The print news industry in Sri Lanka inaugurated in the year 1909 with the first English newspaper – Daily News – being published in 1918. This century long industry has seen many new newspapers being initiated whilst some others are no longer in circulation. Around 25 Sinhala, Tamil and English newspapers are published daily and weekly, with nine of them being English.
The presence of these English newspapers in social media is very much at an active level, with most accounts having multiple posts each day. Ceylon Today’s Facebook page is updated with news items along with the respective links to the website as well as with photographs and albums of recent events. The Twitter page is more active with constant news updates along with links to its website. Both the Facebook and Twitter accounts have over 2,500 fans.
The YouTube channel of Ceylon Today is updated with few news items per week and has gathered over 300 subscribers. Attention is also being given to the Google Plus page, with regular updates of video clips, but no +1’s or comments are to be seen for the posts. 100 users have this page on their circles but no fan feedback is evident for the past few months. This offers a great insight about how much Sri Lankans ignore Google’s social network, in spite of having signed up for it.
Daily Mirror, one of the most popular newspapers, has a highly active presence on social media platforms. Its Facebook page is updated frequently with news items and video clips. The page also conducts public polls and invites its fans to participate in them by posting comments. Most of the posts attract high number of Likes and comments. The effort put into the page by the newspaper has earned them over 43,000 Likes.
The Twitter page of Daily Mirror posts regular tweets about the latest news and has gathered almost 15,000 followers. The newspaper’s YouTube page has not been updated for three years. However, much prominence is given for various video clips on its Facebook page, with videos of timely relevance uploaded each week. The page has gathered 170 subscribers and almost 500,000 total views while it was active. Lakbima News maintains a Facebook page that is updated occasionally with the latest news items. The page has 400 Likes but no fan interaction is to be seen. The Twitter page has not been updated since December 2012.
The Nation newspaper maintains an active Facebook page, which has gathered over 2,300 Likes. The posts focus on the latest news items and contain links to the pages in their website. Sunday Observer, one of the oldest English newspapers – maintains a Facebook page which is updated daily with various news items and has obtained over 100 Likes. The Facebook page of Daily News posts regular news items per day and has gathered almost 4,800 Likes.
The Sunday Leader, one of the premier weekly newspapers, has both a Facebook page and a Twitter page. The Facebook page is updated with links to an external news website. For a newspaper that has its own website, it is questionable as to why the posts on Facebook are directed to a third party news website. Nevertheless, the page has accumulated over 1000 Likes so far. The Twitter page has not been updated since November 2013.
The Sunday Times, another leading English weekly newspaper, maintains active presence across Facebook and Twitter. The former is updated with news items, photographs and links to videos on its website, while the tweets are posted indirectly through Facebook. Most of the posts on the pages are accompanied by colorful photographs or illustrations. The Facebook page over 11,000 Likes while the Twitter page has gained over 1,400 followers.
Financial Times, also known as Daily FT Sri Lanka, has its own Facebook and Twitter pages. The posts are mainly focused on news items of business and economic concern, accompanied by links and photographs. The Facebook page has gained over 10,000 Likes but the Twitter page has just around 60 followers.
The Island, in spite of its reputation as one of the most recognized daily English newspapers in the country, has no social media presence at the moment. For a newspaper that has been in circulation for the past 30 years, it is unacceptable that they are not focusing on reaching their readers through social platforms. Engaging in social media channels would further strengthen their online presence and help reach a wider audience through the internet.
The active participation of English newspapers in social media is evident through this analysis. Almost all the social pages are active and most of them have regular updates all throughout the day. However, it is noteworthy that the fan interaction on these social platforms is low, even though most of the posts receive Likes, comments and Retweets at a high level, especially Daily Mirror’s Facebook page. The moderators do not appear to be spending time in responding to fan queries and feedback, in spite of having large numbers of Likes and Followers.
It would be worthwhile for these page administrators to focus on responding to customer feedback. Doing so would increase the reputation of the brand as a news provider among the general public. It is also important for the remaining newspaper Companies to embrace social media and exploit its uses in order to build brand image and increase overall reach.