How can I increase engagement with readers?
What can I do now to add value to my newspaper's website?
People are exposed to information everywhere - on the radio, in newspapers, on TV, and on the variety of technology tools that we all use. The general public has a short attention span as they hop between different sites, different apps and different forms of media. In today's world, people are even using multiple technology formats at the same time. Have you ever checked email on your phone while watching TV? The best way to add immediate value to your newspaper's website is to increase engagement.
The heart of a newspaper is local content and local news. When most newspapers first built a strategy to launch a Web presence, they simply translated the newspaper to the Internet. Because of that, most early newspaper websites were nothing more than digital copies of the pages which showed up at a reader's doorstep every morning. However, social networking gives you the power to leverage local content to go deeper and wider, and as a result, increase engagement throughout the site. This increased engagement will not only enhance your site by adding user-generated content, but it will also make you much more valuable to potential advertisers when they consider their media mix. The "media mix" is the combination of advertising channels which businesses use to communicate to their audience and reach their marketing objectives.
You can expand both the depth and breadth of your website by creating engaging, consistent, content across different forms of media. For example, consider adding a link to every article that you have on your site where readers can leave comments. This encourages real-time, local, user interaction. Or, you may want to host digital photo contests where users post photos using certain hashtags which reference the contest or specific highlights of the local community. Also, think about using local resources for additional content. High school students grew up using the Internet. Work with the journalism department of your local high schools to post content about what is happening at the school (sporting events, community outreach). That will instantly give you additional content for your site, and you might be surprised to see how this group can exponentially increase traffic to your site.
Most importantly, as you look to add value to your website, remember the importance of trackability and accountability. If it can be measured, it can be improved. Pick the top five metrics that will help increase revenue. These metrics might be different for different newspapers. Some suggestions of metrics that you might want to track include: page views, time spent on site, or click-through rate of your ads. Another new metric which is starting to be tracked is how social media impacts your search rankings. How many times your messages on Twitter are retweeted or how many "likes" you get on Facebook affect your status on the Web. Take the time to make sure you are posting interesting content. The more interesting your content, the more likely that content will be shared, which increases your exposure and will improve your Web presence.
Allan Barmak is a national speaker and author of "The Accidental Salesperson." He leads a sales consulting and training firm which leverages his 20 years of sales experience in digital media. Over the years, he has worked with a variety of different companies across a wide range of industries, helping each of them expand their sales operations by optimizing existing revenue streams as well as building new ones.
He is available to run customized training for your salespeople to help them sell online media and can also deliver an "Accidental Salesperson" column for your paper if you would like additional content.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 597-1033.