Kaplan

ReneeKaplan-FTLichterman: The FT has a paywall, and I’m curious how that affects the way you approach engagement. Does it limit the way you think about social, for instance?Kaplan: The paywall is integral to our model as a business, and even our model as a brand. Fundamentally, we begin with the premise that people are willing to pay for excellent content.

There are lots of ways to access our content. We have a couple of new developments in terms of expanding our reach. One is “first click free, ” which allows people accessing our content from most social media platforms to be able to click through and read the story free. We have a new access model, which is a shift from the registration model where you could access a fixed number of stories for free. Essentially now it’s a paid trial, where for one dollar, pound, or euro per month, you get whatever you want. It’s very new, but we’re seeing that users are coming back more frequently.

We’re working with the paywall. We’re only as good and as valuable to our readers as our content is good and as our business model is good.

financial-times-ft-building-ccLichterman: Are you working to improve content for shareability?

Kaplan: We are thinking about how to optimize our content from its very conception, from the moment of commission. Our engagement strategy is two-pronged. On the one hand, we obviously want to grow traffic. We want to reach more more people and get them to come back to the website or back to our content via whatever platform they’re using.

The second prong of the strategy is to change how we produce and distribute our content and optimize it for reach. That doesn’t mean changing the quality or necessarily even changing the nature of what we’re covering. Our brand and our journalistic mission essentially remain the same. But it does mean optimizing some of our content for different distribution platforms, integrating visual and interactive content from the beginning. It means thinking about ways of storytelling that are actually commissioned for social, rather than adapting text-first to social.

Lichterman: Can you give me an example of things that you’ve done this way?

Kaplan: It’s very early days. I just came to the job. But there have been a couple of breaking news experiences where we’ve tried to do that. FIFA was a major story, especially for a European-based newspaper. Instead of commissioning a classic series of news and analysis in X number of words for the paper, we thought immediately: What is our forte here? It’s the background information on the financials. It’s a lot of the investigative work we’d already done on FIFA. It’s then finding a way to produce and format that content for the greatest reach. So we produced some visuals, some GIFs, we thought of content that was bespoke for Twitter and social that really put those numbers forward in the most shareable way possible.

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