News Leadership 3.0

June 15, 2009

Social media essentials: Leverage community, tap into conversations, launch pilots

JD Lasica encourages news organizations to look outside themselves to engage and share in new communities, technologies and experimentation

What are three critical ingredients of successful social media projects for traditional news organizations? I’ve asked faculty of Knight Digital Media’s “Using Social Media to Build Audience” class to offer their lists. Here’s JD Lasica‘s list:

1. Leverage the community. “You don’t’ have to reinvent the wheel. There are a lot of resources out there, a lot of community organizations and projects that are built to enhance the conversation,” Lasica says. He encourages news organizations to look at Creative Commons licensing for sharing content, at sharing services including Flickr and at open-source technology that is widely available.

2. Tap into conversations.
“We are in the conversation economy now. Don’t think you have to own all the conversations or drive the conversations….It’s not really about control any more. It’s about engagement.” Lasica says news organizations need to broaden their mission and their range. “Go on other platforms, other forums as a participant. See what they’re talking about. See if there’s something you are doing with your organization that can tap into those conversations and add value to them.”

3. Launch pilots.
“Don’t spend months and months on a project.” Instead, put together mock ups and bring people in to look at them. “This is all about the idea of using your community as a sounding board.”

Hear more of JD’s remarks in this podcast he recorded for the social media class Knight Digital Media Center is offering with News University. And you can read more “social media essentials” from Paul Gillin and Amy Gahran.


I am developing a news website  where I gathering the news form major media;  the idea behind the site is instead of looking through hundreds of sites to find a information, is to use a site which aggregate the news base on countries and interest   fields.  I am trying to the involve the community in this project, to ask their opinions ,to see what users will like to have on site but I couldn’t get in touch with the “community” I posted in forums and I asked peoples to give me their feedback but I got zero answers. What I figure out is a lot of forums hire people to post content (they pay around 0.20$ per post )  and I am wondering this is the way to build or to get in touch with the community . Is out there a real community or is only a buzz word.
Any practical advice how to get involve the “community” in my project it will be appreciated
Thank you
Dan Dinu

Good question by Dan: Is there a real community out there? I think the answer is NO, not in the traditional sense anymore. Not as a group of citizens under the same geo-political boundaries. And hardly as a group of random far-flung strangers with intersecting interests either. How is that community? What passes for community in the online dimension is more like “whoever is paying attention at this moment.” That’s a tricky thing to harness. I’m only slightly cynical here. Sure, I believe Michele and JD are holding to the notion that online users of journalism have preferred brands, habits and may occasionally congregrate with each other when aroused by their trusted news source—thus comprising a familiar version of “the community.” But the authors seem to welcome the other way too: the brave new world where anyone with keyboard and bandwidth generates “instant community” with a brilliant idea and quick keystroke. Welcome to the constantly fleeting community. Gotta go.

Thanks Dan and Mich for the comments. I do think there are many communities, not a community. Some organize around shared topics or interests, others are based on geography (a town or neighborhood). It is very challenging to engage. I think the key, as JD noted in his second point, is to find out where conversations are happening and join them and become part of the communities. I think it is more and more difficult to get people to engage in one more site, even if it’s a good one. Better perhaps to put your most distinctive content in front of people in their networks and engage them where they already live.

Dan: There is no single community but rather tens of thousands of communities. I think the idea of parsing RSS feeds to cater to particular countries and subject niches is a natural and is already being done in various places, such as

The secret to getting feedback from a community is not to just go in and ask a question, but rather to engage with members on a variety of subjects and posts over time. It’s all very karmic: You won’t get much back until you give a little.

Mich: I disagree. I belong to dozens of online communities, many that have been around for years and thus don’t fit your description of random assemblages of people who are paying attention moment to moment. Twitter is one, Facebook another, plus more traditional online communities (on Ning, on various websites, and occasionally on news sites) organized around subjects and themes and mutual friends.

The more that news sites move toward creating online communities of reach people with real profiles, the more successful they’ll be, in my view.

It’s not really about control any more. It’s about engagement.” Lasica says news organizations need to broaden their mission and their range
Diskon Gila

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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

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