Lauren Indvik reports that NPR’s latest foray into social media utilizes the iPhone photo sharing app Instagram:
“As far as we’re aware, NPR is the first media organization to use Instagram as an official tool for content distribution. ‘Our main focus has always been to go to the places where we believe existing and potential NPR fans are hanging out and give them an outlet to interact with us and our content,’ says Andy Carvin, a senior strategist on NPR’s social media desk.”
Cory Bergman writes that experimenting with new tools is an important job in the newsroom:
“Dedicating a small part of your day to experiment with emerging social services is a great use of time. At the very least, give it a quick spin and reserve your branded account names before someone grabs them — remember Twitter?”
But, Bergman asks, how do you know when to “double down on an experiment, or pull the plug?” He highlights Tumblr, Quora and Reddit as three other services that deserve attention, but how much?
Bergman, a member of Poynter’s National Advisory Board, is exactly right when he says it depends on your goals.
When testing Web tools it is important to view them first as a consumer:
- Does the service fit a personal need?
- Is it easy to use?
- Are you likely to recommend it to a friend?
Twitter met all three of these criteria when I first started playing with it in April 2007. But for use in a business setting, the criteria is a bit stricter:
- What are the costs involved?
- How do its features align with your current or future products?
- Does the service have a growing fan base, or at least loyal users in your current audience?
- Does it have an API that other developers can utilize to bring more value to the core service?
- Assuming you attracted an audience, what is the likely return on investment?
- Do you expect that return to be in traffic, revenue and/or branding?
Justifying the use of Twitter at the time was fairly easy. The service was free and the audience was growing. And, due to its API at the Nashua Telegraph we could use Twitterfeed to post breaking news headlines. So, the support costs were exactly zero.
Not every tool has the same upside as Twitter, but most have the same — free — initial costs. For that price, you can afford to invest an hour or two a week testing out the next “big thing.” Then, odds are you will be ahead of the curve when it hits.