Internet users in North America spend an average of two hours and six minutes per day on social networking and messaging platforms, according to a recent study by Global Web Index.
Another recent study by global tech protection and support company Asurion found that the average person struggles to go little more than 10 minutes without checking their phone, with one out of 10 people averaging a check on their phone every four minutes.
Social media is everywhere in our current lifestyle. It is estimated that in 2019 there are around 2.77 billion social media users around the globe, up from 2.46 billion in 2017.
News agencies, even smaller community newspapers, must pay attention to those numbers, because more and more people are digesting information in a variety of digital ways. The Daily Mountain Eagle has worked diligently in recent years to give its readers content in a variety of different ways, doing its part to evolve in the ever-changing technology that surrounds it. From Facebook Live videos to audio broadcasts of area football games, the Eagle has increased its content significantly. And we are just getting started.
As you may have read on our front page today, Jeffery Winborne was recently hired by our newspaper, and he has been tasked to coordinate all our social media and new technology efforts. Winborne has been a freelance writer at the Eagle for several years. Along with his social media duties, he will also work in our sales department and continue to write from time to time, mostly in special sections and during football season.
Having a person to handle the DME’s social media accounts has been a goal of mine since returning as publisher nearly three years ago. Our newspaper has done a good job in some areas of social media, but there are other areas where we have been terrible. In recent days, our number of local posts on Facebook, as well as on Twitter and Instagram, have increased by a large number. We are looking at a few other applications that we might possibly start using as well. In an effort to see what social media apps our readers find most helpful, we are also launching a “DME Social Media Survey” that is now a live link on our Facebook and Twitter pages. It is only a few questions, but we certainly would appreciate our readers/followers taking part in that initiative.
Along with coordinating our own social media efforts, Winborne is also going to be available to area businesses who would like for us to create, maintain and/or improve their social media pages as well.
While I have mentioned social media a lot, the Daily Mountain Eagle is taking this as an opportunity to put a bigger focus on creating more content in different forms.
We are growing our audio capabilities, offering several different live and archived sports broadcasts each week through our website at mountaineagle.com. In the coming weeks, we will also be debuting several podcasts. All of those will be accessed through our audio player on the website, and links to each will be posted on all our social media platforms.
Video is also going to play a much bigger role in helping to tie all our content together. We will be sharing more videos that go along with stories in the print edition. The newspaper is also planning some weekly original video content that will be uploaded to our YouTube channel. We are also offering our video capabilities to advertisers. We can film and edit full-length commercials that can be used on any platform an advertiser can imagine. We will also continue to offer live videos during breaking news and other events, and Walker County Commission meetings will be streamed live on our Facebook page beginning in May.
Many people like to say that newspapers are struggling to survive. That is true in some instances, but the reports of the local, community newspaper’s demise are greatly exaggerated, especially in areas where those papers have learned how to adapt and evolve in changing times. The Daily Mountain Eagle’s award-winning print edition continues to see its circulation hold steady. The number of our local news, sports and feature stories has increased substantially in the last two years. Our website has been named the best newspaper website in the state in the Alabama Press Association’s annual contest, and our annual page views are now at more than 4 million, which is astounding to me. Our social media presence is also the strongest in our area. One recent post regarding a bingo hall search warrant has reached 200,000 people and had more than 187,000 engagements. That post alone had nearly 3,000 comments.
While print circulation numbers have dropped here and in our industry since their peaks around 20 years ago, the work that our newspaper puts out is being viewed by more people now than at any other time in our history. That is exciting to me, and that is why we will continue to be the trusted news source for Walker County through all our formats.
James Phillips is editor and publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He may be reached at 205-221-2840 or firstname.lastname@example.org.