Listening to users — who do you listen to?

I just watched a Wallstrip interview with CEO Andy Swan.

Near the end, Swan says he’s short MySpace, long Facebook, because Facebook listens to users.

I completely endorse listening to users. It’s something newspapers and newspaper.coms have not traditionally done well.

But here’s the thing for newspaper web sites: Which users do you listen to?

If you listen too much to your current users, what sort of false feedback might you ingest?

I mean, your current users are predominately core newspaper users. Their expectations for how a should behave may be mired in the same Packaged Goods Media think that holds back many newsrooms. It’s something less than a virtuous circle.

Whereas the users who can best help you envision the future may not be among your core users.

When you’re Facebook or, you’re creating new users with new ways of thinking. But when you’re legacy media, you’re dealing with more legacy users.

So how do you know when you’re getting the kind of feedback that will help you grow and build a great business?

3 thoughts on “Listening to users — who do you listen to?

  1. The themes of “When the press fails…” and “Buying the War” can be summarized as “the press failed to cover the Iraq war because it was too intent on appeasing it’s customers”.

    Is there not a certain irony in the promotion of “listen to your customers” as a tactic to regain credibility?

  2. Who said anything about a tactic to regain credibility?

    There’s nothing wrong with credibility in the news business, of course, but I’m talking about how to run web sites, not run newsrooms.

  3. This is a great conundrum: “your current users are predominately core newspaper users.”

    On the one hand, you are reaching out to users who read the paper, but what are they actually coming to the web site for if it’s just a replication of what’s in the paper. Web sites can actually break news and bring up-to-the-second updates, but where are they differentiated?

    I’d say it’s very important for producers and web news/community sites to listen to their audiences who don’t necessarily come from the “white, black and read all over” audience. As subscriptions continue to dip, who are web sites really losing if they cater to new audiences? People who want the paper will still get it, and you’ll find new audiences who probably will never subscribe to a paper in their lives.

Leave a Reply