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Below is a list of resources to help integrate Facebook into your journalism curricula. From reading materials for students to outlines of specific products, and examples of their uses by journalists, the below information can help you get started in structuring your class material. We’ve also included some suggestions of assignments that may help students get experience in using the tools. We would encourage you to use this Group as a place to share other resources that you have come across in integrating Facebook into your class syllabus. Whether it is teaching Facebook journalism or integrating Facebook into the class experience by organizing students using a Facebook Group, share what has worked for you and what didn’t with other journalism educators. The content will help journalists use Facebook to do five things: ● find new story ideas, track trends and sources ● publish real-time news updates and community engagement ● connect with readers and viewers in new ways ● bring attention and traffic to their work ● help them create, craft and enhance their personal brand The students will learn best practices as well as what to avoid in this fast-changing, real-time social news world. Many journalists already use these tools for personal reasons, but the materials and examples will take that knowledge to new levels with practical, actionable lessons in how best to navigate Facebook in strategic ways.
Optional Reading Material:
● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● Facebook's Growing Role in Social Journalism, Mashable How Journalists Can Use Facebook Pages, Nieman Journalism Lab Rockville Central offers eight lessons on Facebook news publishing, Poynter 1.4 million fans can't be wrong: NPR's Facebook page, Nieman Journalism Lab Using Facebook for a TV investigation, Newslab The case of high heels: How open-ended questions on Facebook can spark story leads, Poynter Nick Kristof turns to Facebook to report from Egypt , Nieman Journalism Lab Why Journalists should be using Facebook more, The Next Web The Moment in Time project at The New York Times: More than 12,000 people signed up to join via the NYT's Facebook page.
I. Searching for Sources & Stories: Facebook.com/search
1. Open Search: Use Facebook Search to find public “posts by everyone” that are relevant to a news story you are covering. Use key words from your story to filter results. You can use “word here” for exact phrase searches. Remember, people have ownership to the photos that they post. Get permission before using something a user posted, public or not. 2. People Search: The people search enables you to find sources that you’re looking to contact on Facebook. You can filter by location, education and workplace. If you find someone who you may want to use as a source, you can go to their profile and message them privately through Facebook Messages without being their friend. 3. Facebook Groups: You can also search Facebook Groups to find sources affiliated with specific organizations or groups (this can be useful for political organizations, local organizations, etc.). 4. Events: The Events search enables you to search through open Events being posted by people or organizations. If you’re covering an event, you can usually find the event organizers based on who created the event on Facebook. 5. Pages: Similarly to Groups, Pages are often used for organizational and distribution purposes and can garner useful information around an organization or event. You can search for Pages by keywords. II. Messaging (Messages, Chat, Video Calling): Using Facebook messages tools to contact and interview sources on the platform. 1. Messages: Using your Profile, journalists are able to privately message sources they’d like to interview for a story without having to be friends by going to their profile and clicking the “message” button. Many sources will have their settings setup to also get an e-mail notification that you’ve messaged them on Facebook or their mobile device depending on their settings. Just like contacting a source by calling them or e-mailing them, it’s important to be transparent by identifying yourself as a reporter.
