News Frontier Database from Columbia Journalism Review: Technically Philly and NEast Philly included

The Columbia Journalism Review launched this year its News Frontier Database, meant to be a curated directory of independent online news organizations, included the two niche sites on which I collaborate.

See the entire News Frontier Database here.

Technically Philly was an early listing, having been contacted by CJR in March and launching in early May. See that listing here.

Northeast Philly hyperlocal NEast Philly was recently added too. See that page here.

Including those two, there are just four Pennsylvania sites listed, all from Philadelphia, including also PlanPhilly, with which Technically Media is now doing some work, and another FactCheck.

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Tweroid: When is the best time to be tweeting?

I tried out the Tweroid service. [Updated: I also tried the service for @TechnicallyPHL]

The value proposition is to sign in, wait an hour or so, get an assessment of when your followers are most active online. The ask might be to then starting tweeting at those times to have the biggest impact.

So, according to this, for maximum audience, I should be tweeting at noon and in the 4pm hour on weekdays

I’m left wondering if that’s the value of social media — directing your gaze to the biggest crowd, or if it should be more spontaneously. As metrics can continue to deploy

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Steps to incorporate a business in Philadelphia (or elsewhere)

Last month, I described the process of dissolving the Technically Media general partnership, so I wanted to close the loop by quickly sharing our process for incorporation.

Mostly, this was a lesson in paying for a lawyer — doing it (mostly) right is worth paying. But I also wanted to share a few lessons I learned and some resources I used.

Why we decided to incorporate: (a) I expressed concern that as a new homeowner, I wanted greater protection from liability for our work (like liable or breach of contract concerns), and, as an added benefit, (b) we wanted to be W2 employees of our company, for the credit value of guaranteed payments. Moving forward, we also recognized (c) the benefit for the possibility of hiring employees.

Find the steps and resources below.

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Technically Philly team photos by Neal Santos

Technically Media co-founders Sean Blanda, Brian James and Christopher Wink. Photo by Neal Santos

All photos by Neal Santos while preparing for a Technically Philly Technology Leaders Breakfast photo shoot back in March.

See the other team photos here. Below is one of the photos from the next morning’s leaders breakfast, which

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Ten Twitter basics you should steal from my social media strategy work

I’ve managed more than a few Twitter strategies, for nonprofits, groups, organizations and news sites, and have picked up a few basics that you should be sure to steal.

  1. Signing off initials — If you have multiple people using your organization’s account, sign off with initials for transparency, personal connection and ease.
  2. Do create regular content — Part of my schtick is having a lunchtime regular feature, like Noontime Number for Technically Philly and Running News at Noon for Back on My Feet. It’s something followers come to expect and helps you be sure to fill content.
  3. Do take the RSS feed from your blog and then do a second (or third) tweet later for ifferent audience — It helps feed the beast, but also means your next tweet will hit for a new audience. Note, though, that some feel Twitter should be all engagement, so sending an RSS feed is somewhat looked down on. Still, I think as long as an RSS feed doesn’t dominate your Twitter conversation, it’s an added value.
  4. Do tweet your content more than once — Yes, as a follow up to the item above, keep in mind that Twitter users tend to focus in at different times, from the morning to lunch to the evening or something like it, so by tweeting a story a few times (without getting spammy), you have a better chance of hitting an interested party.
  5. Do use CoTweet to manage multiple accounts with multiple user — the former central Pennsylvania startup has a lot of good features for archiving messages, assigning followup and forward posting tweets.
  6. Instead of just responding, RT a meaningful message — When you reply to someone, RT her message and add your own when space allows. This gets other people into the conversation. If no one is interested, then take it to DM or email.
  7. Do more often have a call to action — (usually a link) but don’t be afraid to offer meaning in words. It’s a push media, so what are you pushing? Don’t take that to mean you should always be pushing your stuff, but conversation, engagement, sharing, linking, etc. are all good calls to action.
  8. Do be able to share a specific point in those 140 characters — So, ‘Man speaks at classroom’ is a whole lot less effective than ‘this is how we can make homework suck less, man says,’ which can inspire conversation or thought or response or, even better, a click.
  9. Tweet strong quotes or (even better) hard numbers – I’ve always found pushing clear information and statistics travels better than something less actionable or more vague.
  10. Break quick news on Twitter — When you’re reporting on something, feed good, interesting, independent content on Twitter. When possible, sure, having a link of yours can help you capture the clicks, but ultimately, you’re trying to create an audience and you do that with content, so Twitter needs its own material.
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Broetry Poetry Slam: ‘Portrait of a Bro’ in Spoken Word [VIDEO]

To promote the amusing book Broetry, which is a collection of poems from the “bro” perspective, Geekadelphia and Quirk Books held a Broetry Slam at National Mechanics, a bar in Old City Philadelphia. Attendees were encouraged to come with a broetry of their own to compete for a crown and a swag bag of great books from Quirk. Not only did I participate, yes, I indeed won. I was awarded a cool collection of books by Quirk Books employee Doogie Horner, a comedian whom I wrote about last month.

