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Some people know me as OrangeBlossomer because that's me on Twitter. This blog is a random collection of daily musings about life and stuff I love, such as journalism, dog (sadly my dog died in 2010 so probably no more), women, love and lack of love, boobs (only seldom but it does get me extra online traffic), taichi (I practise) and spirituality (should practise more). I have a day job as a jetsetting publishing foreign rights manager but I am also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and a writer/columnist at heart. Writing is my opium.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Are journalists who tweet value for money?

So are journalists among the British workers losing businesses £1.38bn a year in wasted time through using Twitter and Facebook at work?

Not likely.

ABCe vs. Twitter stats
The Guardian
, The Telegraph and The Daily Mail's websites topped 30 million unique users for the first time in September, according to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations Electronic (ABCe) figures.

In an attempt to establish a correlation between them and Twitter, digital marketing specialist Dan Thornton (@badgergravling)looked into which newspapers were mentioning Twitter the most and published the results in the microblogging news blog 140 Char. The Guardian and Telegraph topped the list while the Daily Mail was fifth, though Martin Belam from the Guardian’s website development team explained, if the use of the word ‘Twitter’ in “Follow us on...” was counted as one, stats may be skewed.

In the meantime online communications consultant Stephen Davies (@stedevies) updated a list of UK journalists with Twitter accounts, which can now be viewed on Listorious or divided by their corporate affiliation on PR

The top two slots by number of journalists in Davies' list are, again, occupied by the Telegraph (32) and the Guardian (31), followed by MSN UK (27). The Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday combined produced only four tweeting journalists.

The list of course may contain outdated data on journalists who no longer work for the paper and some, who didn’t identify their affiliation on their profiles, may have been missed.

Nevertheless, the possibility of some correlation between ABCe figures and the number of journalists from each paper who are active on social media sites cannot be dismissed. Every tweeted and retweeted link attracts new hits to their newspaper’s sites.

Even looking exclusively at accounts without a named journalist, UK newspapers had 1,665,202 followers on Twitter at the beginning of October, a growth of 13.1% over the previous month, although 78% of the increase was down to one account – GuardianTech, as Malcolm Coles (also of reported on Online Journalism Blog.

Dual function
What about the Mail’s ABCe success then, when their journalists do not seem to be the ‘tweeting types’? Even taking into account the established readership of the tabloid, a significant amount of extra traffic is likely to be
from users posting links to the Mail’s polls, or to their often highly controversial articles, such as Jan Moir’s recent column on Stephen Gately’s death.

Media people are using Twitter as an instrument for sharing and crowdsourcing, for networking and live-reporting. A journalist with a popular blog or social media presence can only be positive for the publication’s brand. If Twitter is a waste of work time, time has never been so well wasted. Furthermore, if a journalist is creating content while simultaneously publicising the content carrier, isn’t that doing two jobs for the price of one?

Time to rethink the value of (Twitter) time.

(This blog is also published in The Media Blog)

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