Following the siege in Mumbai which brought the Twitter and its usage by citizens to share and spread information into the limelight, media publications including Mint and DNA have signed up for Twitter. While media publications on Twitter are not new – New York Times, Wired, The Economist and the Wall Street Journal have their own twitter feeds.
What’s interesting is the difference in the approach being adopted by Mint and DNA:
1. News Feeds On Twitter
Mint, much like Web18 publications – IBNLive and CricketNext, is simply pushing news on the Net. This is what I call a “Newsletter Approach” to content distribution, much like WAP links pushed via SMS on the mobile. The publications are trying to reach the users wherever they are present – whether on Twitter, Instant Messenger, Mobile (SMS), and solicit traffic for their websites. They’re probably using scripts for automated updates via the RSS feeds, and not really selecting the content.
Why it works: Viewing news is an impulse decision, and the headlines trigger curiousity for more information. For example: I followed the India-England One Day International Cricket series via CricketNext’s feeds on Twitter. Occasionally, I clicked through for more information. Prior to this, I rarely visited CricketNext – I’ve always preferred Cricinfo’s content and coverage.
2. A Personal Touch
The background image of the DNA on Twitter says it straight – “Our stories have no links attached, we believe that some stories are better said in 140 chrs”. Thus, unlike in case of the news feeds, there is no benefit for DNAs website. The DNA user is also responding to tweets from other users, and appears to be selecting which stories are being posted. This is an audience focused approach, and seeks to establish a relationship between the reader base and the publication.
Why it works: a personal approach will allow DNA to discuss developments with other Twitter users, and assess their content preferences. Responding to comments helps them establish a relationship with their reader base. Not including links allows the conversation to remain on Twitter, and doesn’t divert traffic to DNA.
3. Segmented approach
While no Indian publication has yet adopted this approach, but do take a look at the Twitter feed for LA Times Fires, with news updates specific to fires in Southern California. While this news may not be specific to a large enough audience, and limited to a certain time period (there have been no updates since October 2007), it does still help divert traffic to the news site. For example, with State Elections a hot topic in India at the moment, and probably through till the 2009 General Elections, there could well be a twitter specific to elections, for users who don’t want entertainment news mixed with political news. You may want to treat twitter feeds like RSS feeds – a segmented approach may just work.
Twitter URLs have been registered for NDTV (in 2007) and the Economic Times. There’s another Twitter feed for Web18, with news updates from Tech2, Josh18, BizTech2 and Buzz18. We’re not sure if the Web18 Twitter feed is an official feed.
Starting a Twitter feed boils down to two things – building a user base, and monetization. Monetization can come in two ways for Twitter publishers:
1. Sponsored Twitter updates: We have heard about “Sponsored Tweets” and Twitter Ads, but these would require a large “follower” base. What’s more, these updates can be ignored completely if not relevant to the user base.
2. Traffic for the website: I don’ think Twitter is playing a very big role in terms of proving to be a source of traffic for a website, but every little bit helps. In a sense, LiveMint, CricketNext and IBNLive are indirectly monetizing Twitter by the increasing in for their publications.
If you choose to set up an account on Twitter, we would recommend that you include links with your News updates on Twitter, especially if you have a mobile website. Some users may choose to access the content from mobile, or receive Twitter alerts via SMS.
Disclosure: I own a few shares of Network18, a shareholder in Web18 which runs IBNLive and CricketNext.