Paywalls Have Digital Management Requirements

As expected, traffic numbers have taken a dip in the weeks following the implementation of The New York Timesmetered paywall. According to Experian Hitwise, visits fell between five and 15 percent on each of the 12 days after the paywall was installed except for one.

Over at Fishbowl NY, Chris O’Shea makes the argument that it’s still too soon to tell how things will pan out. And PC Magazine writes that on the day the traffic increased (seven percent on April 9) it was likely because of all the news surrounding the possible government shutdown. Which confirms that if the content is interesting and newsworthy, people will come.

Mashable has an interesting article that takes the issue a step further, looking at how other publications with paywall systems (yes, this did exist before the NY Times did it) have made them successful.

The big takeaway from the article is good online management. People are annoyed when they unknowingly click on an article and learn that they can only read it with a subscription. And when given the opportunity to discuss issues outside of just reading gated content, subscribers and potential subscribers respond positively. But all of this requires a community manager or some other social media administrator to make sure things run smoothly and complaints are heard.

“With community stewardship as a central tenet of journalism, any news site that has a paywall — or is considering one — should keep the social reading experience at the forefront of its strategy,” Mashable writes.