The Economist opens up about its digital and social media strategy

Welcome to Severe Contest

Before I started on The Economist’s social media team 10 months ago, I had some idea about what was coming next. But what I didn't anticipate was how the scale of the role would completely change.

I knew that my goal was to help The Economist build its social media following. Then, a week before I started the job my boss said, “So Denise, we’re going to have a team of 10 people on social media!”


What was going through my mind at the time? This:

I started sweating but mostly because the idea sounded exciting. A year later, we’re a full fledged social media team working in the heart of The Economist newsroom, alongside developers, data analysts, designers and editors. As community editor, my role is to lead a team of journalists focused on adapting and distributing our journalism to more audiences across social media, chat apps and emerging platforms.

A lot can change in months is what I quickly learned. That is also the state of global media today: I’ve heard many people speak with an air of authority about what’s next, but I’m sceptical. Few really know what will happen to the media industry, which is why this idea of experimenting as much as possible until you can figure out what’s right for your publisher is so important to us. We can’t do everything, so we need to focus on what works best for our newsroom.

You start by collaborating with lots of different teams, developing hunches about a particular audience, experimenting with new ideas and most importantly, learning from them. It’s now clear that many publishers, old and new, are striving to build this culture within their newsrooms. Gone are the days of strategy meetings that last for months, when nothing gets done.

Our blog strives to capture this new culture that’s emerging within newsrooms, including at The Economist. We’re actually known for our tradition of debating and sharing ideas openly. So we thought we’d extend this to the blogosphere: share a bit about what we’re doing digitally (but not too much!), discuss trends in the industry and get your suggestions and feedback on some of our experiments.

We’d love to hear what you think. Leave your comments below!

Denise Law is The Economist’s community editor

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