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February 03 2012


#newsrw: What’s the best time to tweet and post to Facebook?

The social media optimisation panel at news:rewired – media in motion tackled the ongoing issue facing every media outlet that uses social media: How do you use it effectively to reach your audience?

The panelists were: Nate Lanxon, editor, Wired.co.uk@NateLanxonChris Hamilton, social media editor at BBC News; Martin Belam, the Guardian’s user experience lead; and Darren Waters, head of devices and social media at MSN UK.

Using social media “effectively” can mean different things depending on the organisation. For the Guardian, that meant creating its own Facebook app, which launched in September and already has almost 60 million users. More than half of the almost 6 million users of the Guardian’s Facebook app are under 24, Belam said.

“We’re not going to attract a new, young audience with a print product,” Belam told the audience.

MSN UK and BBC News both have Facebook pages and numerous Twitter accounts. The staff at Wired UK, for example, use their Facebook page to share what’s going on at the office.

“We’re making Facebook a kind of behind-the-scenes fan club,” said Lanxon, the site’s editor. “We don’t get a huge amount of traffic from our Facebook fan page. That’s not the focus for us. What people love to do on Wired’s Facebook page is to get a look at behind the scenes stuff.”

And wondering when’s the best time to post to Facebook? According to Lanxon, these times are best:

  • First thing in the morning when you get into the office;
  • Lunch time;
  • 3 p.m.;
  • Between 5 and 5:30 p.m.

LIVE: Session 2B – Social media optimisation

As more journalists become active on social media platforms, now is the time to think about how to share news more effectively. This session will look at social media optimisation (SMO) – when best to share news on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, to maximise readership.

With: Nate Lanxon, editor, Wired.co.uk; Chris Hamilton, social media editor, BBC News; Martin Belam, user experience lead, the Guardian; and Darren Waters, head of devices and social media, MSN UK.


The ultimate goal is to combine live news, social elements, traditional reporting, and editorial curation. Then we’ll have got social media optimised.


MSN now have their live blogs embedded into Facebook, and allow the users to contribute their comments.


On the website, some additions are making the experience more social. “Recommended reading” and adding a “Trending” widget are two examples.


MSN are in the process of building a foundation for social, because if they “engage with us on social media, they then become loyal users of MSN.”


Waters says that optimisation is tricky because there are so many contributors to the discussion. How do we make sense of it all?


Head of devices and social media at MSN is talking next, I believe: Darren Waters.


“We want our stories to share themselves”

Wired.co.uk are getting rid of their own comment system, and building in Facebook comments.


When do we post to Facebook?

First thing, lunchtime, 3pm in the afternoon (when things winding down), and 5pm when people get home.

Twitter doesn’t matter so much.


We’re moving our share buttons up to the top of the articles, because people will share an article based on the headline.


This isn’t about driving fans to Wired. It’s about driving Wired to fans.


One example – our roof falling in and taking a picture got more interaction than the biggest news in a long time, Facebook going public.


Traffic is not the focus for the Wired Facebook page. It’s more about posting pictures and giving a “behind the scenes” look.


Lanxon has whipped out a big photo of Mark Zuckerberg. It stays on his desk, and serves as a reminder to A) use Facebook, and B) you’re not doing as well as him.

Post something interesting, not an RSS of headlines.


Nate Lanxon, editor of Wired.co.uk, will speak next.


On to Google+, again we’re talking about hangouts and how to differentiate yourselves from the competition. A lot of agreement with Liz Heron’s keynote earlier.

The BBC is placing a lot of emphasis on shareability – it got some of the most shared comments on Facebook from the UK media. Facebook will be a focus for this year.



Top tweets from last year:

Top two were on the Japanese tsunami.

Science and technology tweets also do well, such as about CERN.

Pictures and adding hashtags also helps, and makes sure you’re part on the conversation.


Focus on your strengths – RT’ing correspondents, offering live news, video coverage.

Also amplifying popular programs to show the depth of what the BBC does.


The BBC run three core Twitter accounts. It used to be feed driven, but recently introduced a more human element.

We focussed on the quality on the tweeting.

We wanted a consistent tone, and not to just say what everyone else was saying. It’s important to build on the headlines- adding value is essential.


