A recent (Nov/Dec 2008) survey by Gartner Inc. Analysts said that newspapers are faced with declining circulations, falling offline and online revenue, and competition from digital sources, but are failing to capitalize on their biggest supporters, their readers. [hat tip Shel Holtz]
Methodology: The survey of 989 Internet users in the U.S., U.K., and Italy was aimed at understanding how consumers discover and share different types of content. It looked at the main influences on media consumption, the main factors that prompt people to look for content, the main tools people use to search, what they do when they find interesting content and whether they share this content.
Findings: newspapers are not providing brand stewards with the necessary tools they need to optimize their role as influencers. This starts with a failure to optimize the search experiences at their Web sites and then carries on to a lack of integration between content and social media functionality.
This is a failing in many businesses as well, I agree with Shel.
Some data that transpired from those surveyed:
- While about 49% of respondents use general search engines (i.e., Google and Yahoo) once a week or more to find content, only 20% use search tools built into a newspaper or magazine site.
- Only 24% of those surveyed share good content "finds" with friends or others via personal communications — such as email and instant messaging (IM), and a mere 7% said they usually or often share content via embedding into social network sites.
- Although many newspapers list their staffers who are on Twitter, few offer Twitter users the ability to "tweet" stories from their Web sites.
- When asked what they do when they find interesting content online, more than half of respondents (52%) said that they usually read it immediately. Only 9% said that they bookmark it to read later.
Is this a question of integrating content management tools into newspapers digital properties? Or is it one of integrating a new way of thinking about content into the minds of the newspaper publishers?
I'll be reporting on a mini research project on content I've been working on this coming week. The punch line is that today you can figure out what content your readers are most interested in by observing their behavior. Newspapers do write also about things their readers are interested in, don't they? Why wouldn't you give them the tools to share that content?
In many ways, sharing content has become the substitute for commenting on content - the act of recommending, linking, and liking is an indication that the content is relevant and useful. People share expertise, even that of others, to improve their self-confidence.
This also the other angle. That of the social power. For users and for the publishers. As more and more journalists are measured by clicks and page views, they have the opportunity to become sources of influence with good quality content. Will that content chronicle our current age? There are journalists who are going hyper-local.
The Web is not just a place to upload content to - the same content of print - it's a way to create opportunity for people to interact with that content. Google proved that interactivity and relevance go hand in hand with an advertising model.
[chart from Internet Overtakes Newspapers as news source, Pew Research Center for the People & Press]