Publishing becomes direct as the news becomes conversational ”Nieman Journalism Lab

This time of year in the UK, families across the country are pulling Christmas cookies, invariably containing a bad joke and a question of varying degrees of difficulty alongside a paper wreath and a yo -yo plastic. This holiday season, here is my Christmas journalism quiz for all of you:

Q: What do Finland, Italy, Argentina, Hong Kong, Turkey and the UK have in common?

A: These are all countries where the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2021 shows WhatsApp to be the most used social media platform, ahead of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, etc.

More interestingly, these are all countries where the gap between global use of WhatsApp and its use for news is greater than 50%.

Tl; dr: A lot of people in the world use WhatsApp, few use it for news.

In total, in 28 of the 46 markets surveyed by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism for DNR 2021, there is a gap of over 40% between the overall use of messaging apps (including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger , Telegram, Line and others) and their use for news.

All of this raises an important question: If messaging apps are among the most used apps by our audience, why, as an industry, aren’t we doing more to engage them?

The business world has quickly adapted to the ubiquity of conversational interfaces and has found compelling reasons to invest in reaching its audience and customers. Messaging apps aren’t subject to the vagaries of algorithms, so businesses have a more direct relationship with their audience. Chat interfaces are extremely familiar to the public and offer a growing array of interactivity, so open rates, click-through rates, and task completion are much higher than with email ( and traditional SMS). The return on investment is positive. Want to upgrade your phone, book a test drive for a car, order a food delivery? You can do this through the chat now.

For editors and editors there is a big opportunity: we can post directly where new and existing audiences are spending all this time and we can create a new relationship outside of those conveyed by social media platforms, which are difficult. to monetize and where our reach is determined by non-transparent and capricious algorithms. Direct publishing through conversational platforms delivers a highly interactive native mobile experience in the apps and interfaces that most people use every day. Distribution is direct and on-demand, opportunities for personalization abound, and monetization through advertising or reader revenue is much simpler than other social media. What’s even better is that Chat API services allow us to launch similar products across a range of messaging applications without requiring highly customized strategies for each platform or protocol – the same product can. be easily adapted for WhatsApp, RCS, Telegram and Facebook Messenger. News and content become the product, not the technology by which it is accessed.

What could this conversational future look like? Potential implementations range from smoother mobile subscription and campaign flows to personalized daily briefings via chat, discovery-based audience-driven questions (“Where can I get a Covid-19 vaccine in my area ? ”) To visually rich self-guided storytelling. There is a wide scope for new and creative products that can provide engaging experiences for audiences.

The green shoots of direct publishing are springing up in Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa, where publishers are successfully launching pioneering offerings on platforms such as Telegram, WhatsApp and Viber. In these regions, editorial staff have identified that their audiences are already very active on messaging platforms and are steering their strategy on this basis. There have been some promising projects in community news in the United States – El Tímpano and Documented are some interesting recent examples.

The large “global usage” and “news usage” discrepancy for messaging platforms highlighted in so many of the markets studied for DNR is proof that there is ample room for communication. growth of conversational news. In 2022, let’s seize the opportunity and design editorial products that engage our audiences in new and creative ways on the messaging platforms they use more and more every day.

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