Today in News Tech

TNT – Podcast Feb 3, 2022

Welcome to the Today in News Tech podcast, where we have an extended chat on the news from the past week. Here are the top headlines we will be discussing:

How BBC News topped 20 million Instagram followers (and stayed away from TikTok)


According to the Press Gazette, BBC News now has more Instagram followers than any news organization in the world. Jeremy Skeet, head of social at BBC News, said there were four key strategies to the account’s success:

  • “Laser-like focus” on the audience
  • Regular Posting
  • Creating more explainers especially in relation to Covid-19
  • Text on Images

Notably, the BBC is not officially on TikTok. This was a deliberate decision made by Skeet to stay true to their newsbrand.

We’re only going to go on to these platforms if editorially we think they’re the right platforms to be on and we can create content that would work on this platform and work for BBC news.

We haven’t really got the resources to do video solely for TikTok so we’re not going to do that.

-Said Jeremy Skeet

Seattle Times hits 81,000 digital subscribers (while avoiding ‘deep discounting’)


According to the Press Gazette, the Seattle Times has increased their digital subscriptions by 10% in the last year to reach 81,000 active subscribers. The figure has doubled in three years from 41,000 in 2019.

Many publishers experienced strong growth in traffic and subscriptions in 2020, but few have continued that growth through 2021.

A growth strategy focused on revenue over subscriber numbers

“I think that this is one of the follies of the industry – this volume chase. Strategically, we’ve looked at this in a very different way, where we talk about the sustainability of the size of our newsroom and the dollars that we need in terms of our long-term strategy. [We look at it from] a revenue standpoint, versus a ‘we are chasing this volume number’. Because there are all kinds of terrible things that you can do to your long-term viability and sustainability that will drive that volume number. But deep, deep, discounting – is that strategically the right move in order to grow those subscribers, engagement, retain them and flip them to a high price point?”

I think it’s key what she says about flipping them to a high price point. The Seattle Times has one of the highest priced digital products in the country. At $4.99/week (with a $1 intro offer for the first four weeks), they have a bigger challenge converting the intro subscribers to full price.

We’ve discussed the strategy of offering discounts to “get your foot in the door” with the customer. However, it appears that a factor in converting to a long term customer is the difference between the introductory rate and the full price.

How to capture and use audience segments to improve engagement


According to an article from “What’s New in Publishing”, publishers are growing subscriber revenue by targeting specific audience segments.

Using qualitative methods like one-on-one interviews, small group conversations, and surveys, The Atlantic targeted current, prospective, and lapsed subscribers with questions to discover what makes the Atlantic’s content unique and worth paying for.

Publishers can also use website data to segment their audience and stop looking at their readers as one anonymous group.

We built editorial teams for specific audience. We addressed them with different products.

One idea to get better engagement with polls is to hold them during live events.

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