Newspapers Not Effectively Using Social Media

    May 10, 2009

Newspapers should be using social media more effectively to engage their readers and boost online revenue, according to a new survey by Gartner.

"In the wake of the economic challenges facing the U.S. newspaper industry, publishers are losing focus on the crucial imperative of how to capitalize on those consumers who remain loyal, engaged online and print readers," said Allen Weiner, research vice president at Gartner.

Allen Weiner
Allen Weiner

"Brand-loyal news consumers need to be turned into brand stewards who can wield their influence to two parts of their social graph – those who know them personally, and those who regard the brand stewards as tastemakers with similar points of view."

The survey indicates that newspaper Web sites are failing to optimize for search and a there is a lack of integration between content and social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Nearly half (49%) of respondents use general search engines (such as Google and Yahoo) once a week or more to find content, but only 20 percent use search tools built into a newspaper or magazine site.

Only 24 percent of those surveyed share good content with friends or others via email and instant messaging. Just 7 percent say they usually or often share content via embedding into social networks.

Although many newspapers use Twitter, few allow users to tweet stories directly from their Web sites.

"Although it’s easy to criticize the newspaper companies for falling behind the digital curve and not thinking innovatively about their future, some of the industry’s current failures fall under the category of looking past the basics," Mr. Weiner said.

"One of those basics is turning those who are fans of your product or service into your best and lowest-cost marketing channel. Even simple social media tools not only allow sharing and recommendations, but also provide a level of identity and reputation management to give others a snapshot of a content curator’s credentials."