Social media has turned us all into content creators. But for journalists, the people traditionally empowered with this task, social media has been a major disruption, characterized by newspapers in every part of the country shutting their doors, and significant job loss. Yet amidst these changes, many newspaper brands have found ways to maintain and even expand their readership. A recent article in Mashable makes a strong case for the idea that social media has reinvigorated the market for quality journalism. Mashable points to the fact that the algorithms that filter for content on Facebook, Twitter, and Google favor high quality, and that we as individuals are motivated to choose high quality sources when we share links. And it’s not just editorial content that’s changing. Social media applications, such as those offered by Involver, are allowing newspaper organizations such as the Denver Post and Hearst Media Services to re-conceive their publications by integrating elements such as Twitter-based classifieds, dynamic video, slideshow, and podcast elements, and contests promoting advertising partners.
Venerable publications like the New York Times have led the way in offering these kinds of options to their readers, many of whom no longer take the printed edition but tune in throughout the day, instead of just in the morning. There are also many new web-only publications of quality, Huffington Post and Mashable to name two, and blogs that have revolutionized the way reporting is done.
Using New ToolsThe Denver Post, which has used Involver applications, including Twitter, RSS, and Contests, to build their readership through Facebook, is reaching a wider audience than ever before. Allen Klosowski, who manages Social/Mobile Business for the Denver Post, believes the current social media disruption is as significant as when the printing press was invented. “A lot of people who used to manually transcribe books were out of a job, but it didn’t make the content they were distributing any less valuable. Social Media is an engaging and immediate way to get people involved with Denver Post content in a way that builds lasting bonds in the community.”
One of the keys to the Denver Post’s success is to use social media tools to build their audience by providing people with critical information about what’s going on in the local community. “People have a natural desire to be involved in the news about their neighborhood,” says Klosowski, “Our social media communities thoughtfully join the conversation about the topics that shape their daily lives. It’s neighbors having conversations with neighbors about how their community is affected by the news The Denver Post is reporting on. The sense of community is outstanding.”
The Post used the Involver Twitter app to extend their classified section to Facebook, our RSS application to promote their content across the web, and the Involver Contest app to promote a popular Denver institution, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and draw thousands of new users to their page.
3000+ Facebook Fan PagesFor more broad-based media groups, there is also the option of implementing social marketing tools at scale. Hearst Media Services, for example, launched a campaign of over 3000 branded, customized Facebook fan pages on behalf of individual news sources such as the Houston Chronicle, the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Seattle Post Intelligencer. Operating at scale does not mean the local angle is overlooked or that content for all these individualized Facebook pages should be uniform. Success in one market can help newspapers across the board adapt to changes in the way people want their news.
“It’s no secret, people in all demographics are now getting their news online and in social networks,” says Jeff Folckemer, SVP, Hearst Newspapers. “Hearst Media Services has responded by creating very successful web services like SFGate.com, seatllepi.com, chron.com and others.” To be sure, hosting a Facebook page and editing a newspaper are vastly different, but the element of real news can determine the success of Facebook fan pages operated by known and trusted news sources.
“Adding Facebook pages powered by Involver applications offers an effective way to leverage this trend and take advantage of the viral capabilities of social media,” says Folckemer, “this is also an effective way to help our advertisers find new customers among the many users of social media.”
There is of course no turning back the clocks for newspapers who’ve been decimated by the changes, but the above examples do offer inspiring possibilities to those publications willing to adapt and embrace these new tools.