Latest News

Newspapers are Using Social Media to Save the Industry

Thursday, March 12, 2009 , Posted by Linda at 11:21 AM



These days, everyone knows that one of the hottest stories any newspaper can cover is that of its own demise. The collapse of print advertising and the downturn in sales, at the news stand and through subscriptions, has led to a frantic search for new ways to monetize content that’s often available online for free.

Social media gives any business an interactive channel to communicate with its current and future customers. For newspapers, that channel can increase the chances of survival in a market where commoditized information has diminished the value of individual brands. Here are ten ways newspapers are using social media to save the industry.

1. Twitter headline feeds

With more than 280,000 followers, the New York Times’ main Twitter feed dwarfs the Wall Street Journal (19,000+), the Washington Post (4,800+), and the Chicago Tribune (5,200+). Many metropolitan and small-town dailies have followed suit, creating a TwitterTwitter reviewsTwitter reviews handle as an extension of their brand, but the Times, like other large dailies, has gone one step further, establishing channels for Books, Arts and Entertainment, and other sections. These are sub-channels that support personalized interaction, a point of interest for advertisers.

2. Acquiring providers of social media services


In November, 2008, Gannett Co., publisher of 85 daily newspapers, acquired Ripple6, Inc., maker of a social networking platform that links marketers to end users. By investing in a company that has already helped Procter & Gamble with its social media initiatives, Gannett will be better able to collaborate with its advertisers. Look for more acquisitions, or partnerships, as legacy publishers broaden their online portfolios.

4. Promoting and monetizing user-generated content


In 2007, the Cincinnati Enquirer created CaptureCincinnati.com, a photo-sharing site where over a thousand local photographers uploaded nearly 12,000 images. The best shots were featured in Capture Cincinnati, a coffee table photo book that included a DVD, selling at a retail price of $39.95. Last year, the numbers continued to improve, and the Enquirer expects strong sales of the 2008 edition as well. Marketers might call this bundling products, but whatever you call it, the Enquirer probably won’t argue.

5. Story-based communities

The Toronto Globe and Mail uses Cover It Live, a live-blogging/discussion tool that provides interactive coverage of breaking news and live events such as conferences and hearings. Real-time comments, audio and video postings, and polls are among the types of content that can be recorded and then embedded in the story, like this piece on a subway shooting in January.

6. Collaborative outsourced news services

While British startup Yoosk bills itself as an “interactive news magazine,” it represents the type of outsourced service many newspapers may wind up using as their own resources dwindle. Yoosk allows its users to put a question to politicians and celebrities, to comment on the publicly viewable answers, and to submit their own ideas for interview features. Its founders hope to collaborate with established news sites, including newspapers willing to outsource parts of their magazine sections.

7. Customized delivery

Denver-based MediaNews Group, publisher of such major dailies as the Denver Post and Oakland Tribune, has announced plans to test a “customized news delivery service called ‘I-News’ or ‘Individuated News” this summer with the LA Daily News. This service would allow subscribers to choose from different categories, including news from other parts of the country. Blending the offerings of regional newspapers into a separate platform may help more of them survive.

8. Branded communities

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has launched MySTLtoday, a branded community featuring areas such as user-created groups, user-posted content, and special interest sections like St. Louis’ BestBridal. Excerpts from shared stories are printed each week in the legacy paper. This might seem old-school, but it strengthens a traditional middle American brand, and it promotes more interaction, which helps advertisers pinpoint their targets.

9. Publishing APIs for third-party developers

The New York Times has taken the lead in an area sure to attract other organizations. By publishing application programming interfaces, or APIs, for third-party software developers, the Times Developer Network has encouraged the creation of a new class of social media applications. Developers have already produced mashups that combine Times content with other resources. Advertisers should see new opportunities to embed messages tailored to the end user, and the Times may partner with those developers it deems worthy, avoiding the incremental cost of creating new applications internally.

UK’s The Guardian has announced similar plans to open up its content with Open Platform.

10. Burning the boat that brought you

Unfortunately, this isn’t the most agreeable method for many, but social media applied to a smaller, virtual organization might be the way of the future. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer may move to an online-only version of its daily newspaper. This is the ultimate way to save a paper through social media: make the Web its only channel of distribution, and leverage the history of the brand. Loyalty won’t be hard to track, and the test of that loyalty will be the price point established by subscriptions, for individual sections or the entire publication. The argument “would you save this paper for the price of a latte?” becomes very cogent, especially in Seattle.

Currently have 0 comments: