4 tricks to supercharge viewers development, from Rolling Stone | What’s New in Publishing

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Writer insights from Rolling Stone UK’s Digital Director

Because the struggle for consideration on-line intensifies, attracting and retaining audiences has turn into one thing that publishers are discovering more and more difficult. For Charlotte Cijffers, viewers development has turn into an space of experience from her work with publications like Dazed, Perspective Journal and extra lately, the launch of Rolling Stone within the UK.

Though optimum development methods are brand-specific, Cijffers has famous quite a few areas of focus which have produced outcomes throughout the assorted publications she has labored for. She shared a few of her prime recommendations on an episode of the Media Voices podcast.

Profiting from archives

Archives are probably the most highly effective, but additionally most uncared for viewers development instruments. Nearly all publishers may have evergreen content material – articles, movies and audio that don’t go old-fashioned – that may be refreshed each from time to time. This not solely helps search rankings, however can also be a helpful method of bolstering content material for a fraction of the price of producing model new items.

“Leveraging your archive appropriately and successfully is certainly the important thing by way of creating that regular, long-term groundswell of site visitors to your websites,” emphasised Cijffers. “It additionally helps improve engagement along with your viewers and purchase new customers after they go to your web site for the primary time.”

Content material appropriate for repurposing could be something from ‘How one can’ items to ‘Better of’ lists. However much more clearly ‘dated’ work can nonetheless profit from a bit of TLC. Cijffers gave an instance of vogue publications who typically have archives of images from fashions and celebrities, and even cowl tales and interviews that also have worth. 

“Younger persons are so extremely referential, and so they’re obsessive about the 90’s and 00’s,” she identified. “There’s an enormous alternative for [culture and fashion] publishers to proceed to optimise and re-optimise that content material to maintain bringing in that groundswell of site visitors.” 

Asking what your viewers care about/analysis

Choosing the proper subjects for that is very important to making sure evergreen success. “My primary development tip is analysis,” Cijffers famous. “It sounds apparent, however how will you count on to draw and convert and retain an viewers that you simply don’t know inside-out?”

In her time working at Dazed Media, Cijffers’ strategic work was centered on creating wells of simply discoverable content material round sure subjects they knew actually mattered to their viewers. They outlined these by in-person surveys and analysis, in addition to behavioural and warmth mapping on the web site.

“As soon as we recognized these subjects, these key evergreen themes then filtered down not simply into our future commissioning construction, but additionally into our information cycle and the day-to-day as nicely,” she mentioned. “It’s actually vital to maintain asking the query, what do folks in your viewers care about, and the way can we create these rabbit holes of content material that folks can get misplaced down?”

Content material suggestion algorithms

Good content material that the viewers cares about isn’t sufficient for constant development. Making the content material as discoverable as potential as soon as readers are on an internet site can also be key. That is the place content material suggestion and advice comes into play.

Websites like YouTube are famed for his or her ‘rabbit gap’ technique, with well-honed algorithms recommending movies that can maintain viewers on the positioning for longer. Cijffers wished to copy this however for journalism, taking a look at how they’ll leverage not simply the archives, but additionally information tales, pictures, galleries, listicles, video and audio.

“Any writer needs to be taking a look at their content material suggestion algorithms and tagging algorithms,” she emphasised. “Each of these issues have all the time had an enormous impression for me with each writer I’ve ever labored at, each by way of pages per session, and session length as nicely.”

Content material advice bins are widespread on writer websites. If supported by good tagging to make sure related items are surfaced, it may be a robust software for constructing loyalty. That is additionally the place chumboxes – lower-quality, clickbait suggestions – may match nicely financially within the quick time period, however are literally extra damaging not simply reputationally, however by way of longer-term viewers constructing.

Backing this up with the tech

These methods are all very nicely in principle. However the ultimate tip is probably a very powerful to make sure success: having it backed by the know-how, each on the digital design and growth aspect, and on the advert tech aspect. 

“It was fairly an funding for sure publishers I’ve labored with to spend money on taking a look at their content material suggestion algorithms, for instance,” Cijffers mentioned. “However the outcomes spoke for themselves.”

That’s to not say publishers ought to go including on numerous additional bits of tech. As a substitute, it’s about having a considerate, thought-about strategy to what’s used and why. Most significantly, any modifications have to think about what’s greatest for the person, in addition to what’s time-efficient for the workers.

This multi-pronged strategy of leveraging archives, viewers analysis and optimising content material recommendations, backed by a great tech stack,  is bound to reap rewards for a lot of publishers. However Cijffers had one final piece of recommendation to make sure success for viewers development.

“The curatorial energy of journalists and editors ought to by no means be underestimated,” she mentioned. “Journalism is essentially the engine of all these companies, and generally we will lose sight of that in a sea of homogenous, branded content material.”

In a world the place every thing is content material, it’s actually vital that publishers truly attempt to not lose the artwork type of storytelling, and that in the end comes from our journalism workers.


Charlotte Cijffers spoke to the Media Voices Podcast about launching Rolling Stone within the UK, her work on Perspective Journal’s digital transformation, and her recommendation for publishers trying to develop audiences on-line. Pay attention under, or search ‘Media Voices’ in your podcast app of selection. The interview begins at 15:00.



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