#AaBInside 2012: Project description

Purpose:

The purpose of this project was to test different strategies for a traditional media group to extend their total media coverage via social media – in this case Nordjyske Medier’s coverage of the Superliga team AaB.
The focus was to get experience with and knowledge of ways to actively use and involve social media in the day to day journalistic coverage of a certain subject area. Furthermore, the purpose was also to build up closer relations between journalists, fans, players and club officials.
The project was hosted at Nordjyske Mediers website nordjyske.dk.


Time frame

Preparations started by the end of January. Intensive coverage for one week, starting March 19 2012 and ending on match night March 24, where AaB played home agaisnt SønderjyskE. The full team (project leaders and 22 students from the Danish School of Media and Journalism) also covered the away match againt AGF in Aarhus April 16. In between these periods and in the following two months three students continued working with Nordjyske Medier on key elements of the project – as part of their finishing semester thesis. Students report here (in Danish).

Partners:

  • Danish School of Media and Journalism
  • ACTIVE Institute
  • Nordjyske Medier

Target group:

“Hardcore” fans of the football club AaB from the Danish Superliga.

Criteria for success:

1 The ambition was for the two key participants from Nordjyske to reach 500 followers on Twitter.
They are sports editor: Claus Jensen (@clausjen) and sports journalist Søren Olsson (@olsson78).

Result: Sports editor Claus Jensen (@clausjen) has reached 148 followers.
Sports journalist Søren Olsson (@olsson78) has reached 248 followers.
Both are far from the ambition of 500.

2 The ambition was for the projects articles in average to get as many or more hits than an average sports article on www.Nordjyske.dk.

Result: The conclusion from Nordjyske is that the articles from #AaBInside in average had the same amount of hits as an average sports story on their site. Nordjyske estimates that an average sports article gets around 1.000 hits. The best #AaBInside story had 2.963 hits – but at the same time the least read articles had a very low amount of hits (<100).
The most read story was an interview with former AaB topscorer and Danish Champion Erik Bo Andersen: Røde Romario: AaB hænger med røven i vandskorpen.
Obviously the amount of hits is not only a question of the quality of the article but also whether or not it gets a place on the front page of Nordjyske.dk or the front page of the sports section. Therefor factors such as which editor was at work at a given time can have quite a big influence on the amount of hits an article gets. Following the project and the data from day to day, it is Nordjyskes conclusion that the goal regarding hits was achieved.

3 The ambition was to describe, test and summarize editorial roles/tasks in the project (twitter-jockey, publication planning, editorial planning etc.)

Result: A) Introduction of the flow schedule for stories. The introduction of a daily “flow” schedule for individual stories became a cornerstone for this project. The flow schedule is a rundown of all necessary elements and actions surrounding a news story and it’s publication. In itself this is not a new concept in a media environment, but because we incorporated social media activity into the description of a story’s flow, it became something new with which Nordjyske Medier had no experience.
This flow schedule for stories fulfills several vital needs:

  • It creates a social media action path for the journalist behind the story: When to send out social media content relating to the story, when to engage the audience, what to tweet, who to tweet, when to react and so forth.
  • It creates a necessary overview for in-house colleagues in other media sections and departments and allows them to participate in the flow if needed.
  • It pinpoints the exact demands for coordination between staff and publication and for needed action in order to maximize the potential of a story’s reach.

B) Flow manager. This project demonstrated the need for a new editorial role, we call it the Flow manager. Working with a flow schedule for stories, it became evident, that the traditional editorial organization was neither capable of overseeing nor implementing the schedule’s social media elements. This was the case, both on a general editorial level and for individual journalists delivering into the flow. During the active project week our first experiments started with the role of flow manager, and a couple of the participating students got to try out the position. Continued trials are needed in order to fully understand and describe the requirements of this new editorial position. However, from this project it became clear that the flow manager is:

  • An expert in monitoring social media activity and filtering out important and relevant social media content and messages.
  • A producer, overseeing and sometimes executing editorial social media output.
  • A demanding character that carries weight in the editorial environment.
  • Someone who can make sure that schedules are followed and updated at all times.
  • As a coach and backup for individual journalists, the flow manager helps colleagues staying wired into the social media activity surrounding their own stories.

4 The ambition was to describe, test and summarize the use of social and mobile media to bring fans closer to AaB in a way that both fans and media as well as players and club benefit from it.

