Tag Archives: facebook

Timelines for Facebook Pages: not all bad

There’s been a mixed reaction to the news that all Facebook Pages will be getting the new Timeline by the end of the month. But I think there are a lot of pluses if you run a local newspaper Facebook Page. Here’s why.

Cover photos:

  • The cover photo is big, which makes it a great way to showcase images. I’m going to use it to highlight local beauty spots, the best reader photography or our own archive pictures and change with the seasons
  • You can tag where they were taken for more views, or tag people in them
  • Highlight upcoming big events with an archive image from previous events – for us this means a great picture from the Air Festival or Camp Bestival. We’re watermarking to prevent theft and adding a link to the photo sales site in the description. I don’t think this breaks any rules but if it does someone will no doubt let me know!
  • Use it to showcase a picture gallery post-event with a link to our galleries and coverage – race for life, a big community event – and tag some faces. I’m thinking of our cover photo like an extra bonus front page that will show as a new post when we change it.


  • Highlight big local issues by adding them to our timeline – for us that’s the development of the surf reef for instance and the building/closure of the Imax. Or the night the ruling party lost control of the council. We’re going to link to our archived content
  • How we covered major historical events – upload scanned versions of our front pages the day war broke out or the Titanic sank. Add new ones on the day of the anniversary, link to galleries of archive pictures – Coronation street parties on the weekend of the Jubilee for example

Other pluses:

  • The message button, for people who don’t want to talk to you publicly. This is a real boon for newspapers, where readers might not want to tell their story in public to start with. I have a “work” FB profile specifically so people could contact us privately without anyone having to use their personal accounts. This change takes that problem away.
  • Tabs are now extra wide and can have custom images – annoying if you spent ages coding a really flash one, but far better for displaying our content
  • Highlights and pinned content – brilliant for keeping something at the top of the page when you’ve got a breaking story (so we could use a picture and link to our constantly updating content on our site) or star a picture to make it widescreen.

And don’t forget, even if none of these things sway you, how many of your fans actually visit your page instead of commenting/sharing/liking on your posts as they appear in their news feed? How many of your Facebook friends profile pages do you visit regularly?

If you run a page it’s also worth reading this post from Buddy Media about some of the changes to advertising – I imagine its not something that most local newspapers would be shelling out for but makes interesting reading all the same.

Anyone think of any more upsides to the timeline that I’m missing?

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Newsrewired: so how many readers plus DO we have?

I WAS overwhelmed by the positive reaction to my presentation at last week’s excellent news:rewired conference, but slightly annoyed with myself for not having a better answer to Hannah Waldram’s question afterwards.

My presentation was about building online communities, and the concept of the reader plus – the elusive category of cheerleader readers: demanding customers, but the most effective marketing you could ever ask for.

The slides from the presentation are here and the post where I first came up with the lamer-the-more-I-hear-other-people-say-it “readers plus” is here.

In the questions afterwards, Hannah asked me what percentage of our readers did I think were readers plus. The best answer I could come up with then was “I’m not sure.” But really, since I’m trying to persaude people that the time spent getting them is worth it, I should know. So I’ve been thinking about it and here’s my best estimate.

Flickr: I’d say 25 per cent are genuine readers plus. I know this because we talk to them not just on Flickr, but on Facebook and Twitter and face-to-face occasionally! Because what they do is just a specific area of interest, I think the very fact of our taking an interest has been enough to transform the way they think about the paper or at the least challenged their expectations of us.

Facebook: The best I can say here, is I’m working on it! Putting effort into Facebook is a recent development, and Facebook doesn’t tell you how many times your links are shared by friends, so the only thing we have to go on is comments and traffic figures coming to our site. As I said on Friday, traffic from Facebook has tripled and comments are building. We’ve got some facebook friends who definitely COULD be readers plus but I’m not sure we’re quite there yet!

Twitter: Based on retweets and interaction, I’d say twenty percent of our twitter followers are definite readers plus. It may be more, but obviously I don’t know what people are saying about us when I’m not listening!

Hopefully that’s a fuller answer than “I don’t know” – and sorry I didn’t say this at the time.

