Ten years of The Earley Edition

the earley edition
On April 9, 2004, the earley edition – as a blog – was started with an inauspicious post titled: IT’S OFFICIAL. And it was officially bad. More along the lines of awkward #FirstTweets with nothing to say.

Aside, I recently earned a mention from the ABC in their #FirstTweet by Australian news outlets roundup, because the first Brisbane Times tweet (still on record) was a reply to me… But dig a little deeper and their REAL #FirstTweet was deleted. #scandal! Continue reading

Which department in the company should own Social Media?

This question was asked in a LinkedIn group for newspaper professionals a while ago.

SOCIAL MEDIA: In your opinion which department should administer your organization’s Social Media properties? Do they really have the knowledge/tools to be successful? What’s your experience?

I’m interested in your thoughts. While the context was newspapers’, there’s no industry bias in the question itself, so if you want to leave your thoughts, why not let us know what industry you’re in as well? Below you can see how I replied to the question.

There were about half a dozen replies in the thread, but I was surprised to see they were mostly in favour of Marketing ‘owning’ Social Media across the organisation to control brand and brand messages. Moreso, the view was generally that Marketing is better equipped than Editorial to create a Social Media Strategy focused on business needs, and to execute that strategy in view of dollar values, KPI measurements and ROI. Clearly these were Marketing people, so naturally they were approaching it from a Marketing perspective.

There were some very good responses from extremely experienced industry people, including those who favoured a mixed approach to responsibility. I would link to the conversation, or detail more of what others said, but it’s a private LinkedIn group, so the content stays there.

I could have written more, and I’ve expanded a little bit in this post, but now you can read the ‘quick’ response I gave. What do you think? Which department in a media organisation should administer the social media properties?

This was my response:

While marketing can definitely help with strategy, sourcing tools for and measuring targets, audience growth through social competitions and promotions of content through something like Facebook Ads, I’m firmly of the belief that the day to day management of social needs to be in the hands of Editorial. And definitely NOT Advertising. Particularly so for social media accounts that carry the name of the publication, and are effectively the public voice of the organisation to readers across social media.

This is for the same reason Editorial takes charge and handles production of the newspaper – it is the stories/content produced by Editorial that drive reader engagement across any platform.

Marketing has a place in the social media mix, definitely, but I’d agree with what was said right at the start about B2B and B2C client bases. Marketing can handle B2B and limited B2C, but it’s Editorial’s responsibility to engage with readers. We have also had, and I have helped develop strategy for, specific Marketing social media accounts around programs at the newspaper. Like business awards or youth awards, these rightly sit with the Marketing department, who manage the content and interactions from those program’s accounts.

I could write more, but I must run. If I had time to go on, I would talk more about providing breaking news and sourcing news and contacts via social media during a breaking news or crisis event. Those are purely news and editorial judgements being made on the fly, with very serious consequences, and not something I would be comfortable having Marketing involved in. Much more could be discussed about that. Final thought, when readers complain, who takes the phone call? Editorial, where ultimately the Editor takes responsibility for the content.

I think in almost every industry other than news media, the natural answer is Marketing. It’s social media marketing, after all. It’s generally marketing who produce the ‘content’ that is customer-facing. In the media, Editorial not only produce the entire body of content that the consumer sees, but they also have to back it up in what can at times be an environment hostile to the message or story being aired publicly. This is a much trickier environment than mere brand marketing.

Does Editorial have the tools or training to manage this environment effectively? Yes and no. Not every Editorial person needs to have the full skill set for managing the brand account, persona, and interaction. Just as Marketing has people with different skills, Editorial needs a group of people – even if it’s not a formal or full time Social Media Team – who have the skills, knowledge and tools to manage social media effectively whether it’s rolling crisis updates or promoting a lifestyle piece on the weekend’s cat show. That’s my shout out to Veronica Corningstone.

Half of all tweets generated by just 20K elite users

A new report from Yahoo! Research has used Twitter in an attempt to answer Lasswell’s maxim: “who says what to whom in what channel with what effect”.

