The Independent has announced that it has added music service Spotify’s new play button to its site which “means we can add a new angle to our music journalism”.
Writing in a blog post, Jack Riley, head of digital audience and content development for the Independent and i, explains that any website can add the new button which allows readers to stream music without leaving the host site.
For the Independent this means we can add a new angle to our music journalism; as well as adding streamable albums to our album reviews (see Alabama Shakes here), we can embed setlists into our live reviews (Kylie) and singles into our weekly charts. We’ll also be using the player to illustrate features; this piece from Nick Hasted on jazz’s influence on pop music (via Radiohead) is a great example of how the player can really add something to the reading experience.
You can see all of the tracks we’ve used the play button on this page which also explains how the button works. We’re tweeting articles featuring the new functionality with the hashtag #listenwithspotify and results for that hashtag from us are displayed on that page.
We have introduced greater flexibility in our use of images. This not only means a homepage and channel pages that can better reflect the variance of our daily coverage, but also a more dynamic use of images in articles.
There is a smoother and more flexible integration of video that better matches the YouTube and 24-hour TV world.
There are clearer ways to express yourself – comment on an article, share it with your Facebook friends or Tweet your view about it.
Meanwhile Jack Riley, our head of digital development, has devised some further advances. These include: a new tagging system for the site; dynamic pages for all of our writers; and a more intelligent automated system for related content. We’re also extending our use of Facebook’s Open Graph to include more topic pages and all writers. His article will follow shortly.
The Independent’s new iPad app is free for an initial trial period and will then charge users £19.99 a month for access to “premium” digital content from the Independent and Independent on Sunday.
This compares to £9.99 a month for the Guardian’s new iPad app, which provides content six days a week as it excludes the Observer; £9.99 for the Times iPad edition, again providing content six days a week; and £9.99 a month for the Telegraph iPad app which, like the Independent, provides content seven days a week.
News sites will be watching to see whether the new apps result in a jump in Facebook referrals to the Guardian and the Independent.
Outlets will also be keen to discover whether Facebook users prefer the Independent and Yahoo News approach of the social engagement happening on the news sites, or whether the Guardian, the Washington Post and the Daily have the winning formula, with the experience happening within Facebook.
The Guardian’s theory is that Facebook users like the experience of being on Facebook so rather than direct readers away, they want them to explore the Guardian within the platform.
Head of digital engagement at the Guardian Meg Pickard told Journalism.co.uk:
We wanted to make ourselves more Facebookey. We also know that if people come to the Guardian via Facebook they often bounce back to Facebook see what else a friends are recommending.
She said despite the Guardian’s being an app within Facebook it is incorrect to think most users will access it as they would a smartphone app.
The starting point is your friend’s timeline, not the app.
The single opt-in to the app – where users agree to share everything they are reading – is an interesting development and both the Independent and Guardian have been quick to assure users they have full control.
You might be happy for friends to see that you’ve read an article on tarte citron but less comfortable with a public note to say you have read an article called “my husband is a cross-dresser”, so you can quickly click the cross to hide that from your friends.
She explained conversations between the Guardian and Facebook took place throughout the summer with the news organisation’s in-house developers building the app, making the most of the open technologies.
We’ve got our open API, Facebook has this open graph.
The Independent has taken a different approach – its app encourages Facebook user engagement on its site rather than within a user’s personal profile on the social network.
Here’s head of audience and content development at the Independent Jack Riley explaining more on the soon-to-be-released app:
Facebook has published a report on the way the Independent uses the social network to share content. The study has found people liked or shared content from the Independent 136,000 during a “recent” month.
These actions were then seen 68,845,050 times on Facebook, with a click-through rate of 0.53 per cent.
The study also found “each action through a social plugin”, such as the recommend button, has driven an average of 2.67 referrals back to the Independent. It also found Facebook referrals result in readers spending an average of seven seconds longer on a destination page.
The Independent’s success in engaging with readers using Facebook and traffic referrals form the social media site increasing by 430 per cent last year has been well documented by Journalism.co.uk. Jack Riley, the Independent’s head of digital audience and content development explained in this post and this podcast, how the Independent has created specific Facebook pages for football teams and columnists such as Robert Fisk, whose page has accumulated more than 24,000 fans.
The first stage of the implementation of the Independent’s Facebook strategy involved adding the recommend plugin at the top and bottom of the article; the second involved the creation of open graph pages for columnists and sports teams.
Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips every day, we’re recommending journalists to follow online too. They might be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to laura at journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.
We’re encouraging people to use credentials linked to their personal profiles not just because openness and accountability are great, fundamental things which underpin good journalism as well as good commenting (and why should the two be different?), but also because by introducing accountability into the equation, we’re hoping the tone and standard of the comments will go up (…) It’s about first of all letting people authenticate their commenting using systems with which they’re already familiar (in Facebook’s case, that’s 400 million people worldwide and counting), and secondly, it’s about restoring your trust in our comments section, so that some of the really great submissions we get on there rise to the top, the bad sink to the bottom, and the ugly – the spam and abuse that are an inevitable adjunct of any commenting system – don’t appear at all.