Mi Li, audience development manager for Fiscal Times in New York, recently spoke via Skype to my multimedia business journalism class at Tsinghua University about how to build an audience.
The online publication, which focuses on fiscal, budgetary and economic issues, launched in March 2011 and has grown to 1 million unique visitors and 6 million page views monthly.
One of the key elements of her strategy when she started at the publication a year ago was to develop a daily newsletter to create audience awareness and drive traffic to articles. This was a strategy that also worked well at American City Business Journals, a chain of weekly business publications, where she was previously marketing manager.
Other tips she gave our class:
- Know your target audience and the types of social media they use
- Update frequently on Twitter where readers expect this, less so on Facebook, where frequent updates can be annoying
- Interact with readers, especially in Facebook
- Be conversational in Facebook, but not too personal
- Choose social media that are helpful to you; you can't be in all of them
- Find social media trends relevant to your content and join those conversations
Since Fiscal Times is a relatively new publication, it is important to develop a brand and stick to it, Li said. The key to success on the web is targeting a niche effectively.
Since search engines drive about 30 percent of the traffic to many news websites, search engine optimization is critical. Her top recommendations for effective SEO:
- make the title of the article clear and brief
- research which keywords that are relevant to your website have the highest frequency in search engines
- get the key words of the article in the title
- be sure that each image or chart has relevant words in its name (as opposed to IMG450 or Photo125)
- use keywords in the article itself (as opposed to synonyms).
RSS feeds are also helpful in alerting readers to new content on topics they choose or new columns and blog posts.
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