5 ways to use social media curator RebelMouse

Almost six months after RebelMouse launched, the service is finding a home in the digital journalist's toolbox.

If you haven't heard of it before, here's what RebelMouse does: You connect your social accounts (Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, etc.) and it creates a web page that features the latest content you've shared.

Many journalists have created RebelMouse pages that simply aggregate their own stories and photos, and some news organizations are using it in more advanced ways.

Here are a few examples of how it can be used.

Reuse your live-tweeting efforts. Feed your tweets or an event hashtag into a RebelMouse page, and embed it on your site. It's a great way to extend that coverage to non-Twitter users.

It's more elegant than simply embedding a Twitter widget. And compared to the nearest alternative, Storify, RebelMouse can be automated and its presentation places the focus on the content that you share, rather than the format in which it's shared.

"I used RebelMouse on Election Night and on debate nights during the 2012 elections," Huffington Post senior editor Craig Kanalley told me. "I tweeted the best things I was finding from around the Web in terms of coverage, including the best photos and what other news organizations were doing, and it turned into a nice hub highlighting coverage. ... It's a really nice alternative 'live' platform outside of live blogging and live video."

Curate a big story. You can feed tweets from a hashtag or a Twitter list into a RebelMouse page to automatically curate coverage of a major event. Or you can have those tweets saved as drafts that you pre-approve before they appear on your page.

Create a social dashboard for your organization. KING-TV in Seattle uses a RebelMouse page to aggregate all the photos, videos and links from all of the station's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube accounts.

TechCrunch uses it to power CrunchScroll, a social hub that collects all the site's stories and tweets from its writers:

Create more interesting topic pages. Salon's elections coverage topic page:

Patch used it to aggregate all of the election coverage from its many sites:

Let it power your homepage. Ok, most news organizations won't go this far. But video news startup NowThis News has turned its entire homepage over to an embedded RebelMouse site.

NowThis News videos are published primarily to social media services and to its partner site BuzzFeed, so the organization's own website is a bit of an archive. RebelMouse provides a dynamic, automatic feed that captures all that social activity for Web users.

All these examples take advantage of a few of RebelMouse's distinguishing capabilities:

  • It can bring multiple social networks together in one space.
  • It can make all that work you put into social networking accessible to people who don't use those networks.
  • It can be as automated as you want or as manually curated.

That last one is especially important, Niketa Patel, social media product manager at CNN Money, told me. If you want to hand-pick the stories that show up on your RebelMouse page and tweak their headlines, photos and descriptions, you can. And if you want to set it and forget it, you can.

In today's newsrooms, all resources are scarce. But time is among the scarcest. So a tool like this that can operate hands-off is very valuable.

A RebelMouse site takes only seconds to create. And each RebelMouse user can create multiple sites, which creates possibilities for customized uses. A journalist, for example could use a RebelMouse page to curate content to accompany one specific story. Then the next week, create a different one for something else.

Experiment and tell us what works for you.

Earlier: RebelMouse launches || Related: Twylah is another tool for making a Web page from curated tweets.

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    Jeff Sonderman

    Jeff Sonderman is the deputy director of the American Press Institute, helping to lead its use of research, tools, events, and strategic insights to advance and sustain journalism.


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