The Rise of the Traditional Social Media. #1 #Cong14

By Eoin Kennedy.

The Irish annual Joint National Readership Surveys (JNRR) and print circulation figures  paint a dismal picture of the traditional print media in Ireland.  Its sister broadcast figures are a big kinder but still the overall trend is a downwards one on their traditional channels.

Eoinkennedy #1 MorningNewspapersReadership
Eoinkennedy #1 sundayspapers
EoinKennedy #1radio listenership

Graphs courtesty of Conor Doyle

It is easy to dismiss traditional media as a dying medium and while there is certainly a drop in sales of their physical product, news and journalism are probably more important and valuable than ever as we consume an endless supply of updates.

Next month marks the 20th anniversary of the Irish Times’ first online edition and even as media outlets struggle with how to monitise online news the recorded numbers for their digital presence continues to grow.

One of the things that has remained constant is the influence of the media. The last few changes to Google’s algorithms have recognised this favouring links from authorative sites with deep content – something news websites have in abundance.  Articles posted to the Irish Times website are automatically syndicated, feature strongly in Google News and are shared abundantly through social media.

Influence in the real world is hard to quantify.  An informed journalist has the ears of a lot of people and access to vast contacts/experts in their ‘little black books’ but tracking the daily water cooler conversations on what the media report is next to impossible.

However the ever growing social media presence of journalists and media outlets gives a sense of this network and indication of their online influence.  

I have had an in interest in this aspect of the media landscape for quite some time and many of the big jumps in presence have only happened in the last few years – for example in November 2011 the Irish Times Facebook page had 4,000 followers – now its over 205,000 and is actively managed.

In September 2014 I took a deeper dive into the social media presence of the traditional media and individual journalists.  I collated over 1,000 twitter accounts (individual and group owned ones) and with the help of google docs and Twitter APIs pulled some key data for analysis.  There are lots of caviats in this research and I am viewing it as a starting point but hope to expand, automate and expose over time.

Here are some of the key findings

The Media on Twitter

Twitter has been recognised as a hot bed of media engagement for quite some time but the pure numbers show a very disproportionate size of network.

  • 8,451: Average number of twitter followers.  61 to 208 Global Average.
  • 1,303: Average number of people they follow.  117 Global Average.
  • 10,790: Average number of tweets per account. 307 to - 600 Global Average.
  • 340: Average amount of media (pictures/photos) they tweet.
  • 337: Average amount of items they favourited.

Getting overall average Twitter figures is difficult but in almost every area the media are vastly ahead with very big networks and posting a long of content.  In other words a lot of people are chosing to follow journalists on Twitter for news updates and the media are publishing original content and syndicating news on the platform.

Broadcast leads the charge with average followers of 13,056, followed by national media at 6,650 but national media post more tweets at 9,453 versus 7,613 for broadcast.

Print Media Outlet Comparision.

Making direct comparisons between media outlets on their overall social media presence is difficult as they vary widely and as I discover new accounts every day e.g. 160 RTE versus 89 Irish Times  twitter accounts.  Instead I used the main twitter and other social media accounts I could find per media outlet to get a snap shot idea of their Twitter and overall social media footprint.

Main Twitter Accounts Snapshot:

Irish Independent wins on size of network but Irish Times wins on volume of content.  

The Irish Daily Mirror and the Irish Examiner win on the multimedia posted and the amount of content they favourited.

Social Score Klout:

Influencer is hard to gauge and although imperfect their Klout scores give a small indication their Twitter activity.

The Irish Times wins out at 92 but the Examiner is a close second at 87.  This could be indicative of level of sharing, referencing and activity as I do not see a huge amount of engagement on these general account.  The Klout score are I believe disporportionately high in general.

Overall social footprint.

In compiling this research I tried to find corresponding social accounts on Facebook, Google Plus, YouTube, SoundCloud, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram and total them together.  For most platforms the numbers were very small and more akin to experimental but there are some real suprises which impact on the overall figures. 


  • 276,000. Sunday World Facebook community.
  • 107,000. Irish Independent Followers.  Google+
  • 6223. Irish Times. LinkedIn.
  • 1490. Irish Examiner Subscribers. YouTube.
  • 525.  Irish Independent Followers. Instagram.

Outside of the media having a large social media presence and being influential, exact online trends will take more compiling and analysis.  Some trends tend to be individual publication preference and are possibly also skill sets based.   For example media who have reasonable SoundCloud accounts, also have active podcasts on their sites.  There are also lot of anomalies.  Although the Independent and Irish Times are producing a large volume of video content they tend not to post on YouTube but the Examiner does and has had a lot of success in content going viral

Although clearly 'apples and oranges' when the social media audience are totted together they start to look more like inflated readership figures.

What are they doing on social media?

As a tool twitter appears to be a more comfortable home for a lot of journalists and each has their own preference in how they communication on the channel.  However there are some key things ways it helps them in their daily lives including.

- Looking for leads and spokespeople.

- Pushing and discussing stories.

- Seeking feedback and crowdsourcing additional questions.

- Radio taking Twitter comments on air.

- Use tweets as basis for breaking stories.

- Getting guests on shows.

- Direct commentary on stories.


Irish media - both individual journalists and main outlets have taken strongly to social media.  This has allowed for rapid dissemination of stories and also opened up the media world to much closer engagement with the public.  This is a welcome trend which is evidenced in the high number of followers and subscribers on social channels.  Good journalism will always in high demand, journalists continue to wield influence but the problem remain on how to fund the expensive process of news gathering.

 This piece of research started off very simply to look at the media twitter accounts but quickly morphed as I started to dig deeper.  A few macro trends are robust but others are less so due to size and analysis. 

I hope to build out more (e.g. broadcast analysis) in future and automate but the main aim of this is post is provoke debate at Congregation on November 29th 2014 in Cong, Mayo #Cong14.

CongRegation © Eoin Kennedy 2017 eoin at congregation dot ie