Early results of survey

Based on 2,759 tweets rated by 185 respondents (an average of 15 tweets rated by each respondent):

 

10 HIGHEST SCORING TWEETS
4.14 Infant born in UI dorm dies, police are investigating
3.61 University researchers take step forward in HIV research
3.50 California = $15 minimum wage
3.50 Armed man shot at Capitol
3.48 Pills, abortion…Forced birth control allows ISIS to keep sex slaves available.
3.45 Man begs officer not to shoot him seconds before he is shot
3.44 NC Gov sued over law banning transgenders from using bathroom of their choice
3.38 “N. Korea’s sentencing of Otto Warmbier to 15 yrs’ hard labor for a college-style prank is outrageous and shocking,”
3.33 Waves in Lake Erie make for surreal photos
3.30 Trump campaign manager charged with battery
10 LOWEST SCORING TWEETS
1.76 Wednesday = best day because season 2 of Empire returns tonight
1.87 #ILLINI What are people doing in such a beautiful day? #GetOutside and walk your #dog!
1.91 @ESanders_10 wants Uncle Rico as his starting QB and breaks down other options
1.94 Chance the Rapper to Throw Out First Pitch at White Sox Home Opener
1.96 Yeezus with the trinity.
1.98 Somebody needs to tell Aaron Gordon the dunk contest is over.
2.00 Shoulder injury leaves legend from performing ceremonial opening to Masters
2.02 Today is #InternationalWomensDay! Let us know which inspiring women you’ve been celebrating by tweeting at @TheNoisOfficial
2.05 “Gotta make it sexy.” What did #Hillary Clinton say about?
2.11 Academic Senate moves towards environment sustainability, agrees to divest from coal

Assignments for May 3

290surveyNow that we’ve officially ended our postings, we’re finally heading into the home stretch with our final class coming up Tuesday and with our final project due at the end of finals week.

Each class member still needs to get at least 50 different people to answer our online questionnaire at http://go.illinois.edu/tweets. Just asking 50 people isn’t enough. You probably need to ask several hundred to get 50 who actually will respond. The more responses we get, the richer our data will be. As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, we were up to 213 respondents. Our goal is 750.

As results come in, make sure we are getting an appropriate mix of demographics by checking the list of who has responded at http://media290.h.media.illinois.edu/survey/respondents.log. As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, we had 53.1% female, 45.5% male with the rest not answering. By college, 30.5% were LAS, 18.8% were Engineering, 18.3% were Media, 11.7% were Business, 5.2% were AHS, 4.2% were DGS, 3.8% were ACES, 2.3% were Education, and 1.4% were FAA. By ethnicity, 41.3% were white, 23.0% international, 20.2% Asian American, 6.1% African American and 4.2% Latino/a. By year, 14.6% were freshmen, 24.9% sophomores, 23.0% juniors, 26.8% seniors and 7.0% graduate students. All seem to be within reason for actual demographics on campus.

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 5.57.02 PM copyAs for where they get most of their news, 23.0% said Facebook, 21.6% friends’ social media accounts, 21.1% news websites, 10.3% Twitter and 13.1% other social media,  with very small numbers for newspapers, broadcasts, comedy shows, news apps and various aggregators.

Raw data, rating each tweet, also may be viewed live at http://media290.h.media.illinois.edu/survey/answers.log.

Learn about data analysis and reporting

The entire class is now responsible for coming up with a final report summarizing our findings and offering advice to local media. Assignments were worked on Tuesday. If you have questions, review this assignment summary or contact your classmates.

results

Meanwhile, here is a spreadsheet (as of 11 a.m. Wednesday, which means you will need to update it before doing final analysis) of results of our questionnaire and quick scatter charts (previewed above) preliminarily testing for possible correlations (which, as explained in class Tuesday, would show up as clusters centered on a rising line from left to right) with the factors we earlier came up with. More robust checks of statistical correlation and possibly even revised factors we test against are among the tasks team members should be working on.

Here also is some boilerplate — basically, a summary of what we said in class Tuesday — that may help, provided it is borne out by our more robust statistical analysis:

After reviewing industry best practices and results of various (admittedly scant) research on the topic, students each week posted dozens of items, then refined their tactics on a weekly basis after reviewing data from Twitter and Facebook about how engaging their postings had been. They eventually developed a set of criteria that they thought would best predict whether future postings would maximize engagement and sought to test those strategies via a controlled questionnaire that sought to more systematically gauge levels of audience interest in specific postings selected because of the presence or absence of the qualities they identified.

Preliminary findings, which in final form will be presented in the form of an industry research report prepared by class members for local campus and professional media, are somewhat surprising.

Although using active images and informal, conversational tone may have some value, as suggested by material they reviewed and their own actual practice, the primary determinant of what engages a social media audience appears at first glance to be the same as what engages an audience in any medium: the degree to which a development is unexpected and especially emotional, either directly impacting the individual follower or vicariously impacting him or her by conveying information about a situation with human consequences with which followers can easily identify or empathize.

They also found that running a social media news service is just like running any other news service in yet another way. It needs first and foremost to serve its audience, not merely be a vehicle for promoting some other product, whether it be an institution or a news site. That means developing independent news judgment geared toward the needs and desires of the service’s users even if the news site or other product it may be associated with has no vested interest in promoting everything the social media service might mention.

Conventional wisdom that audiences are most responsive to attempts to spark conversation or to deal with inconsequential yet commonplace daily routines did not seem to be born out. In fact, a social media feed seems less about behaving as if the feed were a typical individual’s social media account and more about behaving as if it were a traditional news provider, albeit one that eschews “dull but important” and other obligatory, incremental news coverage.

