As 2014 Begins, Talk of the Sound Increases Social Media Integration

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Screen Shot 2014 01 04 at 1 28 21 PMReaders may have noticed an increased integration of social media services on Talk of the Sound over the past few weeks.

I want to address this so folks understand what's going on.

Back in 2008, when this site was launched, the hope was that New Rochelle residents would leverage Talk of the Sound as a platform to share with other residents what was going on in their corner of New Rochelle as well as any concerns or issues or praise they might care to share with the community. This was the reason the site was named "TALK of the Sound". My hope was that as editor I would be "curating" what everyone else had to say and not actually producing a lot of the content on Talk of the Sound.

What I found back then that while the circles I moved in -- journalism and new media folks -- were fully aware of social media services few in New Rochelle were. The result was that it was difficult to even find people willing and able to write their own stories and publish online let along get them into Talk of the Sound.

Over the past five years that has changed - for the better.

A large number of New Rochelleans are now active on Facebook -- sharing stories, championing causes, displaying photos and videos and so on. While that has dramatically increased the volume of content and the number of content producers in New Rochelle, it is limited due to restrictions on Facebook which operates as a "walled garden" in which a lot of what gets produced is confined to Facebook. And Facebook corporate does not make it easy to share Facebook content outside of Facebook (that's their business model). So, the good news is more people publishing text, photos and videos; the bad news is that not a lot is scene beyond a small subset of "Facebook Friends".

Other services are better in this regard.

I have been using Flickr from the beginning to display slideshows and a "badge" of most recent photos on the home page.

Twitter is popular now and very popular among teens and young adults in our area so that students from New Rochelle High School, Iona College and Monroe College are actively "tweeting" news, opinions, photos and videos.

NewImageInstagram, acquired by Facebook, is somewhat active in our area.

Their are other services like FourSquare, Yelp, etc. that are more location services and not as interesting for what I am trying to do with social media.

So what is that?

My goal is to give New Rochelleans as wide a view possible, through brief glimpses in the form of self-published text, photos and videos as to how others in New Rochelle are living their life and what they think. That means Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Flickr, etc.

I have tried a few different ways of doing this, none satisfying and all acquiring a lot of extra work on my part.

NewImageEnter Storify.com.

This is a service that allow a user like me to integrate content from lots of different social media services -- Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr, Google News and specific topics or links, even from my own stories on Talk of the Sound.

It can be searched on my user, hashtag, keyword, location and more -- depending on the service.

Using Storify, it is much simpler to "curate" online content from these and other services and tell a "story" around a particular topic such a local team game, or an event like the recent New Year's Eve celebrations or the recent snow storm:

New Rochelle Snowstorm 2014 - 1, #Hercules #NewRo

How New Rochelle Rang in the New Year #NYE #NewRo #Instagram

Clarkstown South Downs New Rochelle in Nail-biter, 64-63

Iona WBB Comes From Behind For 69-57 Win At Canisius

Complementing this, I am using geolocation searches where possible. Twitter and Instagram are often used by people on their smart phones and, if they choose to allow it, those services capture relatively precise coordinates or where the person was when they published a tweet/photo. By searching "nearby" in Twitter and Instagram, I can view tweets and photos from the area about 10 km around me at any given time -- meaning mostly New Rochelle but possible towns on the border of New Rochelle. This is not always entirely reliable because someone might take a photo one day outside New Rochelle and tweet or instagram it another day while they are in New Rochelle.

Two of the coolest photos I found through geolocation search was...

...a burlesque performer sitting in a bar car on the Amtrak as she passed through on her way from New York to Boston...

...and a person who was flying into LaGuardia and took a photo out the window as they flew over New Rochelle.

I have always been using geolocation search to read tweets from users I would not be likely to follow -- kids from NRHS, students at Iona College, etc. From this, however, I have found and shared amusing or interesting tweets such as high school students collectively complaining how their school was not closed during a December snow storm or Iona students commiserating about finals week. From this I found a few interesting voices, more on that below.

To augment all this, I am tweeting a lot more. Pretty much what I can find that is news and information from New Rochelle and some from Westchester County and a bit from New York State. So, you will see more from the Westchester County Board of Legislators, the County Government, Rob Astorino, Mario Cuomo, etc. I hope to use this to promote those from New Rochelle who tweet, especially public figures.

