Social media editors such as myself may often be judged on the traffic they drive to a news site rather than on reader engagement.
Here is a theory for demonstrating the importance of social engagement and how community is key to triggering a habit that will make readers return frequently and, for news sites with a pay model, encourage subscriber sign ups and retention. Much of this post has been influenced by a talk by Nir Eyal (thanks toKristine Lowe for blogging about it).
Why do people form habits around products?According to Nir Eyal, it’s often fear that encourages a person to return to a product again and again. Boredom drives return visits to YouTube,loneliness encourages people to go to Facebook, uncertainty encourages people to search Google, he says. So for newspapers, news sites and digital products, perhaps the driver isFOMO, a fear of missing out. People return to find out about the key news events that they don’t want to miss.
Rewarding readers Eyal tells us that habit-forming technology uses one or more of the rewards of ‘tribe’, ‘hunt’, and ‘self’. (I know they are off-putting terms, but stick with me on this.)...