’t. This was something I had heard a few different times from different sources and I just mentioned it as a fact from my personal knowledge, but didn’t verify, as I should have.

Someone (I can’t recall who) challenged that in questioning in a webinar, so I checked with Tim Rasmussen, assistant managing editor of photography at the Denver Post, whom I considered our most knowledgeable person at Digital First Media on photography matters. Tim sent me this correction, (lightly edited) which I added to the blog:

If you have the rights to AP images you can use them on Facebook and Pinterest to promote your content. Always check the special instructions and to be safe use only their staff or STR images. But you can do it. You cannot publish any Getty images to external source, but if you do a Facebook update that pulls in a Getty image as a thumbnail, that is OK though.

At a subsequent webinar, Annette Arrigucci, Home Page Editor for the El Paso Times, said she had understood from the AP that we couldn’t use AP photos in social media.

I asked Tim to clarify, and Annette sent this email from Dale Leach, AP Regional Director — Central:

While the policy on social media is evolving, here is the relevant section from our current policy manual:

Promotional uses:

1. If the third-party entity makes claims to the content, i.e. Facebook or Twitter, then use is limited to linking back to a customer site — headline, summary and thumbnail.

2. Aggregation/ Social Networking News Feeds are limited to:

a. News story headlines up to 15 words. Use of summaries may be negotiated and would be no more than up to 30 words (each headline and summary together comprising a “Headline”).

b. Photos can be no more than one low resolution Image per headline. “Thumbnail” versions of such Images may not be displayed at dimensions greater than 1.8 inches by 1.2 inches, resolutions greater than 130 pixels by 84 pixels, and at files sizes greater than 50 kilobytes.

3. Social Networking News Feeds must include a hyperlink back to the full text of a corresponding AP news story on member’s mobile application.

Tim doublechecked with AP and confirmed the policy was as Dale stated:

I was misinformed of AP policy. I had been told by New York that we can use their images on FB, but that policy since has changed.

I asked Dale if it was OK to quote the email in my blog and he asked me to hold off until he could check again with AP headquarters in New York: “My information is barely a month old, but this as you might expect is evolving.”

Hurricane Sandy understandably caused some delays in Dale getting a response from New York. Dale replied Saturday with more clarification:

1) We do not allow posting of AP photos on Pinterest. They do not recognize our copyright. You can find AP images on Pinterest, but that is without AP permission.

2) On Facebook, current policy says photos can be used but only as thumbnails and must link back to the member site.

3) We are indeed working on more specific guidelines on photos, given the many uses members or customers have asked us about. We’ll be happy to share those with you when they are available.

So that’s the triple-checked, clarified, verified AP policy: Don’t post AP photos on Facebook, except the thumbnails that Facebook pulls in when you post a link in a status update.

If that changes, I’ll update. But for now, newsrooms should not post AP photos on Facebook or Pinterest.

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Jeff Edelstein

Trentonian columnist Jeff Edelstein showed two things with his Facebook engagement before, during and after Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey:

  1. He showed how to use Facebook to engage during a big story.
  2. He showed how effective routine Facebook engagement gives you a strong connection with people that is invaluable when the big story breaks.

I’ve written before about Jeff’s great connection with his community on Facebook. He uses Facebook regularly, asking questions of his 4,000-plus friends and they answer, sometimes giving him column material, sometimes giving feedback on a column and sometimes just deepening the connection with chatter among friends.

That routine conversation gave Jeff a deeply engaged community that stayed in touch as the storm approached and blew through New Jersey. With a mix of humor, impatience, empathy and reporting questions, Jeff had a  running conversation with the community throughout the disaster. I’m going to highlight a few of the dozens of Facebook updates that Jeff posted relating to Sandy.

It was a mix of personal and professional, all with personality. So when Jeff asked for help, it wasn’t like a journalist was asking people to do his job for him. It was a trusted friend asking for information. And he got lots of replies, whatever he was asking or saying.

(more…)

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Digital First Media newsrooms in Connecticut are already seeing results from the Facebook engagement tips I taught and blogged about last week.

In the two weeks prior to the workshop, Connecticut Editor Matt DeRienzo reports, the posts on the Register Citizen Facebook page drawing the most engagement in the Torrington area had 54, 43 and 40 engaged users (people clicking on the update in some fashion). All other posts had fewer than 20 engaged users, most less than 10.

But since last Thursday’s workshop, six Facebook posts engaged 44 to 122 users. Four of those posts used photos, rather than status updates with just text or a thumbnail photo, and one (about the New England earthquake) asked a question, both techniques discussed in last week’s webinar and blog post. (more…)

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2014 update: Facebook has changed its algorithm. While most of the advice in this post remains valid, the algorithm now favors links over photos.

