Understanding how readers consume content

Importance of understanding your audience

Today technology is at the centre of what we do in our lives. People are spending twice as much time online compared to 10 years ago, fuelled by increasing use of tablets and smartphones, with time spent online almost tripling from 10 hours and 24 minutes each week in 2005 to 27 hours and 36 minutes in 2014. Indeed, the rapid growth in the use of smartphones is changing the way many of us act in all aspects of our lives. There are so many social media channels: Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, you name it and we are constantly ‘switched on’, checking for alerts, updates and emails.

As an online publisher, we need to be fully aware of the growing significance of mobile to be able to provide the right content, in the right format to our readers. We need to take into account that if people are reading content on their mobile phone that it has a smaller screen and we have to provide content that takes account of this. Content needs to be quick and easy to consume, so we need to produce short, soundbite, articles otherwise the reader loses interest.

A great example of how the publishing industry is adapting to new audiences and changing is Conde Nast. This American publisher recently announced its partnership with the popular social media app Snapchat aimed at giving consumers exclusive access to seven of the publisher’s events. The partnership will make use of Snapchat’s Live Story feature and will provide users with behind the scenes footage from exclusive events by collating Snapchats by attendees including celebrities, editors and more into a collective, personalised story that will be available for 24 hours.

We all know that the use of mobile phones in the workplace has considerably increased and it is set to grow even more in the next few years. In fact NetMediaEurope recently surveyed 546 readers across five countries of Europe (France, Germany, UK, Spain, Italy) to gauge the usage of mobile devices in work places. The results showed that 81% of organisations provide their employees with smartphones, tablets or hybrids, more strikingly, the use of personal devices (BYOD) is growing at 10% every year and has almost doubled over the past three years. The results also indicated that 55% of organisations expect increased employee productivity as the main benefit from mobility in the next five years.

Our target readers look to us as a trusted source to get the latest news and analysis to help in their decision-making. Based on the results of this survey and the unstoppable growth in mobile, publishers need to make sure that we are not only catering for our audience, but making sure that we understand how they are going to consume content.

Therefore all publishers need to invest in good quality apps with good user experience that provide daily quality content to the readers. They need journalists who can write for mobile and have a mobile-first mind set. There is a fine art to writing punchy yet compelling pieces that grab the readers’ attention while they are on the move, but don’t end up being an empty story because all the meat has been cut out. So the question is not whether readers are ready for mobile content. People have been using mobiles for years. The question is can publishers really cater for the changing preferences of their readers, or are they simply paying lip service to mobile?

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