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The Economist and social media


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Presentation at the Google B2B Connected social media event in London on July 31st 2013.

Published in: Business, Technology
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The Economist and social media

  1. 1. For  one  hundred  and  seventy  years  The   Economist  has  been  in  the  media   business
  2. 2. In  recent  years  the  rise  of  social  media   has  profundly  altered  the  underlying   media  status  quo
  3. 3. Social  media  is  not  just  a  channel  shi=  it  is   a  much  more  fundamental  behaviour   shi=
  4. 4. In  a  social  media  world  we  don’t  wait  to   be  told  what’s  happening  we  discover  it   ourselves
  5. 5. In  a  social  media  world  we  don’t  wait  to   be  told  what’s  happening  we  discover  it   ourselves occupy key positions online across the globe. Varying gateways to news The rise of new global digital intermediaries like Google, Facebook, and Apple influence the flow of traffic online and increase the competition for digital advertising, often putting pressure on industry incumbents like primarily with competition, data protection, and privacy issues. But how important are these new digital intermediaries actually, compared to established players, when it comes to how people find news online? This year’s Digital News Report provides useful comparative data on this question, summarised in Figure 4.2 below. Figure 4.2: Brands, search, and social as gateways to news online UK Germany Spain Italy France Denmark US Urban Brazil Japan Branded sites 34% 32% 38% 35% 16% 55% 20% 47% 28% Search engines 24% 40% 40% 49% 45% 30% 33% 44% 39% Social networks 17% 15% 45% 38% 14% 22% 30% 60% 12% Q10: Thinking about how you find news online, which are the main ways that you come across news stories? (multiple answers allowed, only some responses included here) Base: Various The survey results reveal a number of similarities but also interesting and important differences in terms of how people find news online. In general, there is no question that search and social media are becoming increasingly important gateways to news, supplementing users going directly to branded sites – but they are not equally important in all countries. First of all, branded websites (of news organisations like broadcasters, newspapers, or online-only providers) amongst their main gateway to news, and these differences do not correlate in any simple way with either the market share of a given search engine (like Google) or the overall ICT development index of the country in question. Search engines (by virtue of its market share almost invariably Google) represent the most widely named gateway to news online across much of Central and Southern Europe, with between 40% (Germany) and 49% (Italy) of online news users Source:  Reuters  Ins.tute  Digital  News  Report  2013
  6. 6. Nor  do  we  just  passively  consume  media   anymore  we  acAvely  parAcipate  in  its   creaAon
  7. 7. Nor  do  we  just  passively  consume  media   anymore  we  acAvely  parAcipate  in  its   creaAon First of all, it is striking that, even amongst our survey respondents (online news users) and in countries like the UK or the US, where about two-thirds of all internet users are also Facebook users, talking with friends and colleagues about news in offline social settings is far and away the most widespread form of‘participatory news use’. (Going beyond our sample of online adults, this is arguably even more so.) Second, it is clear the online forms of sharing, commenting on, and writing about news remain minority pursuits in every single one of the nine countries covered here – even amongst our sample of online news users, and even in countries like Denmark, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the US, where internet use has been a majority phenomenon for a decade or more. Most of our respondents presumably use email have partially different approaches to finding news online – branded sites and search seem about equally important for all but younger demographics use social networking sites more, also for news.) See Alison Preston essay for more on the impact of demographics, p. 97 are particularly interesting as they document a much lower level of overall engagement than some might have expected, as well as significant differences from country to country, suggesting the existence of different ‘participatory cultures’.21 Figure 4.3 collects the main findings regarding how people share, comment on, and create news online. Figure 4.3: Sharing, commenting, and creating news UK Germany Spain Italy France Denmark US Urban Brazil Japan Share a news story via email 10% 10% 24% 19% 18% 10% 23% 32% 4% Share a news story via a social network 11% 8% 30% 33% 14% 13% 22% 44% 8% Comment on news via social network 10% 8% 27% 26% 10% 11% 21% 38% 7% Write a blog on a news issue 1% 2% 3% 5% 2% 2% 4% 5% 4% Talk with friends and colleagues 44% 39% 55% 50% 34% 49% 51% 43% 17% (Q13)‘During an average week in which, if any, of the following ways do you share or participate in news coverage?’ (Multiple answers allowed, only some responses included here.) Source:  Reuters  Ins.tute  Digital  News  Report  2013
  8. 8. And  we  rely  less  on  a  few  trusted  media   sources  and  more  on  an  increasingly   complex  media  ecosytem
  9. 9. And  we  rely  less  on  a  few  trusted  media   sources  and  more  on  an  increasingly   complex  media  ecosytem
  10. 10. Yet  for  The  Economist  the  social  media   opportunity  has  proved  to  be  as  big  as   the  challenge
  11. 11. Through  social  media  we  build  trust  in   our  brand  by  connecAng  our  audience   directly  with  our  journalists
  12. 12. We  use  social  media  to  establish  new   habits  and  behaviours  around  the   consumpAon  of  our  content
  13. 13. We  create  value  for  our  readers  by   enabling  them  to  leverage  the  social   currency  of  our  brand
  14. 14. We  harness  the  extraordinary  power  of   word  of  mouth  on  social  media  plaForms   to  reach  new  audiences
  15. 15. We  also  proacAvely  share  some  of  our   more  unusual  content  on  social  media  to   challenge  misconcepAons  about  our   business
  16. 16. And  criAcally  we  use  social  media   plaForms  to  reward  the  loyalty  of  our   most  passionate  fans
  17. 17. And  criAcally  we  use  social  media   plaForms  to  reward  the  loyalty  of  our   most  passionate  fans
  18. 18. Some  of  our  social  media  iniAaAves  our   specific  to  our  business  but  most  are  just   about  a  new  way  of  doing  business