Submit your grading contract

This also is the week for everyone to submit by private email to ekmeyer@illinois.edu your grading contract, assessing what grade you believe you should receive in the course and outlining, based on specific work you performed, why you believe that grade is merited. These were requested before class Tuesday. If you still haven’t sent yours in, please do so right away.

To aid in self-assessment of your portfolio, here (as of noon Saturday) are the number of activity posts, reports and other items (except comments) that each class member has posted to this site this semester. Raw numbers don’t always tell a story, of course, but generally speaking the further down you are on this list, the more work you may still need to do to document your contributions to our project:

Part of your evaluation process will be evaluating the work of your teammates. Before the end of finals week, each of your will be asked to submit a confidential teammate evaluation report by email to the instructor.

We’ll talk about all of these things at our final class next Tuesday, but time is drawing short, and we need to make sure everyone accomplishes what needs to be done before class.


ursAlia, Ruoxi and Masic presented our project from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday in South Lounge of Illini Union. 

Free program on digital storytelling

Social media consultant Christopher Wick will share what he regards as proven secrets to digital storytelling success from 3 to 4 p.m. Monday in 126 GSLIS. You also can attend online.

Assignments for April 26

While still keeping up with our postings as usual, we’re finally heading into the home stretch.

Each class member needs to be sure to get at least 50 different people to answer our online questionnaire at http://go.illinois.edu/tweets. It’s vitally important that we complete getting our responses before class this coming Tuesday.

As results come in, make sure we are getting an appropriate mix of demographics by checking the list of who has responded at http://media290.h.media.illinois.edu/survey/respondents.log.  Raw data, rating each tweet, also may be viewed live at http://media290.h.media.illinois.edu/survey/answers.log.

Learn about data analysis and reporting

Now also is the time for Teams 1 and 2 (Alia, BlaizeColleenHenryKhaoulaMasicMike, RheaRuoxi and Ryan V.) need to begin learning how to do correlation, factor or other curvilinear analysis of the data so that you can lead the entire class in analyzing results after they come in.

Meanwhile, Team 3 (Aaron, BreaMicheleMolly and Ryan D.should be busy expanding upon and adding footnote references to our poster (4.7MB PDF) text to prepare the first segments of our final report. The full set of source files (55.8MB ZIP) also are available. Technical problems prevented inclusion of the charts for each tweet, but otherwise all content seems to have made its way onto the poster.

Submit your grading contract

This also is the week for everyone to submit by private email to ekmeyer@illinois.edu your grading contract, assessing what grade you believe you should receive in the course and outlining, based on specific work performed, you believe that grade is merited.

We’ll talk more about all of these things Tuesday, but time is drawing short, and we need to make sure everyone accomplishes what needs to be done before class.


ursAlia, Masic and Ruoxi presented our project from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday in South Lounge of Illini Union. 

Assignments for April 19 and earlier

While also keeping up with our postings as usual, we need to be working very quickly and productively to get our questionnaire in the field.

So far, we have a functioning model at http://go.illinois.edu/tweets, which all class members should be testing.  Users are allowed to answer demographic questions once using the same computer and web browser. Thereafter they are allowed to rate up to 20 tweets. Respondents should use their own computer rather than being offered a shared computer to make selections.

Well before we next we meet on April 19, the teams below should have finished most of their tasks, contacting Ahmed for assistance as needed:

Team 1

Blaize, Colleen, Henry, Khaoula and Masic

  • No later than April 16, finalize the list of 100 or so tweets (some ours, some DI’s, etc.) that we will test.
  • In doing so, verify that all members of the class have rated the tweets and consistently scored them either high or low (with relatively low standard deviations of mean scores) in each of the standards developed.
  • Ensure that the list includes samples with mean scores that are both very high and very low in each of the standards being tested. Work closely with Ahmed on these tasks to ensure that we have a proper array of evaluated tweets.
  • Be prepared by class April 19 to propose any needed revisions to the standards. It is very likely we will need to go through another period of developing qualities and scoring tweets after initial results come in. Then be prepared to assist Team 2 in analyzing the results.

Team 2

Alia, Mike, RheaRuoxi and Ryan V.

  • As soon as Team 1 has finalized the list, develop strategies to ensure that each class member will quickly get responses to the questionnaire from at least 50 students and begin collecting those responses before class April 19.
  • Keep in mind that this task is absolutely crucial. Class members can’t just ask for 50 responses each. They have to ensure that they actually get at least 50 responses. That means asking far more than just 50 people each. Developing – and enforcing – a mechanism to ensure an appropriate number of responses from each class member is vital.
  • As results begin come in, ensure that we appear to be getting appropriate levels of responses from each of the demographics identified and act to obtain additional responses as needed. Once the questionnaire is active, the list of who has responded can be accessed online   at http://media290.h.media.illinois.edu/survey/respondents.log.
  • Begin learning how to do correlation, factor or other curvilinear analysis of the data so that you can lead the entire class in analyzing the results after they come in. Raw data will be located at http://media290.h.media.illinois.edu/survey/answers.log once the questionnaire is live.

Team 3

Aaron, BreaMicheleMolly and Ryan D. 

  • Before class April 19, have a completed draft of the first sections of our research report, including an introduction to problem, a literature review of qualities that provide background for standards, and documentation of our research questions and coding and survey methodology. Work closely with Ahmed to ensure we have what we need.
  • During class April 19, coordinate the class’s efforts to produce a poster and literature for the Undergraduate Research Symposium presentation of our project later in the week.
  • After data are analyzed, lead the class efforts to finalize our reports with findings and conclusions, including specific advice to campus media about not only how to tweet and post but also whether to go beyond just attempting to promote items appearing in the print or online editions.

