UK hyperlocal audience needs and behaviours

This is the fourth extract from Where are we now? UK hyperlocal media and community journalism in 2015 a new report commissioned by the Centre for Community Journalism and supported by Cardiff University and Nesta.

Key Points:

● There is an active audience for online hyperlocal media; although different studies report very different consumption figures.

Ofcom audience data

The regulator found in 2012 that “use of hyperlocal websites is growing” and that “around 1 in 7 (14 per cent) of people state that they use a local community website on at least a monthly basis.”[iii]

Nesta / Kantar hyperlocal reach

Research published in 2013 by Nesta echoes Ofcom’s earlier view that capturing audience attention is a challenge for the sector.[vii] Despite this, Kantar’s fieldwork provided a number of positives, including:

  1. Mobile devices are increasing consumption levels; including frequency of usage. Among those who said that they consumed more hyperlocal content than two years ago, fifty-five per cent claimed this was due to them getting a smartphone and/or a tablet.
  2. “Twenty–nine per cent of hyperlocal media users who use a smartphone say they use it to access hyperlocal content every day (equivalent to 7 per cent of UK adults).”

Practitioner Survey

Understanding the size of hyperlocal audiences is complicated by the fact that a quarter of online publishers are unaware of their website analytics.[ix] The reasons for this may include lack of skills or a lack of interest in traffic data. Nesta’s efforts to explore “a more strategic use of website and social media analytics” may yield some valuable outputs for the sector.[x]

  • 33 reported claim between 10,000 and 100,000
  • The remaining 55 were below 10,000.

What audiences want

Ofcom has attributed key benefits of local media[xii]as being “things I need to know to help me live in my local area” and “things I want to know to feel like I belong in my local area.”[xiii] Nesta’s work with Kantar reinforces this view. Survey respondents identified, weather, news and entertainment as the most popular types of content they accessed.[xiv]

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The importance of social

Social media is increasingly important as a tool for sharing and finding content.[xv] Subsequently, it is no surprise that hyperlocal publishers are active on these mediums. 91 per cent of UK producers featured in 2014’s publisher survey reported that they use Twitter and 79 per cent use Facebook.

  • Thirteen per cent between 5,001 and 10,000;
  • 37 per cent between 1,001 and 5,000 followers;
  • The remaining 40 per cent have attracted fewer than 1,000.

The rise of video

The advent of smartphones and tablets, cheaper data packages and 3G/4G mobile connectivity have all contributed to changes in online content consumption. Alongside greater social media usage, video is increasingly popular, particularly in bite-sized chunks on sites using responsive design.


3.1 Publishers may benefit from focusing more of their social media activity on Facebook.

Chambers Professor in Journalism @uoregon | Fellow @TowCenter @CardiffJomec @theRSAorg | Write @wnip @ZDNet | Host Demystifying Media podcast

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