Love marketing journalism? Apply here to become a full-time associate editor of our sister publication, Marketing Dive.

The Social Newspaper: How Social Media Strategy Will Define Success

When I read about the $28 million in cuts Imagethat the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News were making I was hardly surprised. Not just because they were precipitated by the usual reasons of plummeting circulations and with it advertising revenue, but because the papers had failed to develop any sort of social media strategy that would at the least help to stem the tide of declining ad revenue. Beyond creating a Facebook page, Twitter account, and throwing up a few Like and Tweet buttons, no social media strategy is apparent and these mediums are not being used very effectively to drive revenue.

The best way to quickly see how effective a newspaper’s social media strategy has been is to divide the Facebook likes and Twitter followers over its circulation to account for the relative size of the paper as opposed to absolute number of followers. Out of the top 25 newspapers by circulation in the United States, the Philadelphia papers rank 18th and 20st in terms of Facebook likes and Twitter followers per paper circulated. Not great, although to be fair, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News are hardly alone. 

The Arizona Republic and Newsday from Long Island are two of the worst at using social media, ranking 23rd and 21st in terms of Twitter followers and 24th and 25th in terms of Facebook likes respectively out of the 25 top US newspapers. The Republic’s homepage has camouflaged Facebook and Twitter buttons hidden half way down the page making it difficult for anyone to find. Newsday on the other hand has much more prominent Facebook and Twitter buttons at the top of the homepage immediately visible to users when they visit the site. The only problem is the Facebook button doesn`t work – it just links to Facebook. When searching for Newsday on Facebook the only Newsday that shows is Newsday Zimbabwe....

So why is social media so important to newspapers? It’s important because people now discover and consume content on social networks. Content propagates on social networks through its consumption. If the content isn’t on a social network, it isn’t being discovered and it isn’t propagating. The brand of a newspaper or desire for local news used to be able to impact user’s behaviour enough so that they would go to a specific newspaper’s website to consume content. Increasingly however people go to Facebook or Twitter primarily and discover content based on social relevancy as opposed to by publisher.

So what should a newspaper’s social media strategy be?

1) Publish your content on the big social networks. This allows content to be discovered.

2) Engage your users. Give simple commentary and feedback on both articles and posts you create as well as on feedback and comments that users make about you. Do this often, it’s relevant and engaging.

 3) Make it easy to find. On your homepage a user should be able to see a button for each social network without having to scroll. Every page on your website should have these buttons and every content piece should have social sharing buttons.


4) Integrate social reading. Not many newspapers have yet, but everyone should add social reading capabilities. The Washington Post Social Reader is the best example of a successful social reader. While many people have pointed to the fact that usage of the Washington Post Social Reader is about 15% of what it was at its peak, it grew so quickly initially because it was first on the scene and most of those people were one-time users who were just trying a social reader. The reality is that over 4 million people currently use the Washington Post Social Reader. The important part about having 4 million users is that every single user helps propagate content through simply reading the content. That’s the beauty of the social reader. Consuming content is almost like clicking share to all your friends that would find that piece of content interesting. It’s a great method of discovery by showing what articles your connections have read and may be relevant to you.

At the end of the day, the survival of traditional newspapers doesn’t hinge on a successful social media strategy....yet. But as social becomes the default medium upon which people discover and consume content, those who don’t integrate social media into their overall marketing strategy will undoubtedly fall behind their competitors for readers eyeballs.

