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Storify helps you engage visitors by making it easy to post more often

One important element in building an audience is to post a steady flow of quality content. But how can you keep up a steady flow of posts when time is tight?


One answer is Storify, which we already highlighted as one of our 5 Cool Tools. As the video above shows, Storify makes it incredibly easy to create and post a coherent story in only a few minutes.

Here are three examples that demonstrate what Storify can do for you:


#1: CROWDSOURCING FOR COMMENTARY – A couple months ago, I launched MI Marijuana News as the go-to place for news related the marijuana industry in Michigan. I am just beginning to cultivate sources, so imagine how unhappy I was last Monday morning to find that 22 marijuana growers in four counties had been raided yet I knew next to nothing. I was able to assemble a short news story from existing reporting, all of which appeared to be based on a Michigan State Police news release that I never received.

Two days later, I wanted to provide some meaningful reporting, but law enforcement was tight-lipped. Nobody was talking. By using Storify to scour Twitter, I was able to post a short article comprised of tweets from people to show that we were still on the case. My only original contribution was to write the connective tissue, the five text blocks that tie the tweets and the image together into a narrative. You can also paste a link to a news article in the Storify box under the hyperlink icon, and it will turn that article into an attractive curation you can drag and drop into your Storify.

[View the story “Medical marijuana fight in MI heats up” on Storify] or view the Storify embedded on MI Marijuana News


#2: EXTEND YOUR VISUAL REACH – The easy access to Flickr made it possible for ABC News (the Australian Broadcast Corp.) to pull together a stunning collectionon the b of images to commemorate the coldest day on record ever in Tasmania. Even though Tasmania is relatively small and ABC has significant resources, there was simply no way they had the time or money to send great photographers across the country to capture historic images.
[View the story “Icy blast hits Tasmania” on Storify]


#3 – LET OTHERS HELP YOU FIND THE BEST STUFF – Not only does Storify help you borrow content from people on social media, the Storify interface makes it easy to archive and use elements included in Storify posts – in essence, you can let other Storify users do some of your spade work for you.

Once you have a Storify account, you can save elements of stories you view on the Storify site to your private account or to your own Storify articles with just one click. If you find an appealing element in a Storify post, you can click on the + on the lower-right edge of any element and a popup window will give you the option to archive the item for your own use. The interface gives you the choice between archiving it in your private account or placing it directly into one of your Storify posts.

For example, maybe you want to do something timely on the deliberations surrounding the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman murder trial. There are a gazillion tweets out there, and you don’t have the time to sift through them all. Since BET is using Storify to share information with its viewers, you can check out a relevant post, knowing that they will work hard to locate the best tweets. As the link below shows, BET can help you find the perfect tweet in record time.

[View the story “Trayvon Martin” on /George Zimmerman Verdict]

Bucqueroux: 5 Cool Tools for Your Blog or News Site

We all know the virtues (and drawbacks) of cool tools such as WordPress.org and .com, YouTube and Flickr. But there are a raft of lesser-known gidgets that can do miracles or come close to it.

My basic rule of thumb is that I want any tool to be free (or at least affordable) and also relatively glitch-free and easy to master. My third requirement is that I want some assurance the organization involved won’t disappear, especially if they are hosting my efforts and therefore might take all my hard work with them and leave me hanging.

Using those criteria, please consider experimenting with these gems:

  • Scribd.com (see sample below) – People hate clicking away to view slow-loading PDF files. Scribd instead allows you to display PDF and ePub documents in a scrollable frame embedded directly in your page or post. Once you register, you can upload any document for which you own the copyright or which is in the public domain. Scribd generates an HTML embed code for you and also hosts the document for you on its site. Scribd prompts you to describe and tag your posts. That can be frustrating when you are in hurry but spending the time to tag always pays off. I also recommend searching the site first to see if someone else has already uploaded your document. You may also find other documents that others have contributed that might make sense for your site. (Note to WordPress users: Don’t take the first embed code you see. Go to the final place where your document is posted, click on the Embed icon at the top and look for the WordPress link on the popup screen. The WordPress-friendly code is much shorter. Paste it into you post using the Text, not Visual, view.)
    • Ease of Use: 5 of 5 (simple and reliable)
    • Cost: Free
  • TimelineJS – One of the things that the mainstream media often does poorly is provide people the background and context they need to understand complex or longstanding issues. Timelines are a great way to offer people a visually engaging history lesson. TimelineJS creates stunning multimedia timelines in which you can embed images, videos and documents, working directly in a Google-based template (created by Zack Wise). My only concern is that the template is stored on the Verite website, not yours, so you must depend on their site staying online. Michigan Radio used the tool to create a comprehensive timeline on the events since passage of Michigan’s medical marijuana law in 2008. (Click here to view the MR timeline.
    • Ease of Use: 3 of 5 (the tool is reliable and straightforward but it takes time to learn)
    • Cost: Free
  • Storify – Want a quick way to assemble a story based on breaking news? Storify is an amazing tool that lets you mix your own original material (text, images, etc.) with social media material generated by others, from YouTubes to tweets. Assemble your article from these various options and Storify provides you an embed code for your site, as well as displaying your Storify on their site. This Storify of Buttercup, the duck with the 3-D-printed prosthetic foot, highlights the virtues of the approach. Text, images, YouTubes, tweets. The whole ends up being much more than the sum of its parts.
    • Ease of Use: 4 of 5 (an intuitive tool that is constantly being improved)
    • Cost: Free
  • Soundslides – A slideshow of images set to music is great way to tell a visual story. (This presentation was assembled from images I took at a local parade, set to music written and performed by my husband and his band.) Soundslides is software that you install on your hard drive. Once installed, you are greeted with two buttons – one to upload your JPEGs and the other your music file (MP3s work great). You can upload as many images as you want, but Soundslides says the optimization works best up to 200 images. Depending on the version, you may be able to create a show without a music file. The program adds an auto-dissolve between the images, and you can adjust the pacing of the show by adding or subtracting images or changing the length of the song. You can caption the images, add a headline and insert credits. To use the show on your site, you must be able to upload or FTP the exported files to your server. (Note to WordPress Users: This link takes you to a Soundslide WordPress Utility that generates HTML you can paste into a WordPress post. This is what the same parade slideshow above looks like when using this utility.)
  • Ustream.tv – The opportunity to do a free, live webcast once a week – if only for 10 minutes – is irresistible. Bill Castanier and I do a weekly hour-ling radio show on the local community college station (LCC Radio WLNZ 89.7 in Lansing, MI). We also do a simultaneous live webcast through the Ustream.tv site and also through an embed on our Lansing Online News site. LON is our experiment in citizen journalism. The free version also allows us to archive a number of our shows on the Ustream.tv site. When we get too close to capacity for the free version, I go into our stack of videos and use the simple “Upload to YouTube” option to archive copies there. While Livestream and the new live YouTube (through a Google+ hangout) have their own virtues, I like what Ustream.tv gives me for free, including the downloadable Producer software that makes it incredibly easy to broadcast and record shows. I would recommend buying the Logitech Pro 9000 Business Webcam. It runs off your USB and offers incredible quality. It has a stabilizer function that is amazing at the current $89.95 price.
    • Ease of Use: 4 of 5 (remember to download and use the Producer software – it makes life easy)
    • Cost: Free. The paid version offers things I drool over, such as multiple cameras, but the free version also allows people to comment on the site through social media.

Sample Scribd.com