Two things you need to know about the new Huffington Post Australia

Huffington Post Australia pushed go on their interwebs this morning. 

JBish got the front page

A few days ago at ADMA in Sydney, I sat in on the preso from their new CEO Chris Janz and two facts turned my head

Huffington Post Australia CEO Chris Janz -seems like a nice chappie

1. “we had 1800 applications for 35 editorial roles”

You see, as much as the editorial types like to publicly snub Huffington Post (SBS referred to it recently as a ‘left wing blog aggregator’), it seems there is no shortage of talent throwing their CVs at the HuffPo. Janz has gone for a strong, former News Corp News Corp journalist and editor Tory Maguire as editor-in-chief. Tory is known for driving conversations and working across digital platforms so that all sounds very Huff Posty doesn’t it?

A dream editorial team will mean great content, even though journalists also hate the word ‘content'. 

2. “Fairfax is our local partner”

Some think that the HuffPo/Fairfax partnership will cannibalise Fairfax, especially lifestyle content.  Fairfax needs to improve in this area so any competition is good for them I think. They’ll probably just aggregate the inventory at the back-end and sell it through the Fairfax Media ad networks to agency anyway so overall, everyone wins. It means that HuffPo doesn’t need to go through the messy business of setting up account management and sales and all that handshaking business can be concentrated on creating image slideshows that you have to click on 15 times to view two photos. 

Buzzfeed and HuffPo both leaping into Australia

BuzzFeed Oz have been very active in the Australian political conversation this week with the appointment of Mark Di Stefano as political editor so get your popcorn, the Australian coverage is going to be excellent. 

No good times for New York Times but some of us are smiling

"The Times will hit another milestone — 900,000 — in paid digital subscribers in the upcoming Q4, up from the 875,000 at which it finished the third quarter. That will represent almost 3 percent of the Times domestic unique visitors of 31 million...
More than half of The New York Times’ traffic is now mobile, up from about 33 percent a year ago”

Those are some numbers from the New York Times Co. Q3 earnings release and there is some hard reading in there and a lot of 'loss' and 'decline' stuff. The Times always gets picked over mainly because it seemed to represent ‘the one that would survive’. 

-It had the brand. We wrote reports about the future of news brands and destination URLs. Trusted brands.

-It had high quality journalists with personal brands that would drive traffic. 

-It had a huge subscriber base that would be converted to digital through magazine style formats on iPad. Readers would pay money for this new digital magazine iPad app thing and everyone could return to their corner office and pick up their dry-cleaning to go to the media awards. It’s at the casino. Can you get my EA to order a taxi please? 

Three percent conversion isn’t much though is it for all that effort to run a news operation? Sounds like an email marketing campaign. And the print subs are really crashing out now. 

So now the reality is hitting and a quick read through the earnings release will show you keywords like “restructuring”, “layoffs” and "losses". Lots written about the loss of this and the loss of that. 
YouTuber Troye Sivan and his parentals

What we didn’t factor in:

-Facebook as the primary driver of news site traffic

-People reading the news on their mobile phone screens and snacking on links their friends curated on social sites

-Buzzfeed running newsrooms with way less cost and way more agility and way more cats

-Teenagers on YouTube running their own media channels from their parent's house

New Zealand fur seal sunbathing on Sydney Opera House VIP entrance steps. Like a VIP.  

The social web. 

Your friends (IRL and URL) as your editors of choice. A distributed information network run by people with little computers in their pocket who lol'd and commented and shared all day long. All bloody day long on the social things. Nobody predicted it would happen this quick and it makes me quite happy. It makes me happy because I was seeing things that I couldn't really explain in a report in any commercial way but I knew they were happening. I knew I got my news from Twitter and my info was running about a day ahead of mainstream media. I knew there were people I followed (and still do) who I have no idea about them or what they do but I just really like their social streams. It's sad panda that people have to lose their jobs and all that but then, I had to walk away from projects too because I could see a wave was building and the teams I was working with weren't in a position to catch it. I wasn't in a position to catch it and I had to paddle out and hope like hell my imaginary wave was there. It is there and it's real and that makes me happy. I'm sorry if you aren't pleased about the changes but for some of us, this is very good news because we made choices (with very real consequences) a few years back and they are now paying off. Reading this release made me realise I'd made the right choices and I really like the new media environment much more anyway. 

Good times. 

Mo people, mo problems-five ways to keep trolls out

five double 0, that's my phone number

Blowing away your community because all your members are idiots who say dumb stuff is very tempting but there a few reasons why you shouldn’t. Mainly because it could be a sign that you are doing a great job:

“for human groups, a few hundred seems to be an upper limit for a group size compatible with everyone’s knowing everybody. In our state society for instance, school principals are likely to know all their students by name if the school contains a few hundred children, but not if it contains a few thousand children. One reason why the organisation of human government tends to change from that of a tribe to that of a chiefdom in societies with more than a few hundred members is that the difficult issue of conflict resolution between strangers becomes increasingly acute in larger groups” Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies Jared Diamond 1997

It’s the same thing that happens in fast growing workplaces and popular cities- mo people, mo problems. 

1. Law and order. Smaller tribes self regulate more easily due to social pressure and you don’t need to do much to calm down a little blog spat or tacky image post. As groups become larger and more anonymous (think big city versus small town), you may need more law and order and I hate to say it, rules in the form of community guidelines. A secondary login might help to keep anon posters down and put some real faces in the mix to humanise the community. 

2. In the words of the great Tony Robbins, if there are weeds in your garden, pull them out. Don’t pretend there are no weeds and let the trolls take over but also, don’t freak out after a bad hit and blow away the branded Facebook page you spent three years cultivating.  It might just be time to reassess your strategy, gear up some more people to help and think about how you can run your page for a larger audience. Identify and pull out the weeds, you may not need to nuke the whole rainforest. 

