I did a workshop/presentation for Globe and Mail reporters about Facebook this week, and I’ve embedded a version of the PowerPoint here (it’s on Slideshare too if you want to view it there). It’s not very long, nor does it go into a lot of depth about the various issues that can arise when you use — or misuse — Facebook. It was really just an introduction to the topic, and an attempt to explain how we can use this massive social network for two broad purposes: 1) to allow us to find information, and also to reach out to people who might be involved in stories we are writing about and 2) to allow fans of our content to share, and thus to help promote, our news stories and content (the embedded presentation is actually even shorter than the one I gave at the workshop, because I removed a few slides that had proprietary numbers related to Globe traffic, Facebook metrics, etc.)
The basic impression I wanted to give reporters on the first point was that Facebook is a huge network filled with actual human beings, some of whom may want to help us with our reporting on a story, and/or talk to us about their experiences — which can improve our journalism, and help us fulfill our goal of making contact with real people, not just ones who work for advocacy groups or happen to live next door to a reporter. I tried to emphasize that it’s important to be polite when approaching people about a news event — in other words, to be human — rather than barging in with a microphone in hand, hassling people for a quote, and I also tried to make the point that simply becoming a member of a group doesn’t mean a person is deeply committed to a particular cause, since joining just takes a click.
On the second point, I talked about how we are using our newly-created fan page (which is here if you aren’t already a fan), and how the act of clicking “share” or “comment” or “like” effectively distributes that item — or a reference to it — into the user’s feed, where it can be seen by all of their friends, who might be exposed to a story that they wouldn’t otherwise read. And I also talked about how we are looking at integrating Facebook Connect so that users can connect their activity on the Globe and Mail website to their profile in Facebook, and so that theoretically we might be able to offer some of the same features that Huffington Post does, where readers can see what their Facebook friends have been reading.