It should come as no surprise that Britain’s once proud and strong newspapers have been slowly dying, supposedly because they can’t keep up with the internet. But some are at least going down with a little more dignity than others.
The Independent is going to be digital-only from March. If you’ve been following The Independent on Facebook, you’ll have noticed a big strategic shift in the last few years towards posts that are just complete and utter horseshit.
Here’s an example. “The shower secret that can really wake you up”. Before you click that, don’t. The “secret” is having a cold shower. Gee, thanks Indie. I’ve heard rumours that coffee can wake you up too but we should probably wait for The Independent to confirm it.
It’s all just clickbait crap, trading-in valuable brand recognition, respect and loyalty for a few cheap pageviews. It may net them a bit of cash in the short-term, but long-term it’s like a dairy farm selling off its cows. Actually it’s worse than that, it’s like a dairy farm whoring out its cows.
People don’t look to The Independent for “The simple way to bring your family closer” (yeah, that’s another real one. The answer is “by doing stuff together”. Another fabulous insight from The Indie), they look to it for honest, unbiased news that they can trust. Or at least they used to.
Judging by the Facebook and article comments, people are losing all trust in The Independent as every time they click something, they feel like they’ve been tricked. Their approach to online marketing of “Buzzfeed but shit” really isn’t a good move and it’s clear to see from comments that it is destroying all faith and respect that anyone ever had in the brand.
Is it really surprising that The Independent will become the first national newspaper to cease printing? Their online marketing has been slowly destroying their own brand, a great one that took decades to build, so of course their circulation has dropped 50% in less than 4 years.
In the digital world, as much as the analogue, it’s important to cultivate a unique brand with a strong point of difference (how do you think Buzzfeed made it big in the first place?).
Be bold, interesting and of value with your online marketing as much as with your product and services and people will love you for it. That love is worth a tremendous amount in likes, shares, future purchases, brand advocacy and word-of-mouth, talent acquisition, etc.
And I feel like I really shouldn’t have to say this but it’s also important to not annoy the bloody hell out of your audience.