Tentative list of qualities

And here, tentatively, is the list of qualities we’re scoring each posting on, using a Likert scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high):

  • Immediacy, timeliness
  • Unexpected, original development
  • Engage with questions, commands
  • Conversational language
  • Humorous or irreverent
  • Personal utility or proximity (student impact, involvement, new service, DIY tips)
  • Talk factor (follow pop topic, weird)
  • Human face, emotion
  • Active or unusual real visual
  • Simplify complex issue

Don’t forget to score all of your postings this week using these criteria when reporting your weekly Activities for class.

Undergraduate Research Symposium

Alia, Masic and Ruoxi are our designated representatives to present a preliminary report of our project from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. April 21 in South Lounge. The presentation is entitled Rising Above The ’Nois: Identifying Effective Practices in Social Media. Obviously, we need as much of our process as possible to be completed in time to prepare a poster that they will present for that session. This will be a major objective of our class session April 19.

Assignments for April 12

We’re going to keep up our postings this week and add some team projects to the mix.

Here are the teams we’ll be expecting to report significant progress when next we meet, April 12. All teams may contact Ahmed for assistance with their assignments:

Team 1

Blaize, Colleen, Henry, Khaoula and Masic

  • Select tweets (some ours, some DI’s, etc.)
  • Write standards for class to score them
  • Measure to ensure intercoder reliability of scoring and refine standards as needed
  • May need to select many more tweets than are actually used to insure we have a full range to choose from and all pass reliability tests
  • Ensure that all class members complete scoring within a week
  • See group’s post for what every class member needs to do before class April 12.

Team 2

Alia, Mike, RheaRuoxi and Ryan V.

  • Create survey instrument(s) for readers to rate tweets
  • Be flexible to include different tweets, based on what Team 1 finds
  • Collate responses, ensure randomness and demographics
  • May need to get additional responses from some demographics to ensure roughly representative sample
  • Do curvilinear factor analysis between class scores and reader scores

Team 3

Aaron, BreaMicheleMolly and Ryan D. 

  • Write introduction to problem
  • Literature review of qualities that provide background for standards
  • Document our coding and survey methodology
  • Write findings and conclusion
  • All but findings and conclusion need to be written, edited and displayed as poster before Undergraduate Research Symposium

Tentative list of qualities

And here, tentatively, is the list of qualities we’ll be scoring each posting on, using a Likert scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high):

  • Immediacy
  • Unexpected, original
  • Engage with questions, commands
  • Conversational language
  • Humorous or irreverent
  • Personal utility or proximity (student impact, involvement, new service, DIY tips)
  • Talk factor (follow pop topic, weird)
  • Human face, emotion
  • Active or unusual real visual
  • Simplify complex issue

To practice, don’t forget to score all of your postings this week using these criteria when reporting your weekly Activities.

Undergraduate Research Symposium

Alia, Masic and Ruoxi are our designated representatives to present preliminary findings of our research from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. April 21 in South Lounge. The presentation is entitled Rising Above The ’Nois: Identifying Effective Practices in Social Media. Obviously, we need as much of our process as possible to be completed in time to prepare a poster that they will present for that session.

Assignments for April 5

    • Make an in-person pitch, which as with everything else on this list you should document in your Activities note for April 5, to a large class or other large group of students encouraging them to help us with our research by following or liking our social media services on TwitterFacebook or Instagram.
    • Expand your ongoing posting schedule to include a few additional postings of original content you create, as discussed in class, about topics that you believe might be more resonant with our audience than traditional news already covered by other media. This is a way not only to better serve our audience and sharpen our brand but also to use social media to test possible topics for additional coverage that traditional media might undertake.
    • Devise a list of at least 10 Likert scale (-2 to +2, 0 to 4, etc.) qualities on which each posting in our service could be unambiguously scored by anyone in the class so that we may then assign scores to each posting we have made and correlate which factors seem to have the greatest influence over various forms of engagement with those postings.
    • Begin thinking about our ultimate goal — drafting, as a team, a final report to campus and other local media using our readings, experiences and data to make a convincing case for how they could improve their social media products to more engagingly reach a campus audience.
    • Come up with a list of any specific technologies or techniques we may need to spend a bit more time learning this semester to enable you to better achieve these objectives. We plan to spend the remainder of the semester splitting time between working on our report and learning whatever additional skills you think might be advantageous to you.

    Kirk Berridge (kirk@fanmedianetwork.com), our speaker March 29 wrote after class that he would be more than happy to talk to any of you who may have additional questions about Fan Media Network or about social media entrepreneurship in general.

    “I am a connector,” he wrote, “and hope they take advantage of the chance to talk to me because I will talk with them and make introductions as well.”

    If you are interested specifically in Fan Media, you can:

    • Install the app (http://apple.co/1HhY2QQ) and use it as a fan.
    • Build an iPhone video demo reel covering sports news (Illinois, Cubs, White Sox, Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, Fire).
    • Compete to earn money, official status and special access and media credentials.
    • Seek an internship.
    • Work for the company as a Media Manager.

    He also provided this correspondent kit containing tips on making and editing iPhone videos covering their favorite teams and this video of his presentation to the SXSW conference he mentioned.

For the ides of March: Are we really reaching students?

