Finally getting round to finishing some Twitter lists I started a while ago (although, can you ever finish a Twitter list?), they languished with not many members and at the Trinity Mirror editorial conference over the last two days in Manchester it reminded me I needed to sort them. Inspired mainly by Peachesanscream who did a great presentation on how to use Twitter I need your help to put together. She’s been using Twitter to help grow UsvsTh3m, which has rocketed to 7m unique users in November. They made that Northerner game you’ve probably played.
A list of people who run, started, or are involved in hyperlocal sites or hyperlocal news sites in the UK.
So I braved the Travelodge in Middlesbrough (once again) for the latest round of debate with hyperlocal site owners and local community sites at the Talk About Local event #tal13.
The day ranged from trying to rediscover your blogging mojo, to best tips for using Facebook and Twitter, how traditional media can work with hyperlocal sites and finally what does the growing usage of mobile internet and mobile consumption mean for hyperlocal sites?
Held in the impressive surroundings of MIMA, the beauty of unconferences (you pitch sessions and stick them on a big board which the organisers then shuffle about so inevitably all the ones you want to see happen at the same time is the range of speakers/sessions is always so varied. Read the rest of this entry »
On Saturday morning I found myself not sitting in my back garden enjoying some glorious sunshine but instead doing my best David Higgerson impression at a political conference in Manchester talking about Freedom of Information.
My gambit was that FOI is vital for the local and regional newsrooms – it’s rare to see at least one news list not mention FOI somewhere on a daily basis, and more importantly it is enjoyed by our audiences – who we are ultimately beholden to. Read the rest of this entry »
Been having a read of the new Destination Local research by Nesta into the demand for hyperlocal media (read local news and information) in the UK. It’s fascinating reading.
If you can’t face the 82 page PDF download, here’s the main points I found during the research. First some details on what they were looking at and how they did it:
Where do the stats below come from? It comes from a survey of 2,248 people done in early January 2013 using Comupter Assisted Personal Interviewing. All respondents were aged 16 or over.
How was hyperlocal defined? “online news or content services pertaining to a town, village, single postcode or other small geographically defined community.”
Use of hyperlocal for content, what people want
50% of users want weather
41% breaking news
32% local entertainment
30% clubs and bar
27% community events
Breakdown of usage
50% want local weather every day
36% want business news every day
35% want breaking news every day
Not daily but at least weekly
45% local sports
40% business news
39% breaking news
Not weekly but at least monthly
54% local restaurants
49% Local businesses
48% local arts and cultural events
Less than monthly
47% local planning, building, development
38% local social services
32% local schools and education
Little interest in paying for hyperlocal information, but reason for growth against “traditional sources” is the perception that it is more up to date, accurate and reliable than other sources. This seems like a chance for hyperlocal media to show how often they update and the ease at which they make information available against local authority websites etc.
Who are hyperlocal users? 35-54 age group, own home, ABC1 and can afford a connected device.
How do users choose local media? ‘Accuracy and reliability’, ‘trustworthy’ and ‘being up to date’ are crucial. <— How can hyperlocal sites portray this? Good timestamps, focus on what is being published and quality.
Just over 1/5 of people have contributed to hyperlocal media by posting a comment or uploading a photo. You’re more likely to contribute if you have a tablet or smartphone. A contribution is classed as posting a comment, uploading a photo, sending in a story…
66% of UK adults are either very interested and quite intereted in the immediate area where they live.
Interestingly women in a relationship are most likely to be “very interested” in local news and information. Assumption, because they have children?
Those who read a daily or Sunday newspaper are more likely to use hyperlocal media than those who read local newspapers.
How people access hyperlocal media:
Laptops/netbooks – 58%
Smartphones – 46%
Desktops – 34%
Non smartphones phones – 28%
Tablets – 22%
55% of smartphone users will visit local media site about where they live once a week or more often
The hyperlocal search battle:
56% of users rely on search engines to find information about their local area. How are hyperlocal sites competing in the search world?
Why people use hyperlocal media
59% it is convenient and 45% it is free and 49% said they would not pay for a service which is hyperlocal
What do hyperlocal media allow people to do?
56% feel more informed about their local area, 40% are more likely to support the local economy with their purchasing decisions and 36% agree it strengthens their sense of belonging
But 66% feel it hasn’t helped them make friends, and 46% don’t feel it has given them the chance to contribute to discussions about their local area, plus 44% don’t feel it allows them to have an influence over decisions made in the immediate area. Interesting as a lot of what we hear about hyperlocal media is about how it brings people together around a cause, maybe these type of hyperlocal sites were not reflected in the research because people were asked about “news” and updates on a campaign are not considered “news”?
At the start of March, partly inspired by my boss David Higgerson’s post about doing Facebook right, I decided to get Blog Preston’s Facebook page into shape and see what would happen if I gave it the same amount of love and attention as our Twitter feed.
Blog Preston is the hyperlocal news site I set up in 2009 to cover community news, events and much more in the city of Preston, Lancashire.
Our Facebook page had always been ticking over (on around 550 fans), powered first by a combination of RSS feed from the blog and then through a “ah, crap, I really should post this story to Facebook” strategy.
Looking at our analytics, we still get more traffic from Twitter – where we have over 5,000 followers – but Facebook is rapidly growing in the referral stakes. So at the start of March I decided to see if I followed the simple steps below to see what kind of impact it would have on the number of people liking the page and most importantly engaging, commenting and liking our Facebook status updates:
- Pictures. I would try to post more pictures with updates rather than relying on Facebook to pick a picture from a post.
