THE ROLE OF FACEBOOK IN SPREADING NEWS FOR GEORGIA NEWS PORTALS
Research advisor: Nana Matcharadze
Table of content
Literature review ------------------------------------------------------- 4
Research questions -----------------------------------------------------13
Content review -------------------------------------------------------- 15
In-depth interview ----------------------------------------------------16
Content analysis -------------------------------------------------------24
Internet has made easier and faster to get information. Online journalism is faster than the traditional media and people attitude toward getting news has changed. They want to get information immediately and after waiting the updates and additional details. That’s why it’s nearly 3 years tendency in Georgia that traditional media outlets has their own web-sites as well. But in order to reach bigger audience it’s not enough for online media and traditional media with their web-site. There is another important aspect while there is talking about online media and this is social media usage. It has changed the way that journalists are able to operate. Social media can be a valuable tool aiding journalists in their newsgathering, audience engagement and it can act as another platform for content.
In this paper will be reviewed how social media is used by Georgian online news portals. Even though there are exist twitter, Instagram, Google + and other social media platforms, still Facebook is the most popular in Georgia. Our population started using is nearly from 2008 years. But it’s last for 5-4 year they’re very active there. So it become very good platform for company’s to reach their consumers and have interaction with them. So news portals were not exceptions and started to create their own Facebook like page. It gives them chance to reach bigger audience, have communication with them and make them engaged with their site and Facebook page as well. The paper will try to show you what king of experience do the Georgian news portals have in using social media, what is common and what s individual approach form chosen news portals. And of course we try to find out what is the benefit of using social media for each and why t is important during the developing the content of site at the same time to take care to have nice content of Facebook page.
Nowaday it is hard to imagine journalism without internet. According to the data of Caucasus barometer - 14% of Georgian population use internet as a main source of information and 22% of them - as a second source. More specifically every day social media becomes more and more powerful way to get the news. (Sichinava&Tornton, 2016)
Social media is internet or cellular phone based applications and tools to share information among people. Social media includes popular networking websites, like Facebook and Twitter. It involves blogging and forums and any aspect of an interactive presence which allows individuals the ability to engage in conversations with one another, often as a discussion over a particular blog post, news article, or event. (http://www.businessdictionary.com )
If we have a look at international experience, more and more people use social media as a source of information instead of traditional media. For example, Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. They conduct public opinion polling, demographic research, content analysis and other data-driven social science research. In 2015 Pew Research Center survey suggests that everyday less American stay as user of cable or satellite TV subscriptions. “The Center’s survey data reveal that dramatic generational differences already exist, with those under 30 much less likely than those 30+ to watch any of the three programming streams. Instead, younger adults are more likely to name social media as a main source of news. Even beyond the young, fully 62% of U.S. adults overall now get news on social media sites.” (Mitchel & Holcomb, 2016)
“When you take into account both the total reach of a site (the share of Americans who use it) and the proportion of users who get news on the site, Facebook is the obvious news powerhouse among the social media sites. This networked public sphere is becoming space for audiences to share, discuss and contribute to the news. (Purcell et al. 2010) “
According to the study about Statistics of Internet users in Georgia conducted by Institute for Development of Freedom of Information In Georgia, 2013 Facebook is the most popular social media platform in Georgia. According to Social Bakers, currently Facebook has 1 600 000 users in Georgia which is almost 22, 89% of the whole population. Of course, we should consider the factor of fake accounts, but other sources also confirm the tendency of growing number of Facebook users. In particular, according to the social media analytical web-page www.quintly.com, compared to previous years, number of active Facebook users has increased by 45,75%. That’s why the ways consumers and news portals use Facebook to get and spread the information is very interesting.
Alejandro,(2010) explained how media outlets use social media for news operations. The survey was conducted among selected chief editors from different parts of the world. The participants of the survey were chosen according their “representative” status in the hierarchy of the journalism system. They were media controllers, bureau chiefs, managing directors and editors of some of the biggest news organizations. The main point, they were chosen was that their opinions would show the tendency about usage of social media by online news outlets.
Most of the editors answered that Speed or Immediacy is the aspect of social media that helps them best in receiving news. Also most of the editors surveyed believe Audience Reach is the aspect of social media that helps them best in distributing news stories.
