Newspaper Social Media Success Story – How News Orgs Are Working Subscriber Growth

Newspaper Social Media

Newspaper Social Media Success and President Trump

The Newspaper Social Media success story and how they’re starting to see a pickup in subscriber growth. Some of it thanks to a new US President and much of it due to high engagement, reach and growth from social media marketing.

The ‘New York Times’, ‘Wall Street Journal’, ‘Washington Post’ & Sydney based ‘The Australian’ newspaper have all seen gains in traffic and online subscriber numbers in the past several months, somewhat thanks to a surge in Trump interest.

Newspaper Social Media Leverage

As the debate rages around ‘fake news’ driven by social media outlets and blogs – and how to deal with it from a technological and social standpoint – traditional media outlets are seeing a surge.

A look at how newspapers are changing to drive success in a digital world…


The Wall Street Journal says they are set to have more digital subscribers than traditional newspaper subscribers by the start of 2017, passing 1 million paying digital readers this year.

The WSJ management is working on a strategy, WSJ2020, that will see it evolve it’s newsroom to set the environment for growth.

The plan aims to train Journalists to be more digitally focused, perhaps using more broadcast media techniques when reporting – creating more visual content (video, infographics); focusing on mobile/smartphones & working to leverage social media to drive new subscriptions.

The strategy also sees the paper move focus on driving toward a more national and international focused readership, driving numbers from Asia and European markets online.

The Australian Newspaper

Australia’s national daily broadsheet said this week they are setting up an office in Washington DC specifically to cover the Trump Presidency, working to satisfy a strong demand for what’s sure to be a turbulent time in US history.

The Australian is “reopening its Washington bureau to provide on-the-ground foreign reporting of the Trump presidency,” Media reporter Darren Davidson wrote.

“I have taken this decision after a review of our overseas postings following the election of Donald Trump as president,” Editor-in-chief Paul Whittaker said.

“The US is undergoing significant economic and political change and it is essential that we have a bureau in the capital.”

The newspaper said it saw positive growth in traffic and subscribers recently and believes political news and opinion is going to drive future demand.

“Of the local websites operating a comprehensive paywall, The Australian led the market, with a unique audience of 1.4 million, a 16.6 per cent increase on the prior month,” they reported.

The Washington Post

The Jeff Bezos (Amazon) owned Washington Post has broken many of the major stories around the 2016 election and continues to scoop in many areas of the Trump election and coming Presidency.

The newspaper is undertaking a number of initiatives and experiments to drive innovation and success, according to a July 2016 Digiday article.

Their strategy to drive subscription growth is primarily based around ensuring massive traffic to Washington Post content, especially from social media – like Facebook and Snapchat. The Post is fairly agnostic about what platform that content sits on.

The Post often publishes content to Facebook’s Instant Articles, allowing Facebook readers to stay within the FB environment and speeding up content load times.

The strategy seems to be working, attracting new readers and resulting in 145% year-on-year subscriber growth in July 2016.

The Washington Post is also leveraging its relationship to Amazon, offering customers free fixed-term subscriptions and app access.

The strategy also counts on the theory that ‘the more people read, the more likely they are to subscribe’ to the newspaper.

To drive this, the Washington Post tech team has reduced page load times by 85% and they also carefully study reader data, to make editorial decisions about what kind of stories to focus on, more often.

The newspaper also started closing some areas of free access – especially from users coming in from social media.

This tactical change has actually increased social media users propensity to buy a subscription. Including giving away 5 – 10 articles a month and implementing suggestion boxes to users about paying for full access.

The New York Times

The NYTimes says they are experiencing a boom time in subscriber growth, thanking Trump for a big part of that growth.

Without naming him, The New York Times said its main strategy is to simply publish good Journalism.

“The result has been record-breaking audiences and tens of thousands of new subscribers — clear evidence of how much public demand there is for high quality, deeply reported, independent journalism,” New York Times Company President and CEO Mark Thompson said.

Another newspaper social media success story for the Times is it’s international growth and its crossword puzzle subscriber bases, numbering in the tens of thousands.

In a October 2015 strategy release, the New York Times said it’s major digital growth focus would be on social media and engagement. In this area NYTimes is doing fairly well, publishing a significant amount of video content to social media and driving their audience up by about 20% year-on-year.

The Times is also focused on sponsored content.

I’m watching this space for more developments…

Author: ryannorthover

Editor of, Digital Marketer and New Media Entrepreneur.

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