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January 11, 2023updated 07 Nov 2023 5:58am

USA Today ‘first major publishing partner’ on Twitter alternative Post

Post has been heralded as one of the possible alternatives to Twitter after Elon Musk's takeover.

By Charlotte Tobitt

USA Today has been named the “first major publishing partner” on Post, the Twitter rival founded last year by the former chief executive of traffic and navigation app Waze.

A small number of other publishers such as Reuters and Yahoo Finance have also begun trying out the new platform although were not described in the same way by founder Noam Bardin.

Bardin, who led Waze between 2009 and 2021, set up Post in November when many Twitter users were unsure about the future of the platform following the takeover by Elon Musk.

Twitter users were reconsidering whether they would stay on the platform depending on Musk’s content moderation decisions, although the anti-Twitter mood appears to have died down since – even though numerous journalists were briefly suspended in December over reports on the banning of an account tracking the movements of Musk’s private jet.

Nonetheless publishers have been looking at Post to decide whether it is worth getting on board. Post allows users to write short posts, repost from other pages, follow accounts so they appear in a personalised feed, follow topics and in doing so create “micro-communities”, and take part in discussions underneath content.

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Publishers and other creators are able to put a cost of “Post points” onto their posts – one point equals one cent. The platform’s FAQ section states: “We believe creators should be rewarded for the hard work they put into making quality content.”

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What does Post offer publishers?

Another FAQ shares Post’s grand ambitions of building relationships with publishers: “Post is a news discovery platform that helps publishers and content creators meet and monetize new audiences on social media,” it says.

“Publishers can join Post to distribute their premium content in a pay as you go model and grow new consumers from readers to followers to subscribers.”

Bardin said he had already been working on the intersection between news and social media before Twitter’s turbulent end to the year, writing: “I believe the future newspaper is the feed and want to make it more civil for users, profitable for publishers and better for society.”

He has since said that one of his goals for the platform is to “bring on great publishers”, adding: “We want to allow you to read premium news from multiple publishers. We have big surprises in store for you.” Post is focused on US publishers for now but has plans to be global, he said.

USA Today joined on Monday and published more than 85 posts to the platform within 24 hours. Every post so far has cost one point to read ad-free and in-feed – meaning no waiting for external links to load – but Bardin said in his announcement of the brand’s arrival that its premium content could cost up to eight points.

Caroline Harris, vice president of digital distribution at USA Today owner Gannett, said the brand had joined Post to bring its ‘To the Point’ journalism “to a new platform, sharing our content and journalism with readers around the world.

“As the first major publishing partner, our content will provide Post users with real-time, approachable news to educate a new audience and promote civil conversation,” Harris said in a statement.

In a comment under its first post, the USA Today account told users it was planning to encourage more of its journalists to sign up to Post “after we ourselves get our bearings”.

One user responded to the publisher: “Appreciate the one point transaction giving us the ability to read content from outlets like USA Today without the noise of ads.

“When I can build one feed with the major outlets and do a bit of filtering, it will help me start ramping up use of points on articles.”

Post payments for publishers and creators

Reuters content on Post has varying price points from free to five points. Yahoo Finance, which has pointed less frequently than USA Today and Reuters so far, has made all of its content free although, like the others, users enjoying its work can leave a “tip”.

Some users quickly reported being flooded with USA Today and Reuters content in their feeds because of the amount of content they produce. Bardin responded: “The plan is (1) to have a separate feed for only premium news (2) to split their feeds by subject (Business, sports etc), (3) to allow you to follow Topics so only articles that fit the Topic will show up and (4) personalize your news feed specifically to your interests.”

When publishers apply to set up an account on Post, they are asked for details such as whether they want to set up an automated content feed, whether they want to paywall their content, and whether they want their content to appear natively on Post alongside promotional tools asking people to follow, tip, sign up to their newsletters or subscribe.

NBC News is creating posts on the platform but directs users to its own website rather than providing content in-feed. Some others such as Insider and Byline Times have created accounts but not yet posted much content.

Bardin has also issued an appeal to Substack and other newsletter writers to make their content available in Post feeds so people can access it in a different way from their email inboxes. He wrote: “Email is a great delivery vehicle but shouldn’t be the only option. For people to discover your content, they should be able to read it (not necessarily for free) to evaluate if it’s right for their subscription. Choice is good.”

Bardin said writers would get 100% of whatever price they decide to put on their premium content and that the micropayment option of “points” meant people could read without committing to a subscription.

How many users does Post have?

In mid-December, according to the latest figures shared by Bardin, Post had about 530,000 people on its waitlist (users must be admitted to avoid overload) and 250,000 activated accounts.

Bardin said his “ambitious” goal was to have Post able to support 50 million daily active users within a year of launch.

Post was mentioned as a contender in the latest Journalism, Media, and Technology Trends and Predictions report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, published this week. Report author Nic Newman wrote: “This year we’re likely to see the emergence of a few Twitter alternatives.

“Many will be watching Post, a network created by former Waze CEO Noam Bardin. Still in beta mode, it has pledged to create a space for ‘civil conversations’ and is hoping to bring premium publishers onto the platform with some kind of micropayment system.”

Asked where they may go after Twitter to build their profiles, access information or distribute content, 9% of the news leaders surveyed said a new network (including Post) compared to 10% who said Mastodon.

Mastodon has a similar microblogging function to Twitter but works on a decentralised network. Users must sign up to a specific server when they join, although they can spend time and post in different servers. The server Journa.host, calling itself a “reliable home for journalists”, currently has 1,800 active users.

However, The Guardian reported on Saturday that Mastodon is struggling to keep the momentum it built as a much-touted alternative to Twitter in November. It went from 500,000 active users before Musk’s Twitter takeover at the end of October to more than 2.5 million in early December, but has since dipped to about 1.8 million.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
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  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
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