How Social Media Helps Old Media

News Tweets: What It Means For Media

News breaks across your Twitter stream. J.Krum’s photo of the US Airlines plane after its landing in the Hudson River was the turning point, and the Egyptian revolution was the acknowledgement of what Jeff Jarvis refers to as citizen journalism. Actually, we’ve been citizen journalists for years, from the town crier to man-in-the street comments and letters to the editor. The difference is that citizens now have easy access to free publishing platforms forcing media entities to rethink their roles and revenue models.

Citizen journalists can report their slice of the news, but few have sufficient audience to rival established media companies. While bloggers associated with the Huffington Post wanted their share of the AOL sale, the bottom line is that they understood the quid pro quo of letting the Huffington Post promote their blog content in exchange for distribution to a wider audience. In essence, they used Huffington Post as a promotional vehicle.

Regardless of format, media entities aggregate audiences to distribute content they create and/or curate. The content at the core of this media costs money to produce and deliver. In return, media companies are compensated through fees, subscriptions, advertising or a combination of these options. While media entities continue to be challenged to redefine themselves in this evolving media landscape, they still provide value.

3 Ways media companies leverage social media

Here are three ways that media companies provide editorial and curation value to enhance citizen journalism and social media engagement:

  1. Aggregate and curate citizen input. With expanded ability to take photographs and videos with smartphones and easy-to-use cameras, media companies actively solicit reader and viewer input. One of the notable examples is the Weather Channel which supplements its on-location reporters with viewers’ reports of active weather.
  2. Integrate blogs and twitter into content. Many print journalists augment their regular columns with blogs. These blogs are a great way to integrate other journalists’ perspectives through links and commentary.
  3. Open articles to reader comments. Beyond traditional letters to the editor, reader commentary provides a forum for writers and the public to exchange ideas and expand the story. The ability to vote on articles and comments encourages event the most reticent lurker to take action.

3 Suggestions for monetizing media entities’ use of social media

In today’s dynamic media landscape, media companies are challenged to find new ways to get compensated for their social media engagement. Here are three ways that traditional media entities can integrate revenue generation and social media.

  1. Create targeted galleries where readers upload photographs. Focus these pages on specific areas of interest to readers such as Little League, school sports and other local activities. In return for editorial selection and indexing, incorporate advertising or sponsorship. Additionally, provide a way to get printed photographs for a portion of the revenues. (Think grandparents and other relatives who may not read your publication otherwise!) Of course, make sure that readers have the right to the photographs and that parents allow the photographs of their children to be published.
  2. Expand your life’s milestones section. Allow readers to upload birth notices and other life events complete with photographs to a special section of your site. Get the section sponsored by a relevant advertiser and/or charge for placement.
  3. Develop your version of Groupon. Leverage the strength of your advertising sales force and email lists to create your version of deal-of-the-day emailings for your target businesses. The advantage is that you’ve got an established sales force and knowledge of the local market.

With new technology tools, media continues to evolve and adapt providing readers with a richer experience in terms of their perspectives and ability to interact with journalists. Adding social media enhances reader engagement.

What’s your opinion about how traditional media is evolving and using social media? Please include your input in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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photo credit: trialsanderrors via flickr

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