Chris Hamilton, social media editor at the BBC is now talking. He will attempt to cover what the BBC is doing on Twitter, and then move on to Facebook and Google +.


The content is embedded in the app is all from the Guardian, embedded in an iFrame. This means that any adverts, barring a few Facebook ones down the side, are the Guardian’s – it is a revenue stream.


However, there are problems with archive content. What about news content? readers need to know, so there’s been iterations to make the date clearer.


The app gives a platform for old archived content to really bloom with contemporary content. Old articles have gone viral and had hundreds of new comments.


The app was built on the Guardian Open Platform API, which means it was built in 5 weeks.

The more of your friends’ faces you can see, the more likely you are to bee engaged, say Facebook.

Guardian are now very close to 6M app installs. Most interestingly, the demographic of the app, the majority are in the 18-24 age bracket.


Martin Belam, Lead UX at the Guardian, is starting the session, discussing their Facebook app.

They now have all content- audio, video etc in their Facebook app.

They aimed to improve one thing: 77% of people coming from Facebook only viewed one page before leaving. The Guardian website “interrupts” Facebook.

Sponsored post

February 14 2011


3 things that BBC Online has given to online journalism

It’s now 3 weeks since the BBC announced 360 online staff were to lose their jobs as part of a 25% cut to the online budget. It’s a sad but unsurprising part of a number of cuts which John Naughton summarises as: “It’s not television”, a sign that “The past has won” in the internal battle between those who saw consumers as passive vessels for TV content, and those who credited them with some creativity.

Dee Harvey likewise poses the question: “In the same way that openness is written into the design of the Internet, could it be that closedness is written into the very concept of the BBC?”

If it is, I don’t think it can remain that way for ever. Those who have been part of the BBC’s work online will feel rightly proud of what has been achieved since the corporation went online in 1997. Here are just 3 ways that the corporation has helped to define online journalism as we know it – please add others that spring to mind:

1. Web writing style

The BBC’s way of writing for the web has always been a template for good web writing, not least because of the BBC’s experience with having to meet similar challenges with Ceefax – the two shared a content management system and journalists writing for the website would see the first few pars of their content cross-published on Ceefax too.

Even now it is difficult to find an online publisher who writes better for the web.

2. Editors blogs

Thanks to the likes of Robin Hamman, Martin Belam, Jem Stone and Tom Coates – to name just a few – when the BBC did begin to adopt blogs (it was not an early adopter) it did so with a spirit that other news organisations lacked.

In particular, the Editors’ Blogs demonstrated a desire for transparency that many other news organisations have yet to repeat, while the likes of Robert Peston, Kevin Anderson and Rory Cellan-Jones have played a key role in showing skeptical journalists how engaging with the former audience on blogs can form a key part of the newsgathering process.

Unfortunately, many of those innovators later left the BBC, and the earlier experimentation was replaced with due process.

3. Backstage

While so many sing and dance about the APIs of The Guardian and The New York Times, Ian Forrester’s BBC Backstage project was well ahead of the game when it opened up the corporation’s API and started hosting hack days and meetups way back in 2005.

Backstage closed at the end of last year, just as the rest of the UK’s media were starting to catch up. You can read an e-book on its history here.

What else?

I’m sure you can add others – the iPlayer and their on-demand team; Special Reports; the UGC hub (the biggest in the world as far as I know); and even their continually evolving approach to linking (still not ideal, but at least they think about it) are just some that spring to mind. What parts of BBC Online have influenced or inspired you?

December 21 2010


Videos: Linked data and the semantic web

Courtesy of the BBC College of Journalism, we’ve got video footage from all of our sessions at news:rewired – beyond the story, 16 December 2010.

We’ll be grouping the video clips by session – you can view all footage by looking at the multimedia category on this site.

Martin Moore

Martin Belam

Simon Rogers

Silver Oliver

December 16 2010


LIVE: Linked data and the semantic web

We’ll have Matt Caines and Nick Petrie from Wannabe Hacks liveblogging for us at news:rewired all day. Follow individual posts on the news:rewired blog for up to date information on all our sessions.

We’ll also have blogging over the course of the day from freelance journalist Rosie Niven.

