April 6, 2011 | Andy Boxall
We’ve had a fraught relationship with The Daily, News Corp’s iPad-based newspaper, and it seems like we’re not the only ones. Some fascinating research published by Nieman Journalism Lab indicates that Daily readers aren’t sharing the stories via Twitter, which however you look at it; isn’t good news.
By using data collected from PostRank, they discovered a downward trend in readers sharing links from the app. Of course, this doesn’t provide the actual amount of readers The Daily has, but it does raise some interesting questions about who is reading it, and their social media habits.
The chart below shows a 10-day average of tweets from The Daily, and you can see the drop in interest after its launch, followed by a steady amount of sharing after this. Then, around late-March comes the drop following the app becoming subscription-only. Nieman Labs point out that we shouldn’t forget that the iPad 2 launched in the middle of this period too, and yet there was no noticeable increase in sharing data.
It’s difficult to say whether this data provides any indication of whether The Daily is increasing or decreasing its amount of readers, but it certainly shows that whomever is reading, isn’t sharing very often.
If you’re a regular user of Twitter, choosing which links to share with your followers is actually quite personal, as it reflects on you. It has to pique your interest, match your followers interests and elicit some kind of emotion – pleasure, anger, surprise and so on – so you can add your own comment when you tweet the link. If few people are sharing The Daily’s content on Twitter, perhaps it’s not worth it.
I found The Daily’s blending of newspaper and social tools quite uninspiring and a little too long-winded; but crucially, I also never read anything I wanted to share with anyone else. Not because it was bad, but because it was nothing new. To me, this data shows that The Daily isn’t connecting with the readers it has, perhaps because it isn’t deviating from the traditional newspaper model enough. They need to though, as after all, shared links are free and quite effective adverts.
One other thing to consider is the type of reader The Daily has attracted. That initial peak came at release, so everyone with an iPad checked it out. That’s including all us geeks interested mainly in the app rather than the content. By definition, those are the people who will be sharing links via Twitter. Now that period has passed, The Daily’s left with people who want to read a newspaper but couldn’t care less about sharing what they’re reading. Knowing the ages of The Daily’s readership would be fascinating, and we wonder just how much older they skew.
Ultimately though, how telling is it that the only thing we can find to talk about The Daily is its Twitter reach, and not the quality of its journalism, writers or a recent exciting article?