As published in BandT – December 2015 by Paul Whybrow
All Your Friends Like This is a great Australian book on social sharing in news and the story of how the authors created a likeable engine to measure what elements drive us all to share a news story on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or any other social network for that matter.
I first learnt about the likeable engine when I heard one of the authors being interviewed on the radio (on ABC). They have a fascinating perspective on what the magic elements need to be in a news story that is published, which drives a person to share that story with their friends or colleagues. Their view on that special sauce recipe comes from hard evidence gained through the engine they have built, and to collect the data on what makes the sharing difference.
Using their engine they built the NIT model for sharing behaviour of news stories: Newsbreaking, Inspiring and Teaming.
They found 63% of stories were shared for teaming reasons. In essence we shared the majority of the stories because we either want to identify positively or disagree totally with the views portrayed in the news story we share. A strong emotional reaction was seen as having a big influence.
This research seems very topical to news publishers, as the growing adaption of the premium publishers from being the news destination to news distributer.
For a while the news brands have handled the progressive shift from the print platform to digital through various publishing models. First came the online desktop service, initially with a cut down of the newspaper and some online intra day updates, next came the battle of the home page, where publishers built editorial brand strongholds which encouraged multi day viewing of the home page to access the latest news. Then came the mobile revolution with many of us flicking to our favourite news sites on our smart phones often as an intelligent antidote to daily public transport commute or in the multi day downtime breaks waiting for lifts, meetings to start or standing in a queue.
In all this time the access point was still the publisher’s homepage that reigned as the access point. Recently a transition is gathering steam as more and more readers are seeing the publisher’s content directed to them by social media sites as recommendations, either through friends or colleagues or via the social sites’ media feeds. This shift will potentially speed up with a number of new ways of news distribution, such as Facebook Instant Articles, Apple News, and Snapchat Discover. Throw in that there is starting to be a battle on the technology to drive this distributed publishing including the Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) project the publishing distribution is in full disruption mode again.
For journalists the rapidly growing multitude of distribution platforms could be seen as fantastic for their craft with so many ways a story can be spread around the globe. Whatever happens, it seems the success or failure of a news story and so brand of the publisher, will be driven much more by the emotion that can be generated to the reader that drives them to bother to like the story and importantly share it with someone else.
For the commercial owners, the key concern is how do they ensure that they still earn a dollar along the way to pay for all this journalistic creativity and community sharing.
Delivering a profitable business – That’s not going to be so easy to achieve!