There's one word that comes up time and time again in media circles - change. You'll hear it trotted out far too often. 'If there's one constant, it's change.' 'Change is here to stay.' Please, change the record. Change, let's face it, is really hard. It's unsettling, disruptive and generally resisted. But what often emerges is something positive.
At The Huffington Post embracing change is part of who we are. We thrive in that
environment. This week the Oxford Reuters Institute released its influential Digital News Report 2015. There were some remarkable learnings. In the UK, The Huffington Post is now the third most used online news brand, behind the BBC and the Mail Online. Around 27% of readers say they access online news through their smartphones. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and to a lesser extent WhatsApp are how people find their news, and 19% of people surveyed share content on social or email.
Now that's change. Imagine a set of statistics looking like that even just five years ago. While a lot of publishers are playing catch up to reach this new audience, we believe publishers like The Huffington Post are already where the party is because of our willingness to take a risk and move with, and often, before, the times.
In recent months we've felt so strongly that there had been a huge shift in reader habits that we commissioned You Gov to complete a research project examining in detail the new digital audience and its habits. What they've proved is that a completely new type of audience has developed. They are a distinct, articulate, aware group of smartphone readers, for whom news is. We call them Thrivers.
Thrivers, quite simply, are flourishing in the UK. They are self-aware, inquisitive and enjoy new experiences. Thrivers are also tech savvy and media literate. They seek deeper brand relationships in exchange for experience and knowledge. We wanted to address this new audience and find out more about them, what they are interested in, what's important to them, their relationships with brands, and what brands can learn from them.
Our research found five distinct traits of a UK Thriver:
1. They are digital discoverers, which means they are active users of technology. They use the internet and technology to help them achieve all aspects of their 'Thriving' lifestyle. 69% rely on the internet to stay informed and over half (57%) say technology makes their life easier.
2. Thrivers are no push overs when it comes to news. Actually, they are news interrogators who seek a deeper level of understanding and insight around news stories, with 72% reading a variety of news sources to get a balanced view point on a story
3. Solution Seeking is a key trait, as Thrivers want to be inspired and have a positive, enthusiastic, can-do attitude. 62% enjoy a challenge and 77% believe they deal with problems well.
4. A Thriver is a self-starter who is self-motivated. Thrivers are influential individuals who believe life is about experiences. 85% have a keen-to-learn attitude and 70% are open to new experiences (vs. 52% of the national average)
5. Finally, they are conscientious, compassionate and giving. They are mindful empathisers with a strong belief in physical and mental wellbeing. 70% like to have a positive impact on people and 75% believe in being considerate to others.
Through Thrivers we are able to finally put a name to our desirable, knowledgeable and influential audience, one that is tech-savvy, self-aware, intelligent and inquisitive. But crucially, it's also one that is sceptical of many brands, and has the tools and ability to block out traditional advertising messages if they're considered interruptive, or add no value to their digital experiences. Our research highlights that brands need to be savvy and create great content that is authentic and relevant.
Does this sound familiar? If you read the HuffPost - and 13m of you do every month in the UK - then it probably does, as so much of our content is aimed at you. Take our What's Working initiative, for example, which demonstrates our desire to double down on coverage of people coming up with solutions to the very real challenges we face.
We will continue to cover the stories of what's not working as relentlessly as we always have, but now we're going beyond "If it bleeds, it leads" to shine a light on the stories of creativity, innovation, ingenuity and compassion the media too often overlooks. Take our look into the Vicar of Baghdad, or our series of election videos getting to the heart of the most urgent issues.
We'd love to hear about your stories of thriving in a modern world. If you want to join our 12,000 strong group of UK bloggers then get in touch. I've had my own attempt about blogging about the hobby I love, cycling, but how I do it in my own Thriver style.
I really hope you keep enjoying the Huff Post UK. Go forth and Thrive.