Social media platforms are fast evolving, and newsrooms that have come to rely on them are turning to new tools to keep up. From more granular analytics to better tools for incorporating social content into stories, newsrooms — and the vendors they work with on social — are moving along a sharp learning curve.
Learn the language of ROI and see how metrics impact your newsroom.
The abiding challenge is that metrics alone can’t tell a newsroom where to focus its attention. Metrics must be matched to strategy, to culture and to the specific job that each journalist was hired to do.
And it isn’t that they don’t have ample performance metrics, but that they aren’t using them well enough. A new survey from the Engaging News Project finds 87% of the 525 newsroom professionals polled collect metrics like unique visitors or page views; however, newspapers in particular are doing a poor job of using A/B testing with their metrics (only 5%), and only 12% are partnering with researchers.
For the first time, digital devices and streaming services (and the viewers that embrace them) will be incorporated into Nielsen’s industry standard ratings system.
Kevin Davis, CEO and executive director of the Investigative News Network, says that before a system of standard metrics to measure journalism’s impact can be developed, there first needs to be a clear understanding of who will be using the metrics and for what purposes. “Regardless of what metrics are developed and agreed upon, adopting repeatable methodologies and standards that can be measured objectively over time will be essential in gauging not only the impact of the organization today, but also its growth,” he says.
The Guardian‘s Stijn Debrouwere says the news industry has always been bad at using analytics: “Metrics only make sense when you’re going to do something with them. If you just have them to have them and don’t use them to gauge your progress in making your website, your application or your writing better, then you might as well not have them — even if they’re stable metrics that measure the right thing.”