I know the conventional wisdom (as espoused by your truly a few weeks ago) is that opening up mainstream media’s Web sites to things like comments, submit to social news sites and what have you is a good idea but…
Sure commenting increases engagement and page views (=ad revenue) but taking a look through The Toronto Star’s basketball mail bag and comments on this football article from The Times I can’t help but think whether this engagement is worth it.
There’s nothing a minimum wage office monkey enjoys more than coming up with a piece of irrefutable logic that cripples a cornerstone of the journalist’s article. However, most people are so overcome with the eagerness and the green eyed monster that they only prove why they are so utterly incapable of stringing more than a few thoughts together in coherent fashion.
As I’ve said before, the comments sections of some big newspaper’s sites are like the wild west for journalists – they can wander around, but they may need protection. I always like reading the Dilbert blog comments for people who think (quite wrongly) that they are imparting an absolute truth in a way no one else has ever done before. And then falling flat on their faces.
Do you really want the great unwashed harrassing your employees’ every word, statistic or turn of phrase?
In terms of tactics that I’ve seen from the mainstream media that shows they “get” social media and that work effectively:
Report a typo – if you’re going to have people slag off your writing, you may as well do it properly. Added to the fact that barely anyone can actually read or right properly these days, including myself, and you have a great spectator’s sport.
Podcasting – journalists are clever, insightful, opinionated and knowledgable. Which is why they make so many appearances on our televisions. If you’re an editor or manager, why not put a few of these resources in a room together, give them a few beveraged, some contentious talking points, turn on the mikes and you’re off to the races. Use your existing readership to build up the listenership, sell some advertising and sponsorship spots and bang! You’re a senior vice-president (or equivalent for the media industry).
RSS – guys, you do know you can sell ads through RSS as well right? You put your feeds out for people to subscribe to, but I rarely see you serving any ads up with them as well… If you can sniff your nose at (about) $15 cpm, then good for you.