The first thought that crossed my mind when asked this question by a professor was – Could online convergence work without social media? Where would the audience be without the community of web trawling, sharing, re-sharing, reposting, networking, faithful lot.
The first ever Youtube video was posted in April 2005 and since, almost every major media organization with multimedia content has an Youtube account, regardless of the video streaming service utilized on their homepage. The same can be said of Twitter and Facebook.
Social media has become a necessary medium for drawing traffic. A research by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) found that news sites receive 9 percent of their traffic from social media, a modest figure but one expected to grow. In March 2012, the Guardian discovered Facebook referrals drove 30 percent of its 70 million unique monthly browsers to their website.
Twitter director of content and programming, Chloe Sladden, created a stir when she remarked “Twitter is the new newswire,” at a media conference, to assert her belief that newsrooms should be breaking news on twitter and drawing audiences to their home page for follow up. The relationship between social media and convergent newsrooms is a symbiotic one. In the words of the Chief Executive of Digital First Media, John Patton – “No social media connection. No news organization.”
The present challenge, as the PEJ report presents, is how can this translate to revenue?
N.B: Much of this post is a rough summary of the linked PEJ report. A resourceful read for more on the relationship between social media and online newsrooms.