THE 5 MUST HAVE OF DIGITAL NEWSPAPERS
1) A digital newspaper has to be available 24 hours, 7 days per week. And here it comes the first challenge: finding a Hosting and Domain provider that is reliable without taking off all your budget. We live in the era of clouding services and it seems like there are many options out there, but the truth is that keeping up with performance of servers, nodes, load balancers, etc may cause big headaches and the recurrent nightmare of trying to read the newspaper and finding instead of the web site an error message.
- Our advice: choose a service provider that can offer a minimum SLA (service level agreement) of 99.5% like Opennemas does.
2) Once that a newspaper has a name, a domain and a hosting service contracted it will be the time to create what we call "Frontend", the Web Site where readers can find the content. In order to create the web site a digital journal has to make sure that the Look&Feel, therefore the colours, fonts, logo, menu, spaces, lines, etc represent the character of the editorial line. What we call Look&Feel in fact it has to do with the instinctive and immediate human response to an image, if we like or not, if it makes us feel comfortable or not, if we feel it as serious or not. So when we talk about Look&Feel we talk also about User Experience. However User Experience (or UX) also has to do with navigability and Responsive Design.
- Our advice: design your web site as we do, starting from the smaller screen and follow a user flow you previously thought of, this way you will be able to scale to bigger screens better and will avoid that really ugly moment when you see for the first time your web site on a mobile device and you wait 45 seconds for it to open in order to discover that all content is misplaced and unreadable. Useful tools to check your responsive design would be
3) In order to publish your content publishers need to be able to add it to their Web Sites at any time and very quickly. Therefore they need to use a Content Management System (or CMS). A content management system allows to have access to a backdoor (or Backend) where editors can organize categories, tags, menu, breaking news, widgets, advertisements, articles, opinions, media content (images, files, videos), keywords, authors, etc. Though it seems there are many CMS out there, the truth is that good services for publishers and digital media are not so many. Newspapers in fact have a peculiarity that it defines and differentiate them, the need for a Frontpage Management tool, journals do not manage a Web Page, they manage a Web Site. And that Web Site includes multiple frontpages that need to be up to date and filled with any available content: opinions, widgets, ads, articles, multimedia, buttons, hyperlinks, etc.
- Our advice: Choose a CMS like Opennemas that you can test for FREE and that will provide you contacts to communicate with in order to understand and decide what you want and need. You should not need an IT department to run a digital newspaper.
4) Once a publisher has domain, hosting, web site and content is ready for the launch. This is the time for Marketing and Communication and a part from press release, PR and event the newspaper has to have a marketing and communication plan especially including SEO and Content Marketing, SEM & Display Campaigns and Social Networks activity. How many tweets, fb and other social networks should be published? Should newspapers include in their posts links, images and videos? Tweets go fast and they have to be short, clear, include hashtags, media and an action request. Facebook posts are expected to be more "polished", text can be longer, the image has to include a maximum of 20% of text, message has to be engaging and encourage reactions and diffusion. Linkedin posts will be more successful the more they will contain useful and reusable information.
- Our advice: Once tone of voice, audience and communication strategy have been decided our advice would be to post at least 2 post on fb per day, 6 tweets at different time of the day, 1 post on linkedin per week, keeping in mind that the communication vary a lot depending on the medium. We recommend to "boost" (=sponsor) posts and tweets in order to gather more followers and or conversions, the frequency and budget will depend on strategy and milestones.
5) The last and very important step for all newspapers will be to keep an eye on Data Analysis: pageviews, Alexa ranking, positioning in the search engines, unique and returning visitors, subscribers, followers, engagement rate, trends, indexed pages, demographics, mobile optimization, performance and of course on all monetization and marketing campaigns figures. In order to check figures few tools to use may be Google Analytics or Piwik, Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, Linkedin Analytics, Alexa Ranking Extension, Open SEO stats.
- Our advice: Create, analyze and share consolidated reports thinking of actions to take weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly. It is good to group them by category like audience report including all data about followers, pageviews, engagement, etc and the revenue and marketing. Always try to visualize them on trend line and graphics, this will help understanding and decision making. Also run A/B testing as much as you can: same article with 2 titles, or 2 different images and check results. You may be surprised by how easy is sometimes to get better results by changing a single element to the same content (either ads, articles, media, etc).