We spoke to the Mirror’s Head of Social, Heather Bowen, about the role of social media in reaching new readers at mirror.co.uk.
The UK-based Mirror became one of the first ‘legacy media’ outlets to break into NewsWhip’s Facebook rankings a few months ago. We talked to Head of Social, Heather Bowen, about the role that social distribution has in getting the Mirror’s content to new readers.
Can you tell us a little about your role at the Mirror, and what it entails?
Where to start? Well, primarily, it’s my job to ensure that Mirror Online content reaches as many people as possible on social media.
I analyse what sort of content our readers want depending on the social platform they’re on; how they like to consume our content on that social network; what makes them want to read/watch/view that content, and what makes them want to then share that again.
Then I ensure our content is presented to those readers in a way that suits them.
At the same time I’m keeping an eye out for areas where our content isn’t being shared, but perhaps it could be as there’s a relevant audience there.
The Mirror recently broke into our top 10 Facebook publishers charts. It was the first ‘legacy media’ organisation to do so in a long time. How important is social media in reaching new readers for the Mirror?
Social media is hugely important in reaching new, and existing, readers.
We wouldn’t publish a newspaper and not put it in shops for people to buy and read. For me, social media – and search engines – are the shops for online content.
As you know, the number of people using social media in some form or another is staggering – and it’s growing all the time. We need to take our content to where our readers are and where they are going to want to (and in many cases now expect to) find it.
Has Mirror content had much traction on alternative social platforms, like Reddit, and if so, what’s worked best? Or is Facebook the main show in town for you?
Facebook does drive the majority of our social referrals and interactions, and has therefore been our social focus for 2014, but we don’t want to be solely reliant on it.
Twitter is a strong area for us, particularly for football, but we’re also constantly innovating to try and reach more people in different ways and on different social platforms. It doesn’t always work, but if that’s the case we’ll keep testing or try something different until we find something that does.
I’m curious about Trinity Mirror’s use of Spike. Could you explain how the digital team is using it in their daily workflow, and has it been useful in boosting ‘social awareness?’
At certain points of the day we use Spike to see what content is being well-shared. Where does our content sit within that and are there any stories we should prioritise on our lists because they are doing well for others?
One of the successes we had with it was a story about the world running out of chocolate. The article had originally been produced in the US and was being well shared there, and we knew it would be of interest to our readers too, so we gave our own treatment to that story and it did really well on social media as a result.
How important are analytics in informing your social strategy? What metrics are you most interested in, and what’s the goal when you post a story to Facebook and Twitter?
Almost everything we do is driven by analytics. That enables us to improve our strategy inline with what our readers want.
We’re constantly looking at a range of metrics and comparing them to try and spot trends. Primarily it’s a combination of: how many people engaged with this piece of content on that social networking site? what does the engagement tell us and how many people clicked to see more?
The goal when we post to Facebook or Twitter is to get as many people as possible interested in the content that we’re producing and hopefully getting them to come back for more in future.
Do you think the recent Facebook changes will change what you’re doing on the site much?
We’ve been trying different things out since Facebook introduced the changes and the early analytics are really promising. Post targeting in particular has been something we’ve seen good results from.
Do you have any advice for social media editors looking to see similar social success at their publications?
Pay attention to your analytics and constantly ask yourself how you can improve. It’s easy to be consumed by what you’re currently doing, but things change all the time – including the appetite of your readers – so never take something as given.
When I started at The Mirror we thought that people liked a particular type of content on the main Facebook page, but in the last year we’ve tried different types of content on them and have found that, actually, they much prefer other stuff.