Part of the answer has to do with continuing to promote http://twitter.com/TheNoisOfficial, http://facebook.com/TheNoisOfficial and our new (yet shockingly unpopulated)  http://instagram.com/TheNoisOfficial, which we should be doing in shamelessly aggressive fashion. We continue to have a long way to go before reaching our target of several hundred followers and likes for each account. And we have a new PDF flyer to promote them.

As mentioned in our most recent class, however, that’s only part of the answer. If all we do is provide basically the same sort of stuff students can find elsewhere, without a unique focus on serving these particular users something that will truly engage them in ways nothing else does, we’d be betting the farm on divine “if you build it, they will come” intervention that happens only in fantasies about ghosts playing baseball in Iowa corn fields.

What we need is less “here’s the news” and more “here’s what you’ll want to talk about.” That means creating original posts that go beyond mere links to others’ content. In marketing terms, our brand can’t be solely an amalgam of all the brands from which we get material. We have to add value by creating original content, laser-focused on our target audience.

We talked with Mike McCray last week about several ideas. Many of these are likely to be somewhat irreverent “infotainment” more than classic news. That’s a key element of the social medium that we currently are missing.

Imagine something like a picture of some not-at-all-average-looking student in between two shots of spring break destinations. Where do you think Whatever-The-Student’s-Name-Is is going for spring break? A simply man-in-the-streeter (particularly if you use the student’s Twitter handle) might get more discussion going than whether Ben Carson has endorsed Donald Trump.

But that’s a simplistic example. What we’re looking for are unique ways to engage this particular audience, and your task as team members is to come up with those ways on your own, give them a try, and quickly learn from experience what works and what doesn’t(the old “fail fast” motto).

Remember McCray’s three most important qualities in a potential employee — in order, curiosity, creativity and finally competency. In most classes, all you have to do is display competency with whatever technique or technology is being introduced. In this class, designed to more closely reflect the real world, you need the curiosity and creativity first. We’ll worry, as Mike does, about the competency later.

Details, details

Everyone should now be using Buffer to schedule posts on all three accounts (We really need to get Instagram tied in to this!), trying to increase our number of high-quality posts and injecting a bit more original content and tone along with following up on other instructions we came up with two weeks ago and consistent with, but surpassing, our earlier Reports and Announcements.

  • When we do use links, exclusively use Bit.Ly to shorten URLs so we can more easily track the effectiveness of posts. Or do we want to change to Buff.Ly? This is a decision that you, as team members, have to make.
  • Likewise, should we continue adding a #NowNois, #EnjoyNois, #ActiveNois, #ConnectNois, #IdentityNois or #DiscussNois hashtag to each post, and should they be at the start or at the end? Team members need to decide.
  • We seemed to agree this past week about doubling the frequency of our posting schedule without regarding it as a minimum quota. The average post has a shelf life of less than half an hour. But we don’t seem to be doing that, especially with team members still stuck in a “check off the boxes” mode of dealing only their own persona without pressing to find broader ideas that might cross into other personna or be universal to the entire feed.
  • Post flyers from Room 31 all over campus, which we still really haven’t done. Even more important get yourself, your friends, classmates and basically everyone you know to sign on.

Remember to document your contributions

As mentioned previously, part of the challenge of any entrepreneurial team project (such as this class) is not merely performing duties as assigned but also identifying ways in which you can contribute to the overall objectives even if not specifically told to do something. That means not only improving our posts but also making special efforts to publicize our efforts to generate an audience.

For grading purposes and to make sure we all know what each other is doing, don’t forget to make a weekly post – right before the start of class each week – to the Activities category. Your postings there and in other assigned categories on this site will form the portfolio of work on which you will be graded.

Coming on March 15

In addition to dealing with questions above about our social media feed, we’ll start on the digital media phase of the class, learning about the free hosting accounts each of you will be receiving. After break, we’ll have some instruction in various software and coding techniques as well as begin working on a researching effectiveness of posting strategies and writing a research-style report about our activities.

Worthwhile reading

In your spare time (yeah, sure), be sure to check out these sites:

Part of the challenge of this class is to find other things to read and consider as motivation. What additional links can you suggest? Use the comments link below.

March 15: Are we doing everything we can?

Part of the answer has to do with continuing to promote http://twitter.com/TheNoisOfficial, http://facebook.com/TheNoisOfficial and our new (yet shockingly unpopulated)  http://instagram.com/TheNoisOfficial, which we should be doing in shamelessly aggressive fashion. We continue to have a long way to go before reaching our target of several hundred followers and likes for each account. And we have a new PDF flyer to promote them.

As mentioned in our most recent class, however, that’s only part of the answer. If all we do is provide basically the same sort of stuff students can find elsewhere, without a unique focus on serving these particular users something that will truly engage them in ways nothing else does, we’d be betting the farm on divine “if you build it, they will come” intervention that happens only in fantasies about ghosts playing baseball in Iowa corn fields.

What we need is less “here’s the news” and more “here’s what you’ll want to talk about.” That means creating original posts that go beyond mere links to others’ content. In marketing terms, our brand can’t be solely an amalgam of all the brands from which we get material. We have to add value by creating original content, laser-focused on our target audience.

We talked with Mike McCray last week about several ideas. Many of these are likely to be somewhat irreverent “infotainment” more than classic news. That’s a key element of the social medium that we currently are missing.

Imagine something like a picture of some not-at-all-average-looking student in between two shots of spring break destinations. Where do you think Whatever-The-Student’s-Name-Is is going for spring break? A simply man-in-the-streeter (particularly if you use the student’s Twitter handle) might get more discussion going than whether Ben Carson has endorsed Donald Trump.

