I’ve personally worked in a newspaper that went bankrupt and remember the feeling: We had to cut costs, content quality was diminishing, people were afraid of being let go and everyone was looking for side gigs. Who's to blame? On the other side, social networks like Facebook keep growing and earning more money every day.
The paradox thing is: Both are providing content to their users, both are selling ads, but only one is thriving.
Newspapers Need To Play To Their Strengths
Newspapers had a hard time the past years. Print circulations went down, many people still aren't willing to pay for digital news, people got used to personalized news feeds in their social media profiles, and these platforms publish more content in an hour than newspapers in a whole week.
Nevertheless, there are a few things newspapers can do better than Facebook:
1. Quality Content
Newspapers have great journalists who produce quality content. This is a fundamental issue for Facebook: Since they are a content aggregator, they don't hold the power over their content and can only hope users will post interesting news other than pictures of cats, dogs and food. :-)
2. Correct Content Labelling
Given the amount of content that Facebook has to deal with, it’s difficult for them to label it correctly. How to know what a post is about, what a picture is saying, … Newspapers on the other hand, have a fraction of the content and label it more precisely by resort and topic.
3. Precise Ad Targeting
I’ve done advertising on Facebook myself and in theory, it looks great. You can target people based on so many different criteria! The disappointment comes later: the targeting is not working properly. I’ve looked at what Facebook thinks I’m interested in: Apparently, I like images, reading and photography. None of which is accurate or useful of course.
For one thing, I think it's due to their insufficient content labelling. Also given that Facebook has so many advertisers, they simply can’t control the quality of ads, which leads to poor ad experience for users. Newspapers on the other hand can target peoples interests accurately and serve them targeted, curated ads.
So, the question is: How can newspapers use these three strengths to increase their digital footprint?
Any suggestions? We'd love for you to leave a comment and share your view!