NewsWhip Creators, another smart service from the Dublin-based start-up

Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 09.24.01NewsWhip Creators leader board

If there is one personality trait you can count on when it comes to journalists it is competitiveness. This is something NewsWhip is capitalising on with its new service NewsWhip Creators, which puts journalists into a dynamic leader board based on the social activity the stories they have authored received.

But Newswhip Creators is more than just an elaborate vanity contest, this a gift for managers who want to see quickly how their journalists are performing compared with rival organisations. Perhaps the bigger gift to managers is that it’s going to spur their journalists on to make their content more social. However journalists can only do so much, this leader board is also going to very quickly shine a big light on media orgs who are enabling their audiences to share and interact using social media and, perhaps more importantly, those lagging behind who are not.

The task for Newswhip now is to localise this product and sell access, also I can see media organisations paying for access to custom builds of this (particular niches, landscapes etc).

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News organisations and the Facebook app – is it an equal relationship?

I’m very positive about Facebook. I have been for a while now. Working for a news organisation I see how it can reach new audiences, help journalists to engage with users and drive web traffic back to base.

In the past few weeks some of the world’s biggest news organisations have announced they’ve teamed up with Facebook to produce apps, which live within the social network’s walled garden.

This has obvious advantages for Facebook, which gets to keep its users on its site for even longer. It might also, eventually, be a good deal too for the user who gets to read content without being diverted to a third-party site (especially useful on mobile devices!). But thinking about this long-term, if it gains traction and users like it, news organisations may dig themselves into a bit of a hole.

What I can’t figure out here is how the news organisations are measuring success. Jump ahead a few years and assume the idea is massively successful, Facebook has become the place not only to find news but also to consume it, where is the benefit for the news organisation? People won’t need to come to news organisations’ websites for community either, they’ll have that on Facebook and (within reason) will be able to say more than they could on any news site in the world.

At best, news organisations will gain new audience and advertising revenue but the audience will be  loyal to a Facebook/news organisation partnership not to the news organisation itself. If for any reason the partnership were to break up, where would those readers go? In my opinion, if they have become accustomed to finding and consuming news within Facebook, it’s unlikely they’ll follow the news organisation out of the walled garden.

To me it seems like a more unequal relationship than it should be. I understand that news organisations are working with a behemoth, but are we not jumping the gun and surrendering. Do we need to do this right now or can’t we maintain the fairly successful strategy of collaborating with Facebook to guide its users to our content outside the garden? I’m sure news organisations think these apps are targeted at users who currently don’t consume content on their websites, but if the existing tools of sharing and linking are not achieving this I am doubtful an app will be that much more successful and instead will likely attract their current audience.

Perhaps I’m missing something (I know I haven’t discussed the new ‘read’ function etc, but while interesting, the greater value accrues to Facebook not the news organisation)? I am in favour of making news organisations as social as possible but within the context of building sustainable businesses.

I would love to hear more from news organisations about the long-term gains for THEM in such a partnership and how they see this developing.

-Blathnaid