Tok about some news… some more ch-ch-ch-changes


As you may have noticed, I have not written here in a while. I dropped off the radar a bit because of a new job opportunity, in addition to the Post. I started working as a content editor for Tok Social News Network, a venture capital-backed start-up that facilitates online discussions in a more visual, networked, and intelligent manner.

The comments platform is really cool, one of these things you’re surprised wasn’t thought of years ago. Rather than looking through tons of annoying, vertical comments on an article, the platform easily shows you who’s “tokking” and how folks weigh in on a topic. Because people sign in using Facebook, the participants are also much more respectful than the nightmares of most online comment sections.

For example, this Tok question is embedded within a news article:


And this is Tok’s Facebook application, a go-to for hot button news discussions on a daily basis.

Tok FB

It feels like a new media job. Rather than writing 1,000-word features, or choosing the layout of a monthly or weekly magazine, I’m mulling through the biggest stories on the web on a daily basis. I have to write pithy 80-character social media questions and 160-character discussion starters that provoke the most discussion possible. One of the biggest challenges is choosing the voting buttons, which need to elegantly partition the audience into camps on any issue – rarely just yes and no. Politics, guns, abortion, religion, sex, drugs…I get to write about all the fun stuff.

Up until now, I’ve been trying to develop areas of journalistic expertise, such as reporting on Israeli start-ups, social issues, etc. But at Tok, I help choose the most interesting stories to write about on Facebook from everywhere in the world. It’s a breath of fresh air and nicely complements my longer form magazine work.

How does all this affect my blog, you might be wondering (probably not, but it’s about the best way I can transition into this paragraph, 🙂 )? For example, I may bring the whole “Rating the news” section of this blog back from the dead, especially now that I’m reading so much news all the time. We’ll see…now that the cat is out of the bag, you can expect to hear from me more. Take care for now!

The Atlantic story in photos


The more I write, especially when using social media, the more I realize how much more people respond to pictures than text. For example this photo that I posted on Facebook, which shows my Atlantic article on the front page of the Atlantic’s global section, elicited more likes than when I simply linked people to the article:

It makes sense: the article’s super long, and folks can’t “like” the article without reading it first. Likes are easier to garner for statuses people can instantly support.

In any case, it’s been a nice last couple of days professionally (minus the horrible news of the Zimmerman trial). I want to thank you, my loyal readers, for being there for me. Many of you have helped me along the way, and are helping me get the word out about this article (hint hint: share, comment, and like away!). Your interest in my work means a lot to me.

To close things, here’s a sweet photo from my parents. They took a photo of their iPad, where my article ranked first in the global section yesterday:

View from iPad of Atlantic's global section, 7/13/13. My article's at the top!

View from iPad of Atlantic’s global section, 7/13/13.                                 My article’s at the top!

Photos and social media


I suppose this should come as no surprise, but images seem to be way more popular on social media than text. Whenever I post a photo of somewhere I’ve been, or just a photo of an article I’ve written, I get a whole lot more “likes” than my regular, text-oriented posts.

For example I posted this photo, and it got a whole bunch of likes. It was just three words: “Old City spice.” I saw this impressive castle of spices while walking through the old city in Jerusalem and took a photo of it:

2013-04-13 14.42.03


Photos help make a message shorter: as they say, a picture is worth a 1,000 words. So photos greatly aid social media because people like messages that are easy to absorb within the status update itself. If someone can understand something and like something within one or two sentences, that’ll produce way more likes than a lengthier post, or a post that links to content the reader must consume. This is why social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest have become so popular.

I’m going to admit that I’m not great with social media. Does anyone have tips for how to maximize social media’s impact, especially for those of us who are writers?