Newspapers Not Harnessing Readers’ Social Power

March 30, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Brand Metrics | Newspapers | Search Engine Optimization | Technology

Newspapers are not doing enough to harness the online social power of their readers and -? as a result – are missing opportunities to help their biggest supporters boost their brands in cost-effective ways, finds a recent survey by Gartner Inc.

Findings from the research suggest that newspapers are not providing potentially influential “brand stewards” with the necessary tools they need to fully realize their role as influencers. These shortcomings include the failure to optimize the search experiences at their website and the lack of integration between content and social media functionality.

In the face of declining circulations, falling offline and online revenue, and competition from digital sources, newspapers have not taken adequate steps to integrate social media tools into their content management “ecosystem,” the report said, adding that the most important task for newspapers now is to prioritize the integration of social media into a current or future content management system.

Key survey findings:

  • 49% of respondents use general search engines (such as Google and Yahoo) once a week or more to find content, but only 20% use search tools built into a newspaper or magazine site.
  • Only 24% share good content “finds” with friends or others via personal communications – such as e-mail and instant messaging (IM), and a much lower number (7%) say 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 websites.
  • When asked what they do when they find interesting content online, 52% of respondents say they usually read it immediately. Only 9% said they bookmark it to read later.

“In the wake of the economic challenges facing the US newspaper industry, publishers are losing focus on the crucial imperative of how to capitalize on those consumers who remain loyal, engaged online and print readers,” said Allen Weiner, research VP at Gartner. “Brand-loyal news consumers need to be turned into brand stewards who can wield their influence to two parts of their social graph – those who know them personally, and those who regard the brand stewards as tastemakers with similar points of view.”

About the research: In November and December of 2008, Gartner surveyed 989 Internet users in the US, UK and Italy to understand how consumers discover and share different types of content. The survey 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. The report, “Newspaper Publishers Must Do More to Empower Brand Stewards” is available on Gartner’s website.

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