Engaged Reading Digest: Atlantic strategy, social media addiction and Tiktok time

Details on The Atlantic's paywall strategy, the social networks' addiction strategy — and the Washington Post's TikTok strategy.

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

A small change in direction here. I’ve always done short “link” posts on OM&HB, but they don’t fit as well into the media ecosystem in 2019 as they did in 2009. So, instead I’m going to compile daily link posts, to give them a bit more heft.

This first posts is testing both the concept, and my (iPad-based) workflow for posting them. Let me know if it feels good for you…

The Atlantic: more staff, fewer stories

What’s happing at The Atlantic - an interesting look from the Wall Street Journal on why it suddenly dropped into a loss, and the strategy behind it. Key quote:

“We have to be a real-time magazine to stay competitive, but our play isn’t more volume, it’s higher quality,” she said. “We have absolutely doubled down on where we excel, which is sharply reported analysis and deep historical context.”

The Social Addiction Machine

There’s little that’s new in Richard Seymour’s piece on the underlying dynamics of social media, and i suffers badly from the journalist disease of seeing ALL social media through the lens of Twitter, but it is beautifully expressed:

The interesting question is what it is that is so addictive. In principle, anyone can win big; in practice, not everyone is playing with the same odds. Our social media accounts are set up like enterprises competing for attention. If we are all authors now, we write not for money, but for the satisfaction of being read. Going viral, or trending, is the equivalent of a windfall. But sometimes, winning is the worst thing that can happen. The temperate climate of likes and approval is apt to break, lightning-quick, into sudden storms of fury and disapproval.

A good primer, if you’ve never thought this all the way through before. His definition of the ratio is lovely, too:

One metric for this experience is known as “The Ratio”. On Twitter, if the replies to your tweet vastly outnumber the likes and retweets, you have gambled and lost. Whatever you have written is so outrageous, so horrible, that you are now in the zone of the shitstorm.

Time for a TikTok strategy

Bad news, chums. You do need a TikTok strategy. The Washington Post is putting it on the media’s radar:

Since launching its account three months ago, it has attracted more than 78,000 fans and more than one million 'heart' reactions to its videos that range from behind-the-scenes clips of working at the publication to its takes on trending memes.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.