Ahead of the Social Intelligence Summit: Spotlight on Martin Bryant – Editor in Chief of The Next Web

Posted by: in Social Media Insights & Trends on October 7, 2014

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The team here at W2O London are busy preparing for tomorrow’s Summit at London City Hall, and as you can imagine with only one day to go, the pressure is on!

We did, however, find time to catch up ahead of the event with another of our exciting thought leaders and panelists, Martin Bryant of The Next Web. See below for Martin’s perspective on social intelligence, and how the team is using social data in an innovative way to inform content that’s engaging for their readers.

Martin Bryant photo

Founded in 2008, The Next Web is one of the world’s largest online publications that delivers an international perspective on the latest tech, business and culture news. With an audience of more than 7.2 million monthly visits and 9.5 million monthly page views, the outlet continues to expand its global presence and we’re honored to have Martin involved in the Summit!

1.       Which tools related to social intelligence do you use at the Next Web, and why?

We use a range of real-time and reflective tools to help our social goals of growing our audience, driving traffic to our website and understanding what our readers think and want.

We’ve been testing SocialFlow and getting encouraging results thanks to its ability to time social sharing for when the best audience for any particular post is active online.

Chartbeat tells us about our audience in terms of how many people are reading any particular page and how long they’re spending on each page. Meanwhile, Parsley gives us historical data about the audience for each article. Combined, they tell us in detail about what our audience is interested in and help us identify popular evergreen content that could benefit from re-promotion. Sometimes ‘sleeper hits’ hide in plain sight and it’s useful to be able to pull them out.

In addition to these, our Community Director uses tools like Newswhip Spike, SimplyMeasured Alerts and Buzzsumo to keep on top of what stories are growing on social media and how our own stories are resonating with a broader audience than our direct followers. While this may not directly influence the content we choose to create ourselves, it helps keep us abreast of what stories are starting to break through from other sources.

2.       How, from your perspective, does social influence content?

Facebook has grown as a traffic source over the past couple of years, to the point where many publishers (including The Next Web) count it as their biggest source of traffic for many articles.

At The Next Web, that, along with the importance of Twitter for driving initial traffic, leads us to format content in particular ways.

We have a ‘social title’, which allows us to create a special title just for Twitter, if the main title isn’t quite direct and personal enough to resonate on social media. Meanwhile, we’re increasingly careful to ensure that as many articles as possible have an associated image that is striking and very relevant. As easy as it is to throw in a generic ‘Google’ image for a post about a new Google app, an image of the app itself will get more shares and links on platforms like Facebook.

As for what we write about, we certainly pay attention to feedback from readers on social media but it rarely directly influences content, except when we receive interesting news tips via Twitter or Facebook.

3.       Can you tell us a bit about how The NextWeb started and what your key objectives were?

The Next Web began as a tech conference in Amsterdam when its founders were trying to gain attention for their tech start-up. In turn, the blog was initially launched to promote the conference.

Following a period where we focused on growing our audience, we’re now at a stage where we’re turning the company into a healthy business, with revenue from events, advertising and partnerships such as TNW Deals (which offers our readers discounts on products and services) and our recently announced tie-up with Tencent in China, that sees our articles translated for a local audience.

4.       What trends are you seeing in the posting and sharing of news online, particularly in the tech world?

As with other areas of publishing, tech publishers share more via social media than ever before, and formulate click bait titles (of varying degrees) to help pull readers in. I think many people (both audiences and publishers) can find this exhausting in the long run.

I’m excited by the drive in some quarters to charge for advertising by attention rather than page views. Measuring time spent on a page is far more informative than how many people clicked a link. I’ll be interested to see how content creators react to this shift. Hopefully it’s by putting time into deeper, more immersive content, not just a bunch of lengthy ‘Which member of One Direction are you?’ quizzes.

5.       What are your personal social platforms of choice, and why?

While I use Facebook to an extent, Twitter is my lifeblood. It’s so sewn into my life as a kind of ‘public side-channel’ alongside what I’m doing that life would be very strange without it. I use a bunch of other services, like Instagram and Swarm but Twitter is the one that’s closest to being an extension of my consciousness.

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