But that’s a simplistic example. What we’re looking for are unique ways to engage this particular audience, and your task as team members is to come up with those ways on your own, give them a try, and quickly learn from experience what works and what doesn’t(the old “fail fast” motto).

Remember McCray’s three most important qualities in a potential employee — in order, curiosity, creativity and finally competency. In most classes, all you have to do is display competency with whatever technique or technology is being introduced. In this class, designed to more closely reflect the real world, you need the curiosity and creativity first. We’ll worry, as Mike does, about the competency later.

Details, details

Everyone should now be using Buffer to schedule posts on all three accounts (We really need to get Instagram tied in to this!), trying to increase our number of high-quality posts and injecting a bit more original content and tone along with following up on other instructions we came up with two weeks ago and consistent with, but surpassing, our earlier Reports and Announcements.

  • When we do use links, exclusively use Bit.Ly to shorten URLs so we can more easily track the effectiveness of posts. Or do we want to change to Buff.Ly? This is a decision that you, as team members, have to make.
  • Likewise, should we continue adding a #NowNois, #EnjoyNois, #ActiveNois, #ConnectNois, #IdentityNois or #DiscussNois hashtag to each post, and should they be at the start or at the end? Team members need to decide.
  • We seemed to agree this past week about doubling the frequency of our posting schedule without regarding it as a minimum quota. The average post has a shelf life of less than half an hour. But we don’t seem to be doing that, especially with team members still stuck in a “check off the boxes” mode of dealing only their own persona without pressing to find broader ideas that might cross into other personna or be universal to the entire feed.
  • Post flyers from Room 31 all over campus, which we still really haven’t done. Even more important get yourself, your friends, classmates and basically everyone you know to sign on.

Remember to document your contributions

As mentioned previously, part of the challenge of any entrepreneurial team project (such as this class) is not merely performing duties as assigned but also identifying ways in which you can contribute to the overall objectives even if not specifically told to do something. That means not only improving our posts but also making special efforts to publicize our efforts to generate an audience.

For grading purposes and to make sure we all know what each other is doing, don’t forget to make a weekly post – right before the start of class each week – to the Activities category. Your postings there and in other assigned categories on this site will form the portfolio of work on which you will be graded.

Coming on March 15

In addition to dealing with questions above about our social media feed, we’ll start on the digital media phase of the class, learning about the free hosting accounts each of you will be receiving. After break, we’ll have some instruction in various software and coding techniques as well as begin working on a researching effectiveness of posting strategies and writing a research-style report about our activities.

Worthwhile reading

In your spare time (yeah, sure), be sure to check out these sites:

Part of the challenge of this class is to find other things to read and consider as motivation. What additional links can you suggest? Use the comments link below.

For March 8: Going public with our news service

 

The noise throughout campus this week should be all about http://twitter.com/TheNoisOfficial and http://facebook.com/TheNoisOfficial as we officially roll out our social media news service.

Everyone should be now be using Buffer to schedule posts and following the other instructions we came up with in class last week. In addition to making regular posts as discussed in our earlier Reports and Announcements, remember to:

  • Use Bit.Ly to shorten URLs so we can track the effectiveness of our posts.
  • Add a #NowNois, #EnjoyNois, #ActiveNois, #ConnectNois, #IdentityNois or #DiscussNois hashtag to allow users to sort by persona.
  • Fill in all the blanks on our posting schedule and stick to it.
  • Pick up copies of flyers from Room 31 and post them all over campus. (An ample supply was still there on one of the tables Saturday. Ask me if you need more.)
  • Follow up with all the avenues – at least two major initiatives per class member – that you last week volunteered you could pursue to encourage likes and followers .

As of Saturday night, we had only 20 followers on Twitter and 16 likes on Facebook. We need hundreds more than that if we hope to gather relevant data, and now is the time for everyone in the class to start blanketing campus with flyers, postings on your own accounts, requests for publicity or to talk to classes and any other methods you can think of to generate interest in our accounts.

Special guest this week

PIX
Mike McCray and your instructor in the Dallas newsroom this summer

Tuesday, we will spend all of our class period working with special guest Mike McCraysocial media editor of the Dallas Morning News. 

A 2009 North Carolina A&T journalism graduate, Mike spent four years as a copy editor, lead sports designer, lifestyle and nightlife reporter, then social media coordinator for the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer before moving to the Dallas Morning News as digital content promotion coordinator. This month he was promoted to social media editor as part of a complete newsroom re-envisioning, which he played a key role in, after A.H. Belo heirs spun the paper off into a private, family-owned corporation focused on operating the newspaper independently and sustainably as a 21st-century major metro.

An expert in responding to digital and social media metrics, identifying content resonant with diverse audiences and creating engaging social media postings that get to the heart of what makes content interesting to readers, Mike talks passionately about how he made his way from college to a major metro, the importance of learning social media and the future of news operations.

His three-day visit to campus in the second part of the Scripps-Howard Foundation visiting professorship in social media that sent your professor to the digital breaking news desk of the Dallas Morning News  for two weeks last summer. Mike also will be speaking to several other classes, at a faculty brown bag and at a special meet-and-greet with free pizza and soft drinks Tuesday night. The latter event is co-sponsored by the Journalism Department and the campus chapters of the National Association of Black Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists. No registration is needed, but email slconrad@illinois.edu by noon Tuesday if you want to share in the pizza and soft drinks.

