Of the channels we use, Facebook gives the most insightful analytics into audience habits, and through an examination of its data we can assess the successes and failures of UOWTV Multimedia as it has transitioned into a social-first newsroom. The obvious end goal of a social-first newsroom in terms of audience is a larger and more engaged audience in the social media spaces the outlet occupies.
From the 1st of March until the 19th of June, UOWTV Multimedia grew its audience by 73%, from 768 likes to 1078. This increase came at a steady pace.
When considering reach and engagement, it is difficult to track UOWTV Multimedia’s success, as it fluctuates with newsroom days, but an in-depth comparison of the two most successful days (which coincidentally fall near the start and end of session) shows changes in reach and engagement more clearly.
The largest organic post reach was 2573 people on the 3rd of March – heavily made up by a post including over 50 students with the hashtag #freeAJstaff. As this was tapping into a trend and included many students it has probably given that day unfair weight, and the consistently low reach and engagement following that day until about April backs this up. On this day there was one post with over 1000 people reached (the #freeAJstaff post), two over 400 and four over 100*.
The next largest day for organic post reach was the 28th of May with 2562 people reached. The spread of this reach across posts was more evenly distributed than the 3rd of March, with two posts over 1000 people reached, three over 400 and one over 100*.
More significant is the comparative engagement of posts from the 3rd of March and posts form the 28th of May. The total engagement of posts that reached over 100 people on the 3rd of March is 998 (this includes clicks, likes, comments and shares), compared with 2,213 interactions on posts that reached over 100 people on the 28th of May. The most engaging post on the 3rd of March received only 420 interactions, compared with 1,321 on the most engaging post on the 28th of May, despite the 3rd of March having a larger total reach.
This shows that through our transition we have managed to significantly better engage our audience, even when compared to a day that would have had unnaturally higher engagement due to a #freeAJstaff photo that included several journalism students.
There are, however, still some clear problems in how we are trying to reach our audience.
Our statuses are the most engaging posts, and second only by a small margin to videos in reach. They receive almost double the engagement in real terms despite having 90% of the reach of video posts. Links are unsuccessful in reach and engagement. Photos also show poor reach and engagement. We have been targeting links to the point that they receive a larger average reach than statuses, yet they are completely unsuccessful in engaging. We need to stop targeting link posts (this includes soundcloud, which is not engaging our audience).
We are also not posting at the right times. Our largest potential audience are night owls, online from 8pm to 10pm, with solid activity from 5-8 too (Our potential audience, as would be expected, drops sharply after 11). Despite this, we are still posting much earlier in the day. Newsroom posts need to be more strategic in the content they deliver and the timing. Links to posts aren’t working, and neither are audio posts (this average may have been affected by a particular podcast series, which receives consistently low engagement).
There are smaller issues that may not be resolvable, such as our facebook tabs receiving zero attention. It may be best to consider them as an archive repository, rather than pouring resources into aimlessly boosting attention to them.
What hasn’t changed in our process is our demographic, the majority of whom are still 18-24, with the next largest group between 25-34.
*The reach of individual posts may not necessarily correlate with the day examined as post reach often runs over several days. The reach of any particular day is the total number of reaches that day, whereas the reach of any particular post is the total number of reaches for the lifetime of that post.