Media Organizations Get Local and Personal with Social Media 8

Location-based News Use By the Wall Street Journal (Via Nieman Lab)

Twitter has been a great tool for the media since its inception. A fact that has attributed to its media darling status. However, as media organizations look for new ways to leverage social and digital technologies they’re becoming more sophisticated with their usage.

When the Wall Street Journal launched its ballyhooed New York Edition in April they also announced a partnership with Foursquare, the location-based social network. From the outside the partnership looked simple. The Journal wanted a way to get in front of early adopters in New York City and planned to offer three types of badges popular on the service — status symbols that Foursquare users earn for checking into a certain number locations. They also planned to offer bits of information on significant locations. For instance, when someone checked into the George Washington Bridge they might see from the WSJ: “Police were told to stop and search would-be subway bomber Najibullah Zazi’s car in September 2009 as he drove up to the bridge—but waved him across without finding two pounds of explosives hidden inside.”

While this was an interesting use, the Journal really took a step in social, location-based, news reporting when they  broke news of the Time Square evacuation on May 7 by posting this message to folks checking into New York City locations: “Portions of Times Square have been evacuated after a report of a suspicious package.” According to the Journal, that message was posted simultaneously with additional alerts and coverage on

The use of Foursquare for breaking news allowed the Journal to check-in with users who follow the media outlet on Foursquare and those who were in New York at the time would have seen the alert at the top of their Foursquare time-line. This type of targeted and localized editorial should be exciting for media organizations of all sizes. Just as marketers look for ways to improve targeting capabilities, media executives should be in the same mindset.

Meanwhile, as Facebook becomes a greater source for breaking news content and driving consumers to stories, media executives are looking at new ways to leverage the largest social network in the land. A division of Time Inc. recently began selling magazine subscriptions through its Facebook news feed, which allowed interested users to  fill out their order information and pay directly through a form, without ever leaving Facebook. Meanwhile, GQ and Condé Nast, continue to leverage their Facebook page to personally engage consumers and attempt to interest them in their GQ iPad and iPhone applications, with direct links to the download pages on iTunes.  Although, they’ve only sold 365 copies of their current issue to date on the iPad, they’ll be a time in the not too distant future when these more profitable subscriptions (no printing costs) surpass print subscriptions.

While this may make some folks squeamish, given Facebook’s privacy woes, they’re both examples of the progressive approaches media organizations are now taking with social media. As we’ve said before, these media organizations are becoming technology companies first and journalist organizations second. If you’re hoping they don’t disappear, it’s a change for the better.

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