“ As for the main risks with using social media for news gathering and news distribution, the answers were unanimous about concerns regarding accuracy, the need for verification and the loss of control over the information. “For news gathering: trust, accuracy and identity are the main risks. Are people who they say they are? For news distribution, it’s resourcing …to do this effectively and handle two-way implications.”– Nic Newman, Future Media and Technology Controller, British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) UK” (Alejandro, 2010, p.24 )
In America conducted survey about Facebook sharers. The survey says that nearly 60% of participants say that Facebook is an important way they get news, and 40% say they think of Facebook as a useful way to get the news. In contrast, 41% of those who do not post or share news often indicate that Facebook is an important way to get news, and only 19% say it is a useful way to get news. Additionally, about seven-in-ten (71%) check Facebook throughout the day, compared with 59% of other Facebook news consumers. And over half, 53%, spend more than an hour on the site each day, compared with 30% of others.” (Mitchel et al, 2014)
The data also suggest that, similar to those who “like” news organizations on Facebook, greater news engagement on the site coincides with a broader mix of news topics. The more engaged Facebook news consumers – those who “share” news – are more likely to learn about nearly every topic area asked about in the survey. About eight-in-ten of these news consumers (81%) get news about people and events in their own communities.
As Castilio(2013) said that one of finding that they did is that social media reactions can help predict future visitation patterns early and accurately.
As the example there is given the data set which is provided by English language Al Jazeera is a well established news organization. Its TV channel has very wide audience of millions of viewers and the website has five different and major sections. Aljazeera English is actively using social networks. The content is daily transmitted by through Facebook and Twitter accounts. This practice is used by mostly all huge media organizations for last decade. Each channel has over 1.5 million followers since 2013. After posting, all the news articles from the news section are shared immediately after publishing. The articles are shared throughout the day, on different, specific and scheduled time periods. Editors use different type online tool to analyze traffic on social media and to understand which keywords to use in their posting. There can be different kind of interaction between social media and visitor’s number of the website. In some case happen like – click on the link on social media page and visit website, or in another case just view directly on social media page and even if it’s given enough information with clear title, easily express emotions. In any case summary of this article is that social media is very important, it attracts more visitors than any other external referrer and it worth to adopt an active role in social media in order to increase positive effect. (Castillo, 2013)
After the analyzing international experience it’s important to see How Georgian population use social media and specially Facebook. And also how important for Georgian online news outlets are to get traffic with the help of Facebook.
But before it would be interesting to have a look general situation and tendencies we faced during the usage of social media in Georgia.
Tsuladze et al (2013) said that the main problem of social media is that is less accessible. In the study, there is given opinion of one expert who termed social media as "Tbilisicentric". Of course the situation is changed four years ago but still social media doesn't cover all the population. But, still they think that the coverage will be broader and social media become much more influential year by year.
Social media is used almost by every media organization, no matter they are traditional or just web-portals. Every traditional media outlet has their web portal today and social media pages as well.
The social media is quite influential it is the space where all news can become public without covering up and gives people chance to discuss, share their opinions, to write the comments. This is the place, which gives individuals chance to meet, express themselves that can’t be happened in professional media or real life. (Tsuladze et al, 2013)
Same study was interested in who are the users of social media. They have divided the users as by groups with different features. They are age (old vs young) and territory (urban vs rural). Young people are counted as the active users of social media. They have computer and connection with internet from childhood.
As it was said above, another feature is user number difference in urban and rural area. It is directly connected with the internetization level. If they are more rural and village far from cities internetization level is lower. So people from the urban and rural area haven't the same access to the internet and social media as well.
Social media is very inﬂuential in communities, where internet is actively used and it is very powerful there. For this people spreading information is so easy and routine there that for sure it effects a broad range of activities.
Another feature effecting people’s engagement to the social media is the rate of employed individuals. So it means that workplace encourage them to use different courses to get information. Also they conclude that people who word such places are people with higher education and technical skills.
With quantitative indicators, the social media inﬂuence can be low, because the audience is limited, but with qualitative approach we could conclude that even a small group from this limited audience, which holds technical skills and some intellectual resources as well, could be considered inﬂuential.
As one of the respondent of the survey said that the social media user proﬁle in Georgia looks like this: middle-class, urban, aged 18-40, students or graduates with internet access. Also it’s concluded that people aged 26-40 also use social media actively for two main purposes: to get information and to sustain contacts (bridging social capital);
The same study says that social media and especially Facebook becomes a strong platform for marketing and PR as well. It is the best way to get feedback directly from the consumers and analyze and understand what the want and need. It helps to save time and gain more money. This point is important for us because media is business. News organization tries to get more visitors through the Facebook and more visitors mean more advertisement and money.
International Transparency Georgia published study, where is written that the number of population who use internet everyday increased from 40 % to 45% in 2016 compare to 2015. And Caucasus Barometer says, that in 2015, a majority (57%) of the population of Georgia reported using the internet at least occasionally.
