How Apple News can connect you with your community

By Alessandro Sorrentino | 2nd Nov 2016

Apple News 101: A brief introduction to your hyperlocal’s new best friend.

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Apple News was introduced to the public in 2015 and whilst it was good, within many areas it was undeveloped and most importantly, it was hardly used.

However, with the recent Apple update to iOS 10 and the increased value and prominence given over to the new venture, more users are getting to grips, and consuming content with Apple News every day, making it the ideal time to get on board.

Long story short, it’s now the perfect time for publishers to be set-up on Apple News because the user base is growing every day and the app works much better than it did in its first year.

The app pulls in stories from the web using syndication feeds allowing iOS users to read news based on either interests, say Technology or Music or even brands like BBC or the Daily Mail. Users get news that interests them.

If you have tailored content on your website, specific to a local area or a given trend or topic, then people searching for that topic or area should come upon your site and content.

The app is not perfect. Yes, you can finally (after what feels like an eternity) insert video and images. But you can’t embed content, an issue that you may have if you produce graphs or infographics.

It comes with a ‘built-in advertising platform that helps you earn revenue from the content you publish’.

Not unlike Facebook Instant Articles, you get the option of selling ads yourself and keeping 100 per cent of the revenue, or 70 per cent of the ads Apple sells for you.

You can also author once and Apple News says it will optimise the content for all iOS devices.

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Geo-tagging

But for hyperlocals and independent community news publishers, the attraction will be dependent on the quality of the yet-to-be-released geo-tagging feature.

If you’ve got an iPhone, then Apple already know where you are. Unless you turned off location services many of your apps will know too. 

Your photos are already geotagged, and you can search your phone for individual images based on where they were taken.

Facebook and Twitter know too. And location services can be a life-saver if you misplace your device. Just switch on Find My Phone on it will show up exactly where your phone or iPad is.

So Apple thoroughly expects users to tell iOS not only where they are, but what they want to read about, and from where they want to get their content.

Area-specific articles that pop up on a person’s smartphone as they walk around a certain area could be a game-changer for smaller publications in areas with little or no competition; start-ups could benefit too.

Even for those publications that face stiff competition from legacy media organisations like Johnston Press, Trinity Mirror and BBC, there is a benefit to be had from being able to compete on a level platform, even when in its still in its beta phase.

While there is a heavy reliance on users getting their content via smart phones and social media, it is an industry change that could see some real benefits for the sector.

However, like Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), this is still very much in its infancy. It remains to be seen what will be rolled out and made available to all publishers, and what will be restricted to higher end, traditional outlets.

Regardless, it is still a good time to set up your site on Apple News. Right now more and more hyperlocal, and independent community publishers are joining the Apple News ecosystem, like Birmingham Eastside and Wrexham.com.

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To set up all you have to do is click on this link and follow the on-screen instructions. Using your Apple ID you’ll be asked to register your site. Over the next week or so, Apple will then go through your account before activating it. Once that is done, you’ll be able to link your site using the plug-in and Apple News will be active on your site.

That being said, if you have any issues Apple (and to an extent, the YouTube community) has excellent support on the web that you can access.

If you get stuck and need some help, please don’t hesitate to drop me a DM over on my twitter (@Loftysandro) and I’ll be more than happy to arrange a skype call to help you set-up and teach you how to maintain the service for your hyperlocal!

In the coming weeks I will put together a short video tutorial on how to do this too.

www.ukbynumbers.com

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