Stay ahead of the pack, if you know where the pack’s going

Just when we thought newspapers had it figured out and started charging regular visitors to view its websites, comes out with the list of the Top 25 newspapers on Twitter. While newspapers are still focused on web visits, consider the top 2 news sites (with Twitter followers):

1. New York Times 3,062,437
2. Chicago Tribune (coloneltribune):  829,742

Now, compare this with ABC circulation figures as of Sept. 2010:

1. New York Times: 876,638
2. Chicago Tribune: 441,508

Granted, the other newspapers are still running more in paid circ than Twitter followers, but the numbers have been getting closer together in the past few years.

Given that newspapers in general still have a problem getting their hands around social networking, it’s not surprising that they still hand out content to Twitter and Facebook followers at no costs. The idea is still to build brand and readership loyalty that will eventually bring readers back to your newspaper or … more likely … your pay-to-play website.

But, given that new and younger readers are veering away from Web 2.0 and moving toward social networking as their primary source of news and information, wouldn’t it make more sense for publishers to look ahead to where readers are going and set up the checkout register in front of the crowd, rather than behind them?


One thought on “Stay ahead of the pack, if you know where the pack’s going

  1. “Just when we thought newspapers had it figured out and started charging regular visitors to view its websites..”

    Do you have any justification for that assertion? From my view, paywalls have pretty well categorically shown to NOT be an effective method for monetizing content. NY Times is an embarrassing example of this, as the costs were excessive and the uptake is minimal… and that’s GIVING away subscriptions. Further their “20 free views a month” policy is both insultingly easy to bypass, and reduces the perceived value of the subscription.

    The success stories in this genre are distribution networks and blogs like Techdirt, Reddit, and Fark, where they’re finding methods to provide ‘value add’ services and access to content above and beyond the standard attractions. While at face value, Fark and Reddit, don’t appear relevant as they are link aggregators… it is when you look closely at most newspapers content models: Much of the filler content is NOT generated by the publisher, but licensed (aggregated) from news wires and affiliates. On the other hand, Techdirt is precisely built on a news model: content is researched, stories built, investigated and vetted, and then published to the public. And someone is PAID to do it all.

    The major difference between these next gen services and the classic newspaper models is based on conversation: Newspapers want to dictate it, next gen services engage it. Fark and Reddit offer low cost, subscription modeled ‘value add’ options which open up new search and posting features. Techdirt provides access to content before typical users can see it, and even allow users to help shape stories before they’ve ever reached the public. All three make money. All three continue to grow traffic. All three recognize that you need to get innovative, you need to connect with your fans, and give them a reason to buy.

    What they don’t try and do is move a old world business model in to the new world, and then try to convince everyone else it’s the ONLY possible way to do business.


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