sharing what we learn in the social space.

mel and wright

PLUCKING OUT A QUOTE OR FACT CAN BE THE BASIS FOR A BLOG POST: Former Kroc Fellow Alan Yu writes: “I read Gizmodo regularly and I came across this post, which is pretty much just one line from an interview on Fresh Air. I thought it was nice that the blogger just pull one fact out of a story and made it a separate post, kind of like what I remember you said you’re trying to do with Snapchat. I imagine it’s also driving traffic back to the NPR site as well.”


PEOPLE LISTENING TO THE SAME PIECES ON SPOTIFY AT THE SAME TIME ARE NOW ON A MAP: Map.  (Brainstorm: Could we do this for radio stories? There’s a social element there if you can chat or talk with people listening to the same pieces at the same time you are.)

ADDING SOUNDS TO GOOGLE STREET VIEW: ProjectCode  (Another interesting thought: what happens when you add geographic metadata to audio, particularly for mobile audiences?)

NEED AN EASY WAY TO SORT THROUGH ALL OF THE LINKS YOUR FRIENDS SEND ON TWITTER? Vellum is a reading layer for your Twitter feed, created by the NYTimes R&D dept. 

See something? Let us know!

Hello everyone,

Three quick bits:

1. A heartbreaking photo by David Gilkey from Liberia shows a 10-year-old suspected to have Ebola (full story here)

2. Doing a lazy stroll around Facebook on Sunday night when I noticed the NYTimes had posted this piece from 2013. I had remembered it doing really, really well in 2013 and it appears like it also did really well for them this year. What this means: You can repost things from the archives or things that are relevant from the archives (for example, we updated and reposted an explainer from 2007 of the Sunni-Shia split earlier this year. There’s no reason why you can’t repost things from the archives on social. (Caveat: it’s best not to post the same story twice in one week or month. But pulling things from a year ago or six months ago is totally fine, if relevant or evergreen.)

3. How to Reach Generation Z: “More than 25% of 13- to 17-year-olds left Facebook in 2013. Instead, Gen Z favors SnapchatWhisper and Secret — ephemeral and visually engaging platforms that cater to the youngsters’ eight-second attention span.”

4. Need story ideas? Want to know what people are curious about? Three million people are members of Explain it Like I’m 5  a community on Reddit where people can ask questions (and receive answers in easy-to-digest bits.) You can search for any subject area like this. (Yes, this is from the Social Sandbox archive.)


Thank you so much for inviting me to speak. I’m having a ball in Cleveland.

Today I will be talking about what public media could look like if we thought about membership differently — and offered a way for creative people to become members through an investment of time or resources. 

My entire speech is here and my slides are here. (Here’s a combined version on Medium.) 

Here’s some code I wrote (which was made much more efficient by Jeremy Bowers) to make a bookmarklet to add Google Analytics tracking codes to your URLs. (Are you on Github? Add me as a friend!)

Here’s some code I wrote that takes two separate CSV files and smashes them together, based on common keywords. (I’m a relatively new coder, so if you can improve this, please let me know!! And if you want to learn to code, this lesson database, developed by Shannon Turner, is a GREAT place to start.)

And here’s some code that I developed with Danny DeBelius and the NPR Viz team to make visualizations out of quotes or facts. 

Confused? You can see how we use it here. (There are also other tips for getting a lot of bang for your buck, engagement wise.) 

Want to see more? Every single internal tip and trick is here, under the keyword socialsandbox. Want to know about a specific platform? Replace the word socialsandbox in that URL with any keyword — for example, Twitter. We also tweet with the hashtag #socialsandbox.

Thanks for having me! I’m pretty nervous about public speaking but meeting you all over the past two days has made me much more comfortable!

(If you come to DC, I’m a certified tour guide for NPR and would be happy to take you around!)


Hello, everyone! (And happy Friday.)

ICYMI, we hosted four Reddit AMAs with NPR people this week! If you didn’t get a chance to take a look, you can find them here:

As we’ve mentioned previously, we’re continually impressed with the quality of questions Redditors bring to these discussions. Our hosts are also very skilled at responding knowledgeably and with a friendly tone. They even throw in some occasional humor

Mel noted Tom’s AMA in this morning’s Social Sandbox:

"Tom found an existing community of people who like classical music and entered their space in a polite, respectful way. (We asked the moderators if we could do the chat. Had they said no, we wouldn’t have conducted the chat.)"

Entering existing communities creates an opportunity to reach a more specific audience, and it allows NPR people to host AMAs without over-saturating the /r/IAmA subreddit.

If you’re interested, you can learn more about our Reddit adventures here. And if you’d like to host a Reddit AMA, let us know.

– Alexander