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Beyond The Ink Smudge To Digital Relevancy
“Always in motion is the future”– Yoda
She was the daughter. That meant she was a second generation newspaper publisher.
Diane Everson, publisher of The Edgerton Reporter in Edgerton, WI wasn’t the only one whose newspaper spanned generations at the 2014 Inland Press Mobile and Social Solutions Conference last month.
In the room, where I had the pleasure of talking about social media in newspapers, were people who had a passion for their papers and their industry.
As I quickly learned, running a weekly or small community newspaper is not unlike owning a small business. Except … whatever you do is always front and center in the town you serve.
Like many small business owners, nonprofits and yes, larger brands, publishers struggle with how to critically and strategically enter the 21st century digital and social content world. Except … they face an interesting dilemma when it comes to online content. As do radio and TV.
Actually, digital content strategy is a challenge facing any company whose ‘product’ is information. In the Interweb and social media, where free content is expected there is a haunting question.
- How much do you ‘give away’ and what do you hold as a revenue stream?
Even before you can answer that question there are foundational aspects of social media that must be in place. I built the deck to, as they say in the foodie world, deconstruct the elements.
- Each element in a digital/social media plan must beautifully stand alone before it can be (re)constructed or as marketers might say integrated.
We looked at social through the lens of the brand, journalists and advertisers. I led the group through an exercise that I called “What is different?” We reviewed four media websites: newspaper, TV, radio and online publisher. Our conclusion was the content was so similar we couldn’t identify the media type and it didn’t matter which site we were on to just get information.
Lesson learned: Online content of media companies appears to be all-the-same.
Question: How can the strengths of the newspaper industry at-large and your specific newspaper be used to created “Now I care content or stories” that are so unique and audience-relevant your community wants to socially share?
We looked at how newspapers, as a brand, engages with their communities. We discoved – not so much. Traditional culture of the media is to identify and tell the stories they feel are most important.
Social media takes radio, TV and newspapers into a far different and often uncomfortable world. It shouldn’t be a big surprise to find many, especially smaller newspapers, challenged in how to balance those worlds.
Lesson learned: Social Media is used as a content distribution channel not as a ‘community communication channel.’ Newspaper publishers were reluctant to step out and ‘talk’ with their readers .. people-to-people.
Question: How can the brand step out from the behind the logo and talk to their readers online — as they do offline at events and networking meetings?
In 1884, the Boston Globe’s Confidential Chat was building community among women, and a few dudes in the greater Boston area. So I say … go even further back to your roots newspaper peeps and learn from yourself!
Sidebar: This a real clip that I found in my mom’s recipe box. She saved it for many years so I assume it must have held meaning for her. How long does your content ‘stay around?’ Or is it the digital equivalent of newspaper used to wrapped fish and chips?
We looked at journalists and their special challenges in producing social content and community engagement. We saw engagement but on a closer review it was frequently among their peers not with their community.
Lessons learned: Passion about the topic is important to sustain long-term participation on the social web. Social media writing especially, short tweets, can be a challenge of long-form story training.
Questions: How can journalists sustain a social conversation over time while holding true to the values of their newspapers and their personal brands? How can opinion tweets and posts be included .. or can they?
And there was more so I’m happy to shaing the deck with you. There are several worksheets that might be helpful as you build out systems and process for your plan. Some will help to align with what social media means to your company and how it can support overarching goals.
Hat tip to Mr. Ray Marcano, CanisDigital, for recommeding me for this exciting gig; and Patty Slusher, Inland Press for her support.
Read More: Amy Gahran, How Early Newspaper to Web Technology Crippled News Industry’s Thinking
Now that we’ve gone through some deconstructing the next question is — How will you construct your social media world? Let me know if you have any questions or need any help.