2. Chat: If a journalist connects with a source using their Profile, they are able to use the Chat tool to interview them. Group Chat can also be effective tool for organlizing multiple journalists working together on the same story as a form of communicating and staying organized with one another. 3. Video Calling: If a journalist is connected to a source, they can use their Profile to Video Call a source for an interview. To setup Video Calling on your account, visit the Video Calling Page and the Help Resources page on Video Calling. Before you can call your sources, you need to complete a quick, one-time setup: ● You will be asked to complete the setup the first time you try to call a source you’re connect to, or the first time a source tries to call you. To call a source, click the video icon at the top of your chat window. ● Simply click the “Set Up” button and follow the instructions for how to set up video calling on your browser. ● Once you’ve successfully completed the setup, the call you’ve started with your connected source should connect automatically. If it doesn’t, you can call again by clicking the video icon at the top of your chat window. III. Journalist Pages and Profiles: How to effectively use Pages and Profiles for reporting and storytelling (detailed descriptions below outline). 1. Distribution: Sharing stories to grow your distribution. 2. Breaking News: Using Pages during breaking news events. Make sure you have your Profile or Page synced to a mobile device for easy posting. 3. Storytelling: “A good story is a good story on Facebook.” 4. Personal vs. Professional: Using Pages to create a professional presence unique from your personal Profile on Facebook. 5. Building your journalistic brand: Using your public Page to showcase expertise. 6. Multimedia: Taking advantage of photos and videos. 7. Crowdsourcing: Using Pages and Profiles to get users to submit photos, stories, tips, etc. From opening up the Wall to using custom contact form tabs. 8. Engagement: What works and what doesn’t in terms of cultivating an engaged community on Facebook? (Questions, content that works, etc.) 9. Creating a custom Page News Feed & Profile Lists: Based on other Pages you like with your Page, you will see that content in your Page News Feed when you’re logged in as the Page. Or using your Profiles’ Lists feature to put sources into specific lists for sharing and keeping track. 10. Mobile: Because a lot of posting happens via mobile, it’s important to hook your Page or Profile up to your mobile device for easy posting while reporting from the field. 11. Applications: To create a custom experience on a Page, you can add custom tabs to create a unique experience. 12. Facebook Insights: Insights is the analytics tool for Pages, which enables you to learn about the activity taking place on your Page and about the users who are connected to the Page. nsights helps you better understand who your readers are. Gain insights into the most popular content and see what is and isn’t performing as well. With Facebook Insights, you can monitor key performance indicators, view customer demographics and interactions, test product changes, and optimize key drivers of growth. For example, you can view how active your fans are and receive feedback on the content you post. These analytics can be accessed through our online dash-boards, as well as programmatically through our API.
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IV. Profile (friend) vs Page (like) vs Group (member/join) 1. Profile: Person profiles are accounts for authentic identity. However, it’s important for journalists to still verify who they are talking to. “If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.” This also applies to potential sources you’re trying to contact on Facebook. 2. Page: To connect to a Page, a user will “like” the Page and receive updates from the Page. The Page doesn’t see your updates in their News Feed in return. Journalists sometimes create Pages to build a professional and public presence on Facebook, and use their Profiles for personal connections. 3. Groups: Groups provide a closed space for small groups of people to communicate about shared interests. Groups can be created by anyone. Groups can be a great tool for internal communication among journalists working on a project or beat together. They can use Group Chat for live discussions, use the “Documents” tool to share resources and post information to the Group Wall. Some news organizations have used Groups to build a presence on Facebook, while most have used them for focus groups, feedback, building a community of sources, and more. To add members to a Group, the admin has to be friends with the user they are inviting, or send the user a link and have them request to join the Group. 4. Other differences include: a. Pages Privacy: Page information and posts are public and generally available to everyone on Facebook. Audience: Anyone can like a Page to become connected with it and get News Feed updates. There is no limit to how many people can like a Page. Communication: Page admins can share posts under the Page’s name. Page posts appear in the News Feed of people who like the Page. Page admins can also create customized tabs for their Pages and check Page Insights to track the Page’s growth and activity. b. Groups Privacy: In addition to an open setting, more privacy settings are available for groups. In secret and closed groups, posts are only visible to group members. Audience: Group members must be approved or added by other members. When a group reaches a certain size, some features are limited. The most useful groups tend to be the ones you create with small groups of people you know. Communication: In groups, members receive notifications by default when any member posts in the group. Group members can participate in chats, upload photos to shared albums, collaborate on group docs, and invite all members to group events. V. Best Practices for Publishing & Distributing: If content is king, then distribution is queen. Because if your content isn’t being distributed to an audience, then who is being informed? 