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USA Today – Social and Thriving

Is Social Media Playing a Role in the Publication's Numbers?

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Perhaps more newspapers should follow the USA Today model. While there are no doubt other factors that come into play, one thing that has stuck out to me about USA Today, is that the publication actively engages in and embraces social media.

This was made quite clear to me by USA Today Communications Manager Alexandra Nicholson when I wrote a piece on the publication’s parent company Gannett’s apparent restriction of its employees’ use of social media.

"We at USA TODAY have been working extensively on our social networking efforts," she told me. "USA TODAY was the first national newspaper to offer reader comments, and we continue to expand our community tools by allowing readers to communicate with each other directly, add ‘friends’ through USATODAY.com and through social networking tools like Facebook Connect. Additionally USA TODAY has recently launched a series of moderated communities targeted specifically to our readers, this includes a recent MMA community launch."

USA Today Online

Alexandra says that USA Today sees social networking as "a growing effort" on their part and one that they’re "taking on enthusiastically." In fact, Alexandra even found my article while doing routine "Twitter surveillance."

Now, as you’re probably well aware, the newspaper industry is struggling. USAToday however has released two interesting pieces of news about itself within the past week or so.

First, they reported that USAToday.com had over 11.9 million unique visitors in the month of April, representing a 12% year-over-year increase. Overall page views had increased 75% year-over-year, with individual page views per person going up 55% in the same period.

But that’s just USAToday online. However, a release from the publisher today claims that USA Today remains the most widely read newspaper int he US. It reaches over 3.7 million print readers daily, which is an increase of 3.4% since Spring 2008.

"USA TODAY is proud to remain the most widely read print newspaper in the country," said David Hunke, president and publisher of USA TODAY. "The most recent numbers from MRI show that more people are choosing to read USA TODAY than any other newspaper in the country, with 414,000 more print readers per day than our nearest competitor The Wall Street Journal, and 817,000 more print readers than The New York Times."

The Wall Street Journal just recently issued some social media restrictions to employees by the way. Although, to be fair, WSJ is a much more niche publication. And it’s not like they don’t engage in social media at all.

Is social media the lone reason for USA Today’s success? I will not go so far as to say that, but looking at the publisher’s web numbers alone, and the boom in social media in general over the past year, I wouldn’t exactly call it a non-factor.

USA Today – Social and Thriving
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  • http://www.burrellesluce.com/freshideas/?cat=87 Gail Nelson

    Great post! In publishing as well as in marketing, online and offline success are frequently found in pairs. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. USAToday has been on top of the print universe for quite a while, and has brought what works to its online and now social efforts.

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