Time for some short takes of interesting finds around the blogosphere that relate to journalists and new media:
Why things go viral: Why does one blog post end up as the front page of Digg and another doesn’t? Why does one tweet get retweeted a dozen times, and another gets ignored? Figure that out, and you’re likely to do a great job of expanding your audience. A post by Patrick at Very Evolved sheds some light from a scientific perspective on what’s happening: “If your idea can’t connect to the thousand other minds out there, then no virality for you. … So why does one human brain take your idea and then desire to pass it along to another human brain? The details of this transaction will change depending on if you are selling Pepsi on the street or your blog post on the internet, but there is one universal constant. Attention.” That’s plenty abstract, but I think it’s valuable for journalist to consider. We need to connect with our readers so we know what will keep their attention; then the sky is the limit.
How to uses Google Reader and RSS feeds: How many out there know what a RSS feed is? Really. Raise your hands. I see lots of hands up, but I know many journalists don’t know. Now you have no excuse. This screencast at Beat Blogging offers a simple, straightforward lesson on how to use Google Reader to keep track of your RSS feeds.(RSS is simply a way to feed a blog’s posts into one place automatically, so you don’t have to go surfing around for it. You end up with a neat list of headlines from all the blogs you subscribe to, and if you click on a headline, you reach the full post.) A commenter on this blog turned me onto Google Reader, and I’ve become a huge fan. I subscribe to the blogs I like; I sort them by categories (journo blogs, mommy blogs, my friend’s blogs); I check the reader pretty much daily. Some days, there’s nothing new. Other days, I’ll scan a dozen headlines and hone in on the few I want to read. It makes it much more manageable to keep track of a lot of blogs, which every journalist should be doing today.
How to generate a buzz: What journalist blogger doesn’t want to create a buzz; it more interest, more readers, more value. So how do you do it time and time again? It’s more art than science, but Adam Singer at The Future Buzz offers 45 ideas that are worth reading. Best takeaways: Aggregate and filter information, facts, stats or content that exist in different places in a single post; list the 101 essential people, sites, or posts in your niche; create an inclusive list of niche-specific jargon with definitions. My addition: I might trim the list of 101 to 10. I plan to follow his ideas in future posts, so be watching for them.
Tips for bloggers: Neil Patel is the co-founder of two Internet companies, Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics. He offers 15 tips for new bloggers on QuickSprout. His best: Pick a niche, make sure the niche is wide enough to garner interest, choose a topic about which you’re passionate, write detailed content, respond to commentors and build relationships with other bloggers. He’s writing for bloggers in general, but these tips hold true for journalist bloggers as well.
A personal look at a layoff: I try very hard to keep this blog upbeat and positive. It’s not a place for bemoaning what’s happening to our industry. But this blog post moved me, so I wanted to share it to keep us all remembering that there are real casualties in this battle our industry is waging. People are losing jobs, and it stinks. This journalist describes being fired, told he couldn’t clean his own desk out and required to wait while someone else scooped his daughter’s pictures off his former desk. I feel for this journalist, and the thousands like him. And it reinvigorates me to fight for tranforming journalism, rather than letting it die. We are who still employed have to continue the fight to give our readers what they need to make sense of their world. We cannot give up. We owe it to those who got laid off to keep on keeping on.
Sorry to end on such a depressing note. I promise I’ll find some upbeat things to report soon.