Self-def­i­ni­tion and recog­ni­tion

The Insider - - AUDIENCE -

Stud­ies done by Pew Re­search Cen­tre in 2010 showed that peo­ple’s re­la­tion­ship to news is be­com­ing more portable, per­son­al­ized, and par­tic­i­pa­tory, with 37% of in­ter­net users say­ing they have con­trib­uted to the creation of news. (If the study were done to­day, I ex­pect that num­ber would be even higher.)

Why is that? Why do peo­ple want to par­tic­i­pate in the news? Ac­cord­ing to a more re­cent study by The New York Times there are five key driv­ers to shar­ing and contributing to news: al­tru­ism, em­pa­thy, con­nect­ed­ness, evan­ge­lism and self-def­i­ni­tion.

And although I thought the NYT Oc­to­ber 2015 strat­egy memo, Our Path For­ward, demon­strated, a mis­un­der­stand­ing about to­day’s mo­bile au­di­ence and their needs, a lack of vi­sion in terms of bor­der­less con­tent reach (Se­ri­ously, a tar­get of only 2 mil­lion dig­i­tal sub­scribers in 5 years?) and a blind faith in the om­nipo­tence of The Times as a brand, I ap­plaud the pub­lisher’s ap­pre­ci­a­tion of read­ers’ com­ments on their dig­i­tal prop­er­ties where NYT can reap the re­wards of an en­gaged com­mu­nity of par­tic­i­pa­tory read­ers.

But how is self-def­i­ni­tion re­lated to self-es­teem and recog­ni­tion from oth­ers?

Neel Bur­ton, M.D., a psy­chi­a­trist and au­thor of a dozen books de­fines self-es­teem as “our cog­ni­tive and, above all, emo­tional ap­praisal of our own worth – a ma­trix through which we think, feel, and act, and re­flects and de­ter­mines our re­la­tion to our­selves, to oth­ers, and to the world.”

When I read this, I was re­minded of my in­ter­view last year with Dun­can Ste­wart, the Di­rec­tor of Tech­nol­ogy, Me­dia and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Re­search for Deloitte Canada. Ste­wart shared that young peo­ple carry printed books be­cause they make them feel smart, “When I am car­ry­ing a printed book I con­vey a cer­tain im­age of my­self to oth­ers; peo­ple know what I’m read­ing, what my tastes are and the kind of per­son I am.”

In NYT best-sell­ing au­thor, Maria Kon­nikova’s ar­ti­cle, The Psy­chol­ogy of On­line Com­ments, she talks about the de­bate around deny­ing peo­ple the right to com­ment on ar­ti­cles, “Re­mov­ing com­ments af­fects the read­ing ex­pe­ri­ence it­self: it may take away the mo­ti­va­tion to en­gage with a topic more deeply, and to share it with a wider group of read­ers. In a phe­nom­e­non known as shared re­al­ity, our ex­pe­ri­ence of some­thing is af­fected by whether or not we will share it so­cially. Take away com­ments en­tirely, and you take away some of that shared re­al­ity, which is why we of­ten want to share or com­ment in the first place. We want to be­lieve that oth­ers will read and re­act to our ideas.”

Self-es­teem and self­def­i­ni­tion go hand-in-hand, be­cause to­day it’s all about ME!

It’s not of­ten that I rec­om­mend other pub­lish­ers fol­low in the foot­steps of NYT (for rea­sons stated ear­lier), but in this case, I’m mak­ing an ex­cep­tion. Open your arms and ar­ti­cles to your read­ers with an in­tel­li­gent com­ment­ing sys­tem. Then watch your bounce rate drop and ad rev­enues rise as read­ers’ abil­ity to de­fine them­selves to oth­ers el­e­vates their self-es­teem.

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