Saturday, October 29, 2011

#Facebook ain't salvation for newspapers

Unfortunately, from blindly buying into Facebook-based commenting systems rather than internally controlling commenting as part of a paywall, to thinking that "socializing" every editorial employee if not every employee of the newspaper with a corporate-backwalled Facebook account, it seems like too many newspapers are still looking for and buying into easy fixes.

The reality, though, is different.

First of all, some newspapers continue the same stupidity that got them into trouble in the first place.

For instance, if you, like many nondaily and smaller daily newspapers, have finally gotten your website paywelled, but undercut it by posting updates about breaking news stories on a regular basis to your free Facebook site, don't be surprised if a lot of people don't sign up for online newspaper subscriptions. Why should they? I wouldn't. Twitter's not quite so bad, if you keep your updates generic and link to a continually-developing version of the story on your website, behind your paywall.

The same holds true for blogging, to some degree. If you're a smaller daily, and your website isn't set up to do an internal, paywalled blog, don't set up a linked, free Blogger or Wordpress blog.

Second, if you don't have a paywalled website, Facebook isn't offering you its comment moderation services on your website out of the goodness of its heart. Rather, it's looking to:
1. Increase its demographic information about its members by seeing what they're reading, and targeting ads that way;
2. Increase its information about what ads on your website may interest them, and targeting its ads that way.

Third, Facebook appeals as much to the casual glancer as the in-depth reader. It may send a few more eyeballs to your website, but, whether that website has any sort of paywall or not, they're not likely to be very "sticky" eyeballs.

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