Your Storify must, well, tell a story. You can’t simply randomly string together bits and pieces of social media. You must present your thoughts in a logical and interesting way. Explain where you are headed with your story. And then find social media examples to illustrate your points.
For the journalism students in our class, this should be like assembly a news story. You need a headline … followed by a summary or lead … transitions from one idea to the next … and an ending.
For non-journalists in our class, think about a report or paper you’ve written for other classes. You need a title … followed by an abstract or introduction (but in Storify, this will be brief — just a sentence or two) … and then logical sections, with an interlude (a transition) between sections.
From the Towson tipsheet: “In fact, the best way to create a good Storify is to start by putting together an outline of what you want to say. Then you can go and find the pieces to support your point. Along the way, you might run into contradictory information or additional ideas you hadn’t thought of. That’s fine – just as in reporting any story, you have to be flexible to deal with new information you discover.”
If you browse the most popular Storifies, you’ll find examples that you can imitate. For instance, here is a good headline, followed by a summary/focus (which in journalism we call a “lead”):
Is the media biased against Mitt Romney? (That’s the headline.)
It was only a matter of time before media bias came to the forefront of the 2012 presidential campaign. The Romney campaign, increasingly indignant over a perceived preference for President Obama, let loose (anonymously of course) in an article for Buzzfeed, reigniting the fight over the media. (That’s the lead.)
Here are six tips from Towson:
1. Write a headline that demonstrates good SEO. Here is a good example from Mother Jones magazine: Hacking For The FBI: A Timeline Of How An Informant Sold Out Anonymous
2. Write a summary of 50 to 100 words to give the reader a fuller idea of what your Storify is about. Here’s an example from Purdue University:
Hundreds of people in the Purdue community gathered at McCutcheon Hall to march to Hovde Hall in memory of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Florida teen that was shot and killed last month.
3. Write a lead. Sometimes, the summary is sufficient without a lead. But in many cases a strong lead will help get your reader interested in your Storify. Here’s an example of the headline, summary and lead working together, from Jake Nelson:
Social Media Keeps Tornado-Stricken Town Connected
Residents of a Michigan town hit by a tornado were able to keep in touch and disseminate information via social networks on Thursday.
When a tornado with wind speeds over 135 mph touched down in the village of Dexter, Michigan, on March 15, 2012, those in the affected area were able to communicate and exchange information about the storm using Twitter and Facebook.
4. Use Storify to find and embed at least 10 pieces of social media (of at least three different types) to tell your story, interspersing your own narrative and hyperlinks along the way. A Storify is NOT just a collection of social media tidbits – it needs to be your own story.
5. When you get to the end, take a moment to wrap up your story. The ending does not have to be a huge production, just something that lets the reader know you’re done. Here’s the ending from the tornado Storify: The storm destroyed more than 100 homes, but thanks to effective tornado warnings, nobody was killed.
6. Review your Storify (checking for spelling, style, etc.), then you can save it and embed it into one of your web pages.