We love Facebook. Not only is a fun social site, but it’s a great place to connect with Helium members, share news, promotions, create stories together and keep in touch. So last week we sent out an email to many Helium writers encouraging them to like our Facebook page.

The response was wonderful! Not only did we get more than 700 new people to like the page, we LOVED the amazing comments, feedback and helpful advice members posted on the page.

Our email requested people like the page for a chance to win a $10 assignment. We said we’d raffle off one $10 assignment for every 1,000 new fans of the page. We did break the 2,000 “likes” mark and could have awarded one $10 assignment to a fan. Instead, we thought it would be much more fun to award seven $10 assignments for every 100 new “likes.”

The winners are:

Regine Reviere

Dayna Rutherford

Brian Keith Compton

Ernest Smartt

Cyn Lee

Carolina Dream Coy

Joseph B. Arrington

Congratulations to all! We’ll be in touch via the Helium inbox to coordinate assigning you a great title!

We’re almost to 1,000 fans on Helium’s Facebook page. To celebrate this milestone we’ll be raffling off a Helium goodies prize pack that includes a Helium T-shirt, pen, sticker and more!

“Like” the page to be in the running for this gift pack.

Thanks to everyone who has already liked the page. We’ve had such wonderful interactions with Helium writers already and can’t wait for more writers to join the conversation, share their articles and have fun!

As part of our upcoming release on Monday, Helium will get more social! We’ve cleaned up the social media sharing icons at the top of each article page and included the Google +1 button.

We’ve also created an action bar that moves as you scroll down the page. This bar includes social buttons for Facebook, Twitter and Google +1. You can even click “hide” if you want the toolbar to be hidden. When logged in as Helium writer, you will also have additional tools in the action bar. They include “Article Tools,” “Print article” and the “Write now” button.

It’s important to note that the “Write now” button will no longer be at the top of the article. It will now be housed in this action bar.

If you’re not logged in to Helium, the action bar will look a little different. It will not include the “Write now” button, and it will not include “Article Tools.” This creates a cleaner and more user-friendly presentation for readers of the site.

Earnings & Payments changes

We’re also adding a new feature to Earnings & Payments for all writers. Writers will be able to download an Excel spreadsheet listing their earnings on every article they’ve written on Helium (up to 1,500 articles). Now you can clearly see how much each article has earned, making it easier to see which articles have been more successful and which ones need some editing, or some promotion.

Helium CEO Mark Ranalli, left, RR Donnelley EVP Ann Marie Bushell, and Helium IT Manager Rich Rosenzweig show off the celebratory cake.

After yesterday’s exciting announcement that RR Donnelley had purchased Helium, Ann Marie Bushell, EVP of marketing at RR Donnelley, came to Andover today to meet the Helium team. There were introductions and a Q&A, and we learned a lot about the company and the great opportunities ahead for Helium and our writers. And what celebration would be complete without lots of delicious cake? In fact, we might just have to take a break to eat more cake soon!

Become a subject-matter expert, show off your expertise, and get rewarded! As part of our release this week, Helium laid the foundation for new Writer Quality Groups.

Every night we run an algorithm that determines the writing quality of your articles. We then calculate which writers fall into the top 10 percent based on those quality ratings and place them in a Senior Writer group for that leaf channel. So, say you know a ton about cameras and love to write about them. If your camera articles show expertise and quality writing skills, you could end up in the 10 percent of writers in the camera channel — you are now a part of the “Consumer Electronics – Cameras Senior Writer” group.

Some Helium writers will notice they were added to Senior Writer groups today. Others will see it happening over the course of time — we run the process nightly to determine who has qualified for the groups.

What if I wasn’t added to the Senior Writer groups in my favorite channels?

Don’t worry! You can:

1. Working on improving your writing (we have lots of helpful posts here in the Helium blog!)

2. Write some new articles to those channels

3. Take advantage of leapfrogging

Every time you write a new article or leapfrog an old one it goes back into the pool to be rated, giving you more chances to advance to a Senior Writer group.

Why Senior Writer groups?

By creating Senior Writer groups, we can now target titles to those writers. These assignments will show up in the “restricted” assignments tab. We’re posting the first batch of targeted titles tonight. If you don’t get one, keep checking back because we’ll be targeting different groups every day.

Or, better yet, use our new Notifications feature to sign up for text alerts for the groups you really care about! Just go to your Account Settings and go to the Notifications tab.

If you do happen to drop out of the 10 percent of writers to a channel through rating cycles, don’t worry, we won’t remove you from the Senior Writer group.

Why am I part of the Baking Senior Writer group?

You may see some you’ve been added to some groups where you did not write much to the channel, but you wrote well. This process is not interested in quantity — it’s interested in quality. We can’t go into depth about how the ranking works, but I can assure you that if you got assigned to the group, you were in the top 10 percent in our quality ranking. So even if you wrote hundreds of articles to a leaf and half of them rated well, if you were in the top 12 percent but not the top 10 percent, you wouldn’t be in the group.

The Creative Writing channel has not been included. Creative Writing is a slightly different beast. It’s not that we don’t love it, but it’s more esoteric than knowledge writing. We are not trying to downplay Creative Writing; rather, we’re trying to recognize the difference between it and everything else.

How can I find out what Senior Writer groups I’ve been added to?

Go to your Notifications tab on your Account Settings page. It’s after Contact Info, Pen Name, Charity, etc. Not only can you sign up here to get text messages to your cell phone, but you can also see which writing groups you are a part of.

