Naturally Novak

Naturally Novak Blog

Stop feeding dead content to phantom news consumers

10 September 2013 · By Anette Novak

The “average” news consumer no longer exists. So stop trying to cater to a ghost. Instead, offer personalised user experiences that readers will find worth engaging in.

Linda, 19, is dyslexic and, therefore, prefers communicating via Snapchat. She also likes graffiti and cooking.

Dieter, 28, owns all the latest tech gadgets. He is obsessed with electric guitars, spending time on communities where the positioning of a specific screw on a specific instrument can generate long discussion threads.

Sandra, 85, has a non-smart cell phone and never texts with her friends and family, because her eyesight is poor. She has no computer, loves crossword puzzles and watching TV.

This is how unique every single person in your audience is.

There are no longer masses in media.

The days when you could “send” average messages to passive receivers are gone.

So why does it take you so long to personalise your offer?

Since my last blog post, I have been appointed CEO of Interactive Institute Swedish ICT, a non-profit research institute conducting world-class applied research and innovation within the fields of interaction design and user experiences.

The above personalities are inspired by real cases, interviewed within the framework of an ongoing project we are carrying out together with media giant Bonnier and their spectacular GRID conference.

“Meeting” these people, who were presented to me by our senior researcher Brendon Clark, triggered some thoughts, some of which I touched upon in an earlier blog post about the fatal errors when launching digital subscription models.

In the old print days, we had to deliver a selection of topics and angles that would potentially attract interest from as many as possible. But to whom were we talking? Since knowing your target group is necessary for the right filtering and tonality, the newsroom ended up working with personas, made-up characters close to the strategic targets. Like: “Susan, 34, divorced with two children, living in a townhouse in suburb X.”

During the last decades, the digital evolution has opened the possibilities of sending personalised content to many receivers. A combined user data unit/developer team/newsroom could create, if not individualised news feeds, then at least more personalised selections, serving relevant content and services at the right time.

You’d be doing that, if you had one of those newsrooms. But most of you don’t.

Hey, add some salespeople in there, and you might just start making some digital dollars!

Sweden is currently second on the Global Innovation Index (compiled by the United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organization, with Cornell University and the international business school Insead). And we are the birthplace of Internet success stories such as Skype and Spotify, iZettle and Stardoll – and many more.

One of the newer fairy tales is photo syndicator Foap, based in Malmö, in the south of Sweden.

With a win-win-proposition and smart on-boarding techniques inspired by the gaming industry, Foap engages more than 500,000 people worldwide who want to make money from using their cell phones. And that’s just the beginning, according to smart Martin Garbarczyk (@mgarbarczyk), Foap’s top evangelist.

So, what are you waiting for?

Stop feeding non-interactive (dead) content to an average persona who demands to be addressed as a unique and special individual. Stop asking readers to contribute – without offering them anything whatsoever in return.

Stop talking relationship-building and engagement and start working on understanding the users and what triggers them. Start offering great user experiences around something worth engaging in.

What if you are no longer content providers?

What could you be then?

Looking forward to continuing the discussion in the comments field below – or find me in the social media channel of your choice.

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About this blog

I am Anette Novak, CEO of Interactive Institute Swedish ICT, which conducts world-class applied research and innovation, creating groundbreaking user experiences. Also, I am an international media consultant, World Editors Forum board member, gourmet, long distance runner and Francophile – mainly because the Parisians walk and talk as fast as I do. I am former editor-in-chief of the Swedish regional media house Norran. I believe in digital opportunities for publishers, open innovation. The future belongs to media companies that are able to maintain the trust of the audience, who define themselves as active community players, and who are able to create amazing experiences.


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