Widening Horizon

Data is the language of DigiCon

By: Samuel Yap, Monica Baylon-Solideo, Jerah Rivera, Jose Roxas

For 25 years, INQUIRER.net has been part of the dynamic and competitive landscape of digital media in the Philippines. The lessons and strategies it has learned are said to be unparalleled in the industry, be it from propelling engagement to driving traffic.

Although these benchmark approaches are already crucial for the company’s growth, it further aspires to be more than what it is today—to be forward-looking and data-driven always in all ways.

The Digital Content Distribution department, or DigiCon as the team fondly calls it, started its humble beginnings with a small team of three—the analytics, SEO, and UX. It was called the Search Analytics Social (SAS) back then.

INQUIRER.net Digital Content Distribution: Data Analytics, SEO, Social Media, and UX team with COO Imee Alcantara

Through the years, it has evolved into a diverse team of skilled professionals that aims to achieve what DigiCon, and the company in general, further aspires to be. From the people of data and web analytics, to social media, to SEO, to UX design, DigiCon remains to be one of the pillars of INQUIRER.net in this ever-evolving media landscape. It continues to be on the lookout for endless possibilities and groundbreaking innovations in the years to come.

This is what we do at Digital Content Distribution. This is how we do it at DigiCon.

Data Analytics is the bedrock of our operations

Decades deep into the digital transformation, data analysis is now the focus and the bedrock of most innovations.

It is vital for any organization, who wishes to thrive, to have a comprehensive view of its data. Considering where we are in this timeline of data revolution, where access to it has been democratized, the more relevant question now really is: how to make the data work for the business?

With so many factors to be considered as to how it should be tracked, what could be collected, what should be looked at and measured, as well as the limitations on visibility and tracking - the challenge lies heavily on the ability to streamline all of these into bite-sized and digestible nuggets of information that would propel the business to a sustainable success.

Here at INQUIRER.net, we have placed data analytics at the center of our operations. What our day to day looks like is based on what our data tells us. We aim not just to report about the events and developments around us but also to give light to the issues that matter to our readers. We observe their behavior within our assets, listen in on their viewpoints, and from there try to provide solutions to their predicaments through our content - whether it be about finding their voting precinct, knowing how much basic commodities now cost, or preparing them before the coming of a potentially damaging weather disturbance.

As an online publisher, page visits and user count are our most important performance indicators. In 2022, INQUIRER.net remains to be a leader among key competitors based on these metrics, according to the independent web analytics company Similarweb. But we do not stop at just looking at our numbers. Our Web Analytics unit takes a few more steps to investigate who our readers are, where are they coming from, and what information would they likely need based on what is happening on the ground or on other seasonal and environmental factors.

With the shift in our readers’ behavior toward becoming more social in terms of their news consumption, it is essential to measure how responsive INQUIRER.net is in this space. The Social Media Analytics team keeps the rest of the group up-to-date on the key conversations, emerging issues, and stories of everyday people that deserve more attention through a bigger platform like INQUIRER.net.

Audience segmentation, a/b testing, user behavior research, topic affinity categorization, etc. may all sound technical and uninteresting. But to an INQUIRER.net data analyst, the information we derive from these best practices is like oil to our engines.

Readers still go to INQUIRER.net's Facebook page for government and regulatory news.
Based on data, Cebuano captions earn higher engagements in CDN Digital's Facebook page.

Investment in data tools together with employing people who are digital natives, technology-savvy, and who understand that good data and relevant insights equal intelligence - are testaments to the company’s commitment to data analytics. And this is the reason why INQUIRER.net has remained at the top for the past 25 years.

Social Media drives meaningful engagement

As people increasingly turn to social media for daily news updates, the social media team strives to be flexible in engaging with readers and creatively distributing news stories while maintaining INQUIRER.net's credibility.

According to the Digital News Report 2022, Filipinos trust news, but many turn away from it, if not avoid it, due to adverse effects on their moods and unworthy and biased information online. Despite this, INQUIRER.net was able to maximize the strength of social media. We have set our sights on diversifying our presence on different social media platforms by using a high-quality multimedia style to attract readers to our site for more information.

Source: https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/digital-news-report/2022/philippines

With our collaboration efforts with Be An Inquirer, we storified viral stories with short and long-form articles to maximize our readers' attention.

With our partnership with SEO, we were able to identify our audience and know what they want to see, which helped us determine when to post our stories and how we deliver them.

