By Alok Verma

With traditional facing serious challenge from social media enthusiasts journalists have now begun to earnestly ponder over the need for finding ways to engage with audiences, whether online or in person. Since most of our media organizations are so habitual of treating their audience with utmost indifference in view of the current structure which does not open up any window for any constructive engagement with their audiences while determining content prioritization.

As sustaining and engaging audiences have become increasingly difficult due to availability of either alternate news tabs or second screen, most media organizations have been putting together their acts in trying to extract best of social media tools. But what is quite worrying that it’s still not clear how do these news organizations can measure whether their attempts at engagement are paying off.

Hence, engagement isn’t just Twitter, Facebook or social media. It’s really getting to know audience deeply on what they consume casually or regularly.

In India most of the news television organizations use live events as a tool to reach out to their audience but actually they provide a false sense of perception to a large audience watching passively from home of establishing a more personal connection with them but unfortunately there is no way to gauge whether the audiences have reciprocated effectively.

On the other hand social journalists are accustomed to thinking about engagement as likes, re-tweets and shares. Undoubtedly, these are more dependable metrics to gauge the audience engagement but social media has already started to think about going beyond Facebook and Twitter to look at ways people can participate in a story.

Among many questions the most important question for any new-age journalists should be as to how his audience takes the news story forward or even or kick-starts something new based on the basics of his news report.

Many social media journalists find share metric on Facebook as most valuable currency, simply because shares open a post up to new reader networks. In fact, Facebook analytics helps in structuring posts and its social flow for better understanding of  the response that readers provide on content on social networks.

In fact, Facebook analytics also provides information on what news post successfully generates better shares and comments. Besides real-time traffic updates can help a news reporter understand as to how does his news report evoke what kind of engagement in the outside world.

But isn’t it true that most of the news honchos make assumptions on what their audience wants to see but don’t assumptions have higher chances of going awfully wrong ?

Engagement, therefore,  isn’t just about quantity, it’s also about quality, something that can be even more difficult to gauge. Engagement has to be very much about how audiences are participating in what media organizations are offering. In today’s digital age if the media organizations do not put a mechanism to gauge the impact of the news reports that are being dished out from the newsroom it’s a sure sign of their doom as the disconnect would only grow with their audiences. So, the engagement is one big step ahead to know what kind of impact their news content is making on their audience.

The real engagement is going to be possible only when traditional news organizations start to pay close attention to the interactions they should have with their audience by finding ways in which their audience can participate with the news report.

The success of any media organization in future will only be determined by the outcome of impact their content spread will make on the audience, which already has a plethora of options for consuming content of its choice.

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