Over the past few years social media platforms have been taking over the largest chunk of internet traffic. This also caused that many publishers were no longer able to maintain their readership on their own website as lots of people are mostly using social media for their news consumption. Combine that with the heavy restriction on organic reach on those same social media platforms and you will quickly see that it’s mainly Facebook who is deciding what you see and what you don’t.
We talked with our chief editor regarding our most recent (technological) answer to Facebook.
“Facebook really is an awful platform for unknown or smaller bands”
Bernard Van Isacker during the indie press roundtable talk in Brussels (BE) in Summer 2020.
Chief editor Bernard Van Isacker explains: “The fluctuation is mostly visible on Facebook which is really an awful platform for unknown or smaller bands. Since we offer a lot of news from starting and smaller bands we have noticed early on that those items are not being picked up by Facebook’s algorithms unlike news from other more popular bands. This deliberate limit of reach was something I did predict would happen back when Facebook was still a complete free ride. I remember very well that I have been ridiculed by some calling it bullshit. Well, we are the year 2021 and see, things turned out to be exactly as I had predicted.”
Small bands, and actually most of the industrial scene are virtually being censored by Facebook if you think it through. That’s why Side-Line decided from the start never to rely too heavily on just the social media platforms.
Bernard Van Isacker: “So while Facebook – to name the biggest one – has become a big problem as far as reach is concerned, Side-Line has been making sure not to be dependent from that platform – and others – in order to be able to reach out and touch the fans (pun intended). We have been using a lot of other tools to make sure that those readers who really want to stay informed (and not just newsjunkies) get serviced correctly, hence why we are also active on Whatsapp and Telegram in order to make sure that readers (and not just newsjunkies) get the news 100% sure. But the real pearl and innovation was under the hood…”
Comes in web push notifications
Web push notifications are notifications that can be sent to a user via desktop web (and mobile web). These are alert style messages that slide in at the top or bottom right hand corner of a desktop screen, depending on the operating system, or appear on a mobile device in a manner nearly identical to push notifications delivered from apps. Web push notifications are delivered on a user’s desktop or mobile screen anytime they have their browser open — regardless of whether or not the user is on the website.
Note that the best experience will be with Google’s Chrome webbrowser.
Over the past 2 years Side-Line has been experimenting with various platforms to see what was the best solution for us in order to implement this rather new technology and since early 2021 Side-Line has launched this piece of technology in stealth mode. The focus was from day 1 on pushing the news items and not the other content we produce in order not to overload your user experience. As such a maximum of 4-5 notifications are being sent per day.
Bernard Van Isacker explains: “This new technology gives a better visibility, especially to young and unknown acts, but also makes sure that everybody gets to see the most important news as well. When taking over the online hub of Side-Line in 1999, I have always been focussed on getting the news out to as many interested people as possible. Side-Line is one of the few magazines to actually have a massively spread daily newsletter, we embraced Bandcamp very quickly and have a following on there of over 34.000 people, a figure some labels would kill for I think (laughs). And now we also have hit the 5000 users milestone for web push notifications. But don’t make the mistake thinking it’s about traffic generation only. The main idea is: if you see something you want to read more about, then just click through. Secondly, it will make sure you don’t miss important news.” And this is where Side-Line found a very interesting case.
Project Pitchfork split-up news shows the growing importance of web push notifications
The news of the departure of Dirk Scheuber from Project Pitchfork became an interesting case for Side-Line. The band initially announced it online, on Facebook that is, but a lot of people still didn’t know about it one month later. When Side-Line (re)published the news, it got read over 82.000 times on Side-Line. The traffic mainly came from our daily newsletter but surprise surprise, on the second spot we found that the source was the push notification that had been sent out, which had a clickthrough of 81%.
Bernard Van Isacker: “I found this to be quite amazing and surprising, and to me it showed again that relying just on Facebook for news info is a very bad idea, both for users and publishers, bands etc.. It’s a pity that so many great magazines gave up in the past few years because of that very bad impact Facebook had on their website with huge drops in visitors, interest due to the very unproductive (and expensive) way Facebook is handling news updates nowadays where you either get a hit or a big miss.”
So, if interested to be part of the new generation of Side-Line news followers, make sure you enable our push notifications. And as said earlier, the best experience will be with Google’s Chrome webbrowser both on Mac and Windows.
Since you’re here …
… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading Side-Line Magazine than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can - and we refuse to add annoying advertising. So you can see why we need to ask for your help.
Side-Line’s independent journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we want to push the artists we like and who are equally fighting to survive.
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