- Writing the status updates. Instead of just using a combination of the headline and first paragraph I’d inject a bit of character into the updates and write them for Facebook.
- Scheduling. I’d try to think about when our audience would be using Facebook, what type of stories they’d like and at what time they’d like them. Also, I’d try to avoid swamping updates. Previously I’d often post out three or four links in quick succession when having chance to update the page.
So what happened?
You can clearly see the point when we got it right and suddenly our reach and interaction went up – but our post numbers stayed consistent.
So here’s a few highlights:
1. People love to talk about things which have opened/closed. Any post about new shops opening, new developments or the closing of shops/buildings were always doing well in terms of their likes, comments and shares.
Take this post about the closure of an independent store Orbit, the re-opening of a pub or a new block of student flats down one of Preston’s main shopping streets. I tended to post these types of stories with a strong image and ask a question along with it to try and provoke a response.
2. Introducing posts is always a good idea. Rather than posting a headline you write the status in a personal and conversational style, so looking at Facebook insights the posts with over 3% ‘virality’ i.e. people writing about, talking about or using your post as the basis for a conversation and sharing it, started like this:
“While Friargate might be bustling today for…”
“Bit of breaking Preston Bus Station news for you”
“Looks like Bernie Blackburn has been up to..”
“Brrrrrrrrr! It’s cold out there”
“Did you see this in St George’s Shopping centre?”
They tend to start off with a question, statement or something that gives the Blog Preston page some personality rather than just repeating what’s in the story.
3. Pictures, pictures, pictures. After the purchase of Instagram it’s obvious the direction Facebook is moving in and posting photos with an update are crucial to getting interaction, particularly likes, and a reaction from your fans. I started using the highlight function too as a way to really make use of some of the great photography we have from our co-editors and contributors.
4. Break news. We’d always thought of Twitter as the place to break news but actually Facebook is a much better medium. The chances of someone having their news feed open in Facebook is higher than someone seeing something in their Twitter feed. We broke the news about the escaped prisoner Brian Lynch being on the run on our page and it went viral, and we followed up by posting at after 11pm about an offer for Preston Bus Station by a local businessman being rejected by the city council – it got far more traction on Facebook than Twitter because, I’m convinced, there are more people logged onto Facebook at that time.
5. As your reach grows, so does your ability to find stories. I started trying to use the page as more of a person, so liking and commenting as the Facebook page itself. We also have an inbox functionality so anyone can send a message to the Blog Preston page. We had one reader who sent us a message about how an independent store, opened in 1972, was closing down. We were able to get a photo and find out what had happened. It’s proved to be one of our most popular posts for March and also one of the most talked about stories we’ve posted on Facebook.
6. Scheduling. Pre-writing and scheduling status updates has been our biggest weapon on Facebook. It’s fairly recent for Facebook to let you schedule updates, but it allows us to pre-write them and space out our posts. The key thing is to be prepared to rip-up your scheduled posts if something breaks – otherwise you can end up looking like a prize idiot if your future status’ don’t make sense.
7. Overall fan numbers. We started out at 550(ish) likes at the start of March and we finished on 693. Considering the Facebook page has been running for about three and a half years, to put on 143 fans in 30 days is a good achievement and one I believe is down to our consistent posting, tone of updates and making it clear we’ll provide updates which enrich your timeline and not just clog it up with guff.
So what’s next for our Facebook page? I still feel we can improve the amount of liking, commenting and sharing of other fan pages on Faceook. I’d like to try and get the page up to 1,000 likes in the next three months but most importantly it’s about sticking at it and recognising that putting the story on Facebook needs thought put into it – not just bunging a link on.
Do you run a Facebook page? Do you have a hyperlocal site? I’d be interested to hear your techniques on Facebook fan pages…
YouTube’s opened a studio space in London for partner channels to create content in. It’s free to use if a channel has over 10,000 subscribers.
YouTube’s been aggressively moving itself into a position where it can battle it out for TV ad spend – and the upcoming channel changes will only accelerate this.
Recently YouTube unveiled what its new channels will look like, with an emphasis on pushing a guide onto the left hand side of all pages and asking users to subscribe to channels more – and then get updates.
YouTube’s realised if they are going to compete for TV ad spend they’ve got to show that users are engaging and watching videos for a good length of time – not just tuning in for a cat video, skipping the ad and then disappearing. Part of this is through standardising the approach to channels and trying to attract more audience to channel pages and promote them more. Interestingly the responses in the comments from YouTube’s blog about changing their channel pages are not positive (generally).
Great post over on Documentally about his 13 things to do in the coming 12 months and it’s an important reminder about what’s important, he writes:
I’m not big on New Years resolutions but I do like to remind myself what’s important. I thought if I were to write myself a list for the next 12 months I might be able to focus and make even more of the year ahead.
I like his thoughts and I think for me the most important ones from his list are: life doesn’t have to be complicated (i.e. focus on one thing and do it well), have more adventures and get fit.
I’d definitely recommend heading over and checking out the full thirteen.
If there’s one place where Twitter works best it’s on the commute. With the advent of mobile phones you can be entertained during the daily trudge to work by witty or inane banter from across the world.
So I thought I’d share these tweets which made me smile this morning from the excellent @uptightcommuter. Just wish he/she would finish off the 12 days…