September 03 2010


Why the US and UK are leading the way on semantic web

Following his involvement in the first Datajournalism meetup in Berlin earlier this week, Martin Belam, the Guardian’s information architect, looks at why the US and UK may have taken the lead in semantic web, as one audience member suggested on the day.

In an attempt to try and answer the question, he puts forward four themes on his currybet.net blog that he feels may play a part. In summary, they are:

  • The sharing of a common language which helps both nations access the same resources and be included in comparative datasets.
  • Competition across both sides of the pond driving innovation.
  • Successful business models already being used by the BBC and even more valuably being explained on their internet blogs.
  • Open data and a history of freedom of information court cases which makes official information more likely to be made available.

On his full post here he also has tips for how to follow the UK’s lead, such as getting involved in hacks and hackers type events.Similar Posts:

August 10 2010


#Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – html5 tagging

Get up to date with html5 tagging using Currybet.net's blog post outlining some of the 30 new tags for coding page structure, article structure and semantic mark-ups. Tipster: Rachel McAthy. To submit a tip to Journalism.co.uk, use this link - we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

August 03 2010


Will the paywall protect Times journalists from public opinion?

The Guardian’s Martin Belam makes an interesting point about the impact of the paywall on journalists whose work later falls under scrutiny. Have the Times and Sunday Times built a kind of protective layer around their journalists online?

Belam compares the recent outcry regarding AA Gill’s review last week, accused of containing homophobic language in reference to Clare Balding, with Jan Moir’s column on Stephen Gately, which saw links to the story circulating through social media in no time. In the latter case, latecomers to the event could still read the original writing for themselves online.

It does rather hark back to a previous age – where reporters reported on what had been said about a story, and you had to take their word for it, rather than the audience being able to Google it for themselves. As it is, with the paywall in place, rather than making our own minds up about whether AA Gill was nasty and homophobic, it now seems we’ll have to wait for the PCC to judge it for us.

See his full post here…Similar Posts:

July 21 2010


Does Guardian ‘World Cup Wall’ show a nation’s growing interest in football?

Martin Belam shares the Guardian office’s Word Cup Wall with us over on his blog, which documented in clippings the newspaper’s coverage of the event since 1950.

While layout remained fairly similar over the years, the importance of football to the news agenda today is far greater than in years gone by, according to Belam.

Even in 1966, when England had just secured the Jules Rimet trophy at Wembley, the Guardian was leading with issues in Nigeria, and framed the England victory through the prism of wage demands.

The next time England got anywhere close to the World Cup Final was in 1990, and by then football was important enough to get a picture lead on The Guardian front page.

It’s an interesting way of looking at how topics of importance change over time in our printing press, which Belam hopes to develop by looking at digital content in recent years.

See his full post here…Similar Posts:

July 19 2010


Can writers take their own brick out of the paywall?

Putting up the paywall has seen The Times lose the odd blogger along the way, but what about writers who are still commissioned, but make their content available elsewhere?

The Guardian’s Martin Belam flags up a post by George Brock, who today republished in full a review he wrote for the Times, which fell behind the paywall online.

Wanting to link to his work in a post, without directing his users to a paywall, he posts the full review as he submitted it to the paper.

As an experiment, I’ve pasted the text I filed to The Times at the foot of this post. You can read it for free as long as The Times doesn’t object.

Let’s be clear why I doing this test. I’m not against charging for editorial content, just as I’m not against paying cash for a printed paper. Copywright belongs to the paper since the review was commissioned and submitted normally.

But, he adds, this should not apply to the “unbundled” journalism.

While a newspaper has a legal right to restrict access to all of that material as one whole bundle, this can’t be the best way to go in the future. If charging is going to be part of the survival of quality journalism, something more flexible and agile is required. Digital technology allows journalism which was packaged together in print to be “unbundled”. Once unbundled, it can be copied, distributed, swopped, commented on and its message can multiply.

But Belam is curious as to what the Times will have to say.

One wonders what that will do to his chances of future commissions form the paper.

See Brock’s full post here…Similar Posts:

July 16 2010


Currybet.net: Will social media’s influence on political engagement continue post-election?

The Guardian’s Martin Belam has produced a great summary of the panel debate at the launch of Nic Newman’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) paper on social media and the election, on his site currybet.net.

