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June 16, 2014

Oxford Mail embeds news updates in readers’ phones via Whatsapp

By Press Gazette

The Oxford Mail is believed to be one of the first British newspapers to launch a service delivering news alerts direct to readers' phones via messaging app Whatsapp.

The Newsquest-owned daily started the service on Monday, 2 June, and has so far signed up 200 readers for news and sport alerts.

A morning bulletin of the Mail's best stories and an evening wrap-up of the most popular stories online with links are sent out, as well as major breaking news alerts.

Whatsapp is one of the fastest growing social media platforms with 500m users worldwide.

Assistant editor Jason Collie said: "We're really excited at the way our readers have embraced this new platform, although we are still feeling our way with it.
"But it takes getting your stories out there via social media to a new level because, unlike Facebook or Twitter, you know an alert has pinged on the reader's phone demanding attention.

"During our trial Oxford United striker James Constable announced he was leaving the club. Now on Twitter there were six or seven tweets carrying this news, so we were relying on a reader choosing our Tweet over the other ones competing in their timeline for attention at some point.

"With Whatsapp we knew everyone's phone went ping with our message straight away, and the likelihood was greater that it is our story they read."

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Collie said the key, particularly in the early stages, was not to overload the service with updates.

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