The Independent incorporates Facebook ‘Like’ button to let readers subscribe to journalists, topics

Jan 12, 2011   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  1 Comment

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By Chris Hogg

As news sites become more social and adapt to new content discovery platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, innovation is flourishing. With readers suffering from content overload and media outlets being pressured to drive more pageviews, news organizations are turning to targeting capabilities to develop a solution to both problems.

Enter: The Facebook Like button. We’ve covered this in the past, when ESPN used the Like button to create custom news feeds for people based on their interests around specific teams.

Now, The Independent is following suit and allowing readers to subscribe to specific reporters.

“Starting with a few key areas of the site, we’ve been developing the tools to let people get their news from The Independent through social networks in tighter categories, designed to better reflect the parts of our editorial output you particularly enjoy,” Jack Riley wrote in a blog post. “To that end, you can now ‘like’ all of our commentators on Facebook, and if you do then when they publish a story it’ll appear in your news feed.”

A Like-button subscription option is a great way for media outlets to bring in new readers. And because content is so specific to their interest, those readers are more likely to be happy with the content they consume.

In today’s media-saturated landscape, people don’t always go to a site to check daily news. Furthermore, just because a reader was interested in one article from a sports or business section doesn’t mean they’re going to read everything from that section.

Today, when readers visit a news site, they may follow a specific journalist, or perhaps a particular topic. But getting someone spend hours on a site to find information they care about just isn’t going to happen across the board.

Categories once worked as ways to organize content by interest, but they can be too broad in today’s age where there is a plentiful supply of content.

The Independent‘s use of the Facebook Like button is innovative because it’s targeted and users opt-in. Riley gives examples using key writers such as Robert Fisk and Johann Hari, saying readers can “Like” them on The Independent‘s website and when they publish readers are notified via Facebook. The news organization has built similar functionality around football clubs so readers can get targeted news about their favourite teams.

Welcome to the era of personalized news where publishers build-in features outside of their own websites.

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