Additionally, in 2016, compare to 2015 decreased the number of people who don’t use internet from 46% to 43% and the percentage of people who don’t know what the internet is, is just 1 %. To sum up 49% of Georgia’s population use internet even one time in a month. Very important part of these people (78%) use internet in order to use social networking sites and 86 % of them use Facebook even one time in a week.
That’s why all news organizations have their official Facebook page. Also it is very spread action in Georgia from news portals side to share the link of news story to their Facebook page, with photo and a little bit strange headline to catch the scroller’s attention and actually it works.
While we are talking about that the number of internet users growing up every year and main activity why people use it is exploring social media and Facebook still is number one popular social media in Georgia, the research will answer two main questions:
1. Does Fcebook importantly help Georgian news portals to reach wider auditory and get better traffic or not?
2. Is Facebook important source of income for Georgian news portals?
3. Does the role of Facebook to spread the news and gain visitors have a growing trend?
4. Will new-portals be so popular if not to be the social media and especially Facebook?
The research conducted both with qualitative and quantitative research methods.
More specifically I will use in – depth interviews. Qualitative interview is the communication between researcher and the individual who researcher thinks that can be the potential source of information. The qualitative methods examine social life deeply and the study takes place in natural conditions where everything is real. For different reasons, the data, obtained by qualitative method can’t be subject of quantitative analysis. (Zurabishvili, ”Qualitative methods of social research” , 2016 )
So I’m going to use quantitative method - content analysis as well. Content analysis counts different aspects of the content to summaries it.
Content analysis will help us to find out latest tendency in using Facebook page by online media outlets.
We will provide a content analysis of different news portals official pages and their facebook pages in order to understand what kind of content they share on Facebook and what don’t. The portals should be active on Facebook. Those who are more then year on Facebook the number of their page “likes” should be more than 5.000.
So, for content analysis we will analyze 6 news portals. We have chosen them from site Top.ge where you can see the rating of Georgian providers. Totally here are registered 15707 Georgian sites in different categories.
We have chosen them from “News, media, TV and radio” category. First two portals are Ambebi.ge and Newposts.ge. They are very top (Ambebi.ge- 4th place, Newposts.ge- at 7th place. Data: 14.06.2016) in a rating and the amount of their Facebook page likes is quite high. Newposts.ge (third place at top.ge) with 661639 likes and Ambebi.ge (second place at top.ge) with 324,655 likes.
Next portal is considered that creates very trustful and serious content, but still it’s rating is quite low compare with previous two. So it is liberali.ge ( 14-th place at top.ge) with 60,132 likes.
And next portal is on.ge (19-th place at top.ge) with two Facebook page. First (on.ge) has 59,557 likes and second one (news.on.ge) has 34,619 likes. We have chosen this portal because it is very new. With the help of on.ge’s example we want to understand which is more important to create serious content and after try to get more visitors or, first of all post materials which are very popular in Facebook, gain likes, visitor and after stat to create serious content.
The portals we have chosen are different with their content. Newposts.ge writes about serious issues like political, economical, social thing but they write yellow issues as well. Actually, Ambebi.ge is the part of big media holing Palitramedis. It has a lot of categories and when you click them you go to the site about the topic. They have linked 14 such sites, that Palitramedia owns. Ambebi.ge with their own content is focused on the scandals and yellow stuff. Liberali.ge is absolutely focused on the topics that disturbs to our society and except news stories about social, economical, political, environmental issues they provide articles, infographics and blogs about same issues. ON.GE is the new portal that writes about latest news also covers very actively culture, especially movie industry and has very individual style of visualization. They have a lot of entertainment things on Facebook but it’s far from yellow journalism.
Within the in-depth interview we have questioned the editors and the market managers of the news-portals we have mentioned above. There were a lot of same points in their interview but still there were some differences.
In depth interview
The editor of the Newposts.ge Ekaterine Shindagoride explaned, that they have created Facebook page since autumn of 2012, when they created the portal. “Let create Facebook page, we said, because it was mandatory if you have new portal you should have Facebook page as well” – Shindagoridze noted. According her it wasn’t very active for this time and is was used just for entertainment by people. Year by year Facebook become more popular and they tried to follow step by step this tendency.
For now they have official, verified Facebook account. They try to update facebook with the same way like they update the information on the portal. The main point is that Facebook is the most important channel to give the information to the audience. As she said newposts.ge has strategy how to develop Facebook page successfully, their own methods when and how share information and etc.
“f you share one information several time you make readers tired and they won’t visit your portal any more“ – she said.
But sometimes the information is so popular and important that you can share it second time during the active period on Faceebook. Sometimes it can be yellow media, because people are very much interested in yellow stores.