The report, Who Says What to Whom on Twitter | Yahoo! Research, found that 50% of all tweets consumed are generated by just 20,000 elite users.

For the purposes of the study, they classified Twitter users into “elite” or “ordinary”, breaking elite users into the categories media, celebrities, organisations and bloggers.

One of the more interesting things looked at in the report is the lifespan of content, and what they found with media-related tweets.

“We find that different categories of users emphasize different types of content, and that different content types exhibit dramatically different characteric lifespans, ranging from less than a day to months.”

In its conclusion, the report found that “media-originated URLs are disproportiantely represented among short-lived URLs”.

We also find that different types of content exhibit very different lifespans: media-originated URLs are disproportionately represented among short-lived URLs while those originated by bloggers tend to be overrepresented among long-lived URLs. Finally, we find that the longest-lived URLs are dominated by content such as videos and music, which are continually being rediscovered by Twitter users and appear to persist indefinitely.

That can be seen in this figure, generated by unshortening 35,000 URLs that “lived” at least 200 days, and mapping them to 21,034 domains.

Read the abstract and get the PDF of the report here:
Who Says What to Whom on Twitter | Yahoo! Research

Media Reading from the earley edition

I don’t have time to write real blog posts, as evidenced by my lack of updates here at the earley edition. Consider this a curated reading list of carefully selected items, which are of great and enduring import to the changing media landscape.

Or it’s just some random links I had time to take note of.


  • Why Twitter matters for media organisations | Alan Rusbridger | Editor of The Guardian newspaper
    1. It’s an amazing form of distribution
    2. It’s where things happen first
    3. As a search engine, it rivals Google
    4. It’s a formidable aggregation tool
    5. It’s a great reporting tool
    6. It’s a fantastic form of marketing
    7. It’s a series of common conversations. Or it can be
    8. It’s more diverse
    9. It changes the tone of writing
    10. It’s a level playing field
    11. It has different news values
    12. It has a long attention span
    13. It creates communities
    14. It changes notions of authority
    15. It is an agent of change

    That’s just an excerpt of Alan Rusbridger’s full speech at the 2010 Andrew Olle Media Lecture, and it wasn’t all about Twitter. The full text, and audio, of Rusbridger’s speech, titled The Splintering of the Fourth Estate, is available from 702 ABC Sydney.

  • Blogging and commenting guidelines for journalists at The Guardian
    1. Participate in conversations about our content, and take responsibility for the conversations you start.
    2. Focus on the constructive by recognising and rewarding intelligent contributions.
    3. Don’t reward disruptive behaviour with attention, but report it when you find it.
    4. Link to sources for facts or statements you reference, and encourage others to do likewise.
    5. Declare personal interest when applicable. Be transparent about your affiliations, perspectives or previous coverage of a particular topic or individual.
    6. Be careful about blurring fact and opinion and consider carefully how your words could be (mis)interpreted or (mis)represented.
    7. Encourage readers to contribute perspective, additional knowledge and expertise. Acknowledge their additions.
    8. Exemplify our community standards in your contributions above and below the line.
  • 10 ways journalists can use Storify | Zombie Journalism
    1. Organizing reaction in social media.
    2. Giving back-story using past content.
    3. Curating topical content.
    4. Displaying a non-linear social media discussion or chat.
    5. Creating a multimedia/social media narrative.
    6. Organize your live tweets into a story
    7. Collaborate on a topic with readers.
    8. Create a timeline of events.
    9. Display audience content from across platforms.
    10. Live curate live tweets from the stream.
  • When Are Facebook Users Most Active? [STUDY]

    as in – when is your online audience most active?
    Here are some of the big takeaways:

    • The three biggest usage spikes tend to occur on weekdays at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. ET.
    • The biggest spike occurs at 3:00 p.m. ET on weekdays.
    • Weekday usage is pretty steady, however Wednesday at 3:00 pm ET is consistently the busiest period.
    • Fans are less active on Sunday compared to all other days of the week.
  • The top 10 key lessons for hyperlocal journalism startups from ONA10
    1. Successful doesn’t mean beautiful
    2. Legal stuff isn’t rocket science
    3. There is no such thing as free content
    4. Follow the data
    5. Focus on money from day one
    6. Advertisers are buying your audience, not funding your stories
    7. Grants don’t come for free
    8. Focus on multiple revenue models
    9. Technology should be fast and cheap
    10. Stop whining and just do it

