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Using Facebook/My Space pages to attract young readers

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by BillySixty, Jan 24, 2008.

  1. BillySixty

    BillySixty Member

    Has anyone done this? Does anyone know any newspaper that has tried?

    I'm not talking about using Facebook and/or MySpace to contact high school kids for interviews. I'm talking about creating groups specifically geared toward you newspaper's coverage. I've seen some college newspapers do it and wonder if a "real" newspaper could pull it off. Part of me thinks that it'd be a great idea — you'd be taking your coverage to the reader rather than hoping the reader finds it. But I also wonder if the high school readers would want to belong to such a group and possibly expose their page (and whatever pictures are on it) to the media.

    Any thoughts?
  2. jfs1000

    jfs1000 Member

    Seems creepy doesn't it?

    My own thoughts are as a resource it is almost a must to be able to navigate these accounts. But as an actual business decision and setting up a news group, I think that it won't work.

    The social networking sties work because they are anti-establishment, almost kind of a secret. Nothing is more established than the local paper with the same writers for the last 20 years.

    It's hard for newspapers, which have so much history, to be edgy. You may want to rebrand and only let others know that the current paper runs the site. But, isn't the purpose to increase print advertising and circ?

    Facebook is cool. Newspapers aren't. Remember when you were younger and your teacher tried to be cool? It was embarrassing.

    Stick to what we do best. Stop trying to be hip.
  3. Diabeetus

    Diabeetus Active Member

    Sorry jfs, but I disagree.

    The social network sites work because people like knowing what others are up to, figuring out what's going on and keeping in touch with friends. They're far from anti-establishment -- advertising is all over the place, and sponsored contests (like the Fox News March Madness tournament) are extremely popular.

    I think newspapers could gain significantly if they were to (properly) enter the foray. Through facebook, you could create an account and do a few different things:
    - add many friends, and then have updates to your page that spread news, linking back to your paper's site
    - create a group that publishes stories, which members are notified by in their newsfeeds
    - (the one I think would work best) create a facebook application that automatically shares news stories as soon as you post them to the web

    As for myspace, you can create a page for the paper, and share news stories via the notifications function.

    You don't have to be edgy with it -- a good number of people like getting the news from their homes, especially while they're away in college. I think the purpose is to increase readership and advertising through whatever media people want.

    Sticking to what we do best means never adapting or trying new things. If you don't branch out, you won't reach younger people, who will eventually become the older readership. Not making an effort to get to them is shortsighted and foolish.
  4. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    I don't think that it really sounds creepy. You're trying to bridge the gap, so to speak, between the generations.

    I hear ya, Billy.

    The problem is, you're going to rely heavily - HEAVILY - upon your readership to make this work, and in this day and age, unless you offer some kind of incentive to student-athletes - scores, schedules, stories, interactive whatever - you're not going to get a whole lot of interest. At some point, you have to get this to be something like MaxPreps - a definitive authority on high school sports in your region. Otherwise, there's no reason for the students to go there.

    If you can't get this going, it's going to fail. And you're going to look real bad for it. When you set up a page where viewers can see other viewers, and there's a very, very small number there, people themselves might even feel ashamed that they went there and never go back. You have to cast the bait, hook the fish with something real tasty and keep them coming back for more. In other words, if you half-ass this to start, nobody's going to give it a second chance.
  5. Diabeetus

    Diabeetus Active Member

    Completely agree with you, zebra.

    One thing that might help is a contest of some sort. Give something (desirable) away to a lucky member once a month, or something along those lines. People who use these sites, for the most part, really like free stuff. Give it away, and they will come.
  6. Rumpleforeskin

    Rumpleforeskin Active Member


    Gannett, why don't you take a seat over here?
  7. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    I love it. And I'm going to try it.

    I'm not a member on Facebook, but I know our paper checks it regularly for groups.

    But if I started a group called "Pondunk University Possums News" and other alumni, students or athletes searched "Podunk University Possums" they'd certianly come across the group, no?

    So, I can't see why this wouldn't work.

    EDIT: I just searched Facebook for ""Pondunk University Possums" and there are fan clubs for players, alumni groups, etc. If you messaged all those, they'd all join the "news" group, I would think.
  8. PHINJ

    PHINJ Active Member

    There's no room for this kind of forward thinking in today's newspapers.
  9. Rumpleforeskin

    Rumpleforeskin Active Member

    Wouldn't this be along the same lines of posting on a fanboi message board? In the group they could rip you and know who you are, just like on a team message board if you post as a writer.
  10. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    In about 2018, newspaper editors will have a meeting and say, "What is this My Space and Facebook I keep hearing so much about?"
  11. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    No, as the group's creator you can shut down the message boards, discussion boards, photo additions, "the wall" etc.

    Basically it would be a news service for Facebook members.
  12. HoopsMcCann

    HoopsMcCann Active Member

    just wait... i'm working on something very similar to this. should be out by opening day. could be interesting
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