How Serbian daily Blic can improve its Twitter presence?

News organizations use social media to distribute their news stories, start conversation with audiences and interact with them in order to allow to the members of the audience to talk back. Additionally, social media is a great tool for driving the traffic to the news organization websites. I found the discussion about social media and news inspiring in order to have a better insight in the ways how Serbian daily newspaper Blic uses Twitter to share its content and connect to the community. The most similar US newspaper is USA Today. Both are national newspaper popular in the countries where they are published, and both emphasize short news, and entertainment. However, a short and quick  analysis of 24-hour tweets of how these news organizations use Twitter shows that they don’t have similar approaches to using this micro-blogging website.

Updates and interesting headlines

  • Blic’s tweets contain the same headlines which already exist on its website
  • Blic doesn’t use Twitter for updates
  • USA Today tweaks the news headlines in its Twitter posts to make them more interesting and more attractive for sharing
  • USA Today uses Twitter for updates.
  • Both tweet about news across different news sections

Retweets and hashtag use

  • Blic retweeted some other’s post only once
  • USA Today frequently retweets posts of the USA Today reporters and other USA Today specialized Twitter handles such as Your take, USA Today Video or USA Today Sports
  • Both @USATODAY and @Blic_Online use hashtags
  • USA Today uses hashtags to mark trends and conversation topics
  • USA Today uses hashtag BREAKING in capital letters so that the followers easily navigate and read the breaking news
  • Blic uses hashtags only occasionally in order to mark the news section

Audience engagement

  • Blic’s tweets invite the audience to engage only if the website’s headline is inviting the audience (for example, to watch a video)
  • USA Today’s Twitter handle is much more engaging, offering vine videos, asking questions and calling for the audience to post their photos
  • USA Today retweets the photos of its readers called “the news from your eyes”.

Additional fact and photos

  • USA Today provides additional facts about stories by retweeting USA Today journalists’ posts
  • USA Today tweets contain photos and graphs
  • Blic nether provides additional facts to supplement existing news stories nor posts photos or graphs

24-hour overall tweets

Blic: 22

USA Today: 64

Even though there is no data about the number of Twitter users in Serbia, it’s obvious that Blic has to use Twitter more effectively in order to share its content and be more engaged in communicating with the audience. Comparing to Blic, USA Today uses Twitter not only to drive the traffic to its website but to generate conversations about the stories and invite people to participate.  By retweeting others’ posts USA Today adds value to its Twitter activity and connection with its community. Moreover, USA Today provides additional relevant content and updates, customizes its Twitter posts, uses social media to access word of mouth and to improve its online presence. Online community is global community and Blic has to improve the ways how uses different social media in order to engage with the online audience and benefit from this engagement.  

Rebranding myself: media and pop-culture fan with a sarcastic twist

When I reach the number of 201, I stopped counting Facebook profiles with the name of Ivana Cvetkovic. Wow! I was surprised that so many women carry the same name as I do. Additionally, there are 34 persons with the same name who are active on Twitter and 25 on LinkedIn. How should I distinguish myself out of the numerous online billboards carrying the same name and be visible on social media?

I am still in the process of adjusting to life in the U.S, code-switching between English and Serbian, and transitioning from being a journalist and a PR professional to being back to school. Right now I’m in the process of rebuilding my personal brand and my online identity without an attempt to erase the existing one. Media studies, journalism and popular culture are my passion and I should focus more on that area of expertise. As a future scholar mostly interested in how different media genres shape and reinforce stereotypes regarding race, gender and sexual orientation, and the ways mediated images and messages affect cultural identity construction, I should be more consistent in sharing my views about mediated images and messages. Hopefully, this approach will lead to positioning myself as a credible source and interesting brand. Additionally, I am in the process of connecting with the people with similar interests, especially with the persons from academia, not only in the U.S. but all around the world.

CNN journalist and television personality Anderson Cooper is the good example of establishing his personal brand not only within the U.S. boundaries. His name is associated with hard news, credibility, professionalism, and straightforwardness. All the qualities that I admire. He interacts with his followers on Twitter, retweets often and has a direct communication with the online community. It seems that he follows all the rules about personal branding and online presence. However, I’m leaning more towards wittiness and sarcasm, which is often easier to express in my native language. Sarcasm in English? I’m still working on it. Even though, Sadie Cornelius suggests moderation in creating an online identity, hopefully, a little bit of Miranda Hobbes’ sarcastic funniness can’t hurt!

Visual storytelling – giving a voice to the ordinary people

A photographer Andrea Gjestvang in her photo project “One Day in History” exposed strong emotions and powerful messages of the survivors of the 2011 Norwegian massacre. Norway, a low-crime country, was under the shock when 69 mostly young people were killed in the shootings in the summer camp, while around 500 survived, many of them seriously wounded. According to the Forbes report, Norway has some of the lowest homicide rates in the world (0.6 homicides per 100,000 people in 2009, comparing to five murders per 100,000 in the US which means that the US has eight times as many homicides.) Just for comparison, only in St. Louis 114 homicides were reported in 2011, while the same number of homicides were reported in this Scandinavian country.

Through visual images, Gjestvang told the story about the survivors who are in the process of emotional and physical healing and who still struggle with the consequences and the memories of the massacre. Even though Gjestvang worked as a photo editor at the time, her storytelling is not journalism in traditional sense, but a project of the series of photographs which is later published as a book. Gjestvang allowed the survivors to decide to what extent they wanted to be  exposed to the camera and what were the ways they would like to tell their story. As Brain Storm from MediaStorm would say, through taken photos Gjestvang “conveyed the essence of the human experience in deeply personal, intimate and emotional ways” and therefore her storytelling was not only good but also compelling. Gjestvang allowed the survivors to tell their own stories and express their sorrow, their scars, their weaknesses or their strength. Her visual storytelling about the survivors of the Norwegian massacre allowed the public to connect to the survivors, recognize their feelings and hear their voices. This project tells the story about celebrating life and remembering those who haven’t survived. The survivors told that story, and Gjestvang used the still camera to allow for their voices to be heard.

Multimedia enhances freezing-to-death experience

While I was waiting for the upcoming snowstorm I run into a multimedia story about the Iditarod Trail sled dog race in Alaska. The author Brian Phillips recorded his adventure when he tracked the race from Anchorage to Nome, in a small plane equipped with skies. At first, I thought that that it would be another story about snow, cold weather and winter sports but the author’s admittance that he also hates snow made me interested in the story. But what else make this story a good multiplatform journalism project? Besides the content, the narrative about the sled dogs as the only means of transportation in the Alaskan snowy wilderness was accompanied with photos, videos, audio elements and interactive maps which make this winter story more appealing. Photos and drawings of dogs and Alaskan animals, images of cities and checkpoints and the interactive map worked well together with Phillips’ description of the race and the mushers. In this linear story that Phillips wrote for the sports website Grantland supported by ESPN, he provided a lot of details about the race, rich descriptions of beauty of Alaskan wilderness covered by deep snow, and dialogues that he had with local residents. It is not only the excitement of mushing and the competition that made this story good, but the author’s writing style, his personal thoughts and feelings about the possible freezing-to-death experience in subarctic wilderness, recorded voices of local residents, and a short video sharing his excitement when he saw a polar bear, are the elements that grab one’s attention. After all, this innovative storytelling made me feel not so miserable about the snow fall because winter can be both, unpleasant and beautiful. And for those, who are only interested in the information about the race winners, the details about the finish line are just one click away.