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2 Takeaways on How, When, and Where People Read News

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Written by: Mike Lizun

A deadline used to mean “get your article to your editor.” Now it means the best time for your editor to publish that article (which is 12:18 p.m., by the way). That’s one of the points Parse.ly made in a recent report on how, when, and where people read news, using aggregate data from its 400 media site clients.

Some of the findings are nothing new. Expect increasing readership and emphasis on mobile, for example. That attention spans are shrinking is also well-documented. What’s the lifespan of an article online? It depends, according to the report. For breaking news, probably a day or two. Lifestyle articles can have a much longer lifespan. Which all makes sense.

But there are two big takeaways worth noting here: the loyalty of your readers and the role of Facebook.

With both article life spans and attention spans pretty short, you need to work even harder to earn loyal readers. Only 11 percent of an average site’s visitors will return in a given month. Right now readers are hopping from story to story, from site to site. Is this because more and more are getting their news from social? Fewer and fewer are returning to a site unless it pops up again in their social feed with a story that interests them.

It’s no longer about publication loyalty, but story topic loyalty and who covers your topic best. Maybe even being loyal to a specific writer or reporter you follow on Facebook or Twitter. But all isn’t lost if a story doesn’t get the reach you wanted the first time around. Varying headlines, republishing, and changing keywords are all suggested to get the audience you thought you deserved the first time around. Keep an eye on unique visitors versus returning visitors to track your own site’s loyalty.

The biggest takeaway? Social continues to pull away from search, and Facebook is now the gateway to the reader. We are no longer searching for stories, they are searching for us. And they are finding us most often scrolling through our Facebook feed. Facebook can even extend the life of your content – if it’s your top referral source, the lifespan grows by almost a day.

All of which makes Newswhip’s monthly list of the top publishers on Facebook more important every day. The details are there for you to parse and act on. You just need to look at the data and analytics associated with every piece of content or story you publish.

By taking a closer look, you’ll not only find the outlets that best amplify their audience through social, but start cultivating your own reader loyalty as well.

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