A recent study, commissioned by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, noted that, “news organisations are struggling to remain relevant to a generation that has grown up with the distractions and diversions of digital media”. With the advent of the Internet while disseminating information has become unchallenging, soliciting readers for all the disseminated information remains to be a formidable challenge.
Emarsys, one of the largest Independent Marketing Platform companies in the World, in their 2019 Social Media Predictions overtly states that roughly about 42% of the current world population use social media for at least an hour and a half every day! Social media usage analytics by Emarketer notes that 90.4% of Millennials, 77.5% of Generation X, and 48.2% of Baby Boomers are active social media users.
With such arresting statistics, creating content that engages the readers becomes indispensable. With the accessibility quotient of information being at its best, the focus of organizations now rests on soliciting and retaining readers. Millennials who are less accustomed to legacy formats like print, may have little tolerance for a similar format. An often overlooked reality of today is the fact that smartphones and social media are evolving simultaneously. 91% of all social media users access social channels via mobile devices. Likewise, almost 80% of the total time spent on social media sites occurs on mobile platforms. (Lyfemarketing, 2019)
The demand for mobile-friendly content across social media is rapidly increasing, and justifiably so. Social media is creating or maybe has already created a revolutionary change in one's perception of the world around, and continues to influence users across the globe.
The key conclusion of a new report commissioned by the Reuters Institute and authored by strategic consultancy Flamingo affirms that contending disinformation through innovative, mission-driven, audience-centred journalism seems to be the most promising way of attracting young readers to news. Usage patterns undoubtedly claim that youngsters outwardly prefer news to find them rather than the other way around.
A recent study conducted by Reuters Institute affirms that, “Social media seems to be the most preferred medium to discover news across age groups. A comparison between age groups ranging from 18- 35+ shows that Facebook features in the top three social media app to discover news. Gen Z (18-24yrs) 57% preferred social media (even messaging apps) while 43% of Gen Z accessed it via other mediums for their daily dose of news first thing in the morning.
The Flamingo reports affirm that clear language, interactive storytelling, and fitting recommendations that surface interesting content makes news more enjoyable to consume for the millennials. Nonetheless, an average visitor will only read an article for 15 seconds or less and the average video watch time online is 10 seconds.
This means, news brands must evolve by building up live events; emphasising on storytelling methods, upgrading to formats that are native to mobile and social platforms, and most importantly make news a two-way active engagement. News must transform from a monologue to a dialogue. Audience engagement seems to be the flavour one must continue to savour.
While continuous engagement with readers through open and live comments keeps readers hooked to news, it comes with the malevolent menace of blowing unnecessary or trivial matters out of proportion. Given one can blatantly state one’s opinion on any matter, hate-messages, Internet-shaming, victim-shaming etc becomes a matter of concern. A mandate here is to moderate this invasion of comments and audience engagement. This is one of the chief concerns we have tried to address through one of our flagship products, Metype.
To conclude, in addition to audience engagement, innovative storytelling, and live news coverage, news makers must constantly be on a transformative continuum addressing the dynamic world of news to attract young readers consistently.