As she said the title and photo plays big role to catch the attention of readers during the scrolling. Because Facebook will cut the title if it is more then 9 words, it should be short, interesting, contains a little intrigue and give the interesting message to the audience but also it should be the suitable to the text. Also Photos matter very much. It should be interesting, characteristic and if the photo is directly from the place the story happened (depend on the story) sometimes only one photo has a lot of traffic.
From their experience, the biggest number of visitors, many likes, shares and commentaries have the topics which are very popular for the moment like “Cyanide case”. But in general very active feedback have the topics like weather, horoscope, crime (extremely popular are stories about thieves in law), terrorist attacks, stories about occupied territories and yellow stories.
The most convenient time for sharing is in morning, also 12-3 pm, but this time one story should be shared only one time. After work, when people go back to home, from 7-8 pm to 12 pm is the time you can share everything that were popular during the day, so share them again.
So the result of their effort is that 50 % of their visitors are from facebook, and another 50 % from application and people who directly type the domain of their portal in browser.
The financial director of the portal declared that well developed facebook page help them to have more advertisements. “Sometimes, the are case when client want to post some advertisement only on Facebook page ”-Zurab Gongadze explaned. They don’t spend money for Facebook advertisement permanently. They only use boosting when they have the exclusive.
Liberali and their Facebook page exist nearly 6 years. But for first 2-3- years the most of the visitors were directly visitors, people who type the domain of the portal. So Facebook wasn’t very active channel but today 80% of their monthly visitors are people who go to the portal from Facebook link.
The readers of Liberali are people who are interested in everyday stories happen around them and affect their life. So they have their opinions and visions. The most visited are news stories about political and social issues like labor safety, decisions of government, financial issues, tender issues, new bills but anyway it depends how hard the story is.
They share news only when it happened and but articles sometimes are shared evening time, when people have done their job, after 8 pm. Sometimes the articles are posted and shared in the groups at weekends. Mostly it happens when the story is very long.
“If Facebook will turned off, I don’t know what will happed”-liza Zakashvili , the editor of Liberali.ge noted.
Short introduction text, like quote and short title are very important because it makes people to be interested in. But Photo is the most important because users see it first.
“For example we have no many photos of kidnapped journalist Afgan Mukhtarli and when we use same photo it’s hard for readers to understand it is new update or old story. “- Zakashvili said.
Irma Mosulishvili- the manager of business development of Liberali declared, that Facebook can’t help to sell advertisement directly, but it helps to make more popular the content you create.
“We are selling the volume and quality of the auditory so it helps you to increase visitor’s number and after you can offer to have advertisement on Liberali. They spent the money in boosting of their exclusive materials, nearly 100 $ in month.
Ambebi.ge has their Facbook page since beginning, when the portal created in 2009. But they use facebook actively las three years. As the editor of the portal, Eto Purtskhvanidze explained, sometimes Facebook page give them point what topic is very popular among users, what they are discussing about in social media becomes popular topic for them as well.
According to her, people become a little bit lazy and we don’t want to enter directly to the site, because we are sure they will share us the same information through the facebook. That’s why nearly half of their visitors are from Faebook.
As she said it is reader’s behavior and according this the ways how they share news changes time by time.
“When share news with 3-4 photos works for example 1-2 month after it becomes boring for them and after we share only link and introduction text. Sometimes, we are changing the title as well” – noted Purtskhvanidze.
According her, most of the users read the title of the news but, when they share it on Facebook the title is located below of the photo. That’s why it’s important to write introduction text up to photo or write another title there in order to be more noticeable during scrolling.
She counts photos very important as well. For example, if we have photo with low quality but is it photo from hotspot, works so much. The main point is not to have Google photo, if it is possible.
According her, no matter what topic it is, if it contains scandal becomes very popular. After, to follow the topic is very important as well because when the topic is important people waiting updates.
As she stated a lot of statistics showed that most of their readers work. That’s why the most comfortable time for sharing is before they go to the work and after they are back to home. Users are very active at midday if something very important happens, for example earthquake. Otherwise midday time isn’t active in social media.
As the sale’s manager of the company owns Ambebi.ge said, new established companies try to have good Facebook page and after start active work. But of course huge number of likes isn’t as important now as it was before. To make users engaged to your page you should offer them interesting things, not only news stories but gifs, coubs and other. All this stuff helps you sell advertisement. But additionally, if company wants to have many loyal users you should give them some advises, consulting and etc.
“Ambebi.ge doesn’t need to help with boosting. We only boost the materials, that are advertisement and client want and pay to boost the,” – Tea Tabagari noted.
On.ge is new organization. Their Facebook page created in 2016, with their portal.
