Category Archives: Musing

The all mighty page view

Pageviews. We need to constantly think of ways to generate them – some legitimate, some not so much. It’s the ‘not so much’ pageviews that for some reason are really starting to get under my skin. The ones that don’t irritate Google, but are still blatant in their intent.

You’re obviously just out for views if you:

  • Use slideshows that refresh the entire page.
  • Split a ten paragraph story onto two separate pages. (Hint: Your site is pretty much infinite. It’s not like print where you have to worry about space, or continuing ‘after the jump.’)
  • I’m sure there are more sneaky ways used to get pageviews that don’t piss off The Google, but I can’t think of any more at the moment.

Slideshows are irritating anyway, but I can deal with well-coded ones that seamlessly transition to a new slide. It’s the ones that refresh an entire page (and make me wait for new ads to load) that bother me the most. And while I’m at it, ┬áIf your article has more text than art, it doesn’t need a damn slideshow.

Splitting a story into separate pages is more likely to make me navigate away from your website completely than bother to click, wait for it to load, and continue reading. it’s jarring and unnecessary. I’d rather just keep scrolling thank you.


Twitter has a long way to go

Working with journalists on social media initiatives and devouring tech blogs that post a lot of social media analysis caused me to lose touch with reality a little. It’s easy to be in my bubble surrounded by people who easily switch between Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus while happily trying out whatever new social media wagon comes along next.

This morning on Facebook, my favorite chef, Michael Symon posted the following:

Chef Symon sends his tweets to his Facebook fanpage automatically, but still monitors comments and wall posts when he has time. Recently, he had shut down fans’ ability to post on his wall because of the ever-present troll factor that got to be too much to manage. I can see why he would prefer Twitter over Facebook for communication.

But the comments on his post above are interesting and eye-opening because his fans are not journalists, or tech mavens. They are teachers or stay-at-home parents, or students, or clerks – in other words they are a cross-section of the majority of everyday people. And boy, quite a few of them hate Twitter. Or they refuse to learn it.

Check out some of the comments:

All of these popped my little bubble, so to speak, and made me realize that as much as I love and adore Twitter, I really am not sure it will ever be what Facebook is (or what Google Plus hopes to be.) While frustrating, these people make good points about communication and ease of use. To me, Twitter is easier to understand than Facebook, but then I’ve been on it for years so of course I “get it.” Coming into it cold, however, I can now see why it seems overwhelming. There’s no immediacy of feedback like there is on Facebook. If I join Facebook it’s because I already know friends and family using it. If I join Twitter, I can pretty much follow celebrities I like but finding my friends and family there is not easy and if I tweet anything it feels like I’m tweeting in a void.

Now, I have always said that Twitter is what you put into it. That is the mantra for any social network. If you barely use it, of course it will be useless to you. You have to expend some effort – especially on Twitter and I think that’s where Twitter degrades for new users.

Twitter needs to educate “newbies” when they sign up – not inundate them with famous people they can follow. It feels like Twitter expects people to “get it” from the outset when it should be investing time and screen space in ensuring that they get it once they are fully signed up. It needs to find a way to hang onto new users and find a better way to connect them to people they already know and who will @reply back to them. Perhaps a dedicated group of Twitter employees to engage with new users or I don’t know, someone code a ‘bot or something that tweets back and forth with newbies and walks them through the language of ‘tweets’ and ‘mentions’ and ‘@replies’ and ‘retweets.’

I just don’t think Twitter is helping itself very much by just signing people up and expecting them to get it.


Missing the point

A fundamental thing that Newspaper Journalists Against Twitter fail to remember is that while live-tweeting a presser or breaking news event is important, it’s never the whole story. Also, not all of our readers are using Twitter. Granted that number is dwindling every day, but there will always be someone who prefers to read the actual paper, or who will read an update online on their own time. That’s when it’s essential to take those tweets and the questions you got answered and turn them into a full story with details and facts and research and everything reporters actually do.

I just overheard a reporter say, “I hate that tweeting shit” in reference to the fact that the questions he had answered for his story were already tweeted. My heart died a little because I feel like I must not be doing my job properly.

I’ve been tweeting for the paper since 2007 and have trained and advocated and occasionally nagged everyone to get on the Twitter train. Some did, and some never ever will. But this person has a love/hate relationship with it and I can’t make him understand a) how it works and b) why it’s a good thing.

Things have changed. People want their news and information about 2-10 seconds after it happens, so that they can simply know about it. Once they are interested in an unfolding story, they will usually take the time to look for the in-depth articles that our reporters are so good at. They will want more details that can only be provided after everything is verified, fact-checked, sourced, and put together in a cohesive story. There’s room for both instant news, and fuller, in-depth news. One reaches a certain audience, and the other reaches them and everyone else.

Journalists should be embracing this stuff because it’s not going away. Learn how to adapt already, because I’m tired of banging my head against brick walls.