7 tips for making your content mobile

As more and more people choose to read their news via their smartphones and tablets, it’s to your benefit to create content that’s easy and compelling for mobile users.

Mobile news consumption is on the rise.

Raj Aggarwal, CEO of InkHouse client Localytics, a mobile app analytics and marketing company, found that “people spend more time in news apps over the course of a day than most other apps.” In fact, time spent on news apps is up 5 percent for 2013:

Almost half of Americans own smartphones. News apps such as Circa are taking on mobile news in compelling ways. Just last month, Seeking Alpha launched a new app called Tech Investor, which according to PandoDaily had 70,000 daily users just after its debut. PandoDaily also reported that overall, Seeking Alpha’s apps have 600,000 to 800,000 daily users.

It’s not just the startups paying attention to mobile news. Yahoo acquired Summly in March for a reported $30 million, and then Google acquired Wavii for the same amount.

Meanwhile, traditional media properties are also seeing big numbers through mobile news. In July, the BBC News received more traffic from mobile phones than from desktop computers on two weekend days. Mediapost reported that, “The New York Times…saw mobile increase its reach by 41 percent, up from 33 percent in February, while Hearst saw a gain of 38 percent versus 31 percent.”

So what exactly does it mean to make your news mobile? Not surprisingly, much of what works for social applies to mobile. To put even more of a point on it, social is mobile. According to The New York Times, Facebook now claims 819 million mobile users (and it was the driver of Facebook’s rise in stock price, which hit its highest since its IPO on July 30).

To make your blog post/press release/you-name-it mobile, consider two audiences: your target audience and the press. Here are seven tips that will help you reach both by making your news more mobile and social:

1. Keep press releases to 400 words or less. Brevity is important. Circa’s story on the Bradley Manning trial was just over 400 words. That’s a good length for a release or blog post.

2. Write headlines you would click on. Take a lesson from BuzzFeed. Lists work, and controversy breeds interest. Make your headlines interesting! And PR Newswire recommends making headlines no longer than 100 characters.

3. Stick to the facts. News apps such as Circa report only on facts. Marketing collateral masquerading as a press release won’t cut it. Your point of view is important, though. That goes in your quotes.

4. Make it easy to email. Localytics says “The largest chunk of content sharing from news apps is not happening via social channels. 80 percent of content shares from apps are actually by email.” Add an “email this” plugin to all the press releases and blog posts on your website (which should be optimized for mobile, of course).

5. Use visuals to pop through. Compelling photos and short videos can help you break through the clutter. Think about how often you click on a post with a photo versus one that’s just text when you’re using Facebook or another social network. And if that doesn’t convince you, consider these facts: 90 percent of the information transmitted to our brains is visual and we process that content 60,000 times faster than text. Instagram, the popular photo-sharing app, hit 100 million users earlier this year, and marked 5 million videos within the first 24 hours of debuting the offering.

6. Make your quotes tweetable. Circa notes that it may use quotes from a post or article as tweets, so make them crisp and brief. Specifically, keep them to 120 characters or fewer to allow for retweets.

7. Link, link, link. Make it easy to click for more information. On mobile, no one wants to type in a search term. They want to click. (But be mindful of the new Google guidelines if the “news” is in the form of a press release.)

Beth Monaghan is a principal and co-founder of InkHouse Media + Marketing. You can follow her on Twitter at @bamonaghan. A version of this story first appeared on the Inkhouse blog.

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