Social Media or Bust: News Through the Eyes of Gen Y

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socialmedia4_small.jpgADOTAS — A survey conducted late last year by Pew Research Center demonstrates how the Internet has skyrocketed past newspapers and other sources as a preferred method for young adults to receive their news.

More recently The Guardian, one of the UK’s most widely-read publications, also polled young readers around the world about how they get their daily news, with similar findings: young people are increasingly turning towards the Web as the primary source for their daily news. Both surveys highlight the fact that traditional newspaper outlets should be looking for new ways to build readership among younger audiences.

Social media can be one means of engaging younger readers. Online readers of thelondonpaper, a leading publication owned by News Corp. targeted at twenty-somethings in the UK, were recently presented with a new, socially-oriented site redesign. Readers have responded very enthusiastically, in part due to the social media tools which are now integrated into the news experience. Since giving its one million weekly readers the ability to comment on articles and author their own blog posts earlier this spring, thelondonpaper has witnessed more than 2,000 percent increase in community activity.

Readers also appreciate the fact that thelondonpaper is utilizing Facebook Connect, a capability which enables any website to establish a 2-way connection with Facebook. Thelondonpaper is leading the newspaper industry in the UK by integrating with Facebook at this level. Leveraging Facebook Connect is an example of “Social Unification,” a concept which refers to readers’ ability to unify social connections and community contributions across multiple social destinations.

Now on thelondonpaper website, readers can easily syndicate their contributions from thelondonpaper to their friends on Facebook, and can also invite their Facebook friends to join them on thelondonpaper community. Establishing a 2-way channel between thelondonpaper and Facebook has been very beneficial to the paper, resulting in a 40 percent uplift in traffic since implementation.

Thelondonpaper case serves as an example to all publishers: the key to engaging young readers is social media. Because thelondonpaper understood the interaction patterns of its young, technologically-savvy audience, the paper was able to achieve dramatic business benefits in a short period of time.

Thelondonpaper’s successful execution is an excellent example for other newspapers around the globe to follow as they contemplate a broad shift to social media, which for most publications today is becoming a strategic imperative. By not doing so, they risk disconnecting from their readers altogether.

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