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Sift CEO Ben Heald on how social media, editorial & paid content overlap

Ben Heald
Along with Mumsnet, Haymarket/, and Brandwatch, Ben Heald, CEO of B2B publisher Sift will be speaking at our next event on 17 May, on building smart communities online.

Find out more / book your place.

(Free places for publisher members - details below).

How successfully are publishers integrating social media with traditional content?

A work in progress. Too much authority is still placed on traditional long form content; but this isn’t just by the publishers, it applies also to readers, the majority of whom are only slowly embracing the full richness and variety of content available online. The trend towards blended content is inescapable though.

What technical challenges are there for publishers in embracing social media?

Considerable. Far too often the community areas are running on different sytems from the core editorial elements; as a result of the drive towards standardised systems/workflows, which are now struggling to cope with external hook-ups.

User data is an interesting area; with many people taking content via Twitter/RSS and commenting using Disqus, publishers are going to know less about their audiences. This is a challenge for conversations with advertisers.

What is the impact on the editor’s role by including social media in the mix?

Many impacts. Editors are now expected to be blogging/tweeting/networking and generating traditional copy.

Just how useful is it for your editors to have 10,000 Twitter followers? Getting the balance is tricky.

How can publishers make money from social media?

Publishers are still going to make the vast majority of their revenues from either advertising or subscriptions.

Social media has the potential to create greater engagement with audiences, which helps with conversations with advertisers. It’s difficult to see how it’s going to assist subscription businesses though!

Do you think that paywalls are incompatible with a successful social media strategy?

Yes, at least while Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are free, and while the world’s bloggers are pumping out (in some cases very good) free comment/analysis.

Ben will be speaking at our next event on 17 May, on building smart communities online - Find out more / book your place.

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