1. Inclusion of Questions and Calls to Action: While posts that included a question only accounted for 10% of the posts sampled on Journalist Pages, posts with questions received 2X more comments and 64% more feedback overall than an average post. The top posting styles: a. Posts that asked questions or sought user input: +64% b. Call to read or take a closer look: +37% c. Personal reflections or behind-the-scenes posts: +25% d. Posts with catchy/clever language or tone: +18% 2. Post length: On average, meaty posts from journalists get more feedback via comments and likes. The analysis showed that 4-line postings received a 30% increase in feedback over average posts and 5-line postings showed a 60% increase in feedback over
average posts. However, 1-line posts show the greatest fluctuation, receiving the highest maximum feedback observed, at 15X higher than the average post. 5-line posts were a close second, showing a maximum of around 10X the average post. For journalists posting teasers for links or status updates on their Pages, this means both short and long posts can yield results but meatier posts on average generate more feedback overall. Photos: Readers respond well to photos on Journalist Pages. Though uploaded Photos accounted for only 10% of the posts to Journalist Pages, they received 50% more likes than non-photo posts. Links with Thumbnail Images: Links that include an image thumbnail in the link preview get more engagement on average. Journalists who shared links that included a thumbnail image in the link preview on their Page Wall saw a 65% increase in likes and 50% increase in comments on those posts. Engagement by Story Type: Posts about education, politics and behind-the-scenes insights & analysis from journalists received a higher amount of feedback on average. Education posts got 2X more likes, politics received both 1.7X more likes and 1.6X more comments, and a journalist sharing their thoughts had 1.4X more likes. Referral Clicks & Story Type: International news stories had 70% more referral clicks than that of an average post (ex. “For 60 years, Pakistan’s military has focused obsessively on its rivalry with India. Large elements within that military appear to be switching obsessions...” - Fareed Zakaria, CNN). Stories about politics received 60% more referral clicks (ex. “I’m sitting down with President Obama tomorrow for an exclusive interview – click below and tell me what you think I should ask.” – George Stephanopoulos, ABC). Posts that included the journalist’s analysis or personal reflections received 20% more referral clicks than an average post (ex. “For all of you high school students accepted into college – congratulations, but think about deferring for a year and taking a ‘gap year’ – I did…” - Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times). Daily Feedback and Referral Clicks: Journalists received the highest amount of feedback later in the week. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday had the highest amount of feedback -- with Sunday receiving the highest amount of feedback at 25% more likes and 8% more comments above average. Referral clicks were above average Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday -- with links getting 85% more clicks on Saturday and 37% more on Wednesday than an average post. Hourly Feedback: Readers are active throughout the day. Feedback spikes occurred on Journalist Pages at the start of the day (7 a.m. & 8 a.m. showing a 30-40% increase); late in the morning (10 a.m. ET received 40% increase in feedback); later in the workday (4 & 5 p.m. ET showing 40% and 100% increases); and on into the evening hours (12 a.m. ET getting 30% increase and 2 a.m. ET getting 20% increase).
Examples of Assignments & Integrating Facebook into the Class:
1. Create a Facebook Group for the class. You can set the group to be closed and private. Use this as a place to post assignments for students, share resources, and a place where students can submit their assignments, while getting feedback from their fellow classmates. Students can use the Documents tool to upload assignments, and the class can have live discussions using Group Chat. 2. Turning a Profile into a CV: One assignment could guide students into how they can showcase their work as journalists on their profiles. A good guide with some ideas can be found here.
3. Video Calling Guest Lecturers: Use Video Calling to bring in guest lecturers into the classroom. This will also demonstrate how Video Calling is used. 4. Setup Facebook Pages: As part of the course, you could have students setup public journalist Facebook Pages and manage them during a course. For example, one assignment could be simply setting the Pages up as a portfolio and public destination, and another assignment could require them using the Page to cover an event live by posting updates in real-time from their mobile devices. 5. Finding Sources: After showing how to use Facebook Search to the students, you could conduct an in-class exercise in finding sources on the platform. Students would have to find at least 5 sources of information (people, Groups, or Pages) around a beat they cover for the class, for example. This will challenge them in using the search tools effectively while on-deadline looking for a source.
Pages & Profile Examples:
Distribution: Many news organizations and journalists with Facebook Pages or Profiles use
their presence to distribute content. This, of course, not only enables readers to engage with the content on Facebook, but it also drives traffic back to the reporter’s site. (The average news site saw Facebook referrals increase by more than 300 percent since the beginning of 2010.)
