Chapter 11: Building a digital audience for news

There is no denying that the Internet has changed the world. So, how do we keep up with it? For most of us, using the Internet doesn’t cost much. So, why pay 50 cents for a newspaper when you have access to all the information in the world for free?

One way journalists are trying to keep up with the new business model is through advertising digitally. Marketing with ads, using viral campaigns and creating memorable slogans are all ways to make enough money to be sufficient.

According to Mark Briggs, there are five ways journalists can build and sustain an audience.

  1. Tracking content
  2. Web analytics
  3. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  4. Effective headline writing for the web
  5. Distribution through social media

Tracking content

The key is to track anything that can be tracked. Here are some sample ideas of what should be tracked regularly:

  • Total news stories per day
  • News stories by topic or section
  • Total blog posts per day
  • Videos per week
  • Podcasts or other audio stories

The best way to track information is by using a web-based spreadsheet that is accessible to many people at once.

Web analytics

Web analytics can be a software or mechanism that is used to track website traffic. Software such as Omniture, Google Analytics and Hitbox are easy tools to track your website performance.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

In a nutshell, SEO allows web users to find you as easily as possible. When you type “John” into Google’s search engine, SEO displays a list of websites ranked from most popular and relevant to what “John” could mean or who it could refer to. Whether you are referring to the “John” meaning restroom or whether you are looking for a biography of “John Travolta” that is what SEO does best to determine.

By using HTML meta tags, title tags, links and other user-friendly tricks, you can grow an audience using SEO.

Writing effective headlines

Everyone can write a headline. However, not everyone can write an effective one. According to Brian Clark, writer of Copyblogger, an average, eight out of 10 people will read headline, but only two out of 10 will read the rest of the story.

Here are some tips to write effective headlines:

  • Use conversational language: Be direct and focused.
  • Use keywords: Remember the basics — who, what and where.
  • Use attitude: Being fair and accurate doesn’t mean you have to be boring! ZZZZZ

Using social media as distribution channels

Social media is the new newspaper of this decade. Here are some websites to market your story though this medium.



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