A Social (Media) Popularity Contest

23 10 2011

I’ve already covered the implications of social media and how they can have positive and negative impacts on news coverage.  Now would be a time to look at how ABC News uses social media, and whether the content they post on sites like Facebook and Twitter is as effective as other news sites.

Firstly, I chose to look at the ABC News Facebook page, which before I could receive the content I had to “like” the page – possibly one of Facebook’s most annoying creations.  On the ABC wall are a number of stories asking for user opinion on that particular topic.  For example, at the time of writing, the top topic is “What do you think of the U.S. having a continued presence in Iraq?” linked to the story, “Clinton warns Iran: U.S. remains committed to Iraq“.  This is followed by 50 people liking the story (irrelevant information), 57 people commenting (irrelevant people) and 18 people have shared the story.

The share option is the only feature from ABC’s Facebook page that I think is of any value.  I would never use a news site’s Facebook page to go and find news (I will be unliking ABC News as soon as this post is complete).  The only time I may stumble across it is if one of my friends shares the link with me or their page.  Even then, this is unlikely to ever be ABC News because most of the news items shared I come across from friends are funny or unusual stories from more obscure or foreign websites.

The one area of social media I do think has great potential for news distribution, especially breaking news, is Twitter.  However I was really disappointed when I started following ABC News in what they had to offer.  I looked through my Twitter feed from Sunday afternoon and wanted to see what ABC had to offer:

“Chemistry Labs’ Safety at Universities Questioned”, “‘Paranormal Activity’ Is in the Eye of the Beholder”, “How to Lower Cholesterol Without Pills” and “10 Great Places to Sleep with a Ghost”.

If you consider that Associated Press mentioned the liberation of Libya and 85 people dead in a Turkish earthquake in the same time period then you have to question what ABC News are trying to present themselves as on Twitter.  Even Gawker and Piers Morgan posted more newsworthy material in the same time period as ABC did.  With so much competition for attention on Twitter then you have to know exactly who you are targeting with your tweets.  If this is the best ABC can come up with then it doesn’t look as though they are using Twitter for actual news so once this post is finished I will be unfollowing them.  Which is now.

 

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6 responses

24 10 2011
emeewes

I agree, with the advent of social media in news reporting it seems that they are sensationalizing their posts. You noted this in your blog. However, I feel like this is because of the audience that they are aiming for. Twitter and Facebook posts are definitely aimed at the under 35 crowd. I don’t necessarily like this practice, but I can see where they’re coming from. That being said, I wish that they would include the stories with more substance for those of us who appreciate it.

24 10 2011
gfisken

I never made any reference to news reporting becoming sensationalized through social media – if anything the examples I stated from ABC News were the opposite, trivial (almost trying to be ironic) posts rather than sensationalized.

31 10 2011
emeewes

By sensationalizing I meant making stories about Kim Kardashian more important than those about world events. I agree that they’re trivial.

24 10 2011
joet228

I find it interesting that you made mention of the irrelevant information found on facebook pages. If you are going for news items, all of that stuff, at first glance seems of no importance, but one of the things that web journalism requires is numbers to back up use. The liking function on a story may prove use to decide content or other metrics to consider advertising, on websites. That information is more useful maybe than you let on in your article here. Otherwise, I enjoyed it and the screenshot and links to supporting material.

24 10 2011
gfisken

I was more referring to the irrelevant information from a news value perspective. I understand there is a whole different element with regards to advertising when it comes to “likes”, but I’m also aware that companies do actually buy “likes” in order to increase advertising as well. You can get 1,000 “likes” for $57 apparently!!

24 10 2011
jthomp72

Let’s be honest with ourselves here. Organizations like ABC News have no real need for Facebook honestly…and it shows. I almost wish they wouldn’t have a Facebook page at all rather than half-heartily throw up something up. But I guess some organizations will never learn!

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