Today we’ve rolled out some new features on NPR.org in support of our social media efforts. Among the changes we’ve implemented:
Better Facebook and Twitter sharing tools. We are using a modified version of Twitter’s retweet button and Facebook's sharing tools, incorporating them into our site design, and displaying them prominently on our story pages to make them easier to find. We also created some queries to track how often a story has been shared so we can display that number next to the Twitter and Facebook buttons.
There are still some quirks in that system – please let us know if you see something odd - but we think we have it working pretty well. Some of you using Twitter clients such as Tweetdeck for your Twitter browsing, though, might see our URLs displayed using Twitter’s t.co URL shortener rather than our n.pr shortener. It seems Twitter is overriding our shortener with theirs, and we’re hoping we can fix that in the future.
Our new NPR Social Media page. The goal of this page, which replaces the page previously known as NPR Community, is to act as a dashboard of NPR’s ongoing social media activities. The page highlights recent tweets from NPR staff and programs, plus the latest videos from our YouTube accounts. We also highlight the latest user-generated photos sent to our various Flickr groups, and an updated list of which NPR story-related tweets have gone out in the past 24 hours.
One thing that’s currently missing from the new social media page, though, is a list of NPR stories that have been shared the most on Facebook. You may remember from our recent Facebook survey that our FB users were very vocal about the downsides of Facebook's Open Graph options, where a Facebook widget would auto-detect whether you are logged in to Facebook and surfaces information about what your friends have shared on Facebook, all without your explicit permission. Two-thirds of survey respondents said they didn't want to see on NPR.org what stories their Facebook friends were sharing, and among those who did, two-thirds of them want us to use an opt-in option.
We have been researching how to display the most shared stories on Facebook without the personalized data, as well as making personalization opt-in. Unfortunately there isn't a standard Facebook tool for doing either of these things. We can code a custom solution, but we didn't have bandwidth to do that in this development cycle, so please keep an eye on that for the future.