It turns out they are on Twitter, but I hadn't noticed. The paper has 242 followers and joined back in September. There are two things I wonder when I see this:
1) Did they join as part of a greater shift in engagement strategy? I don't mean a social media strategy - I'm thinking a holistic shift. Does this signify a priority on growing readership over advertising revenue? I'd be interested in knowing the strategic objectives.
2) Does it make sense that they follow those who follow them? A lot of national publications do not. However on the local scale there may be a few benefits:
- Local followers are usually close to or a part of local news. Following these people could lead to new sources of news and real time access to local events.
- Following these people could also provide real time editorial and a pulse on the mood of this segment of the online community. This would allow content to be tailored - further increasing audience engagement.
- Advertisers always benefit from knowing more about the audience they are talking to. Engaging the follower base on Twitter may allow the Chronicle Herald to present the local advantage of their more online reader base.
- Perceived Value. Twitter is a bit egotistic. People enjoy being followed. Even the perception that the Herald might be following them may increase engagement and readership of the tweets/content. This is not the most moral of reasons but it does hold some validity in the short term. In the long term people will know whether you are actually listening and care what they say, so action would need to follow.