Result: During the project, several new concepts were created in the course of the week long focus on demonstrating ways to supplement traditional media output with a strong and meaningful social media presence.

  • Twitter pitch. The journalist’s value proposition to his or her audience: A brief and very “to the point” pitch that explains why anyone should follow a particular journalist and also states clearly what to expect from the journalist. Here is how we teach students to write a social media pitch.
  • Twitter family. In order to be able to work strategically with social media, we asked the two participating reporters from Nordjyske Medier to define their “Twitter family”. This is defined as the 20 most loyal and valuable followers. Once defined (and listed in a practical way), the Twitter family becomes a valuable asset for the reporter to activate. Your Twitter family can act as social media ambassadors for selected content or upcoming projects. They can assist with ideas, knowledge and contacts and sometimes  help reporters navigate through uncertain waters.
  • Twitter torpedo. A Twitter torpedo is defined as a story, or rather a flow of story elements, that carries enough perceived interest to act as the perfect vessel for launching a person into social media “stardom” :-) In the case of #AaBinside, the story #sejrssex became a sports reporter, Søren Olsson’s Twitter Torpedo. The central story question was this: Do players and audiences have more sex after victory in a sports match? This spawned tweets, articles and radio chats during the cause of the week.

5 The ambition was to receive a minimum amount of 2.000 tweets and other inputs from fans in the period of the project.

Result: During the period of the project we received 827 inputs from fans. 633 were entries in an interactive fan-map with the purpose to show where AaB fans live.
194 were tweets using #AaBInside.
The project only reached close to half of the ambition when it comes to inputs from fans.
An example of the interactive fan-map can be found in this article showing that AaB fans live all over the world: Masser af fans i udlandet. The inputs from the map generated four articles along with content for Nordjyske Mediers radio production.

6 The ambition was to achieve and provide experience with a mobile reporting strategy where journalists and other actors by purpose plan process as well as communication for the news to be published on mobile devices first – and then secondly on other media platforms.

Result: A web app was put together for experimental use on game night March 24, when AaB played Sønderjyske at home. In it, tweets were channelled into menu-items:
- Editor Claus Jensens twitter handle with match commentary
- Olssons “bagside” with off remarks and observations
- Stadium service info, hashtag #stadionsservice
- General discussion via hashtag #AaBinside
Due to problems with the provider’s server, the web app was partially offline during the match and only about 300 impressions were made.
The dedicated student group who carried on with the project revived the web app and used it to gather votes for man of the match and to channel their video interviews uploaded to YouTube during and after the match. Click here for an image of the web app.

7 The ambition was to use the extra editorial manpower availiable in the project to create innovative web journalism of high quality about AaB.

Result:

  • Twitter game plan/match coverage. During the course of the project, the sports staff’s use of Twitter during matches evolved. Several concepts were developed and tested. More details here (in Danish).
  • Innovative post match stories mixing reporters observations with fan commentary (benefitting from the buzz created and nurtured in social media. Example here (in Danish).
  • Live video from daily training sessions.
  • Instantly uploaded smartphone video interviews from matches at half-time and post match.
  • Promising experiments were made with the social media buzz surrounding individual stories. A thematic approach for social media content was tested in several occasions, where  a particular story element was reserved, or created purposely, for a first wave of social media buzz accompanying the story. Ideally this creates enough buzz between journalist and audience, to create a follow up Storify with link to the main story, in effect turning one product/story into two.
  • Create an interactive Google Fusion based map to register fans geographically (and globally).
  • Introduce promoted hastags as drivers for content promotion and dialogue.

Background:

The background of this project are the challenges that traditional media face in order to adapt the ongoing changes and democratization of the media – especially under the influence of social media.
This means that everyone now has the technology to communicate news and messages and to interact with one another. In the best case this is something that media groups respect and use in a positive way – in the worst case traditional media groups are not capable of adapting the new situation and end up isolating them selves from things that potential customers talk about and have interest in. Ultimately, you can end up losing customers because you are not visible with interesting content on the media platforms where this target group actually is.
Focus was a small and well defined niche audience and strategies for keeping this target group interested by using the social media that this group uses to communicate.
Furthermore there was a focus on the necessary technological and business adjustments in order to make new practices profitable and effective.

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