Their main goal was to create content that would be high quality and contain entertainment and serious topics. Also they aimed and still try to mobilize users with information that is provided with attractive ways, users have no experienced before (For example, live online poll on Facebook page).
“Sometimes we post the materials on our page that is only for Facebook, like interesting photos, videos, gifs. Also our live online poll is very popular among our users”- Tazo Kuprashvoli, editor of the on.ge explaned.
They share everything on facebook because it is main source for them to spread the information. That’s why the photos, titles and text that appear only Facebook page with link should be interesting and contain information that makes rider to click the link and read the full story. If they have excusive topic or very important issue covered, they share it second time. As Kuprashvili explained 10-12 am and 8-12 pm is the best time for sharing.
“We have 25-30 thousand unique visitors per day, more than 60% of them are from facebook”- he noted.
Nodar Davituri, the head of the company answered, that Facebook is mains platform where they are exist, because it’s the only effective way for distribution the materials to the audience, so it has the biggest influence on their income. According him, first time, when the web-site created and they wanted to make it well known, they have spent 600-1000$ per month for Facebook advertisement but now they don’t.
Answers, editors and sale manager gave us show that Facebook is main platform for them to reach their audience and this communication has to be done very affective and attractive way, in order to get the result they want.
In order to make content analysis of our news portals Facebook pages we have chosen one week period, 25-31 of May.
During this period of time Newposts.ge shared 241 news stories on their Facebook page. The average number is 30-35 posts per day. More actively they share information after 7 pm. Each day we have met 1 or 2 case when they share the stories from previous days, or month. Also, everyday we can meet even one article that is shared 2 times. Most of the titles of the articles are till 9 words, because, when they are longer and link is shared on Facebook, full title isn’t appeared. Till nine words it looks fully. They share stories without introduction text on the link and it hard to say that they use some keywords.
About topics we can say that they share everything that is posted on their page but when they share some old stories they are about things that can catch the attention of more people. For example in 28 of May they shared story from 18-th May with the title: “How can we lose the weight quickly and cheap”
Mostly they share everything on Facebook, only two days there were difference between the number of stories on web-site and Facebook page. Some political things were not shared. (28th May 45- on newposts.ge and 26 posts on their facebook and 29-th may 23 posts on Facebook and 46 stories on the site)
During one week period Liberali.ge posted 133 articles. Average number is 20 posts per day. They share everything exact time when it will be published on the web-site. Very usually if they have exclusive they try to share it after 7 pm.
Liberali writes introduction text of the link when it’s shared in Facebook. Average words of these texts are 30-50 words. The titles are shorter, among 3-9 words in most cases. They share everything on the Facebook page.
On.ge also shares every story in Facebook but they share them on their two pages - with the account of on.ge and news.on.ge. They have 57 posts during one week on on.ge’s page. They share stores same time, they were published. They use introduction text, average number of words are 4- 15. Their titled are short as well, most cases no more than 9 words, in order to appear fully on Facebook.
In the second hand they had 149 posts on news.on.ge’s account. So daily it is nearly 22 posts. 28% of the stories are posted after 7 pm. The title and introduction text looks same.
Ambebi.ge shares nearly 2500 articles during one week and is mean nearly 350-360 posts per day. The amount of the articles is so huge because they share the stories of all web-portals that are linked in their site and Palitramedia owns. They share during 24 hours.
Most of the titles are short, from 3-9 words. When the title is longer and facebook cut it, they use introduction text on the link. The texts are short as well, average 5-15 words. Night shares are very active.
No matter how many posts they share every day, all portals try to be more active in the morning and after7 pm, when people are back to home. All of them try to have short titles in order to appear fully in Facebook. As For introduction text of the link on Facebook we can say that all portals, except Liberali.ge try to be it shorter and contain the information that make user to click the link and visit the full story on web-site.
The findings that were shown from our analysis give the answers to our research questions. About role of Facebook in reach the audience each of editors says that Facebook page has big role in their activity. For them it is the most effective way to reach wide audience. All of them have their own methods and strategies how to share information there and develop it successfully.
About tendency editors think that Facebook has grown potential and still we don’t know fully what opportunities it gives to us. They have some common things, for example all of them mention morning time and evening, from 7 pm to 12 pm the most active and good time for sharing the materials. Also all of them said that Facebook has huge share of their visitors and at least 50 % of them visit their site through the click on Facebook link.
The question about Facebook role in gain income can be answered from the interviews with sale’s managers. We can conclude that Facebook page doesn’t effect on their income directly but still with indirect way it does because well developed Facebook page means more visitors and for advertisement all they sell is the number and quality of the visitors.
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