There are quite a few that have Twitter accounts but do not tweet much or hardly at all (Barry Fertel @BarryFertel‏ or ‏@bfertel, Martin Daly ‏@marty10707, Tim Idoni @TimIdoni, David Lacher ‏@LacherLaw, Byron Gray @byrongraylocal2, Marc Jerome ‏ @marcmjerome, Haina Just-Michael @justhaina, Ivar Hyden @IvarHyden, Jeffrey Hastie ‏@jhastie963, and Pamela Davis Pamela Davis, etc.)

There are others who tweet often but mostly promotional stuff (Noam Bramson ‏@NoamBramson, Dr. Joseph E. Nyre ‏@ICPres_DrNyre, Rob Astorino @RobAstorino, etc.)

There are promising ones that are locked (private) (Lou DiRienzo ‏@NewRoFootball, Rachel Relkin @RRelkin)

And then there are those who genuinely tweet, the best examples being Jared Rice @CouncilmanRice and Jim Maisano @JimMaisano. These two elected officials are role-models for all other public figures in New Rochelle -- they tweet issues, share links but also engage followers and share what is going on with them personally. In short, they are showing the others "how it is done".

My hope is to see all of the half-hearted Twitter users listed above get more active and those not on their at all get on (Al Tarantino, Deidre Polow, Ron Tocci, Shari Rackman, Greg Varian, Chuck Strome, etc.

Many local organizations and businesses actively tweet (SmokeHouse Grill ‏@SmokeHouseChili, Iona Athletics @ICGaels, New Rochelle School District @NewRoSchools, City of New Rochelle @NewRochelleNY, etc.).

And of course there are news outlets like lohud.com @LoHud, News 12 Westchester @News12WC, New Rochelle Patch ‏@NewRoPatch, New Rochelle Daily Voice @NewRochelleDV, Westchester County Business Journal @WCBJonline, etc.

There are some individuals out there I have selected who either have a unique local voice (Kate Kessler @_kate_kessler_, Tash Shante Waller @Tash_2clapps, Serg Rangel @SergRangel, Iona Probs @iona_probs) or have taken it upon themselves to report on particular topics (Huguenot Hockey @NewRoHockey, eyeonnewroc ‏@eyeonnewroc, and Sara Caldwell @SaraBCaldwell).

There also celebrities of various rank in or from New Rochelle, known primarily outside of New Rochelle including sports stars from the NHL - Kevin Shattenkirk @shattdeuces, MLB - Tom Koehler @tkrefresh22, NFL - Ray Rice ‏@RayRice27 and Courtney Greene (former) @MrGrEeNe36 and Pro Basketball - Scott Machado @_ScottMachado. Also, musicians such as Willie Colón ‏@williecolon and Wynton Marsalis @wyntonmarsalis, chefs such as Chef Bill Rosenberg @ChefBillyR, writers such as Jeff Pearlman @jeffpearlman and broadcasters such as Vin Parise @VinParise and Tony Aiello ‏@AielloWCBSWLNY. These folks do not tweet about New Rochelle very often, if ever, but we monitor them just in case.

To further this, I have expanded the Talk of the Sound Twitter account displayed on the home page in the right rail so it serves as a combination news-ticker and water cooler for New Rochelle.

If you have a smart phone but do not have a Twitter account you are missing out. It would be great if more people would Tweet but Twitter is not just about writing your own comments but consuming news and information.

Dave Parrack wrote a good article on 7 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Twitter. Hopefully, Talk of the Sound is one more because you can "follow" us on Twitter and get lots of news, information and comments about New Rochelle all in one place.

If you do not have Twitter yet but want to give a try sign up here.

If you have Twitter (or get it from the above link) please follow Talk of the Sound. You can do that here.

Since making this push into more user-generated social media content, I am nearing a nice milestone with Twitter -- 1,000 followers - so if you follow me now you can help push me over the top (at 845 now).

Screen Shot 2014 01 04 at 1 19 37 PM

So that about sums about what I am trying to accomplish here.

I am very interested in any feedback especially on Twitter accounts I should follow, other sources of user-generated content, or generally how I can do a better job getting more of New Rochelle residents own photos, video and text into Talk of the Sound so that it reflect what is happening in New Rochelle as much as possible.

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