Twitter threatens legal action against third party developer

A third party Twitter developer in New York has discovered the hard way that Twitter may now be playing tough, threatening to aggressively “take whatever steps are necessary” to protect their rights.  Lawyers representing Twitter have demanded the developer deactivate his website, transfer the domain to Twitter and cease using the API or any reference to “Twitter”.

Yesterday mytwitterbutler.com owner and Twitter third party developer Dean Collins arrived home to find an email from lawyers claiming to represent Twitter,  demanding he cease operating his website and hand over the domain because of his “violation of Twitter’s Terms of Service (“TOS”) and spam rules, and your infringement of Twitter’s trademark rights”.

His website is designed to help users auto-follow people when certain keywords appear in their tweets. Many in the Twitter community frown on auto-following that generates masses of spam, but Collins is vehemently denying misuse, and said he’s using the Twitter API in accordance with the rules.

“Basically they were saying we want you to hand over the domain, stop using and selling your software, and never use the API ever again,” Collins said.
“I think twitter are forgetting how they got so popular in the first place. There are 3000 applications out there all using the Twitter API, all using the rules they gave us.”

In their letter of demand, the lawyers have suggested that use of the word “Twitter” in Mr Collins’ domain will confuse users into thinking his product is affiliated with Twitter.

Twitter is concerned, however, that your use of My Twitter Butler and the related domain may cause confusion in the marketplace by suggesting that you and your site are somehow affiliated with Twitter, or are endorsed, sponsored, or approved by Twitter, which would result in an infringement of Twitter’s valuable trademark rights.

In light of the above, we must demand that you immediately:

1. deactivate the MyTwitterButler.com website;

2. transfer the MyTwitterButler.com domain to Twitter;

3. comply with Twitter’s TOS and rules, which includes stopping your aggressive and automatic following and offering techniques and software for others to aggressively or automatically follow; and

4. stop all use of the My Twitter Butler name, the TWITTER mark, or any other name, logo, or domain name that includes TWITTER or any confusingly similar term.

Twitter’s success has been built on the back of thousands of third party developers who have taken the API beyond what its founders could have ever imagined, and some in the Twitter Dev community have questioned if this is the beginning of the end for open development using the Twitter API.

Mr Collins said he attended a Twitter-hosted event for developers six months ago, where about 200 developers listened to Twitter representatives give examples of how the API could be used.
“Auto-follow was the second example they gave,” he said.
“I’m just using their publicly defined API.”

Some will argue Mr Collins has been warned, as the case is not without recent precedent. At the beginning of July, TechCrunch reported that Twitter had been getting touchy about using the word “Tweet” in applications. While it seeemed to be cleared up that “tweet” was okay, “Twitter” is still supposed to be a no-go for applications.

In a blog post, Biz Stone later said they encouraged the use of the word Tweet, but:

“If we come across a confusing or damaging project, the recourse to act responsibly to protect both users and our brand is important. Regarding the use of the word Twitter in projects, we are a bit more wary although there are some exceptions here as well.”

A quick search by Collins found dozens of third party Twitter applications that used the word Twitter in their domain or application, and he wondered if he was just one of many to receive letters from Twitter’s lawyers yesterday.
“It will either turn out that I’m just one, or it’s a big deal and 30 to 40 are being taken down tomorrow.”

If Twitter succeeds in forcing mytwitterbutler.com owner Dean Collins to deactivate his website, transfer the domain to Twitter, and stop using any reference to Twitter, the future of other hugely successfull third party Twitter applications like twittercounter, twitterfall, twitterfeed and DestroyTwitter could also be in jeopardy.

Read the letter from Twitter’s lawyers in full at mytwitterbutler.com/I’m_Being_Sued/