The World Series of chats

I’m comparing the live chats from The Dallas Morning News and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The tone is depressingly similar, but I did notice some differences in my utterly nonscientific survey.

The Morning News, early on at least, had a Twitter feed with absolutely no filtering, displaying tweets like “Watching #Rangers and smoking dope” and another from a person with a Twitter handle that included the f-word.

It’s relatively hard for me to tell who’s the expert commenter on either blog — except that I know the Morning News writer. Seems to me it would be good to make a more solid ID, like including the writer’s title.

The Post-Dispatch writers seem to be checking in more often than Morning News sportswriters. It’s OK to read what the rabble thinks, but I’m tuned in for the experts. Otherwise, why bother?

It’s not happening often, but the Post-Dispatch writers appear to be answering some of the commenters’ questions. Morning News writers appear to have dropped off the map, at least in the seventh inning.

Schools and social media

Studies show that schools and universities have been slow to adopt technology as a means to connect with students and parents. This is a shame. There is arguably no better way to stay in touch with a mass audience.

Social Media Today includes a post this morning that documents this trend. And it quotes stats. Its links lead to Edudemics, as far as I can tell. (It’s also a shame that the source is so poorly identified.)

I’m thinking back to my own experience as a parent and as a college adjunct professor. The parenting part predated the rise of social media. Parents were fortunate to get a teacher’s email address. They were even more fortunate to get a reply from that address.

As a prof, I made extensive use of the Dallas County Community College District’s eCampus system. eCampus was the DCCCD’s name for Blackboard. In fact, savvy students used my eCampus site as a way to take the class by computer. I counted that as a bad thing, although there were surprisingly few who took advantage of this feature. eCampus had a clunky interface five years ago, allowing sections and even photos, but these features were difficult to use. It was, though, an opportunity to stay in touch with students in a new and, I thought, exciting way. And college students made extensive use of email.

I’m proud to say that I maintained contact with many of my students. This contact transitioned easily to Facebook after I left DCCCD. If I were teaching today, I would like to think that Facebook (perhaps a group) would be a natural way to keep in touch with students.

Some teachers fear that they should not expose their personal lives to students in this way. My answer is that they should not expose anything embarrassing on Facebook anyway.

Think of the opportunity to reinforce assignments, check in with students who have missed classes, even give more information on class material. (If there is precious time to do the latter.)

The education system is only now discovering social media. It is a process that is long overdue.

Varsity paywalls are here

Is it a sign of paywall inevitability? I think so: Colleges are getting into the paywall business, charging non-local readers fees for content.

From the blog post about it from Paid Content:

Several college papers are already using paywalls or collecting donations with Press+, including Oklahoma State University’s Daily O’Collegian, which charges non-local readers $10 per year to read more than three articles per month; Syracuse University’s Daily Orange; Boston University’s Daily Free Press; Tufts’ Tufts Daily; UMass-Amherst’s Daily Collegian; the Kansas State Collegian; and the University of Victoria’sMartlet.

Two simple ways to increase blog traffic

As promised, here are two (very) simple ideas that businesses are using to increase blog comments.

1. Ask a question. Here’s an example that drew an enviable number of comments and likes on Facebook:

What inspires you to take photos?

1429950 · Like ·  · Share · 10 hours ago · And an earlier Facebook post  I saved:

The Wall Street Journal

Anyone here write elaborate lunch-box notes to your kids? It’s a trend that’s catching on: http://on.wsj.com/pIbacL

To Pack an A-Plus Lunchbox

online.wsj.com

The  lunch-box note used to be an occasional smiley face on scratch paper.  Now it’s become an elaborate fixture of the school cafeteria, as parents  and retailers get crafty.

2245 · Like ·  · Share · 31 minutes ago

The question can also be presented in lieu of a poll:

Washington Post

Would you leave your bank if it instituted a fee on debit card use?

Banks defend debit-card fees amid pressure from Washington

apps.facebook.com

The  banking industry on Tuesday defended a controversial new fee on debit  cards as some Democrats called on consumers to abandon financial …

500283 · Like ·  · Share · 14 hours ago

2. Fill in the blank. This post just cries for a comment:

App Store

The most addictive gaming app is ____.

30571314 · Like ·  · Share · 12 hours ago via App Store Publisher

This seems so awfully simple, but both forms of posting have stats behind them.

 

The Buddy Media report cited last week says that question posts get double the comments of non-question posts — for retailers, anyway. And fill-in-the-blank posts are even more effective: They get nine times the engagement.

Why you should have posted to Facebook last night

My anecdotal survey indicates that it is counterproductive to expect feedback on Facebook content posted during major football games. So when is the optimum time to get a post noticed, commented on and shared?

Buddy Media has studied the best times for retailers to post on Facebook. The stats should be good for those of us who post personal items as well.

Buddy Media’s free report (well, you do have to give your contact info to get the PDF) shows that you should post between 8 p.m. and 7 p.m. for optimum attention. The report shows that posts made during these hours get 20 percent more “engagement.” The report recommends that 9-to-5 businesses use software that allows them to delay-post. (Buddy Media’s software helps retailers use social media.)

The best day to post, according to Buddy Media, is Wednesday. That’s when 8 percent more of your audience is likely to react to your post.

Here’s an interesting question: If people are expecting the highest audience to be during the business day because that’s when readership is highest, would it be worthwhile to try posting in the evening?

Next: How to word your posts for maximum reader reaction.

Apple NewsStand details are emerging

I’ve been reviewing the details of the NewsStand feature Apple is expected to announce today, and Poynter has the most details.

I won’t plagiarize the Poynter post, but let’s examine some of the points:

  • Reading a publication will become a two-click operation — or, if the user has already organized apps into folders, possibly a three-click operation: Bad
  • Periodicals that participate can change “covers” as the news changes: Good for those with the time to invest
  • Publishers are expected to continue to surrender 30 percent of revenues: Terrible, although the real answer, I think, is to allow subscribers to access apps free. Maybe I’m overestimating how much people like paper products, though.
  • Updating the apps will be a “push” operation — i.e., it will occur in the background, although pubs are limited to one “push” a day: Hmmm. This might encourage people to visit the site daily. Maybe.

The future of news apps is almost certainly not a simple export from print to the app, but, with newspapers trimming their staffs, where will the manpower come from for innovation?

Red Sox nation

An experiment by The Boston Globe graphically depicts how the nation is feeling about the Boston Red Sox. It looks like a lot of work and thought went into the page. Like other research, the Pulse page (has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?) relies on Twitter feed analysis for its conclusions.

Still, I am underwhelmed, and here’s why.

First of all, I would definitely be shaded yellow, since I don’t really care much one way or another about the Boston Red Sox. Are the Sox the most controversial thing about Boston? Maybe starting with sports, which is something newspapers do well with their ability to publish reams of stats, makes sense.

However, this type of navel-gazing (what does the rest of the nation really think about us?) gets old quick.

1. Why the Red Sox? Why not the Ivy League?

2. Isn’t this overkill?

3. It’s flashy. It’s intricate. It’s boring.

Feel free to disagree.