Who owns the social media relationship?
“It isn’t Facebook, it isn’t Twitter, and it isn’t you,” says Francois Nel, Founding Director of the Journalism Leaders Programme at the University of Central Lancashire in the U.K.
“Relationships are established, maintained, even dissolved. They aren’t owned, not by anyone, and they depend on reciprocity,” he says.
In a presentation at the annual Newsroom Summit on “the alchemy of social business model innovation,” Mr Nel compares the performance of two of the U.K.'s most successful media companies online: the Mail and the Guardian.
He notes that while both enjoy exponentially growing audiences in the digital sphere, the Mail is highly profitable and the Guardian is loss-making. He attributes that to the companies' different approaches to online content.
While the Mail keeps digital and print separate – even allowing different content to be created and published on digital platforms – the Guardian largely uses its digital platforms as a substitute for the print edition, he says.
“With the Mail, we see a strategy where the digital channels supplement the papers,” he says. “At the Guardian, the digital channels substitute the paper.”