News is an inherently social construct; constantly being discussed and absorbed by a large majority of the population. With the advent of social media, the way news is delivered to us has rapidly changed. According to Edelman, digital and social media have surpassed TV and print in terms of audience size and engagement frequency. With these new forms of distribution and consumption, the public are now able to interact with the news, give their opinion and listen to the opinion of others in an unfiltered setting; i.e. it’s yet another way of starting a conversation and delivering insights.
The McKinsey Global Institute conducted a seminal research paper in 2012 and determined that the organisations that stand to gain the most from the adoption of social media technologies are those that have a heavy reliance on consumer perception and those that need to maintain a strong reputation. These are both so crucial to a news network. They also identified ten social technology levers that social technologies can add value in organisational functions that apply to four segments of the value chain. These are Product Development, Operations and Distribution, Marketing and Sales and Customer Service (as well as one more that covers the entire width of the enterprise). I will be delving into the marketing and sales lever in respect to a popular Australian news outlet, 7 News, to see how social media has added value to their organisation.
It seems odd to talk about news organisation in the context of marketing and sales, but in truth there is very little difference from any other business. To put it bluntly, they are ‘selling’ their stories, and social media makes it very easy to do this. The three main social technologies used by 7 News are Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. Each of these platforms has 628,000, 99,000 and 23,000 followers respectively. This means they can communicate directly with their customers instantly at a very low cost. Each of their stories can then be shared by other users, widening their audience further. Facebook in particular is excellent in achieving this; they can link a small snippet of a story with an attached link to their own website. Users then click on this link, generating income for the business through ad revenue and furthers their brand recognition.
News is obviously constantly changing, and the various 7 News social pages reflect this; every day, there is at least one update on social media per hour. Each of these stories can generate a discussion from anywhere between a few dozen people to several thousand. These conversations can be used to gather insights about public perceptions and advertising that can help shape future content for maximum impact and discussion amongst their consumers. Intermixed with these news update are carefully placed advertisements and promotions for other programs on their TV network, no doubt boosting viewing numbers there too. All of this at virtually no cost to the company. No wonder digital news consumption has overtaken TV and print!