By distributing content, reporters are able to showcase the journalism they produce to the public beyond their friends. And for the members of that public, the ability to get content directly from journalists, rather than just news organizations, creates a richer news consumption experience. It’s no longer just about the story being shared, but about what the person
sharing it has to say about it. So when you “like” Christiane Amanpour, it’s likely because you’re interested not just in the news she delivers — but in the way she delivers it. Pages can target their distribution by location or even language. For example, this means you are able to post something that will only be seen in the News Feeds of those in New York City (specific city) who speak Spanish (specific language).
Breaking News: The News Feed gives users flexibility to adjust their options and filter based on what they want to see. The two prominent options are Top Stories and Most Recent. And Most Recent, in particular, enables users to see content being posted in real-time. This enables journalists and news organizations to keep its readers updated when news breaks. In April, for example, after the St. Louis Airport was hit with a tornado, KMOV, the local TV station, kicked up the frequency of its updates to real-time. It used its Page to post warnings to its readers, photos and videos of damage, and prompts soliciting content and updates from readers. Journalists posting to the TV station’s Page would status tag their own journalist pages so that readers would know who was posting the reports, adding a layer of transparency and accountability — and enabling readers to connect with them.
Pages can also serve as a great source for news tips where members of your local community can post tips directly to your Wall. The Daily Norwalk, for example, received a tip from an eyewitness to a shooting that had just taken place in the community. The witness posted what he saw directly on the organization's wall.
Journalists should be ready for breaking news situations, and have their Profile or Page synced to a mobile device for easy posting on-the-go (see Mobile for details below). Storytelling: Great journalism deserves to be showcased. From short updates on-the-go, to videos, photo albums, or a more in-depth pieces using the Notes feature, Profiles and Pages enable journalists to produce and showcase various types of content for readers. Journalists such as Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times have used their Pages to post regular updates while they’ve been reporting abroad. Sometimes Kristof’s updates have been a mere behindthe-scenes window into his reporting, while others he has posted detailed descriptions and short stories while reporting from the likes of the Bahrain. And those updates spread to the News
Feeds of the more than 200,000 people who “like” his page. The content is social, and, as such, it spreads throughout the network. Kristof's tips for journalists using Profiles or Pages in their reporting: 1. Focus on storytelling. A good story is a good story on Facebook.
2. Use the wisdom of the crowd in your reporting. It works. 3. Ask questions and invite people to join the conversation. 4. Share the behind-the-scenes process of your reporting (judiciously). Personal vs. Professional: Facebook Pages enable journalists to have a professional presence on Facebook, giving readers a chance to connect with their professional identity instead of having only the option to be their friends. And that can be especially useful when it comes to the journalists’ relationship with their sources. If sources want to connect with a journalist on the platform, Pages provide an option in which journalists don’t have to worry (as much) about the content of their personal profiles, or, for example, the ethical implications of accepting a source’s friend request. (It’s also worth noting that many sources probably feel uncomfortable “friending” a journalist.) Now, when someone searches for a journalist’s name, they will see the Page as an option to connect. Another bonus: While Profiles have a 5,000 “friend” limit, Pages have no limit. Building your journalistic brand: As journalists, we often squirm at phrases like “personal branding.” But the reality is that social media, and the social web in general, have created a shift from the institutional news brand to journalists’ personal brands. Prior to the web, the journalistic personal brand was mostly limited to columnists and the TV anchors who enjoyed lots of face time. The rest of us were shrouded in mystery behind our bylines. But as a result of the proliferation of personal blogs and social profiles — not to mention web search — readers can now find information about a journalist instantly. And journalists themselves have a bigger platform than ever before to interact with their readers, one that allows them more freedom with tone and voice. The bigger platform, of course, has not been limited to journalists alone, and that has resulted in many more voices, and also more noise. But that makes a journalist’s personal brand even more important. If you write it, they will not necessarily come.