You don’t need to have a smartphone. Any cell phone that allows you to receive text messages works! If you do have a smartphone, you can go to HeliumNetwork Mobile on your smartphone browser, click on the Restricted button and accept your assignment right from your phone.

Start getting targeted assignments today by writing high-quality articles to any leaf channel. Need more motivation? Take advantage of our 10 Squared promotion!

Helium now offers members the option to receive SMS notifications (better known as text messages) about new available writing assignments. If you’re a member of any writing groups on Helium you can choose to receive text message alerts about new assignments that have been uploaded to the assignment system for groups you are a part of!

For example, say you’re a Marketplace Premier writer on Helium and you want to know every time new assignments have been posted, now you can!

To subscribe to receive SMS notifications about new assignments, visit the Account Settings page (accessible through My Account on My Helium) and click the “Notifications” tab on the top menu. It’s listed right after Contact Info, Pen Name, etc.

In the fields available, enter your mobile phone number, select the country your phone is registered to and select your mobile carrier. After entering this information, click “submit.”

A confirmation will appear at the top of the screen indicating an activation notification has been sent to your phone. Now an activation code box will appear in the “Notifications” tab. Enter the code you received via text message into this field.

Helium writers can select which writing group assignments to be notified about. They can also select to stop receiving notifications at any time too. It’s an opt-in program! Check out our Help page to learn more about how to set up your alerts.

Got a smartphone? Don’t forget to check out Helium’s mobile assignment system!

Helium is excited to announce the “World Population Approaches 7 Billion” writing contest sponsored in part by Helium and two of our nonprofit partners: Population Services International (PSI) and Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

The contest will begin at 00:00:1 GMT on Wednesday, June 8. It will include four titles and will be open for submissions for a two-week period. The articles must be between 400-500 words and be written in magazine style. The best articles will utilize and cite relevant data and statistics. The submission period will be followed by a one-week rating period.

What you can win

1. The winning article will be published in Impact, PSI’s print magazine as well as on Pulitzer’s website. The winning article will be chosen from the top four ranked articles on each title, by a panel of judges from both of the nonprofit partners.

2.  The top #1 ranked article from each title will be published on PSI’s “Healthy Lives” Blog.

3 & 4. There will be two prizes based on the leaderboard from the Helium contest interface. First prize will be a 16GB Apple® iPad™ with Wi-Fi. Second place prize will be a Velocity Micro 7-inch Cruz Digital Reader, an Android-based tablet.

Titles have been announced!!

How does population growth affect gender inequality?

How should men be involved in family planning?

What are the best ways to engage young people in family planning?

What role should governments play in promoting informed choice for people’s desired family size?

Write to them now!

About our nonprofit partners

PSI is a leading global health organization with programs targeting malaria, child survival, HIV, reproductive health and non-communicable diseases. Working in partnership within the public and private sectors, and harnessing the power of markets, PSI provides life-saving products, clinical services and behavior change communications that empower the world’s most vulnerable populations to lead healthier lives. Follow PSI on Twitter.

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting promotes in-depth engagement with global affairs through its sponsorship of quality international journalism across all media platforms and an innovative program of outreach and education. Follow Pulitzer Center on Twitter.

 

Beginning June 1, we’re welcoming in the summer months with our new promotion: 10 Squared. What’s that mean, you ask? It means that for every 10 articles you write (and we accept) to a single leaf channel, we’ll give you a bonus $10 assignment. And just to keep the math going, 10×10=100 so we’ll run this for 100 days.

Why? Because promotions are fun. Also, to herald our new Writing Groups Assignment system, which debuts in June. As we’ve been saying on Helium’s Community Discussion Boards, writers should write to titles in the leaf channels they know best and where they feel most confident.

We really want you to show us the subjects (leaf channels) that you’re interested in writing more about and know something about, for example: Auto Repair, Perennials, Business Law, or even Denver, Colorado.

We’ll be looking for your quality work and keeping those articles that show your quality writing. When we’ve accepted 10 of your articles in that leaf, we’ll target a $10 assignment just to you in that same leaf channel.

You can submit work through the assignment system, suggest your own titles and write to existing titles on the site. (Reminder: Writing to titles with more than 6 or 7 articles doesn’t add much, unless you’re confident you can do better. Search out the onesies!)

You don’t have to come up number 1 — though that’s nice to aim for. And, sorry, this doesn’t apply to the Creative Writing channel.

We’ll perform regular sweeps to see who’s written where so we can award the $10 titles.

Good luck and get writing!

Janice Brand, VP Helium Content Source

Helium editorial staffers cooked up a delicious bevy of lunchtime snacks for the tech staffers during today’s Payback Picnic. We took over the picnic tables outside our office and piled them up with sandwiches, chips, salads, fruit, cookies and soda. It was a great event and great weather.

The Payback Picnic was held to payback the winners of our May 2 Wii Wars competition.

“What a beautiful day for a very delicious picnic. Thank you very much to everyone who made this whole thing fun – from the Wii competition to the Payback Picnic! Go Team Helium!” said VP of Product Development Lorinda Brandon.

We have created a new Helium Facebook page. Our previous Facebook page disappeared from Facebook’s site on April 14 and despite repeated attempts to contact Facebook, our previous page never was restored.

Please take a moment to “like” our new page and interact with and communicate with Helium on Facebook. On the Facebook page we post links to our blog posts, answer questions, share photos and more. We’ll also reestablish Topic Tuesdays and One Sentence Fridays.

Thanks so much everyone for your patience and understanding!

Feel free to share the link with others: http://www.facebook.com/HeliumWriters