Final reflections from our intern, Matt

Over the last two weeks, News Media Canada launched a social media experiment. We handed over the reins of our Twitter account to our summer intern Matt Raitt. Our hope was that he would be able to bring a fresh perspective to our day-to-day work.

All told, the project, we feel, was a major success. Before returning to school, we #AskedMatt if he could put together a short summary of what he learned as part of the project. These are his reflections:

Learn something about the industry:

  • I made use of the News Media Canada fact sheets in order to gather reliable information about the newspaper industry to share on the NMC's Twitter account.
  • I decided to focus most of my tweets on information pertaining to Millennials.
  • As a Millennial myself (18-34), I felt that I would be able to add a youthful flavor to NMC’s Twitter account, as well as provide a unique take on an industry.
  • Many of the stats I shared focused on strong print readership amongst Millennials, and made use of popular memes from 2017.
  • These relatable pictures brought a comedic aspect to my tweets that not only increased user engagement, but complimented my focus on Millennials.
  • I learned (though I had suspected it) that many users still refuse to believe that Millennials do in fact read printed news. I was determined to debunk this myth.

Learn about effective communication:

  • It seems I was catering to a wide ranging audience. I received responses from people young and old, as well as those with positive views on the future of the industry, and those who held a quite negative outlook.
  • I decided to phrase my tweets so that they would appear straightforward and informative, while remaining comical and interesting.
  • One challenge I encountered was striking the right balance between comedy and information. I did not want to be too crude, for fear of insulting or negatively impacting older (possibly more conservative) users. At the same time, I did not want to come across as too boring.
  • The choice to use memes came out of this dilemma. These recognizable pictures allowed my tweets to adopt a light/comedic feel, while information provided in the caption would remain straightforward and relevant.
  • I also learned a lot about how quickly users and journalists can react to postings on social media. After one of my posts was ridiculed by a user, I decided it would be appropriate to delete it and post an altered (more appropriate) version (see below).

  • Some questions also proved to be very hard to answer. This approach may have encouraged some users to get involved and “test” the intern to see how much they really know.

Grow your audience:

  • With my Twitter activity, a lot more users began to follow the company.
  • Many of those who replied to my tweets were either journalists or news media workers of some kind.
  • It seems that many of those who follow NMC are involved in the industry, and care about its future.
  • While factual tweets seemed to evoke discussion amongst these individuals, memes and viral photos posted to NMC’s Twitter got the best response.
  • It seems that meme and internet culture sparks a particular interest amongst users when it comes from corporate companies (the last source you would expect). For example, companies like Wendy’s have become famous online for their “savage” replies on Twitter.

Measure your results

  • At the beginning of this exercise, NMC had 4,002 Twitter followers. By the end (about 2 weeks later), they had 4,021.
  • While gaining about 20 followers doesn’t seem like much, my post engagement was significantly higher than normal.
  • My highest rates of engagement I received was 7 favorites and 6 retweets. Most older posts only received 1-3 favorites or retweets.
  • Clearly, users enjoyed NMC’s #AskMatt campaign.