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Newspaper Publishers Not Embracing Social Media Are Missing the Train

Having been in journalism in one form or another now for 23 years, I have seen a variety of changes.

Among those changes is the advent of social media, something that many of us have welcomed with open arms. Others, however, have been slow to get on the social media train, with some even missing the train altogether.

My current marketing job allows me to visit countless Web sites on a daily basis, so I’d like to think I have a tad bit of experience when it comes to stating that some newspaper sites are just God awful when it comes to prioritizing social media.

When I say that these sites are bad, it doesn’t mean that their writing or design are necessarily hideous, it simply means that they’re doing very little in the way of promoting their efforts via social media.

One Newspaper Appears to Have Finally Gotten It

While I won’t give out the name of the site, a weekly newspaper on the West Coast that I have followed for a number of years is a good example.

Up until recently, this paper’s Web site simply consisted of company information like what they do, what their advertising rates are and how to contact them. No stories on their site that you would find in the print edition, no social media efforts like a Twitter site or a Facebook fan page, no video productions, podcasts, infographics etc.

Whether it was demand from readers or a light finally clicked in the publisher’s head, they began posting news stories on their site over the last year or so. That soon followed with social interaction between the editor and readers through company Twitter and Facebook pages. Quite simply, this publication came into the modern world.

Other newspapers that I have come across have more than gravitated to the social media world. They not only provide links to their stories on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more, but they openly promote other offerings like special events and such. The New York Times is a great example of a company that has “gotten it” when it comes to the importance of social media in the publishing industry.

Seeking out ways to draw in more readers as print advertising continues to struggle at many publications, a large number of newspapers have unveiled location-based apps that not only offer news, but also give customers deals and coupons around the area. If the news isn’t going to draw the customer in each day, there is a very good chance the deals will.

Still other publications have gone to the extreme of cancelling their print editions and focusing squarely on web-based editions.

By moving to an online-only version of their papers, companies can focus squarely on the web as their channel of distribution. Tracking viewers is easier with available online analytics as the numbers can be recorded quickly and accurately.

Fresh, Quality Content Helps Provide a Return on Investment

While many newspapers, daily, weekly and monthly already have Twitter accounts and Facebook sites, the greatest challenge oftentimes is for the editorial and advertising teams to show the publisher that the company is or can receive a solid return on investment (ROI).

This is also important in having to show advertisers spending money on the sites to come back. By monitoring the click-through results from the social media accounts and pages, newspapers can demonstrate to their advertisers that they are getting a good return for their money.

As a long-time writer, however, I can say with much certainty that newspapers can be on this social media site and that site, but it doesn’t prove worthwhile if their online content is outdated.

I did some freelance work a few years back for a publication that was obviously slow when it came to adapting to the social media revolution.

While the newspaper had a presence on Twitter and Facebook, its links to stories were several weeks old. One person I spoke to at the publication said that the publisher did not view social media as one of their top priorities. In essence, they simply had a Twitter site and a Facebook fan page since others did too.

Needless to say, I have watched that publication’s print edition shrink in terms of pages on a yearly basis.

Sure, print advertising numbers are down, but when you couple that with the fact that the publication is only giving a half-hearted effort to pushing the social media envelope, it should not come as a surprise that the paper is operating on a bare-bones budget and a skeleton crew. If I were asked to right the ship if you will, I would move full-steam ahead with a concentrated effort on the publication’s social media pages, sparing little no expense to promote the company on such venues.

At the end of the day, your publication needs to not only be a provider of information, but also a voice for the community it serves.

With a strong social media presence, your publication can not only write the news, but it can also be the engine that drives the social train in your community.

Dave Thomas, who covers among other topics credit card processing, writes extensively for, an online resource destination for businesses of all sizes to research, find, and compare the products and services they need to run their businesses.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by georigami

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3 Replies

  1. News breaking first on Twitter is becoming news in itself so if the traditional newspapers are not taking notice by now then they deserve to lose out.

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  3. Thanks for the interesting interview

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