Later this semester, we’ll have a brief online presentation from a social media entrepreneur, Kirk Berridge, founder and CEO of FanMediaNetwork and its iPhone app, who will not only be looking for content providers but also can shed some light on how to cultivate an audience and create an entrepreneurial new service.

Remember to document your contributions

As mentioned previously, part of the challenge of any entrepreneurial team project (such as this class) is not merely performing duties as assignment but also identifying ways in which you can contribute to the overall objectives of the projects. That means not only great ideas for posting but also special efforts to publicize our efforts to generate an audience.

For grading purposes and to make sure we all know what each other is doing, don’t forget to make a weekly post – right before the start of class each week – to the Activities category. Your postings there and in other assigned categories on this site will form the portfolio of work on which you will be graded.

Only five of you posted your reports for last week. The rest of you need to add yours, and everyone needs to make report his or her activities for the past week before the start of class Tuesday.

Worthwhile reading

In your spare time (yeah, sure), be sure to check out these sites:

Fire away! It’s live testing week

 

This week, we’ll be practicing posting live to The ’Nois Facebook  and  Twitter pages via our shared thenoisofficial@gmail.com account. We still have to finish some design work on those pages, and we have to come up with a consistent policy for using our own bit.ly shortened URLs in every posting, so we can more accurately track all referrals. Reminders of many of these are in the Reports category. Still, we’re getting there.

In class, we’ll try to take care of those loose ends, evaluate how our test week went, then work to finish our promotional materials and, if everything is a go, launch into our regular routine of providing our service on a daily basis and begin an extensive campaign to promote it so we can generate an audience whose use of our postings we will track. We also need to refine exactly what categories we will use in tracking.

Meanwhile, keep in mind what we have learned about conversational tone, adding our sub-persona as hashtags and, most recently, adding visuals, as recounted below. Also, before the end of class Tuesday, please be sure to post under the new Activities category a brief report outlining everything you did this week. This is an important part of your portfolio for grading purposes.

Another item potentially on tap for Tuesday, subject to logistics being worked out, is a brief presentation by a real-life social media entrepreneur, Kirk Berridge, founder and CEO of FanMediaNetwork and its iPhone app, who will not only be looking for content providers but also can shed some light on how to cultivate an audience and create an entrepreneurial new service.

Creating visuals for postings

Here are several examples of how to create images to accompany social media postings. For in-stream images in Twitter, the preferred size (to avoid possible clipping) is 44o by 22o pixels. Twitter allows up to 5MB for photos, 3MB for animated GIFs, but you don’t want to get anywhere near those limits, especially if you are targeting mobile users.

Sites like https://giphy.com/create/gifmaker allow you to create a brief animated GIF from any web-posted video:

giphy

But that’s not the only way to create animations. You can also create them in Photoshop (using “frames” animation as explained in our video demonstrations):

COMBINE2

Animation isn’t the only way to create visuals or memes for social media posting. One technique, not often used professionally but holding great promise as something we might wish to test, is combining pictures and text, as is done with this one for the same story:

combine

Or this one for a different story, both using techinques demonstrated in the others videos:

meme

Worthwhile reading

In your spare time (yeah, sure), be sure to check out these sites:

Assignments for Feb. 23

We have a raft of assignments for the week leading up to class Feb. 23 as we get closer to going live with our new social media news service.

Testing our live service

First, everyone must sign up to become part of a minimum two-person team that will share responsibility for creating at least one unique social media posting (preferably more) every day until Feb. 23 for each of our six sub-persona:

  • Now (headlines, breaking news, crime)
  • Enjoy (arts, entertainment, travel, fashion, leisure)
  • Active (fitness, sports, health, nutrition)
  • Connect (what we do, careers, classes, majors)
  • Identity (who we are, gender, minorities, ethnicities)
  • Discuss (politics, issues)

Because we’re short of being able to pull this off without them, members of the editing group will form the Now team as well as function as editors for the other groups and  select content to repeat into our flagship “best of the best” group:

  • The ’Nois (flagship, “best of the best”)

Double-check your assignment on the signup sheet and be sure to include your email address. Note that if you did not sign up during class Feb. 16, you were drafted. If you didn’t get your first choice, we will talk about rotating assignments for coming weeks. The editors are free to reassign group memberships as needed, so if you really need to change this week, you may do so if you clear the change with them.

The editors will be sending each group an email discussing scheduling and procedures. For this week’s exercise, you will send all your postings to the editors by email, as described in the note you will receive. They in turn will create a daily summary of all the edited offerings and post them (this week, at least) to the Tweets category on this site.

Material referenced in postings may come from any site, but class members should pay closest attention to these local sites, taking turns consulting them frequently every day:

Creating our pages and flyers

Everyone other than the editors also has been assigned to one of two groups. Please email the instructor as to which group you have joined. The two groups have these charges:

INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Creating separate Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for each of our seven persona. The Twitter accounts are to be registered under special new GMail accounts that group members will create, sharing the login information among all class members. The Facebook pages will be managed by all class members, whose personal Facebook accounts should by now be assigned to our class Facebook group. If you find that you aren’t yet a member of the group, contact Ryan Vasicek via Facebook. This team also is responsible for securing the bit.ly or other link-shortening service we will use and making sure that service includes appropriate means to robustly track everything about whether readers click on the items we post.

PROMOTION

  • Creating final versions of promotional flyers, including a final version of our The ‘Nois logo, which also needs to be supplied to the other team for inclusion on all of the Facebook and Twitter accounts created. The promotional material should have a consistent look and feel but focus on different aspects of our service. This group also should prepare copy for our signup jump-station web page, which we are likely to create at http://TheNois.com, once that domain is registered and set up. The group should further finalize our strategy for distributing the material, talking to classes, etc., creating a very specific action plan that can be implemented Feb. 23.