Update: If you read the original version of this, please check the correction in bold. I was mistaken about rights to post AP photos on Facebook. 

Changes to the algorithm guiding the Facebook news feed make it more important than ever that newsrooms and journalists engage effectively on Facebook.

We don’t fully know how the changes work or what we should do about the them. Facebook has not provided much guidance on new best practices for news brands (they should do that; Facebook users share and interact with a lot of news).

Facebook + Journalists has been silent on this issue and the Facebook Blog hasn’t posted since January. I haven’t been successful in getting any on-the-record guidance from Facebook or in getting much private guidance that is helpful. This explainer on the Facebook news feed doesn’t even include a question on the recent changes.

The purported purpose of the algorithm is to deliver to people’s news feeds posts that Facebook thinks they will want. So if people are interacting with our posts (clicking on photos and links, liking and sharing our content, commenting), they will see more posts from us. If they are interacting with content of a particular type (sports content, for instance), they will see more of our posts on that topic.

Some have speculated that Facebook is hiding posts from news brands to encourage us to pay for promoted positions for our brands. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t expect that most newsrooms will spend much, if any, money promoting our posts. Presuming that some companies do pay to promote their posts, those promoted posts will get more prominent play in people’s news feeds than our free posts.

I don’t like Facebook’s changes either as a user or as a journalist interested in reaching Facebook users. I may blog separately about that. But whether we like the changes is irrelevant when it comes to how newsrooms should engage on Facebook. I don’t like the decline in newspaper advertising either, but I have to deal with its results.

News brands that have been getting significant traffic from Facebook have seen dramatic drops in our referrals. We need to make a better effort at posting engaging content and starting conversations. We need to experiment with strategies for generating engagement. We need to monitor how those strategies affect engagement. And we need to share stories of what works effectively.

I’m encouraging Digital First newsrooms to follow these practices. Some have proven effective in the past at generating engagement. Some of these practices have been used by DFM newsrooms in posts that have drawn effective engagement under the new algorithm. Clearly this advice is speculative to some extent, so we’re interested in hearing from you what generates successful results. (more…)

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Breaking news stories provide excellent examples of the value of digital tools. A fatal shooting in Troy, N.Y., Thursday showed how the Record is using the Digital First approach to breaking news.

Reporter Danielle Sanzone covered the story in text and video. The shooting story yesterday was followed by today’s arrest story.

Strong coverage on Facebook yielded 70 comments, 2 shares and 27 “Likes” (an awkward term for stories about violence), and the Record picked up about 35 new Facebook fans, Digital Specialist Tom Caprood reports. He used Storify to compile the various Facebook comments into one place. He deleted five or so inappropriate comments.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to duplicate a lot of this in the future outside of just breaking news,” Tom said in an email, “but it’s a great milestone to learn from and show how far we’ve come with our ‘Digital First’ efforts.”

Troy Record Facebook photo

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Steve Buttry Timeline on FacebookSince Facebook Timeline came out a couple months or so ago, it’s been one of those things I kept planning to get around to “next week.” When they made Timeline available for branded pages last week, I decided I’d better finally add it to my personal page. When you have “social media” in your job title, being busy working on social media doesn’t work very long as an excuse for looking outdated on a social platform.

So I did my Facebook Timeline last night. Here’s what I like: (more…)

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I’ve written a lot about Twitter’s value in covering breaking news. But don’t forget to post breaking news, especially photos, to Facebook, too.

Jon Hill, online editor of the Lowell Sun, demonstrated the power of a breaking news photo on Facebook yesterday, almost inadvertently. He was working the early-morning shift when a fire broke out at a popular local pizza parlor.

Jon hustled over to the pizza place and shot a photo. The website was down briefly, so he covered by Twitter and Facebook. (more…)

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Facebook made Timeline available today for branded pages. My colleagues Mandy Jenkins and Ivan Lajara collaborated on this explainer for how to add Timeline. I guess I need to stop planning to get to Timeline on my page next week.

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Facebook engagement doesn’t mean just posting links and questions on your own page. Good journalists should be reaching out to the community on other pages.

In a recent email, Toni Sciacqua, Managing Editor – Digital at the Daily Breeze, Press-Telegram and Daily News in Southern California, shared a great example of Facebook engagement:

I wanted to share a big social media aha moment we had recently at the Daily Breeze that illustrates how listening to and engaging with the community can pay off in building a new audience and help us address issues the community is talking about. (more…)

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