May 27, 2011

7 Channels Consumers Are Using To Access Digital Information


I’m sure you would agree with me if I said that the way you consume information has drastically changed. We’re not any more concerned about getting the newspaper in the morning (unless you’re on your way to work and don’t have a smartphone). 

Traditional sources of information are now continuously replaced by digital channels. As bloggers, publishers, producers or people working in media, we need to understand how consumers are accessing information in the digital age. How are people accessing the things we write? What is their path and method to get there? How can we make it easier for them to access our information? 

I will discuss some of the most prominent channels that online readers are using to consume content and how to approach them for your benefit.


RRS
It’s true that RRS Feed Readers like Google Reader is being over taken by social media such as Facebook and Twitter. But that doesn’t mean it is dead. RSS is a technology that provides a backbone to syndicating content, not feed readers.

Many iPhone apps, Android apps and other mobile platform apps make use of RSS structured data to display it in a customized format. I still believe it is a convenient way to pull together different sources of “relevant” content in one place.

Aggregators
News aggregators like Techmeme and Digg pull information from a variety of different sources. The main advantage of news aggregators is that all the contents are fresh and top in their niche. Their websites pull the data from popular blogs, news sources and social media websites. These sources of info provide content ideas for you to publish on your blog as well.  

Twitter
There is no question that social media has affected how we consume information. More people are using Twitter as a means to accessing information. That is why if you’re not using Twitter to publish your content then you are missing out on a big chunk of audience.

Reading habits are now affected by what it is that people think is worth
bookmarking and sharing, therefore recommendations from people in one’s network play a big role in what content the reader decides to consume.

Now aggregators and news sites are even using Twitter as a platform to publish their content. That is why Twitter is considered one of the most prominent sources of information and news on the web. Personally, I see it more of
an information network than a social network.

Facebook
Facebook has a growing role as a platform for journalists and publishers to use for social storytelling and reporting. It offers content producers an arsenal of content types beyond Twitter’s 140 characters, an alternative destination to connect with new sources of information, and a network of more than 600 million users.

Facebook makes it easy for readers to connect and engage with one another. Some of the posts on
Al-Jazeera English Facebook page get a lot of feedback, often receiving more than 600 comments.

LinkedIn
LinkedIn is essential to any business engaging in digital media. It is the professional profile of record for your business. The company also provides a primary source for professional insights

Tools like LinkedIn Today provide social news source for business professionals. It is a professional news product that aggregates and delivers a personalized news experience to each user based on what stories a user’s network is sharing.

Other tools like LinkedIn Signal essentially combine LinkedIn and Twitter updates into a single newsfeed.
These tools are all sources of information that consumers find online.

Quora
Quora is known as a “social network for knowledge”. Certainly, there is an abundance of resources that appeal to a range of tastes on this platform. It might be more relevant to businesses and non-profits rather than regular online readers but still it is considered a wealthy source of information. Users have been flooding onto the site in search for high quality information; it is a platform that shouldn’t be missed.  

Mobile Devices
Undoubtedly, there is a rapid increase in mobile search. Consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices to search for news and information on-the-go. According to Airwide Solutions, social networking accounts for 50% of all mobile internet traffic.

And now with the rapid growth of iPads, you should be thinking about how you can deliver your content via the iPad and other tablets. You need to ask yourself questions like: Are you integrating any special features for touch screen users? How does your website appear in Flipboard? Do you really need to develop an app or should you just have a mobile version of your site? 

If you are a blogger and using Wordpress, you can use tools like Onswipe that transforms your website into a tablet-friendly magazine-style website.

Takeaway
Whatever the channels you are using to deliver your content, you need to consider the following points:
·  
  • People are diversifying in the forms of information sources they use. You need to find out which sources are most appropriate to your niche. For example, business websites might get more use out of LinkedIn, Quora or Readers rather than Facebook.
  • Use sharing buttons to make it as easy as possible for users to share your information.
  • Measure how people are consuming your content using tools like Google Reader and PostRank (a tool that analyzes how well your posts are doing).

What are other different ways that online readers are accessing information through digital channels? Let me know in the comments below.

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