Engaging Audiences

Posted by Monica Worsley

These days journalism requires interaction with readers.

For writers engagement on social media is a generally accepted responsibility.

Engaging audience requires social media and other initiatives

Engaging audience requires social media and initiatives

News organizations hope journalist-reader relationship will help retain and build their audience. However, according Poynter, “it’s still not clear how news organizations can measure whether their attempts at engagement are paying off.”

One reason news organizations struggle to understand the success of their journalists’ engagement is inability to decipher the data.

Analytics from social media sights and tweet counts provide statistics, but there is not an established standard for what is a good level of engagement. As a result, news organizations try to deduce engagement from shares, on-site comments, and page views.

Uncertainty about the success of audience engagement stems from this lack of feedback.

According to Poynter James Janega of Trib Nation, a chain of engagement programs at the Chicago Tribune, suggests that interaction beyond social media allows for more feedback and sincere interaction with readers/viewers.

Facebook and Twitter should not necessarily be abandoned. Rather a combination of approaches to engaging audiences including social media may be the answer to audience input in journalism.

As soon to be professionals, Drake University School of Journalism and Mass Communication students may want to engage an audience on behalf of a news organization.

In his article ‘5 ways to engage more in your audience- in person and online,’ Janega outlines some successful techniques used by Trib Nation that can be applied to other news organizations, including:

1. Take corrections and clarifications seriously

2. Explain the newsgathering process

3. Hold community-based events

4. Engage in a conversation with your audience

5. Embrace social media

Have you ever tried to determine how receptive people are to something you have written or posted online? Why in this digital age, do you think measuring engagement through social media sites is still confusing and inaccurate? As a news consumer, what types engagement practices would you respond to and recommend news organizations try?

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5 responses to “Engaging Audiences

  1. This is an interesting topic, and I totally understand it because we deal with these questions at work all the time. At work we love getting people to participate in survey, comment or like our pictures, and sign-up for newsletters, but we don’t ever know how beneficial the interactivity is. Example: We provide downloadable cookbooks for people who sign-up for newsletters or subscribe to the magazine, and we can tell how many sign-ups, subscribers and downloads we have, but we don’t know if the subscriber/user made copies or passed it along to someone else. We’re happy to have more subscribers, but we always wonder how useful and what difference does our work make to our readers.

  2. It’s important as journalists to gauge how readers and audiences are reacting to the work we are producing. I know whenever I post something, be it on Twitter or WordPress, I’m always interested in knowing how others react to something or if they find it compelling to know. We may not have figured out how to properly understand this, like you said, but I’m certain that in a few years there will be some new app that can tell this. I know the Klout score tracks social media activity, so soon something similar to this will exist.

  3. It is important for journalist to monitor the interaction with readers but it can be difficult. I know for me personally with my wordpress blog, I best judge my interaction with those who read what I post by, the likes I receive and how many people start following my blog. But re-tweets, likes and shares are not always enough to determine if you are reaching your audience like you want to. I know for the company I work for, our target audience is teenage girls so that is often hard to pin down, what exactly will engage them. But we have discovered fill in the blank photos and shareable graphics increase interaction. As well as we have a chat room where the girls can interact with each other. And I agree with Taylor, Klout is also a great way to manage social media influence activity.

  4. This is an interesting topic! It is hard to tell by just how many views your video or article got if it is truly engaging or reaching people. They could have just visited your site for a second and clicked off yet that would register as another view. I think you can measure engagement by the amount of people that comment or share whatever is it you posted online because that way you can actually see people engaging.
    As for the tips you listed I think number 2 is very important. When I posted my blog about Facebook and being able to judge someone off what they like and so called ‘statics’ that showed that, people questioned it. They had a right to because though Cambridge University did a study on it we were not able to see the actual data from the study. Explaining the process is important part to one’s credibility and understanding.

  5. These are some really great, practical tips and a really relevant issue to bring up in today’s changing landscape of media. As you mentioned, today, journalism is no longer just a one way flow of information from source to consumer. The media involve more of a conversation with communication flowing both ways to engage and maintain audiences. I think we’re getting better at tracking these interactions with resources like Hoot Suite, but you’re right in that we’re still very early on in the process of figuring out how best to track, manage, and use data. Another issue is that the resources we are using can become inflated when not placed in a larger context of data understanding. the Klout score that others have mentioned, for example, can inflate data and doesn’t provide as much insight as its sometimes given credit for. Thus, it’s a difficult balance to measure all interactions, but yet maintain realism and draw fact-based conclusions.

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