Twitter’s Fake Follower Purge, Media Companies Merging Instagram Accounts, NYT Newsletter Success, Developing a Membership Business Model, InDesign Tip: Customized Corners on Paragraph Shading

Welcome to Technology for Publishing’s roundup of news, stories of interest, and tips for media industry pros! This week we include posts on Twitter’s purge of “tens of millions” fake followers, media companies merging Instagram accounts to boost follower numbers, the secret to the Times’ newsletter success, how to develop a membership mindset, and more.

  • merlin_118865603_a0e87733-e731-4f61-9c9b-f3af1420e3e4-jumboMany Twitter users will see their follower numbers drop this week—potentially significantly—as the platform removes “tens of millions of questionable accounts,” the New York Times reports. The move, intended to restore Twitter’s reputation as charges of fraud mount, targets users who buy fake followers for financial gain or political influence, or to bolster their careers, the article says. The purge is expected to cut the total number of Twitter followers by about 6%.
  • Over on Instagram, some media companies are growing their following by merging acquired and homegrown accounts. While the practice isn’t considered fraud, as is the case with buying followers, it’s been “seen as taboo in media, where a publisher’s chief selling point is its ability to attract an audience that’s sought after by advertisers,” a Digiday report says. Bustle Digital Group, for example, tripled its Instagram following by merging its accounts as part of “a broader growth strategy,” the article notes. The tactic has been “fairly common” on Facebook, it says, but less so on Instagram.
  • The Times offered a behind-the-scenes look at “the secret sauce” of its highly successful newsletter business, which now boasts more than 14 million subscribers. Part of that, it says, is original articles and essays written with a “voice and tone…distinct from those of journalism found on other platforms.” Other aspects include reporting that tends to take “a wider view” than what readers get in the churn of daily news and opportunities for readers to engage with writers.
  • Many media companies are turning to membership business models built around long-term reader relationships rather than short-term revenue, according to a Digital Content Next post.  And this focus on reader engagement is helping them beat out other players, it says, pointing to the success of the Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Guardian. In simple terms, the article outlines three steps to a membership mindset: 1) know who your audience is, 2) figure out what your “forever promise” to readers is—i.e., what exactly you are promising to deliver to them, and 3) use your so-called forever promise to guide your content and content delivery decisions going forward.

On the Technology for Publishing Blog

  • Paragraph shading is a cool way to highlight blocks of text in your InDesign documents. And now, you can get even more creative with customized corners! See this week’s InDesign Tip to learn more.
  • ICYMI: Get the latest buzz on SEO and emerging trends like voice. TFP CEO Margot Knorr Mancini looks at some resources to help you adapt to these and other changes on the content playing field.
  • Top 10 InDesign Tips: Once again, coming in at No. 1 on our updated list is Easily Turn Text Into Outlines! Check out this popular post along with other great shortcuts to help you work more efficiently.

New York Times photo: Jeff Chiu, Associated Press

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Posted by: Monica Sambataro

Monica Sambataro is a contributing editor and copyeditor for Technology for Publishing. Her publishing background includes work for leading technology- and business-related magazines and websites.