Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Producing for the web first and print later

Kansas City editors share tips for online success

When creating content, always remember to prioritize for the web first and print later, Greg Johnson, editor at Vance Publishing’s The Packer, said at the latest meeting of the Kansas City ASBPE chapter. At the meeting Johnson, along with Jessica Zemler, editor of dvm360.com with Advanstar Communications, presented “Ten online ideas you can implement tomorrow.”

Johnson explained it is essential to his company’s web philosophy to write up a news release within a half-hour of receiving and immediately post online. After this, he said they update that story as it evolves, and they have trained their readers to come back to the site to check for updates.

“We have to be the group the industry goes to first…we have not found many online people drop our print publication because we offer something different in both,” Johnson said.

Johnson said all staff reporters at his company produce videos for the websites, but he said their videos are only 30 to 90 seconds in length and are shot with very basic equipment. In addition, he noted the video doesn’t always have to be impressive quality to be successful. The videos often consist of a short introduction by the reporter followed with a short interview clip. Johnson said this gives them more industry recognition as the industry gets used to seeing them instead of just reading their names.

Zemler said using free Google services such as news alerts has been helpful to her as it helps her to passively keep an eye on breaking news.

“The key is passively…it would take a lot of my time to go out and actively search for this information,” Zelmer said.

Dvm360.com also takes advantage of Google’s webmaster tools and analytics options to help improve their sites. Zemler said they use Google Analytics in addition to Omniture to track how many readers they have and where they are going on the site. When it comes to social media, she suggested using tools such as HootSuite.com to manage efforts, and overall she always keeps an eye out for who is linking to their sites. Also, she said her company has even proposed several social media campaigns to advertisers.

Johnson emphasized the need to have focus with social media.

“When you are doing this, you have to have a goal,” he said.

Zemler also suggested doing some site fine-tuning by finding the top 10 or 20 most popular articles and seeing if there is a way to repackage them differently. For example, her publication provides coverage of the top 10 veterinary schools in the nation, and they have broken their coverage of this into a 10-part package and increased page views.

Other online successes at Advanstar have been creating interactive content with photo pages, quizzes and maps. They have also used the concept of a people’s choice award in a hospital design competition to allow readers to vote for the best design. However, Zemler said this “people’s choice” concept can translate across the board to many different fields and can be as simple or complex as desired.

When implementing such efforts, it’s important to consider the quality of the page views you are driving to your site, Johnson said. Quality as opposed to quantity is important as advertisers are often looking for a specific audience. Page views just for the sake of page views might not be beneficial.

“You need to be careful with having page views being your main goal,” he said.

Greg and Jessica’s “10 online ideas you can implement tomorrow”

1) Do some site fine-tuning
2) Use Google to your advantage
3) Create interactive content
4) Efficiently manage social media
5) Hold a people’s choice award
6) Web first, print later
7) Use video
8) Use page views and analytics to see what’s driving interest
9) Include everyone on staff
10) Find out what works with social media

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