What’s coming next

We have maybe one or two more weeks of planning to do before switching into full production mode. For class Feb. 23 we will do a final review of our Tweets, transfer them over into the infrastructure accounts to “salt” the service, create our signup jumpstation, and start working to distribute our materials and promote our service.

We also will settle on final procedures to be used when we go live, and begin actual live posting to our real accounts, using whatever rotating schedule of assignments we adopt. Before that, however, we will have to discuss and practice obtaining visuals to go with all of our postings.

In the weeks following Feb. 23, the class will enter Phase II, where each week’s abbreviated meeting time will be devoted in part to a post-mortem of the past week’s postings and brainstorming of ideas for improving in the coming week. Until we start getting actionable results that will let us analyze and rethink our strategies, we will devote the second part of each week’s  abbreviated class  to introductions to various technologies that might assist us along the way — more about creating memes and other photos and illustrations in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign and exploring basics of HTML 5, CSS 3 and content management solutions like WordPress. We also have videos available to help with these.

Once we start getting more data, we will move into analytical mode and begin Phase III, doing statistical analyses of our data and writing up results and documenting what we have learned about best practices in a professional research style while continuing to provide our social media news service.

Worthwhile reading

In your spare time (yeah, sure), be sure to check out these sites:

And consider attending this session:

Feb. 11 is Tweet Day!

Thursday, Feb. 11, is the day we chose to practice creating 100-character-or-less Tweets about current local news as another test run for our social media service, The ‘Nois.

First, consult these seven local news sources throughout the day:

When we actually get up and running, you can look elsewhere, too. But to make sure everyone is working from the same material, let’s limit ourselves to new material, posted Thursday, by just these seven news sources.

Identify at least 10 stories — even more would be better — that could be of interest to members of the campus community. Compose at least one engaging Tweet/headline about each of the stories and identify which one or more of these slightly modified The ‘Nois persona, the names for which are still tentative, the Tweet/headline would be directed to:

  • Now! (headlines, breaking news, crime)
  • Enjoy! (arts, entertainment, travel, fashion, leisure)
  • Active! (fitness, sports, health, nutrition)
  • Connect! (careers, classes)
  • Believe! (faith, service)
  • Diverse! (gender, minorities, ethnicities)
  • Belong! (family, Illini legacy)
  • Discuss! (politics, issues)

Remember to stress what makes the story relevant or interesting and to use an extremely conversational tone, sometimes employing first or second person, as explained in previous postings by the Best Practices and Sampler groups in previous weeks. If you can turn a phrase without torturing it or getting in the way of meaning, by all means do so.

After posting your Tweets/headlines on Thursday to the Tweets category here, take some time Friday through Tuesday to go through everything your classmates posted and add at least one original comment about what each of them wrote. Point out different tactics that worked or that could have worked better, interesting “finds” and things we probably shouldn’t have found — basically, be your classmates’ encouraging coach and harshest critic. How extensively you evaluate others’ postings is just as important as how well you do writing your own Tweets/headlines.

We will then evaluate the Tweets/headlines and discuss the comments during class Tuesday, Feb. 16.

By the way, TheNois.com would be available as a domain if we want to register it for our jump/signup page.

Continue work on team reports

In addition to evaluating and discussing our Tweets/headlines, we’ll also have progress reports — hopefully including finished material — from these groups, which should post their results to the Reports category before class Tuesday:

  • Logo: A vector rendering in Illustrator of The ‘Nois megaphone logo. (Blaize Stewart, Ryan Vasicek)
  • Flyers:  A solid start on promotional ad copy, which may have to be tweaked a bit with final names and design and sample postings. (Ryan Donlan, Molly Gordon, Aaron Swearingen, Brea Thompson)
  • Practices: More on best practices about how to post socially. (Colleen Romano)
  • Logistics: Prospective work schedule and assignments, HootSuite setup,  etc. (Mike Brodecki, Khaoula Dellahi, Rhea Kressman)
  • Hypotheses: Including filing out application — due Monday, the day before class — for Undergraduate Research Symposium(Masic Chen, Alia Kamal, Ahmed Orabi, Ruoxi Su)
  • Unknown: No assignment recorded; please let Prof. Meyer know what you’re doing for this week.(Michele Ellis, Henry Prystowsky, Samantha Welch)

Team presentations due Feb. 9

For Feb. 9, we’ll spend our first two hours hearing 30-minute reports (which also should be posted to the Reports category) and discussion from each of these four groups. Remember that in any team project it’s incumbent on each team member to find unique ways in which he or she can contribute to the team effort.

Branding

(Mike Brodecki, Ryan Donlan, Ruoxi Su, Brea Thompson)

  • We need to create an overall brand for our social media service and relate it to the sub-brands for each persona within it, refining our previous attempts at Segmentation in light of our experiences with last week’s Test drive. Not only do we need to settle on names and scopes for our persona. Part of this effort is making sure persona names we desire are available on social media platforms we likely will use, including Facebook, Twitter and possibly others. This group’s efforts are likely to include testing of names, logos and content with various targeted segments of the audience. For internal purposes only, it also may involve creating a hypothetical touchstone person we can use as a model for each of the persona to help us better imagine “talking” directly to a human who represents intended audience of the persona.

