Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Journalists: New social platforms mean new ways to connect with readers

Today, most people get their news from social outlets but that doesn't mean you can't connect with your audience. New platforms and apps can you get you pretty close to reaching people where they already are. As a graduate student at Northwestern’s Integrated Marketing Communications program with a background in journalism, I am studying how journalists can use an integrated marketing approach and digital platforms to engage audiences with their content and I have found two articles that I think you may find interesting.

In the first article, Remarkable new data on the power of chat apps for sharing news stories from the Nieman Lab, Joshua Benton explains how more and more data is indicating that chat apps are one of the primary ways people are sharing stories--potentially even more than they are sharing stores on Twitter. Previously, sharing on chat apps like WhatsApp has been hard to track, leading people to create the term "dark social." However, recently a Spanish soccer team, Valencia, added a "Share on WhatsApp" button to their online content and the breakdown of clicks was as follows: Facebook 35%, WhatsApp 33%, Twitter 19%, and Google+ 13%. Benton points out that these results are even more significant than they initially appear because the WhatsApp button only appeared on mobile platforms, while the other three appeared on desktop and mobile.
In the second article, Snapchat Launches Discover from Tech Crunch, Jordan Crook looks into Snapchat's recently announced "Discover" feature.  The feature is the newest content platform that allows people to see articles, photos and videos from brands like ESPN, CNN, Vice and Vox.com. In addition, users can also watch stories compiled by participating artists, publishers and Snapchat's own (very new) editorial staff. Crook mentions that this is a shift in Snapchat's traditional model that relied on user-generated content. Now brands and media companies can use their platform to deliver content and information to its enormous user base.

Based on these two articles and my graduate studies at Northwestern, here are three things I recommend you consider as journalists:
  1. Pay attention - It may seem like you were just signing up for Twitter but digital platforms and technologies are updating every day. Pay attention to where your audience is and how they are using these platforms. This is where you want to be.
  2. Don’t dumb down your content Your content is good, that's why you are a journalist. People still want good reporting and accurate information, they just want it faster and in a digestible format. Compliment your content—even (especially) longer and denser pieces—with short videos, graphics and key pull out quotes that capture the main points and can be easily shared.
  3. Be innovative - The good news about these platforms is they’re easy and free. Why not add a “Share with WhatsApp” button to your story and see how many people use it? Or create a Snapchat form video that promotes your story? It may be the added element that transports your story to more people.
Given the changing nature of the field, you no longer have an automatic audience. Journalists now need to have a marketing strategy to engage people and digital platforms provide that opportunity. Try it. If it doesn't work, there will be something new tomorrow. 

Jordan Vita is pursuing an M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University, focusing on media management and data analytics. She is passionate about journalism and how the field can capitalize on new technologies and available data to do its job even better.

Follow her on Twitter @jordan_vita

No comments:

Post a Comment