Today, working with staff to produce quality content is only a portion of what it takes for editors to create a winning digital presence. Here, several editorial executives offer their take on the top tools that are helping not only push out content to their own channels, but also to disseminate it through others.
Kaelin Zawilinski/Editorial Manager, Better Homes and Gardens, BHG.com (pictured)
Many of our digital editors at BHG.com have been admiring Pinterest.com for more than a year but it wasn’t until recently that we started using it on a day-to-day basis. If you are not familiar with this site, Pinterest.com is a virtual pin board of inspiration where many bloggers and home, garden, and food enthusiasts ”pin” beautiful photos from all over the internet to curated design boards, which can then be repinned, liked, or commented on.
We are using Pinterest in multiple ways here at BHG.com. As editors, we have started storing the ideas that inspire us from our favorite blogs, websites or retail sites, in our personal pin boards. These boards help cultivate ideas as we plan upcoming features on our website. It is also a speedier way to gather all of our ideas and inspiration in one place, eliminating the cumbersome process of organizing saved image files and bookmarked web pages. Plus, their iPhone app is super convenient for on-the-go pinning at tradeshows. We just launched an account for Better Homes and Gardens where we are pinning some of our favorite photos from BHG.com so other Pinterest users can be inspired by our photography and share it with their friends, ultimately connecting more people with our brand.
James E. Green/ Group Editorial Director, Summit Business Media
A tool that I’ve found really helpful recently has been chartbeat (www.chartbeat.com; @chartbeat). Chartbeat is an analytics tool for real-time website monitoring. For our editorial teams, it’s becoming increasingly important to have intelligence into what readers are doing on our sites at this very second. Google analytics is indispensable and has its place in our editorial strategy, but it doesn’t always provide us with the immediacy and richness of data we need in order to identify and react to reader needs on the fly.
Using the Chartbeat dashboard, I can see stories that are trending well on the site, and I can also drill down to see engagement levels on individual stories. If I have 500 readers looking at the same story simultaneously, for example, Chartbeat can give me up-to-the-minute page-specific engagement metrics. I can see how many of those 500 visitors are idle versus actively reading and how far down on the page they are scrolling. I can also see how many minutes readers are spending on each story, and I get a more accurate measurement than Google’s time-on-site metric.
Chartbeat also offers a breakdown of our traffic sources (between referral, search and direct) and supplies us with information on the domains of the referring sites and the most commonly used search terms.
Armed with this real-time intelligence, our editorial teams can accomplish a variety of things, from optimizing the home page to informing our social media activity. Most importantly, if we notice an abnormal spike in traffic around a particular story or topic, we treat that as an indication of reader demand so we’ll supply more content on that topic and perhaps build a keyword strategy around it and feed more specific story assignments to our stringer reporters.
More and more, our sites are going head-to-head against some major traditional media outlets, so speed of delivery is important as we attempt to build user loyalty by breaking news for them. Chartbeat gives us front-end optics into our readers’ interests so that we can pick our battles wisely when we are going up against media outlets that have access to more resources.
A word of caution: looking at the Chartbeat dashboard is extremely engrossing. If you ever had an ant farm as a kid, you’ll know what I mean.
Sarah Lockyer , Director, Digital Content, Penton Restaurant Group (Food Management, Nation’s Restaurant News, Restaurant Hospitality),Penton Media
Video content is becoming more and more important on B-to-B sites, as videos can drive audience engagement, build time on site, and provide advertisers with another touch point for online readers.
At Nation’s Restaurant News we needed a third-party plug in to improve the video capabilities we have with our Drupal-based CMS, and Magnify provided us the opportunity to not only catalogue our own video content, but aggregate video content from around the web. As a brand covering restaurants, chefs, food trends and the business of being a restaurateur, video content abounds, and we are now able to tap into it.
The beauty of a platform like Magnify is that it allows the editorial staff to quickly build a library of content, and then provides the flexibility for editors to embed videos from around the web in any related article. NRN moved from about 60 videos to nearly 300 videos in less than two months. We’ve seen our time on site jump more than 10 percent.
Even more, platforms like Magnify provide other parties, whether news aggregators or bloggers, to easily pick up embed code for their own sites, driving additional online readers to the content. NRN immediately saw its videos embedded on such sites as Huffington Post and Eater.com, driving thousands of visitors and video playbacks for NRN.com. Each of those videos can contain advertiser pre-roll, providing additional digital revenue opportunities.
NRN sister publication Food Management just went live with Magnify, and Penton Media has about 10 publications using the video content management system. For digital operations that aren’t exactly video heavy, nor have the editorial resources for a concerted video effort, this tool was a great example of using technology to improve and monetize content.
Look for the expanded version of this article in the next edition of FOLIO: Magazine.