Showcasing multimedia: With more than 100 million photos uploaded daily, Facebook is the web’s most popular photo-sharing site. And the popularity of video on the site continues to grow. As such, it’s a big platform for photojournalists and videographers to showcase their work. columnist Deb Petersen of the San Jose Mercury News, who posts photos on her Page as an album that tells a broader story. Or Diane Sawyer, whose Page includes behindthe-scenes videos of her meetings and interviews. Or the WCTV station in Tallahassee that used its Page to post its newscast after having technical difficulties that prevented it from broadcasting. The station was still able to deliver its nightly newscast to its viewers on Facebook — and users were able to share that newscast with friends, and comment on it. Community-sourced content: The more people who participate in the journalism process, the better informed we are as a result. This is something that Jay Rosen recently emphasized in his reflection after 25 years of teaching journalism, and echoed by Mathew Ingram of GigaOM. In its tornado coverage, KMOV-TV was able to community-source photos and videos of storm damage using its Facebook Page, many of which were used on TV to enhance its broadcast coverage. Users were able to upload them directly to KMOV's Wall.
Individual journalists, of course, are not exempt. Fareed Zakaria uses his Facebook Page to solicit questions from his viewers for interviews he’s preparing for. He also uses Facebook Questions to poll his audience on issues he’s covering. Because Facebook Page owners can be logged in as the page itself, it gives them a customized experience and enables them to engage as their Page, and not their personal profile. You also receive notifications for when readers engage on your Page. Though using Pages can be a great tool in building an audience that helps you in your reporting, it also enables
journalists to cultivate an active community of readers. The conversation around a story is just as important as the story itself. It usually enhances the story and better informs its readers. Dateline NBC, for example, encouraged viewers to go to its Facebook Page, where the subject of the story, David Goldman, would answer their questions in the comments.
1. Touching, emotional stories (ex. "Fireman adopts girl orphaned in house fire..."): 2-3x expected increase in engagement above average post. 2. Provocative, passionate debates (ex. "A proposed new law denies citizenship to children of illegal immigrants..."): 2-3x expected increase in engagement above average post. 3. Sports game, important wins (ex. "The Chicago Blackhawks Win First Cup in 49 Years..."): 1.5-2x expected increase in engagement above average post. 4. Simple, easy questions to the user (ex. "Will you watch the World Cup): 1.5x expected increase in engagement above average post.
Curating a news stream
Pages also enable journalists to “like” other Pages to create a personalized News Feed. Journalists can use the Page to keep up with top officials or organizations that have Pages set up without having to use their personal profiles and worry as much about the perception of a conflict of interest or an endorsement of an organization. This is especially applicable to political reporters, who may want to keep up with candidates from multiple parties, but are worried about “liking” those candidates’ Pages using their
personal profile. “Liking” content from your public Page means you can more clearly separate your personal identity from your professional one, helping other users to understand that the action is part of your work — not a personal endorsement.
A lot of news reporting happens on-the-go, with production taking place not on a computer, but on a mobile phone. Pages can be synced with your mobile device, so it’s easy to post to your Page by using the mobile site or the iPhone application. You can also post photos via e-mail or status updates through text messages by texting “f” to 32665. After the Page is linked with your mobile number, you can send status updates to 32665, and those will post to your Wall.
A richer experience through applications
Pages offer a plethora of custom applications that you can employ to enhance the user experience on your Page. Features such as a custom Contact Form can easily be added as a tab to your page — an option for readers or sources to contact you privately with questions or news tips. Depending on your needs, you can typically find the right application by searching through the Applications Directory. News organizations and journalist Pages alike have used various applications, from those that enable unique content such as a video livestream integration, to ones that enable you to build a Welcome page for readers who land on your Page. These can be effective in improving the rates of “like” conversions; a simple welcome prompt to “like” the page or directions of how to connect with the page can do the trick. Local TV anchor Amy Wood, for example, has a tab for Livestream, which enables her viewers to watch her nightly newscasts right on her Page. In fact, during commercial breaks, Amy jumps into the live comments to have a dialogue with her viewers.
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