The Australian develops social media tool with local digital start-up community

By Vida Redoblado

The Australian, which was founded by media proprietor Rupert Murdoch, turned 50 on July 15, 2014. Storyline, a new social media tool debuted that day in celebration, allows users to view the front page from the day they were born — or any other date since its birthday on July 15, 1964 — as well as rich imagery from key national and international events throughout their life. 

Users simply insert their birthday into a field, and a 50-year timeline appears highlighting key front pages and imagery from big events. On their birthday, the front page from the day they were born appears. At the key events following, the tool reminds the user how old they were at the time and invites them to share their own memory from those times.

The images and content comes from the rich historical archive of the newspaper. The Australian is one of the country’s most influential newspapers, unparalleled in its national coverage across the spectrum from business to sport, fashion to food, aviation to education.

“We’re celebrating our proud past and exciting future by releasing Storyline which showcases our wonderful archive of front pages, stories and imagery in an innovative, immersive and interactive way,” says CEO Nicholas Gray. “Storyline encourages Australians to recall their own life journey told through the big events of their lifetime. 

“All Australians remember where we were for key events like the first moon landing, the dismissal, royal weddings past and present, 9/11, and Cathy Freeman’s gold medal in Sydney amongst many others. With Storyline, we are inviting everyone to relive these moments and memories with their friends via social media.” 

The launch of Storyline was promoted on both The Australian homepage and front page of the newspaper. The Australian reaches 3.2 million readers each month.

In addition to its corporate accounts, The Australian encouraged influencers to engage with the tool and share it with their social audiences; for example Australian Cricketer Dave Warner shared his experience with his 547,000 followers. The announcement also achieved significant trade PR coverage. 

The early success of Storyline speaks for itself: 

  • On launch day, #ausstoryline was trending on Twitter, peaking at a mention every minute during the morning of launch.

  • More than 12,000 people engaged with the tool in the first two days.

  • Users were highly engaged, with session durations 25% higher than average. Engagement on mobile and tablet was even higher.

In its second phase, the brand invested in paid digital and social advertising over two weeks.

“Over 50 years, The Australian has captured and covered the big national and international events that affect readers,” said Alice Bradbury, general manager of marketing. “Because of this, we have a rich, deep archive of history and content. For our 50th birthday we wanted to surface five decades of national history in a meaningful way that is relevant and important to readers of today. 

“Storyline is a personalised experience and a terrific tool that allows consumers to browse the events that shaped the 20th and 21st centuries in Australia and around the world, with the twist of seeing it from their own perspective.” 

Storyline was developed by Native Empire after an initial briefing of the idea to Fishburners’ digital start-up community. The brief asked the businesses within the community to develop a 50th birthday social media tool that would engage Australians, allowing them to interact with the brand in a creative way.

News Corp Australia and Fishburners announced a partnership in December 2013.

For The Australian, it was important that the winning concept was able to provide its readers with a personalised, interactive experience that could easily be shared across social media channels on all platforms. Importantly too, it had to be highlight The Australian’s foundation as a news and media company.

Fishburners is Australia’s largest and leading tech co-working space. It is home to over 150 start-ups, welcomes more than 1,000 entrepreneurs through its doors weekly, and regularly hosts some of the world’s start-up leaders from companies such as Google, Etsy, Amazon, and Airbnb

About Vida Redoblado

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