The research document, titled ‘UK Election 2010, mainstream media and the role of the internet’, outlines the significant role social media, in particular Twitter, played in informing the public during the election process.

One of the big questions which emerged from the panel debate was whether this social media engagement would continue now the election is over:

People need something to be engaged with. It remains to be seen whether the major parties will continue with digital campaigning, or whether, rather like leaflets, we will see a lot of them at election time and not much in between.

Outlining the main findings, Newman reportedly told the audience that Twitter became a “political newswire” as well as having a direct impact on the behaviour of politicians.

Reports Belam:

The best of the social media – jokes, spoof posters, reaction on Twitter – was reflected and amplified by the mainstream media. This ultimately influenced the behaviour of the politicians. David Cameron, for example, toned down his habit of citing anecdotal stories of people he met after it was spoofed online.

(…) William Hague announcing he was about to go back into negotiations with the Liberal Democrats via Twitter suggesting the service was beginning to be used as ‘a political newswire’.

See Martin Belam’s full post here…Similar Posts:

July 08 2010


Martin Belam: Many Times readers might give up on newspaper websites altogether

The Times have always acknowledged that the paywall would mean a drop in traffic. They accept that many former visitors to the site will not be prepared to pay.

But where will they go instead? Will they break their readership loyalities?

The point is taken up by Martin Belam, information architect for the Guardian.co.uk, who says we cannot assume that readers will simply defect to another online newspaper.

Writing on his blog, Belam says to assume so would be to “view our industry through the prism of the newsagent”.

The web isn’t a newsagent. It is rather more like the table in a library with newspapers scattered across it, ready to be picked up and browsed at will.

And unlike the newsagent, that library table is no longer confined to publications ‘registered with the Post Office as a newspaper’.

Many Times readers, he adds, “might just give up on all newspapers websites”.

See the full post here…Similar Posts:

April 21 2010


February 04 2010


Currybet.net: Reviewing online student newspapers

Martin Belam is taking a look at the online efforts of the UK’s student newspapers, as part of a series of posts looking at the digital journalism trainees currently in academia and those that have recently graduated.

Some great tips here from a user’s point of view about the design of the newspapers websites – one to watch for student journalists.

Full post at this link…

Similar Posts:

January 08 2010


Top five UK journalism blogs and Tweeters in 2009 (and who to watch in 2010)

With the proviso that journalism blogs and bloggers come and go, we have selected our own personal favourite journalism bloggers and tweeters. These are our absolute must-reads. We realise this is a somewhat subjective exercise, so please add your own in the comments below, or via Twitter to @journalismnews.

Top five UK journalism blogs and Tweeters of 2009

As chosen by John Thompson, founder, Journalism.co.uk:

Best to follow on Twitter:
@GordonMacmillan, @malcolmcoles, @adamwestbrook, @paulbradshaw, @mbites, @marcreeves

Best blogs:
Malcolm ColesJon Slattery, Adam Tinworth, OJB, Adam Westbrook (pictured below, left to right)

As chosen by Laura Oliver, editor, Journalism.co.uk:

Best to follow on Twitter:
@georgehopkin, @nigelbarlow, @MrRickWaghorn, @gordonmacmillan, @psmith

Best blogs:
Sarah Hartley, Alison Gow, Adam Tinworth, Martin Belam, Jon Slattery (pictured below, left to right)

As chosen by Judith Townend, senior reporter, Journalism.co.uk:

Best to follow on Twitter:
@gingerelvis, @samshepherd, @badjournalism, @jowadsworth, @digidickinson

Best blogs:
Jon Slattery, Martin Moore, Charlie Beckett, The Media Blog, Sarah Hartley (pictured below, left to right)

As chosen by the Journalism.co.uk team:

Five blogs to watch in 2010

  • Marc Reeves: former Birmingham Post editor, with new projects on the go.

Five Tweeters to watch in 2010

  • @timesjoanna, for her excellent social media and online journalism links.
  • @michaelhaddon, former City student with an interest in political online media; now working at Dow Jones.
  • @joshhalliday, at the centre of the UK student journalist blogging conversation; lots to look at on his own blog.
  • @coneee, the NUJ’s first full-time blogger member, currently completing an MA at City University.
  • @marcreeves, for the latest on what the former regional editor is up to.

Similar Posts:

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