The business of Business Insider

One of my favourite websites, Business Insider just posted a great expose into how they went from a tiny company of three people and about 2100 views on day one to one hundred staff members and 1 million views per day.

The logic is simple, as editor Henry Blodget puts it:  “Great content drives everything.” There are no silver bullet marketing tools, and no single storytelling tools that will grow and sustain your publication. Instead it’s an all-in approach tailored to your brand and your readers that will ensure your company remains viable moving into to a future that Blodget sees digital dominating. And above all, it’s about distributing quality content.

Some key findings from the presentation:

  • The site runs on a simple theory: “Different medium, different journalism”. They’re not trying to put together the same content as the Wall Street Journal, digital requires smaller pieces of content with different storytelling, distribution and business model.
  • Digital is different to print or TV in four ways: Content, Analytics, Distribution and Cost Structure.
  • Content is different to traditional mediums as it combines text, video and audio in a conversational manner with an emphasis on visuals. Blodget also stresses that articles such as live blogs, photo essays and what he calls “charticles” (and article made exclusively of charts) are a great style of digital content.
  • “If you don’t have great stories, you don’t have squat”
  • In terms of distribution don’t pigeonhole users to one type of device, they want to read on every device they own. Don’t be mobile first, digital is multi-screen.
  • Traffic comes from a mix of direct, social and search.
  • Analytics helps to serve readers better and help the writers learn.
  • Digital cannot support print economics but digital can support digital economics!
  • Digital works

Whether you can directly apply these learnings to South Africa is debatable but importantly digital is the future and someone is going to have to crack it in South Africa sooner or later.

Read the full article and slides here

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