Jonathan Keebler

Posts Tagged ‘scribblelive’

Live Journalism 101: Driving Audience in the Age of Web Now

Spend Your Time Where Your Audience Is

It may seem obvious, but when you’re scrambling to report on breaking news, it is easy to forget about your audience. In the age of Facebook and Twitter where you make a post, and your number of followers has a bunch of zeroes at the end, it really feels like when you say something, people listen.

Of course, the reality is that everyone thinks that and the signal-to-noise ratio swallows a lot of signal. Say you have 5,000 followers when you make a tweet about a breaking news story. How many of those 5,000 are online right then (especially if you have followers in other time zones), with TweetDeck open, and not in the middle of something? That 5,000 can dwindle down to dozens. Now compare the reach of that 140 character message (minus 20 for the link), to a typical news site with thousands of actively engaged visitors a minute. It’s clear where the time should be spent.

Web 2.0 is Dead. Long live Web Now.

A story’s breaking. You’ve gotten into your live journalism platform. You’ve posted the greatest content of all-time. But did anyone see it?

In the Web 2.0 world, when you wrote an article, a complex system of connections between companies would take care of promoting it for you. Google would index it. Your RSS feeds would send it to peoples’ readers. It would be Dugg and Redditted and delished. It worked like a charm, but how long did it take?

The most important part of live journalism is the first part: live. The story is breaking, you have the news that people want, and you need to get it out immediately. Live journalism is about Web Now. It’s the type of journalism that the new generation of visitors are looking for. There may be spelling mistakes and there may be corrections later on, but it’s live and it’s engaging.

Promoting your live article is all about making sure you have the distribution channels ready to go ahead of time, and they are ones that you control. You can’t be scrambling to find the password to a Twitter account when your audience is out there looking for your story. The most successful live articles I have ever seen on ScribbleLive find their audience within the first 10 minutes of their event. And for all the social media seeding tools out there, the best ways to drive an audience are the most old fashion: put a call-out on your home page, tell your friends via the social networks, and throw to the URL on-air. There’s no magic to it; if your content is engaging, your audience will follow the path and stick around. But if you don’t give them the path to follow, they’ll wander somewhere else.

Don’t Overdo It

If you’ve gone to all the trouble of getting people to bookmark your home page, follow you on Twitter, or subscribe to your RSS feed, you don’t want to tick-them-off by bombarding them with an event they don’t care about.

The worst example is probably “live tweeting.” We’ve all had a friend or co-worker that went to their first conference/music festival/vacation/etc. after getting Twitter, and you heard about it every 5 minutes for days. Imagine what your followers’ timeline would look like with Twitter. Facebook just gives up after a while and starts hiding all but the first status update. Either way, after the first few messages everyone who would be the least bit interested would have clicked on your link (you are promoting something, right?) and would have tuned-out.

A much better way is to only post your best stuff to the social networks; the most engaging content you have. Make one post to tell people you are covering the event, with a link back to your live article. When something big happens, post again. It could breaking news, or just a great quote. Either way, as you send out pieces of great content to your followers, even the people who weren’t interested initially will start to take notice, instead of being annoyed. In the end, less posts can mean more traffic on your site (and more revenue).

Be Realistic

At the end of the day, it comes down to being realistic about your audience. In the age of social media, I often hear that success cannot be measured. Although it’s true that metrics like page-views are increasingly becoming obsolete with live journalism platforms that don’t refresh your page, we have to be realistic about the reach of a social media account versus a website. If you are running a news property, your words will almost always reach the greatest audience on your website because that is where the audience already is. If you make sure they know your great content is there (without overdoing it), you can drive a new level of engagement with your readers, and establish your presence in the live journalism media landscape.

(Photo by Christian Beirle González)

How Greenpeace’s web team told the story of an oil rig shut-down

Because It’s Good has a great article on how Greenpeace covered their recent shut-down of an oil rig. Greenpeace is one of many great charities using ScribbleLive Enterprise to tell their stories and engage their communities.

We used a live CMS service called ScribbleLive, which has a voicemail function that allowed people onboard ship to call a number on a satellite phone to record a live account of what was happening. That audio could then be added straight on to the live update feed – no internet connection needed.

Blogs are great, but when you hear a voice over a crackly phone line with the sea outside it adds excitement to the coverage.

(Full Article)

ScribbleLive Mobile 1.2 for iPhone in AppStore!

The next version of ScribbleLive Mobile for iPhone is now available in the AppStore. With this version, it’s even easier to view all your company’s events. Just choose your client under “User Settings”, and you’ll see a new area appear on the home screen when you see everything your fellow employees are working on. If you have permissions to write, moderate or administer their events, you will now have the same permissions as online.

You asked for it, so we built it: you can now caption your media (images, audio or video) directly from the iPhone app as well. Describe your images with a caption to give them more context. You’ll be prompted whenever you post media.

Now you can even publish your events to multiple websites right from the creation screen in the app. If you change your mind later, you can change those settings in the “Admin” area of an event.

As well as these changes, there’s a bunch of bug fixes in this version. We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments, or via Support.

Download 1.2 (more screenshots)

ScribbleLive Mobile

People (in Hawaii) love their Little League!

Wow, the Waipio Vs. Georgia Game 2 of the Little League World Series Game is on KITV right now, and the traffic going to that page is amazing. Check out this live view of traffic hitting ScribbleLive. Hawaii is making a big dent today ;)

Improving Response Times

Just so you guys know, we really are complete geeks who care about those milliseconds it takes to send a page to you! We have Pingdom monitoring constantly and are doing everything we can to shave off load-time wherever we can.

