Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

How to build audience engagement from scratch

Posted on | May 20, 2011 | 3 Comments

The fundamental difference between media now and media 15 years ago is proximity and data. The rise of digital publishing put readers in touch with reporters instantly via comments. The feedback loop was squeezed immensely; in some cases, it tightened like a noose around the necks of reporters and editors too siloed to listen to what their readers wanted.

Smart reporters looked at their traffic to understand what headlines worked, what story lengths worked, what posting times worked (or didn’t).

Fifteen years later these practices have been weaved into reporter DNA for the most part. It helps nurture existing audiences, builds tighter bonds with readers and helps spawn new fans.

How do you use this proximity, this data, when you’re starting a site and a project from scratch?

This is the really cool challenge we have with Drive for Innovation. We have a compelling title with a double entendre. A snappy Android-ish-looking logo.

But really no one knows about it the minute you light up the site. And within just a few months, we have to demonstrate traffic and engagement: Zero to 60 in six seconds ideally.

It helps that we can leverage our publishing position and our brands. That’s a rolling start. But really it’s much more than that. We will pulling every lever we can imagine, like some fantastic clanking, steam-powered mechanical marvel spawned in the mind of a writer like Jules Verne.

Come along for the ride. This project is as much about its business and editorial objectives as it is learning how to build community on the fly.

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3 Responses to “How to build audience engagement from scratch”

  1. Brad Pierce
    June 9th, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

    Best wishes, Brian. But do you really expect people to “Join the Adventure” if they can’t sign up without giving a telephone number and the name of their company? A few people might, and a few people might enter nonsense, but most people won’t bother to “Please fill in all required fields.” You might as well charge $10, too.

  2. Brian
    June 20th, 2011 @ 9:42 pm

    Brad, hi. Sorry for the delayed response… I do expect people to join because in addition to the editorial content that emerges from the drive, the second big “prong” of the site is content with prizes. Is that enough? Perhaps not. We’ll see of course, but in the larger scheme of things, times have changed and people are coming to understand that registration is the price you pay for free content. (In the early days of the Internet it was our provider’s monthly fee that was the only gate because very few sites required registration). All that said, it’s still a battle internally at EE Times to demand that all readers register for content. We now gate certain content so that it requires registration, but this, to me, is silly. I think we need to gate the whole thing. If people want the type of content that any publication produces, the least they can do is register. And the adventure continues.

  3. Brad Pierce
    June 24th, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

    Prizes are for Cracker Jack boxes. And I would never give out my real phone number just to see some “free” content. (Maybe I might bother to give a bogus phone number, but probably not.) Do you really want readers whose time is worth so little, or who are so lonely, that they would welcome phone solicitations?

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