With the help of the graphics team, we excelled in multimedia storytelling using short and long-form graphic explainers, attracting readers to read and engage with our stories.

With the video team's help, we generated views and engagement through videos on social media. We also storified videos that gave more context to certain news following the lifted clips from reporters.

As we worked hand in hand with the editorial team, we were able to anticipate breaking stories and prepare necessary graphics and social media content. Through consistent communication, we were able to be competitive in posting breaking stories.

Aside from generating exemplary results, the social media team continues to keep up with the trends, explore new multimedia styles and strategize on what to improve on different social media platforms.

However, even though the social media team always exercises jumping in on trends to bring a conversation and connect with the audience, the group maintained the company's credibility as we always consider the branding of INQUIRER.net while being able to be flexible and engaging on social media. Accuracy should not be at the expense of being the first to post trending stories so we exercise care in checking what we post and when we do make mistakes, we are quick to correct them.

Our team keeps in mind that knowledge is power. We make sure that data empowers our judgments. It identifies patterns and helps us pinpoint our strengths and weaknesses. In this dynamic playing field, data is our guide. It tells us where we are and whether that position is closer to or farther from our goal.

Planning and active collaboration within the teams were made in every anticipated event. We have seen through the process from coverage, stories and angles, formats, distribution, and evaluation. Reinforcement of our online best practices and audience-centric mindset has set us up for success.

We utilized social media tools and monitoring platforms to track data from public pages successfully, public groups, public Instagram accounts, verified profiles, and viral posts.

The team members also pursued passion projects, attended workshops and seminars, and shared their newly acquired knowledge with the team. We practice accountability as we continue to pursue growth and improvement while being open to corrections and changes.

@inquirerdotnet Paano ang tamang gamit sa "din" at "rin"? Narito si Bestie Bea para tulungan kayo! #BuwanNgWika #inquirerdotnet #socialnewsph ♬ original sound - INQUIRER.net
@inquirerdotnet Maligayang Buwan ng Wika mula sa #inquirerdotnet ! 🇵🇭 Tuklasin natin ang mga salitang homonym sa wikang Filipino. #socialnewsph ♬ original sound - INQUIRER.net
@inquirerdotnet What should you do when an earthquake hits? Here are some ways to keep yourself safe. #inquirerdotnet #newsph ♬ MOMENTS IN LIFE - Turreekk

With all of these, we can say that the social media team could not just reach but exceed our goals and objectives by continuously working towards excellence and not settling for mediocrity. The group constantly strives to be competitive and competent by developing skills and pursuing and nurturing our passion.

SEO keeps us updated and trending

SEO evolves very quickly. The standards we implement today are different from those implemented in the previous years and will continue to develop in the next few years. The SEO team has made its mission to be up-to-date with SEO updates and digital trends. By doing so, we can adapt to changes and trends, with the help of a good relationship with other cross-functional teams, to ensure our content is easy to find and of good quality.

Utilizing different tools, analyzing the results, and looking at the relations between these are some of the key success factors of the SEO team. As a result, we can identify what piques user interest, and, in turn, we can quickly provide them content surrounding the topics they care about deeply.

Data-Driven Design

INQUIRER.net’s design team commits to be purposive and pragmatic in its very core. While not compromising brand and design principles, it aims to produce content that encourages not only self-involvement, but also call-to-action among its diverse demographics of end users. Now on its 25th year, it remains dedicated to being at the forefront of visual information in the country.

As to any other media outfit, packaging complex stories in a digestible manner is the key in keeping up with the ever-changing consumption preference of its target audience. Hence, the organization, through Digital Content Distribution, strives to simplify news in a way that is still contextually accurate, yet visually coherent.

From politics to pop culture, and maps to charts, the team ensures that it creates a wide array of relevant infographics and explainers that interest its followers. Among the most noteworthy include explaining the importance of the SOGIE bill, iconic movies that have shaped Philippine cinema, Afghanistan’s takeover by Taliban, among others.

Graphics by: Marie Faro
Graphics by: Samuel Yap
Graphics by: Lance Uy

Given the nature of the fast-paced media industry, the design team—together with data analytics, social media, and search engine optimization units—collaborate hand-in-hand to achieve the goals of the department. These are accomplished by putting premium on making data-driven decisions—a characteristic that has made INQUIRER.net the leading Filipino news website.

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