I’ve always considered publishers and media companies to be at the bleeding edge of technological change (not necessarily innovation). I experienced this first hand more than 10 years ago when I was working at Reed Business Information. The sharp decline in print as a business model meant we had to switch to digital business models quickly. It was a great time of experimentation, building new websites and community platforms, experimenting with blogging and video. We also experimented with new ways of working. For example, I launched a ‘content team’ on Personnel Today in 2005 and I became the head of content – an alien job role at the time.
Roll on a decade and a report on journalism trends for 2016, Journalism, Media and Technology Predictions 2016, written by Nic Newman shows how media companies continue to grapple with delivering new forms of content and developing new business models.
The report is a useful read for anyone, or any organisation, grappling with producing engaging content. Why? Because journalists are paid to get eyeballs on content. And if that’s their job, then we can all learn from how their approaches are shifting in line with consumer preferences.
Here are some takeaways from the report:
The report includes data from 130 editors from around the globe. Of these, 79% say they will be using more online video this year. Video is huge and is only going to get more pervasive with some reports estimating that by 2020 some 80% of online content will be video. It is worth noting that video has proven to be very popular on Facebook where 8bn videos are viewed a day and 75% of those are on mobile.
Mobile, mobile, mobile
Mobile devices are outstripping sales of PCs 5:1 and that is set to grow to 10:1. It is expected that 80% of the world’s population will have a smartphone by 2020. It is a safe bet to assume that your content needs to be optimised for mobile consumption. That doesn’t just mean delivered in a responsive way. That means producing glanceable, shareable content. And according to Deloitte, 60% of Britons check their mobile phones within 15 minutes of waking up.
Finally, take a closer look at the download speeds of your content – if it takes too long to display it will be left behind.
Podcasting on the rise
Podcasting is also in the ascendancy as content switches to streaming for delivery. Currently, 17% of US audience listen to them and this is set to grow thanks to streaming and tools like Clammr. Also Spotify will be incorporating podcasts into its service this year.
Long-form social content
Rather than linking to sites and articles, social networks will encourage publishers to produce longer-form posts – they want users to stay in their platforms longer. Facebook is already doing this with Instant articles. This could be the reason Twitter drops its 140 characte limit in the coming year.
News publishers will be looking at engagement rather than views and clicks. This will become especially important as publishers put more content into third party networks such as Facebook.
In a separate piece of research, Tom Rosenstiel worked with 55 publications in the US to understand what content users liked. His report, Solving journalism’s hidden problem: Terrible analytics, revealed that:
- People like long stories – The conventional wisdom that writing for the web needs to be short and fast simply is not true. “Long form” stories, those averaging 1,200 words, drove 23 percent more engagement and lifted other metrics such as page views (up 11 percent), sharing (by 45 percent), and reading time (by 36 percent).
- They also like photos, audio, and video – Stories presented with a photo scored 19 percent higher in engagement than stories without photos. Stories with multiple photos scored 43 percent higher.
So, keep a focus on visual content that’s optimised for mobile devices and don’t shy away from longer reads – there’s a reason why blogging platform Medium is doing so well . . .
[Picture credit: Pixelcreatures]