Run from the thread

3. Party in the comments. Jonah Peretti from Buzzfeed/ HuffPo discovered that people loved the crazy-sauce comments that appeared at the bottom of their stories. Depending on your community, you may want to leave some weird stuff in their for seasoning. 

4. Talk to some other community managers at other workplaces and find out what they do. Sometimes, lobbing some feel-good content like iPad giveaways and free t-shirts can reset an angry mob. Just sharing your ideas and venting frustrations can make a big difference and you won't feel like you're doing a bad job all the time. I took a beaten down team to another company for a morning and they just sat and watched another online community team working. It made a huge difference to their confidence and showed them some new ways of managing prickly customers. 

5. Reward the good behaviour. Welcome new members so the same people don’t get attention for stirring. Much like the small town/ big city thing, sometimes the founding members of a community can be demanding and expect special treatment. Look after them but don’t let them drag the community down by bringing up old stuff and family feuds from 1967 all the time. It’s important to keep growing and pruning is a part of that. 

Understanding the new influencers: AUT guest lecture

What a lovely time I had on Wednesday at the new Sir Paul Reeves buildings at AUT campus. 

sorry Simon Devitt I pinched another one of your photos

I was invited to do a guest lecture on social influence for the third year IMC (integrated marketing communications) course which was great because I got to see all the nice new things and meet some real life student people.

real life students

I’ve put the slides up on slideshare but I decided to go for the all photos thing so you might need to click into the speaker notes to make sense of it. 

Main things are:

1. Broadcast communications can move the herd

2. Internet created more publishers and rise of democratised communications. New influencer emerge on platforms like Youtube, Vine, Instagram

3. Customers are more empowered and can curate, comment and share content. Look for people they trust and who are like them. 

4. Big seed marketing e.g. Buzzfeed. Create content that appeals to people and they distribute and share, decide what’s popular

5. Customers are employees and vice versa. Whole person approach- harness the power of the BWN Bored at Work Network to distribute and share your messages e.g. Zappos Big brands and advertisers struggle to personalise and need to partner with influencers.

Then I worked my 'Lecture Hand' so everyone could see there was some serious business going on right there

live action shot of lecture hand

Thanks for having me and I hope everyone learned something. One of the students told me he was going to go home and set up a YouTube channel and start vlogging so I'm glad my 'stay in school but please make sure you can make things' plea was received by someone. 


Structuring enterprise social content teams

Choirs of angels. Buzzfeed have come up with a simple, ‘three content bucket’ structure for differentiating between types of social content: Buzz, Buzzfeed News, and Buzzfeed Life. 

When you talk about ‘social media’ in a company remember that everyone usually defaults to thinking about apps and short snacky type content like Facebook updates and tweets.  Buzzfeed call this Buzz or BuzzTeam for ‘socially-oriented, experimental content’. The thing about this type of content is that everyone enjoys working on it and massively overestimates both how good they are at it and the value it brings to the organisation. It’s important to have it in the mix for attraction and content distribution, but is also the most difficult to measure and can result in a lot of junk that doesn’t really do a lot. 

For most organisations, the Buzzfeed News part will form the earned (media relations, PR) arm of your content strategy. Things like live event or conference coverage, industry news, business results, new appointments, store openings and product announcements. Your blog or blog network should be the home base for this type of content on a company-owned online space.

Your Buzz social team will work with the news team to make the content more digestible and interesting to audiences through engaging headlines, attractive photos and updates through various social media channels like LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Skills like writing, video production, editorial and researching skills, as well as media relations and strategy are needed in the News area. 

Buzzfeed Life is the really new area where organisations need to pay more attention and resource up for client-side, branded media production. Buzzfeed say that their Life team has mainly grown out of success with Pinterest for ‘lifestyle content like parenting tips, recipes, or how-to guide’. You can adapt this to your organisation by thinking about how to better equip and help customers with case studies, maps, how-to videos, whitepapers, playbooks, recipes, budget advice, online calculators, restaurant reviews and inspiring photos.  People developing this type of content will be working more like a traditional ad agency. Depending on the size and structure of the organisation, you might also be making paid media decisions in here about placing Google ads, buying Twitter Cards, making and placing Facebook ads and YouTube sponsored content. 

The three all work together.  So if you are doing a new store opening you might have the Buzz team giving away branded vouchers and T-shirts that the Life team produced. The News team publish blog and vlog posts about some brand ambassadors who might be at the store getting photos with customers.  Paid ads produced by the Life team run on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to promote the new store opening specials.  I know you're thinking 'that's cool for them but we are a boring government agency' but if you work backwards from how a customer or stakeholder might come across and consume your content you'll find it does make sense and the real challenge is getting teams of people who have flexible skills to work across different formats such as blogs, videos and social channels. Buzzfeed are also known for testing and measuring everything so there is also an analytics component to factor in. Most is done at an individual, content producer level and the teams are benchmarked with dashboards to deliver the most effective and shareable formats. 

Start small. Even getting teams that haven't worked together to agree on one hashtag can be a challenge at the start but take the tiny triumphs and try to keep the focus on News at the start as everyone will want to talk about and work on Buzz. Also, try and be realistic with Life content. You probably won't be able to produce a $5 million Samsung TVC in three hours on a $300 Go Pro. Learn to develop formats that you can make with your existing tools and that are sustainable. One simple how-to video per week is a lot more useful than one masterpiece that takes 12 weeks and soaks up hours and hours of time with meetings and sign-off because everyone wants to play movie director. LOL OMG CUTE.  Buzzfeed are awesome at this stuff and it works so learn from them and your content teams will probably enjoy working on projects a lot more too.