Here’s the response time for over the past couple of months. I love how you can totally see our point-releases by a major drop in response time (and in one place, an increase — oops!). My personal goal is to get the response times below 50ms across the entire site in the next couple months (I have some more crazy ideas that keep me up at night) ;)

Response times

ScribbleLive + mesh09 = liveblogging BFFs

I’ve been working on an Enterprise liveblogging site for mesh this week and tonight we’re officially opening it up to the public. I’m really digging the green headers ;) Check out the new site at and the announcement on our new company blog!

This will be my third year going to the mesh conference, and I’m not a super fan of most conferences. I’ve been liveblogging mesh since mesh07 when I started a minor flamewar with a music exec :D In a lot of ways, the old-school way I did the liveblogging was one of the catalysts for ScribbleLive. The ScribbleLive Beta was literally launched the night before mesh08 and about 36 hours before the TechCrunch article. I’ll always look back fondly at past mesh conferences and I’m really excited to be an official part of this one.

I’m going to checkout meshU for the first time too, because who am I kidding, I’m a super nerd.

If you’re going (there’s still time to buy tickets), come say hi if you see me around! I’ll be the guy liveblogging the hell out of every session I can with Michael ;)

mesh liveblogging site powered by ScribbleLive

Our database CPU during the iPhone OS 3.0 event today

We’ve spent a lot of time since we launched last Spring improving our software load-handling. To give you an example of how our infrastructure has improved, here are the CPU levels on our primary database server during the iPhone OS 3.0 event today. This liveblog alone was sustaining over a thousand people at a time (remember, those are real-time numbers of visitors, not totals). As you can see, our database rarely got over 2% CPU for all the events running simultaneously this afternoon.

There is lots more we can do to further cache our sites, but for now, I’m happy to report that we are looking very stable under those spiky loads :)

Database CPU

New liveblog translation tools from ScribbleLive

We want to bring together as many people as possible with the liveblogs on ScribbleLive and as such, supporting writers around the world has been our goal since day 1. Now we have taken our on-the-fly translation and extended it to our embeds.

If your site supports many different languages, you can now easily embed the same liveblog and have it translated to any major language. For example, you could be writing in English, but your Spanish visitors could see the liveblog in spanish, your French visitors in french, etc.

It’s as easy as adding ?lang=fr (where “fr” is the shortcode for any language) to the src of our standard iframe embed which looks like this:

For example, the same liveblog in french would be:

Below is an example of the same embed translated into 4 other languages.

We hope you like our new feature and please keep the suggestions coming. Happy liveblogging!


English (?lang=en):

French (?lang=fr):

Spanish (?lang=es):

Russian (?lang=ru):

ScribbleLive Launches New Look, New Features

There’s nothing like a MacWorld in the world of liveblogging. I often tell people that it’s the quintessential example of liveblogging. This January, we wanted to have something special for the users of ScribbleLive. We’ve been working on a major redesign for weeks, and this week we officially go live. This launch brings, not only a new look, but a new set of features and service enhancements.

The first thing you’ll notice is the look-and-feel. Since liveblogs are all about reading, we’ve made everything on our site as easy to read as possible; big, clean fonts everywhere on soft backgrounds. There’s nothing like 80px fonts to enhance readability :) There’s also much more sliding using the library.

We’ve been trying to get a Twitter integration that makes sense for months, and I think we have it now. Not only do we make it really easy to “follow” a Twitter account and pull all their tweets into your liveblog, but we have a new Twitter live-search that will constantly check Twitter for anyone talking about your topic. The tweets will appear right in the sidebar where you can easily pull them in as comments. This provides a never-ending stream of comments for your events. Here’s a video walkthrough of using Twitter in your liveblogs. And of course, you can login to ScribbleLive with your Twitter account.

Another great feature we now have are “sticky” posts. During your liveblog you can click the “stick” button next to any post to pin it at the top of your liveblog. It’s a great way to keep a score or video stream where everyone can see it, or just use it as promotion for your site. We can’t wait to see how people use it and look forward to your feedback. This video walkthrough also shows you how to use sticky posts.

We now support any Flash embed. Just copy-paste the HTML for your embed directly into the input box and we’ll take care of posting it. We always supported YouTube but now you can embed videos from Ustream, Qik, or any other Flash widget. You can even write your own and embed them!

As well as the features you can see, there’s several big changes under-the-hood. We completely changed how live-updates work to use the power of the Amazon cloud products to handle more watchers than ever before. On Tuesday we successfully served up over 11M hits without any performance impact. We don’t just want to be the flashiest live publishing platform out there, we also want to have the most horsepower.

There are many more changes with this launch and the best way to see them all is to try us out! Thanks to everyone who sent us suggestions and please keep them coming. We love to hear what you think.

Happy liveblogging!

Scribblelive screenshot builds liveblogging console for Le Web ’08

Wow, I’m really impressed by what the guys have built to cover Le Web ’08 today. They put the ScribbleLive embed alongside the video stream of the event. It looks great and they have some great running commentary of the event.

Nice job guys! It’s great to see ScribbleLive taking on more of a roll as a platform for liveblogging, a focus we will continue to develop this month with the launch of our whitelabel product and a major redesign. Happy liveblogging!