 

Rank - Newspaper - Facebook Effectiveness

1 The Washington Post - 929.10%
2 The New York Times - 250.17%
3 The Denver Post - 52.75%
4 Los Angeles Times - 44.61%
5 The Wall Street Journal - 25.68%
6 Chicago Tribune - 11.81%
7 The Boston Globe - 11.22%
8 Detroit Free Press - 9.89%
9 New York Post - 9.58%
10 The Seattle Times - 7.63%
11 USA Today - 6.82%
12 Daily News - 5.62%
13 San Jose Mercury News - 5.41%
14 Star Tribune - 5.36%
15 The Dallas Morning News - 4.93%
16 The Plain Dealer - 4.82%
17 Houston Chronicle - 4.20%
18 The Philadelphia Inquirer/ Daily News - 3.66%
19 The Oregonian - 3.65%
20 Chicago Sun-Times - 3.47%
21 San Francisco Chronicle - 3.41%
22 Tampa Bay Times - 3.37%
23 The Star-Ledger - 2.74%
24 The Arizona Republic - 0.34%
25 Newsday - 0.00%
Average - 56.41%
Average - minus WP&NYT - 10.04%

 

Rank - Newspaper - Twitter Effectiveness

1 The New York Times - 637.49%
2 The Washington Post - 204.31%
3 The Wall Street Journal - 93.29%
4 New York Post - 58.15%
5 Los Angeles Times - 55.74%
6 San Francisco Chronicle - 24.74%
7 Chicago Tribune - 21.42%
8 The Seattle Times - 21.29%
9 USA Today - 19.79%
10 The Denver Post - 19.20%
11 Detroit Free Press - 18.88%
12 The Boston Globe - 17.70%
13 Daily News - 14.67%
14 The Dallas Morning News - 14.56%
15 Houston Chronicle - 10.96%
16 Star Tribune - 10.77%
17 Chicago Sun-Times - 10.45%
18 The Oregonian - 9.86%
19 The Star-Ledger - 8.33%
20 The Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News - 6.32%
21 Newsday - 5.42%
22 Tampa Bay Times - 4.47%
23 The Arizona Republic - 2.82%
24 The Plain Dealer - 2.50%
25 San Jose Mercury News - 2.43%
Average - 51.82%
Average - minus WP&NYT - 19.73%

 

Rank - Newspaper - Facebook Effectiveness

1 Calgary Sun - 20.75%
2 La Presse - 14.72%
3 The Globe and Mail - 14.48%
4 Windsor Star - 9.93%
5 National Post - 9.87%
6 Edmonton Sun - 7.89%
7 Winnipeg Free Press - 5.80%
8 The Province - 5.60%
9 London Free Press - 5.32%
10 The Chronicle-Herald - 5.09%
11 Edmonton Journal - 4.76%
12 The Times-Colonist - 4.70%
13 The Leader-Post - 4.55%
14 Toronto Star - 4.43%
15 Le Journal de Québec - 4.22%
16 Vancouver Sun - 3.67%
17 The Record - 3.67%
18 The Gazette - 3.47%
19 The StarPhoenix - 3.39%
20 Ottawa Citizen - 3.34%
21 Hamilton Spectator - 3.08%
22 Calgary Herald - 3.07%
23 Toronto Sun - 2.94%
24 Le Soleil - 2.48%
25 Le Journal de Montréal - 1.38%
Average - 6.10%

 

Rank - Newspaper - Twitter Effectiveness

1 La Presse - 87.62%
2 The Globe and Mail - 39.13%
3 National Post - 28.21%
4 The Gazette - 26.90%
5 London Free Press - 23.84%
6 Calgary Sun - 19.43%
7 Vancouver Sun - 19.22%
8 The Times-Colonist - 18.89%
9 Toronto Star - 18.88%
10 Calgary Herald - 16.23%
11 The Leader-Post - 15.99%
12 Edmonton Sun - 15.82%
13 Edmonton Journal - 15.76%
14 Ottawa Citizen - 15.48%
15 The Province - 14.98%
16 The Record - 11.75%
17 Le Journal de Québec - 11.72%
18 Hamilton Spectator - 11.35%
19 The Chronicle-Herald - 11.34%
20 Le Soleil - 11.14%
21 Windsor Star - 10.83%
22 The StarPhoenix - 9.58%
23 Winnipeg Free Press - 9.33%
24 Toronto Sun - 7.31%
25 Le Journal de Montréal - 5.19%
Average - 19.04%

Join The Conversation

Webinars On Demand

Whitepapers