Publicity

(Masic Chen, Michele Ellis, Alia Kamal, Aaron Swearingen)

  • We obviously cannot finalize plans until we have our branding, but we can start scheming how we will spread the word that our service is available — marketing it through large lecture classes, flyers, postings in other social media, etc. — and we need to begin developing literature that will persuasively encourage students to follow our persona. This may involve further assessment of what users would be looking for, which in turn feeds back into the efforts of the Branding group, and assumes close cooperation with that team. Even before the Branding team is done, however, we need to create an actionable plan, which can later be modified with the Branding specifics, for how we would spread the news of our venture.

Templates

(Molly Gordon, Colleen Romano, Blaize Stewart, Ryan Vasicek)

  • Again, we can’t do final work until we know our brand, but we can do preliminary work on actually setting up social media persona and determining features and platforms to go after. For example, we will need to have a typographic style for our postings that includes a shortened link to the material referenced and some form of visual element — photos, memes or short animated GIFs.  Our first link shortener and tracker will be http://bit.ly, with a username of mdia290 and a password of #31greghall, but it is likely we will need other shorteners that can be tracked. Basically, we need to create infrastructure and instructions for the effort: formats for photos and animated GIFs accompanying posts, finding a time-delay posting client like HootSuite, creating a cheat sheet listing how to use it, etc. — basically, handling all the technical and most of the design components of the project.

Sampler

(Khaoula Dellahi, Rhea Kressman, Henry Prystowsky, Sam Welch)

  • Similarly, we need to create sample content to be used in the marketing / publicity effort, which can then be adjusted into the proper templates and brands once these are known. And we need to produce a more refined and thorough Best Practices guide on how to select and write content, whether and when to use hashtags, the expected tone, how much we encourage comment and interaction, etc. This group also needs to plan the logistics of how the persona will function, deciding whether teams will on a rotating basis be in charge of various feeds or in charge of all feeds for various periods, or both, and whether teams will have an editor in charge of approving all posts. If the previous team is the infrastructure team, consider this the logistics team.

In addition, there’s one more team that won’t report quite yet but will interact with the other teams on these and future efforts:

Research

(Ahmed Orabi)

  • We’re hoping to conduct some actual, legitimate research as part of our effort. This may mean anything from participating in this year’s Undergraduate Research Forum on campus or this summer’s panel on the Scripps-Howard Foundation social media professorship program to producing a scholarly study or trade-journal article. Key to this is that we make sure we are gathering appropriate data all along the way for later analysis qualitatively or quantitatively and look for opportunities to insert such concepts as A/B testing in whatever we eventually do. As our visiting scholar in residence, Ahmed will work with everyone in the class to help make this a reality.

DEADLINE for applying to participate in the campus Undergraduate Research Forum in Monday, Feb. 15. Grad students and visiting scholars aren’t eligible, but the rest of you may find this a really cool thing to add to your resume. More information is at http://undergradresearch.illinois.edu/, and the application is at http://go.illinois.edu/urs2016.

Test driving our persona

For Feb. 2, let’s takes these potential persona we developed out for a test drive.

Consult every conceivable source of current news and information that a student member of the university community might rely upon and find as many items as you can, even if they are “buried” within a larger package, that might be of special interest to people who would follow these persona:

  • i-Arts (fine arts)
  • i-Believe (faith)
  • i-Enjoy (entertainment)
  • i-Family
  • i-Fit (sports, health, etc.)
  • i-Grind (studying, careers, etc.)
  • i-Headlines (“if it bleeds it leads”)
  • i-Legacy (traditions, alumni, etc.)
  • i-OfColor (racial and ethnic minorities)
  • i-Serve (service to the community)
  • i-Travel (international students, student travels)
  • i-Women
  • i-Wonks (politics)

Try to put together up to 10 items for each of the 13 persona / category. Don’t worry about links at this time, just write a roughly 100-character headline (a short tweet) focusing on why a member subscribing to this category would find the item referred to interesting. Make sure what you’re referring to is actual news from the current week, not just a generic pitch that could be made anytime.

Keep in mind the best practices documented in class as well as the various presentations on demographics and interests.

Post your heads / tweets to the test drive category and check what others have posted. We’ll evaluate them in class Feb. 2.

If you have trouble with this, an alternative would be to attend a workshop on our campus’s social media listening service, Crimson Hexagon, from 2 to 3 p.m. Friday in 126 GSLIS and report on it to the class. The first two to choose this alternative can do it instead of finding headlines and tweets.

Learn more at http://publish.illinois.edu/illinoissmc/workshops/.

Welcome to our class website

Here is where we will be posting information about the course, including reports from each team working on various projects throughout the semester. Your accumulated postings will constitute your course portfolio for grading purposes.

Of special interest this week is a workshop on our campus’s social media listening service, Crimson Hexagon, from 2 to 3 p.m. Friday in 126 GSLIS. Learn more at http://publish.illinois.edu/illinoissmc/workshops/.

In class this week we will have reports from these groups:

Possible segmentation strategies

Based on . . .

  • Campus demographics: Ryan Donlan, Michele Ellis, Henry Prystowsky and Colleen Romano.
  • Focus group interviews: Blaize Stewart, Sam Welch and Yany Xie.
  • News stories’ content: Khaoula Dellahi, Miranda Holloway and Ryan Vasicek.
  • Social media content: Mike Brodecki, Masic Chen and Alia Mohd Kamal.

Best practices for posting

Based on . . .

  • Review of literature: Molly Gordon, Ahmed Orabi, Aaron Swearingen and Brea Thompson.

In class, we’ll discuss the groups’ findings and explain how each group should post its findings to this site.