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Posts Tagged ‘engagement’

A Pew Research Center study of three U.S. media markets has lots of interesting fodder and lessons for journalists and newsrooms.

In Local News in a Digital Age, Pew studied local news coverage and consumption more thoroughly than any local news study I’ve seen. I encourage reading the full 160-page report, which provided detailed studies of the news environments in Denver, Macon, Ga., and Sioux City, Iowa.

The study includes a survey of people in each community, asking extensive questions about their community involvement and news consumption, as well as a detailed study local news providers, including all the content during one week (last July) and a computer analysis of Facebook and Twitter content and engagement with local news providers.

I’ll present my thoughts on the Pew study in three sections:

  1. What the study says about media and lessons we can draw from it.
  2. My evaluation of this study (or opportunities for future studies). I was sharply critical of Pew’s 2010 study of Baltimore’s local news market, so I think I should address what I see as strengths and weaknesses of this study. This project leaves plenty of opportunities for further study of local media, but I find it far more thorough and credible than the 2010 study, which was so biased I said it was useless.
  3. My Denver and Sioux City experiences (neither of them a big conflict, but both worth disclosing).

Findings & lessons from the Pew study

Pew’s story up high presents the obligatory disclaimer:

These cities are not meant to be representative of the United States as a whole, but rather serve as detailed case studies of local news in three specific, unique areas in the U.S.

Yeah, but …

Pew did the study because the data from these three specific, unique areas would have value to others in the media. And I see several areas where the study reveals or confirms facts that will be helpful beyond the communities studied: (more…)

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Winter holidays present ample engagement opportunities for newsrooms.

Let’s explore some of those opportunities in a contest.

For the next week or so, I’m going to collect nominations from Digital First newsrooms, explaining your engagement projects. Sometime after I gather all the nominations, I’ll post them here and voting will begin. The winning newsroom (or two) will receive a Priority Mail box stuffed with candy.

Your engagement project needs to be something that’s conducted at least in part between Veterans Day and New Year’s Day. It doesn’t have to be tied to a holiday, but obviously holidays present lots of opportunities: (more…)

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Digital First Media newsrooms in Connecticut are already seeing results from the Facebook engagement tips I taught and blogged about last week.

In the two weeks prior to the workshop, Connecticut Editor Matt DeRienzo reports, the posts on the Register Citizen Facebook page drawing the most engagement in the Torrington area had 54, 43 and 40 engaged users (people clicking on the update in some fashion). All other posts had fewer than 20 engaged users, most less than 10.

But since last Thursday’s workshop, six Facebook posts engaged 44 to 122 users. Four of those posts used photos, rather than status updates with just text or a thumbnail photo, and one (about the New England earthquake) asked a question, both techniques discussed in last week’s webinar and blog post. (more…)

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2014 update: Facebook has changed its algorithm. While most of the advice in this post remains valid, the algorithm now favors links over photos.

Update: If you read the original version of this, please check the correction in bold. I was mistaken about rights to post AP photos on Facebook. 

Changes to the algorithm guiding the Facebook news feed make it more important than ever that newsrooms and journalists engage effectively on Facebook.

We don’t fully know how the changes work or what we should do about the them. Facebook has not provided much guidance on new best practices for news brands (they should do that; Facebook users share and interact with a lot of news).

Facebook + Journalists has been silent on this issue and the Facebook Blog hasn’t posted since January. I haven’t been successful in getting any on-the-record guidance from Facebook or in getting much private guidance that is helpful. This explainer on the Facebook news feed doesn’t even include a question on the recent changes.

The purported purpose of the algorithm is to deliver to people’s news feeds posts that Facebook thinks they will want. So if people are interacting with our posts (clicking on photos and links, liking and sharing our content, commenting), they will see more posts from us. If they are interacting with content of a particular type (sports content, for instance), they will see more of our posts on that topic.

Some have speculated that Facebook is hiding posts from news brands to encourage us to pay for promoted positions for our brands. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t expect that most newsrooms will spend much, if any, money promoting our posts. Presuming that some companies do pay to promote their posts, those promoted posts will get more prominent play in people’s news feeds than our free posts.

I don’t like Facebook’s changes either as a user or as a journalist interested in reaching Facebook users. I may blog separately about that. But whether we like the changes is irrelevant when it comes to how newsrooms should engage on Facebook. I don’t like the decline in newspaper advertising either, but I have to deal with its results.

News brands that have been getting significant traffic from Facebook have seen dramatic drops in our referrals. We need to make a better effort at posting engaging content and starting conversations. We need to experiment with strategies for generating engagement. We need to monitor how those strategies affect engagement. And we need to share stories of what works effectively.

I’m encouraging Digital First newsrooms to follow these practices. Some have proven effective in the past at generating engagement. Some of these practices have been used by DFM newsrooms in posts that have drawn effective engagement under the new algorithm. Clearly this advice is speculative to some extent, so we’re interested in hearing from you what generates successful results. (more…)

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