For those who asked about how exactly we use facebook etc, you can see for yourself here:

facebook.com/bournemouthecho (my work profile)
facebook.com/bournemouthdailyecho (our Facebook page)
We also have a pretty neglected YouTube account at youtube.com/bournemouthecho, and of course there’s the comments at bournemouthecho.co.uk.

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Facebook and the share link – why they still own us forever

After electronically boring poor Laura Oliver to tears yesterday about Facebook, and then waking up this morning to discover they’ve revoked their terms because of the furore, I thought I’d make use of the thousands of words I’ve written as a post.

First, I can see the argument that legally Facebook needs to be licensed to use your content even if you close your account so that people you’ve shared things with (who may then have shared them with other people) still have access to them. For Facebook to promise that if you left, everything you’d ever posted would be removed from the profiles/groups you posted them to (and then from all the other profiles they’ve shared them with), would be a bit ludicrous.

Second, I may be naive but I don’t think being able to package and reuse our content is the reason Facebook have rewritten their terms. I think lawyerspeak makes it sound worse than it is. Amanda French’s post about the comparison with other sites shows that they could have rephrased to mean basically the same thing but sound less threatening about it. (although I don’t think she’d agree that’s what she’s demonstrated!)

Third: as a newspaper, we WANT people to share our content. The point of us being on Facebook is to get people to share our content, so that the generation of people who’ve never read the paper or think it’s irrelevant to them will start to make us part of their lives.

Facebook has thousands of Bournemouth users. Only 24 of them are friends with us so far. Most of them don’t use our site.

We can only get them interested in what we do by being where they are. We want them to share our content among themselves and with their friends. To build a community – people who will then use us as (one of) their news providers – we have to engage with them and stop assuming that we have a right to their attention

Once you’re encouraging sharing, you can’t really then turn round and stop people using your stuff. How can you police it? And if they’re crediting you, why would you, when it’s free distribution to an audience you wouldn’t have thought about reaching? (obviously I’m not an idiot: this is subject to copyright and the ‘linking to’ proviso…)

We have had occasions where reviews (our McFly review was a prime example) get cut and pasted onto fan forums and all the traffic goes there. How do we get round that? By having other stuff (video, audio) on our site that will pull some of that traffic over to us.

But fourth, and most importantly: we have a ‘share on facebook’ link on all our stories. Now let’s just look at what the old TOS say about share links, shall we?

By including a Share Link, Online Content Provider automatically grants, and represents and warrants that it has the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide licence (with the right to sub-licence) to use the Share Service in order to link to, use, copy, publish, stream, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part), summarise and distribute the content, links and other materials of any kind residing on any web pages on which Online Content Provider places the Share Link.

Now unless all newspaper groups are planning on taking this link off their sites, there’s not a lot of point getting hot under the collar about the new TOS.

Note – I don’t think this is designed so Facebook can steal our stuff. I think it’s badly worded legalese that covers them for all the ways people access FB and how it packages content. But I could be wrong….

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Baby P, Facebook and contempt of court

Yesterday, while looking for a link for a story I came across a Facebook group identifying Baby P.

There’s been a lot of between-hack speculation about why he and his parents can’t be named – after all, the social workers and the doctors have all been named and shamed, so why not the people who really did the damage? As it turns out there are valid legal reasons – but does it matter?  I found his name completely by accident.

Once you’ve got his name it’s but a short step to his mum’s name, her boyfriend’s and even the house number and the street they live in.

This illustrates two things: first the futility of newspapers believing we’re the sacred keepers of news no-one knows about until we tell them. There are thousands of people who have this knowledge and thousands more who are just one facebook friend away from finding out. In this kind of world, how can we pretend that news itself is what we sell?

Second, how can the courts police this? Publishing Baby P’s name is technically contempt of court, punishable with a prison sentence. But everyone who joins one of those Facebook groups is ‘publishing’ his name to all their Facebook friends. Are they all in contempt?

And what about the newspapers? Thanks to Google caching, once you know the names it’s a simple search to bring up all the stories published before the reporting restrictions were imposed, even though they’ve been removed from the newspapers’ websites. Who’s punishable there?

Is it possible to enforce reporting restrictions in these circumstances? With everyone so connected to everyone else, isn’t it im possible to put up barriers to information? and if so where does that leave us when there really are valid reasons for witholding the identities of those in court?

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