With the combined star power of Rupert Murdoch and Apple behind the launch of “The Daily,” the tablet-only newspaper, it was little surprise the amount of press the news application got prior to its launch. Would this be the long-sought savior of journalism? Newspapers and television shows asked for months before the launch, cataloging each hire and speculating on what the application would bring. And what about the social media strategy? Questions abounded over how an app with no web presence could enable sharing.
I spoke to the Daily’s social media director, Abigail Jones about what its like to try and engage readers in the news when those readers have to climb a number of walls to get to the final product.
Here’s three tactics Jones uses to make those walls less intimidating:
Recognizing two audiences: The Daily has a present audience and a potential one, Jones says and a big part of her job is to get people to know the voice of her brand without seeing all of the content. “Hopefully in a year or five years everyone will have a tablet,” Jones says. “And they’ll want the Daily because over the years they will get to know us.” Until then, she has to juggle an audience who has already seen the stories in the application with an audience who is getting to know only a portion of the content.
Tantalizing tidbits: While Jones tries to send out a healthy dose of Daily content on to the social sites of Twitter/Facebook/YouTube/Tumblr, she says she has to be selective. She needs to get people interested, but not give away too much so people don’t think they don’t need to download the application. Often what she releases are sensational or buzzy topics, such as the recent video of a reporter attending a “naked therapy” session with Sarah White, the world’s first naked therapist. Jones balances the light with the serious - a post Wendesday consisted of screen grabs of the Daily’s story on Libya. The screengrabs also doubled as a lure: they showed off the multimedia offerings available only in the application.
Offering support: Part of the problem with being a tablet-only device: not only do users not know about you, they might not know how to use you. Jones says she has to “explain the iPad to people because sometimes they didn’t quite relate to the technology. How do I open it; how do I turn the page. There’s a technological hurdle.” Jones recently launched a support blog to tackle the frequent questions people ask - from how to download the application to how to contact the staff (a problem I had myself in the application). She expects the questions to go down as people get comfortable with the application and with the tablet, but for now she sees it as a necessity.