Social media: Contextual help on 24 hour news TV websites

 by Martin Belam, 22 October 2008

Yesterday I was looking at how British newspaper sites provide contextual help around the social bookmarking sites that they link to. I found that The Sun provided a very comprehensive help guide, but aside from The Independent, and some 'mouse-over tool tips' from The Guardian, nobody else did.

Social Media Icons

As part of my recent social media study I also looked at a selection of 24 hour news television channels, to see if they provided bookmarking links. Today I wanted to look at the contextual help that the BBC, Sky News, CNN, Al Jazeera, France 24 and Russia Today provide.

BBC News

At the foot of all BBC News stories there is a prominent 'what are these?' text link, which takes the user to a separate help page specifically about social media. It describes them thus:

"These sites allow you to store, tag and share links across the internet. You can share these links both with friends and people with similar interests. You can also access your links from any computer you happen to be using."

The page carries a link to a Wikipedia article on social bookmarking, and then has 'registration' and 'about page' links for each of the services that the BBC site links to.

Sky News

Sky News also has some help content for social media users, although it is not as obviously positioned as the BBC's. Users access Sky's social bookmark icons via a text link labeled 'Bookmark tools'.

Sky's story footer linking tools

This opens up an overlay with a selection of buttons, and in the top right-hand corner there is a help 'question mark' icon which launches some pop-up information about social bookmarking.

Sky News share icons

The copy of the Sky News help text appears to tail off into the ether though...

"You can add this story to your favourites or submit it to a social bookmarking site so other people can see it.

Social bookmarking lets you save"
Sky social meda help pop-up

Although the link is harder to find, I must say that I prefer the Sky News approach of providing the help information in context, rather than taking the user to an entirely separate URL like the BBC.

CNN, Al Jazeera, France 24 and Russia Today

None of the other 24 hours news channels in my study carried any contextual help alongside their share icons.

CNN's expanding panel just has the instructions 'Share this on...'

CNN share panel

France 24 has bookmarking underneath each story alongside the links to submit comments and save the page as HTML.

France 24 share icons

Al Jazeera, in English, has share options in the right-hand navigation of each article. These are provided by and unfold on demand. There is no link to any help content beyond the homepage.

Al Jazeera share options

Rather than a range of social media icons, Russia Today only carries one text link to Delicious. There is no supporting 'help' content for the link.

Russia Today's social media link to Delicious


Tomorrow I'll be looking at which American newspaper websites provide contextual help alongside their social bookmarking links.

1 Comment

I believe that social bookmarking is something that will only grow in size as time goes on.

More and more people are becoming aware of it, and even larger companies are starting to utilize it now.

Keep up to date on my new blog