Tag Archives: Social Networking

Software is Eating the News: Are you in the in the Entertainment or Work business?

work-vs-entertainmentRight now, news organizations still haven’t really clarified what business they are in and/or what their audience is really looking for, as a result they often measure and focus on the wrong things.

Information technology businesses fall into two primary categories:

  1. Entertainment: The goal here is to help people have “fun,” to spend their downtime with you. And the more time spent with you the better. It doesn’t really matter whether that time spent makes them a better or worse human being, helps the planet, it’s fundamentally about entertaining people. Think Facebook, Pinterest, movies, gaming, etc.
  2. Work: The goal here is to help people take action and solve problems, whether pay their bills, stock their pantries, lose weight, learn new skills, influence public policies. In this case, the goal is to often spend the least time possible, as the primary thing you care about is the outcome. Traditional B2B software and Google search falls primarily into this category; you’re not using it for fun but to get the task done as efficiently and effectively as possible, and the less time spent the better.

So are journalists and news organizations primarily in the entertainment or work business?

Traditionally, they have straddled both worlds and as a result have muddied their value proposition, measure the wrong things and apply the wrong business models.

Additionally, what one segment of the audience and what journalists’ often think of as entertainment, others often think of as work, politics being one of them.

work-vs-entertainment-politics

In the entertainment world, your goal is to get people to spend as much time with you as possible, since the whole point of your existence is to fill people’s free time. In this scenario, display advertising as a revenue stream and products that encourage spending time make sense.

In the work world, your goal is to minimize the amount of time people spend with you and instead give them the answers to their problems, or eliminate their problems all together. In this case, the less time spent on your site/application is often better, since the goal is to increase their time. In this scenario, display advertising makes absolutely no sense and products that don’t solve problems are bad.

work-vs-entertainment-metrics

So should news organizations focus on delivering more entertainment value or more work value?

And that will be a question for another day. 🙂

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Local News: Everything Fits, So Publish It All

White snow and clear ice coated the ground and trees in Memphis – so I grabbed the family, loaded up the sleds and headed over to the city’s biggest park, Shelby Farms, to take in the fantastic scenery and ice-covered slopes.

To top it off, there was a photographer from the Commercial Appeal snapping photos of us and other families sledding, running, building snowmen, etc… My 12-year-old was certain fame and her picture in the paper were inevitable. Of course, neither happened –but in the process I realized just how badly the Commercial Appeal and other media organizations are missing opportunities to drive engagement, grow their audience and increase revenue.

As anyone who has ever worked in community journalism knows, people want to see themselves, their family and friends.

We’re no different. The next day, we scanned the paper and went to the Web site to see our pictures – and found none. Instead of giving our family (and the hundreds of others people photographed at the park that day) a reason to stay on the site, share links with family and friends, we went away disappointed.

Of the dozens, if not hundreds, of photos taken only a couple were published in print or online. Newspapers were founded on the tradition of scarcity and selectivity, “All the news that fits,” but in the age where space is limitless does that still make sense?

I would have loved to have seen a halfway decent photo of myself and my family sledding. While it may not have been the “best” photo of the day, from my perspective it would have been way better than none – as I have no photo of myself and my kids sledding. And even if I had photos, I can guarantee that the quality of the photos would far surpass the blurry out-of-focus action images from my point-and-shoot camera.

The drive to share pictures and videos of ourselves with friends and family has driven the explosive growth of Youtube, Flickr and other social networking sites, so why not leverage the photographic talent, already deployed resource and the newspaper’s brand to provide people with “published” photos of themselves to share with family and friends.

The cost of publication is minimal. The majority of the cost is already built into the publication of a single picture – so each additional picture should require virtually no incremental expense.

And the upside?

Audience Engagement & differentiation: Local content with local people to drive the engagement and differentiation local news organizations require to retain subscribers. In other words, we would have shared the pictures with family and friends –giving us another reason why we should read and subscribe to the Commercial Appeal.

More Revenue per assignment: Instead of having to support the cost of deployment with the ad dollars driven by just a photo or two, multiple photos should drive more revenue and lower the cost of the assignment.

My family’s fame & fortune: Best of all, my daughters’ would have achieved their desired celebrity and we would forever be etched in the history of Memphis, sledding down the slushy slope. While Flickr & Facebook are great ways to share photos – nothing beats the validation and excitement of appearing in the official media or local “paper of record”.