During the past few years, we've partnered with a number of news organizations. Here are the 10 things they commonly misunderstand about NewsCloud. Note: #10 is actually the most important.
1) You can use NewsCloud to host a virtual town hall, fostering community and engagement between readers. Our interactive features let your audience participate in new ways. Our Facebook Connect support connects readers with their real names and faces, fostering a more civil environment. Host your community's online hub before someone else does.
2) You can use NewsCloud to enhance and expand your storytelling. Our crowdsourcing features let participants contribute to your reporting or add value after publication. Your readers want to engage beyond the comment thread, there's a lot to gain by empowering them.
3) You can use NewsCloud to run community sites for columnists or show personalities, for topics such as sports or for beat reporting or for targeting specific demographics such as young people or college communities. However, the more vertically you segment your community - the more you'll need to pay attention to #10 below.
4) You can monetize your NewsCloud community with advertisements from your own ad services. And, you can integrate your favorite analytics/statistics engine e.g. Google Analytics or Overture in order to integrate activity from your community application into your overall web metrics. You fully own your site, not NewsCloud. So, you get to keep all the revenue. That's different than Facebook pages where Facebook gets to keep all the revenue it makes from your content. We also provide support for Outbrain and TrafficSpaces.
5. NewsCloud's software elevates your audience from reader to participant and community member. User generated content provides a new source of page views and serves as an ear to the ground for valuable story leads. Our integration with Facebook and Twitter lead to more viral sharing and helps you expand your audience.
6. NewsCloud's feature set includes unique Facebook-integrated classifieds which include a lending library for community members to share physical goods like DVDs and household items. In addition to user blogs, discussion forums and photo and video galleries, we've even got a news predictions game. Our optional email notifications keep participants engaged in the conversation.
7. Facebook pages are a great way to drive discussions off sites you own and onto Facebook. The best way to use your Facebook page is to link to activity pages on your NewsCloud application.
8. Newsroom staff need to participate in your community, helping curate content and occasionally interacting directly with readers. They should also be trained in using NewsCloud features to expand their storytelling. While high levels of marketing can seed a community without participation by newsroom personalities, you'll see increased levels of loyalty and satisfaction if your team engages directly in the community. You'll also see benefits from interacting with readers publicly through the community which aren't as easy to do through traditional website comment threads and personal off-site emails.
9. NewsCloud is available for free as open source software. It's funded by the Knight Foundation through April 2012. It can be installed in just a few steps by most software developers. You can also contact NewsCloud to manage it for you.
10. Promotion Promotion Promotion. The most important thing to know is that you absolutely must actively promote your NewsCloud site from your website if you want your community to grow. You'll need prominent navigational links to your NewsCloud site and features. You'll also need to regularly showcase headlines and features from your NewsCloud site on the front page of your web site. It's best if your NewsCloud site is included in all of your outreach e.g. print, email, web, etc. This is especially important at the beginning when you are seeding your community ... but this is always a best practice. While you may initially hesitate directing traffic from your primary web site to your NewsCloud community site, over time you will see a net increase in page views and activity. And, remember, you fully own your new community site and will realize all the financial rewards from its growth.