Avid readers often enjoy the experience of browsing through a newspaper or magazine and unexpectedly finding themselves immersed in a piece of writing that they had no idea would be so interesting. Maybe a headline or photo caught their eye. And once they started reading, they couldn’t stop — albeit the topic was something they previously cared little about.
It is called serendipity, and this type of reading experience is inherently attached to paper, where each turn of the page brings new opportunities for accidental discoveries. Good publications provide the stories that audiences expect; great ones present the stories they didn’t know they wanted to read.

Digital media certainly has many advantages to reinforce the reader experience
But with more people getting their news on mobile phones — with stories lined up one after the opposite during a hierarchy that's sadly monotonous — providing the serendipitous reader experience has become a true challenge.

If you read several daily publications on your mobile , you'll quickly note many of an equivalent stories are presented, often covered within the same way. The topics are chosen with the goal of attracting as many visitors as possible, in order that they are often unrelentingly mainstream. Since usage data is a crucial source for deciding when, for a way long, and where to place topics on the mobile news feed, it often becomes amplified and news bubbles appear.

That is great as far because it goes. and infrequently you'll stumble across a feature story placed prominently because someone decided it had been worth promotion. But still, if you occasionally read the print or e-paper version, you'll likely find stories in its pages that you simply never saw within the mobile offering. The stories are there, of course, but the structure and therefore the very narrow parameters of the digital presentation, especially mobile, kept it from you.
Serendipity, however, shouldn't be abandoned or ignored just because it's difficult to supply within the digital news environment. It can differentiate a publication from the competition and is especially crucial to general interest journalism due to the requirement to hide an equivalent main news stories that others also are covering.

Your audience might not be aware of it, but surprising them with interesting and compelling stories they will only find from you provides an enjoyable reading experience. it's also how to extend their loyalty and keep them returning .

So how does one do it?
Firstly, the inspiration of this experience may be a genuine and deep empathy for the audience and their interests and wishes . By putting yourself in their shoes, you'll come up with topics that hit the spot, and surprise them with stories beyond the mainstream they could have found elsewhere . To uncover this empathy, the quality customer research isn't enough; you can’t expect research alone to offer you an inventory of topics. it's about diving deep into the planet of the audiences with their values, hopes, fears, and motivation top of mind.

There will vary audience segments and target groups with different characteristics. for every segment, this deep thinking is vital . Creating personas within the various segments, to form them more tangible, can help tons . Visualising couples, or maybe even families, that represent and describe the audience segment, can inspire content creators to seek out topics or specific aspects of a subject that aren't mainstream but fit into the planet of the audience segment.

Secondly, you would like to present it to your audience therefore the chance they find it increases. this will be done simply with repetition, by keeping selected stories within the main news feed longer so more people can “stumble” upon it.

It also can be promoted, perhaps with a daily “editors’ favourites” feature, to let your audience know which stories you think that are worth a glance . Or perhaps a “six stories you'll have missed” section. or just reward your excellent and popular feature writers by promoting them with in-house advertising and entry into award competitions. The “journalist as brand” not only benefits the individual but the organisation as an entire .

Thirdly, you would like to understand what quite off-beat stories might appeal to your audiences and shut the feedback circuit to audience empathy. because of the facility of knowledge and analytics, it's possible to stay track of the stories where people linger and supply similar themes and designs . You can’t quantify everything, but you'll make the chances for serendipitous reading greater by knowing broadly what your audiences might like and if the personas pointed you within the right direction.

These stories are often not your usual content. they're the differentiators, and that they help build your brand. While they'll be quirky or unusual compared to your other content, they still need to reflect the unique qualities and values of your particular publication and brand. There should be an area for writers to actually rock out.

Put serendipity back to digital projects
You have to surprise people and make them curious, so once they consider your publication they assert , “When i'm going there, I not only get what I expect, but i buy what I don’t expect, which really suits me.” Knowing your audience helps to supply them with unexpected pleasures, which builds loyalty and fulfills a basic mission: to form the time they spend with the brand well spent and valuable.