Not long ago the Wall Street Journal, which thrives inside its paywall fortress, recognized the importance of opening the gates a crack with its new Facebook application, WSJ Social.
“You can’t rely on users coming to you anymore,” said Maya Baratz, head of new products for the Journal, in an interview with Nieman Lab. This change in attitude shows the increasing role of the audience in distributing and curating content for publishers.
Soccer success in El Salvador
If the big news organizations can benefit, so can smaller ones. A soccer website in El Salvador, elsalvadorfc.com, is capturing more than 20 percent of its traffic from Facebook, which is about four times the average for news sites in the U.S.
Carlos Lopez Vides, the editorial director of the site, allowed us a look at the site's stats in Google Analytics: it averages more than 200,000 visitors a month with average time per visit of more than 5 minutes. More than 40 percent of the traffic comes from the U.S.
These are healthy numbers in a country with relatively low internet penetration of 17 percent.
Some of the practices of Lopez and his team:
- Every news item on the site is posted to the site's Facebook page with a link and summary.
- Each summary has a hook to capture readers.
- At least 12 news items are posted daily from 8 a.m. till 10 p.m. All this activity throughout the day attracts followers, Lopez says.
- Two coordinators upload the news. "When there is a hot topic, we participate as elsalvadorfc.com, giving our point of view, always with as objective a news stance as possible. However, we do support the national team in a patriotic way."
- Twitter generates less than half a percent of the traffic, but they tweet anyway; the site has more than 2,000 followers.
- They seed their content onto the Facebook pages of teams and fan groups since these people are their target audience.
- "This type of marketing costs us nothing but does require a big time investment," Lopez says. "It recognizes the power of the users to share and recommend the product. We, the editors, have to empower the users to maintain their interest and support."
Without the big budget of the Wall Street Journal, this small team of sports journalists has built a significant following and is starting to market itself to advertisers. From a marketing point of view, it is a winning formula.