German media property t-online.de is one of the country’s biggest internet service providers, functioning also as a content site. In fact, t-online.de is one of the most popular websites in the country. Owned by Ströer, the site features news, videos, and interactive graphics that are updated often throughout the day. Several years ago, the site had serious issues with its content management system (CMS), says Lukas Martin, the site’s innovation editor – especially when the editorial staff was dealing with anything time-sensitive.
“Our CMS was really slow and impractical to work with, not only in [posting content], but especially in breaking news situations. We needed something quicker and more responsive, and something that integrated with social media so wasn’t such a big problem,” he explains.
After spending time looking at potential products and services, t-online.de – then owned by Deutsche Telekom – selected content marketing software platform ScribbleLive. Almost immediately, the platform enabled the site to create a new morning format comparable to a radio show that allows them to do constant updates between 6 and 9 a.m. It also made the site more engaging and created opportunities for readers to get involved, he says.
“It’s a mixture of traditional news because it’s hard news, but it’s also softer stuff. We include everybody in the newsroom,” says Martin. “If there was a football game on yesterday, I go over and ask the sports editors to give me a comment on that, how they find it, and so we put their opinion out and readers were able to comment on that too. So it’s basically a big discussion in the end.”
The platform also gives t-online.de the opportunity to change the direction of a popular story almost instantly. For example, if the editors see that a story is getting a lot of comments they can turn it into a feature they call The Debate, teasing it on the homepage, turning readers into content producers.
The increased interaction and faster updates have boosted pages impressions, too. “It’s been very successful,” says Martin.
Good for the Goose, Good for the Advertiser
Since the rollout of ScribbleLive was so significant for the editorial arm of t-online.de, the site decided to extend the functionality to advertisers as a way to boost engagement and let them get more out of their advertising buys. One of the first customers to make use of the platform was the South African Tourism Board.
The three-month campaign launched in November 2015. Taking the form of a competition, the campaign asked people to join a casting process and submit a photo as well as text or video to explain why they should become travel reporters. The winning readers would be flown to South Africa where they would spend time with three South African residents – including a travel blogger and a popular Instagram user– who would show them the many beautiful – and fun – locales and events in their country. The contest winners would then use the ScribbleLive functionality to create social media reports about their experiences while they were abroad.
Explains Martin: “We thought about it and asked, ‘What would be a good social way to display socially what people were experiencing while in South Africa?’’
The contest winners attended special events such as creating their own custom surfboards, taking a special cooking class and flying off on a hot air balloon ride. Winners were asked to report live on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and the content would be assembled on a so-called “social wall.” The site used a ScribbleLive feature for their social wall that let users display their content stream as a pinboard, much like Pinterest. Users clicking through on those pins could then share that content via Facebook, Twitter or email as well as print or comment on the photos and text.
At the end of the campaign, t-online.de had readers use the pinboard and platform to help choose a winning travel journalist team. The pinboard also publicized the winners and their work as well. One of the best parts was that the travel reporters as well as the t-online.de editorial staff could post things to the board using their mobile devices.
“I loved that it was a quick way to post things right on the mobile device and could even see if it displayed correctly, and then you go on or correct it right then and there.”
South African Tourism was “quite satisfied” with the campaign and the number of impressions that it received during the program, says Martin.