It was something of a spoken word. ..Because of that, I apologize to all people who do wonderful, beautiful, artistic things with spoken word. I am well aware that I may have killed the art form.

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Number of Views:7212

NBC Philadelphia ‘Request for Proposals Cooperative Arrangement with Non-Profit Local News Organization’

As part of its agreement with FCC to take over majority stake in NBC Universal, Comcast pledged to, among other things, bolster local news.

A half dozen NBC local affiliates, including Philadelphia, announcing a request for proposals to partner with nonprofit news organizations is just that.

I’d sure hope attention is being paid by WHYY and its NewsWorks initiative and the Philadelphia Public Interest Information Network, both of which could create some dynamic, interesting partnerships with a broadcast outlet with a large online audience to boot.

Applications are due next Friday, July 22. Details and applications here.

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Knight Foundation funds Philadelphia Media Network ‘digital media incubator:’ thoughts

Philadelphia Media Network CEO Greg Osberg announcing Project Liberty, which includes a tech startup incubation program. Photo by Liliputing.

The parent company of the two largest paid daily newspapers in Philadelphia is making good on its pledge to launch an incubation program. We at Technically Philly first reported on that pledge last fall.

We had heard of the likely partnerships with University City accelerator program DreamItVentures and the regional Ben Franklin Technology Partners, but what did surprise me a bit was the $250,000 in funding from the Knight Foundation to give it a go.

The initiative was a sliver of the Philadelphia Media Network’s overall Project Liberty, which focused mostly on news that the media company would offer subsidized sales of Android tablets with subscriptions to its newspaper content baked in. So, I’ve been surprised by the handful of questions I’ve had about the smaller incubation portion of the project. I’m writing here to answer them.

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Don’t try to sell for the first year but have a plan for what you’re doing to sell

I’ve been thinking lately about advice I’d give others about starting a niche product or, really, what I’d do differently myself.

In doing so, I’ve focused on business rollout timeline. The social sites of the web 2.0 world have developed something of a reputation around building audience first and a business¬† model second. It’s a plan that I myself remember doubting, but I wonder if I was just being naive.

It takes time to develop what you are, which certainly will dictate how you’ll fund it. Last month, I shared some of my favorite pieces from Gary Vaynerchuck’s book ‘Crush It. He shared some in there that is relevant here:’ “I didn’t make a peep the first year and a half of doing [the wine tasting video podcast] show. I didn’t try one biz deal ever,” [p. 92].

He was busy building the audience. The best marketing strategy, he adds, is just caring. So build a community and then figure out how to fund it.

It still worries me, I’ll admit, but it’s the ultimate trial pitch. Don’t waste energy selling into something that isn’t there. Instead, focus on increasing users, creating community and building engagement and, if the community develops, then figure out how to pay for it. If the community doesn’t develop, well, then, the project didn’t work out and you move on to your next.

That said, particularly in news, you damn well better have a good sense of what you intend on making money on. Make the business plan, but make sure there’s something real there before you dawdle on doing something about it.

Looking back at Technically Philly, it took us about a year and a half before we made a dime. That’s not for lack of trying and, admittedly, it was probably ideal that we made some cold calls and started conversations because we had to learn the basics first. But, now, when I give advice, I think it’s that give your project a year to grow on the side — keep the day job — before going all in.

I reserve the right to morph this line of thinking, but that’s where I am now. Whatcha think?

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Make your Facebook page better

Facebook pushes traffic and helps build an online community.

We’re over that. Joining Facebook and learning lessons from it is in the distant past. It’s time to have that next conversation.

I’m interested in moving to the next step, creating more compelling Facebook pages that keep people coming back, attract more eyeballs, develop brands, help create communication and, of course, help push eyeballs.

I’ve been moving through some conversations, trying to pull out the best lessons. I’m not behind anything compelling yet, but I’d love to do something fun with NEast Philly’s incredibly active Facebook page.

Some worthy reading below:

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Number of Views:3553