Q&A with EL PAÍS: How a legacy newsroom took on digital transformation

October 2, 2017

Written by NewsWhip
Pilar prisa noticias el pais

The transition to being a renowned news source on social media isn’t just a concern for English-language publishers. Global publishers like EL PAÍS are innovating too, creating powerful change in the newsroom.

We spoke to Pilar Millán Galante, Director of Audience Development at Prisa Noticias, about their new structure for social publishing, one where everyone on the team understands its impact.

Since changing strategy in May 2016, EL PAÍS has had a 34 percent increase in traffic from social networks. Despite decreasing the number of posts by 4 percent, there has been a 28 percent increase in engagement rate.

Clearly, EL PAÍS is not to be ignored. The publisher has even emerged as one of Facebook’s examples for the most recent F8 conference. We asked Pilar to tell us more about EL PAÍS’s social media strategy.

NewsWhip: Can you tell us a bit about how you got started?

Pilar: This is my sixth year at EL PAÍS. My first position was Head of Social Media for all Prisa companies. Now I’ve become Director of Audience Development for EL PAÍS and AS.

We set up traffic and engagement goals each year for all our brands; that’s when we have to match business needs to audience habits and our past traffic and engagement evolution. We figure out strategy from that, estimating growth and building actions to achieve that goals.

What’s changed since you started at Prisa Noticias?

In the past five years, digital transformation has made everything change: teams, structure and process. From an audience perspective, we started to work with objectives and we change the way to understand our impact.

We understand readers’ interests much better that we did some years ago, so we can develop high effective strategies that allow EL PAÍS to be the leader.

social media monitoring spanish Portuguese facebook publishers

We’ve set up a strong analytics ecosystem and that knowledge increases year over year. We have created a good structure of social teams in different brands and newsrooms in Spain, Mexico, Brazil, and USA. At the same time, we’ve been pioneers in publishing new content formats.

That seems like quite an impactful change! How did you get the whole team on board?

We’ve trained our journalists to get digital skills and help them face the digital transformation. It’s a matter of making teams part of the process.

Which teams are you working with at EL PAÍS?

I work closely with all of them: social media editors, analytics team, product development, marketing… With special focus on user acquisition.

Regarding social media, every week we have a meeting with social media teams (including social media teams from México or Brazil), and we analyze the best and worst posts of EL PAÍS, and its competitors. We took all the learnings from there.

el pais top story facebook

(ed: This was EL PAÍS’s top performing story on Facebook in Q3, with more than 235,000 engagements.)

Also, we use tools to allow us to listen to what’s happening outside of our box. This is very important to us. This is why the social media teams works with Spike.

Are there any notable differences in being a Spanish news source vs. an English one?

EL PAÍS is not only a Spanish publisher, we are a global newspaper. When we look at our competitors, we analyze both local and global media, from the legacy to the most innovative content brands. We have a huge challenge because we are in a lot of markets and we publish many kinds of content.

For me, the question is not the difference between Spanish and English, or the difference between digital and legacy. We are global and because of that, we need to be open, and every one Spanish, English, legacy or digital, need to find their voice and stay faithful to what the brand is.

Do you have any tips for how publishers can stand out on social?

I will choose two:

  • The challenge is to keep your brand equity while you are innovating. We want our social identity to respect our global brand positioning and all good things related to our best tradition as journalists and content creators. We want every social user to recognize our brands behind the content. We aim for meaningfulness, not only for increase our reach and traffic.
  • To be effective, social media teams need to have data and analytics to enable them to make the right decisions.That means that you need to have a solid data analysis structure for social media.

How does video play a role in your strategy?

Vídeo is strategic for us. We have a whole section for video.

(ed: This was the top Facebook video of EL PAÍS for Q3, driving more than 1.1 million views.)

Some of the team members are focused on native video for social media and create exclusive stories that can only be consumed in our social networks, with its own language and format. We use this video distribution also as a way to understand audience habits.

Do you get any direct feedback from your audience along with that?

We listen. We have a tool that allows us to analyze the semantics of the conversation around our brand, also around many topics both in public posts and private messages. We’ve already published some articles using social listening insights.

What’s ahead for EL PAÍS?

We have a lot of new plans and big challenges. The listening outside the box, it’s one of our big challenges for this year, and how to use it for audience development.

We will continue to try new formats to help us develop new audiences, as we have done so far as pioneers in Instant Articles or AMP.

Thank you for sharing with us, Pilar! It’s clear that social listening can make a huge impact in the newsroom. For a look into your own social analytics and your competitors’, try NewsWhip Spike

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