Inside VOA Indonesian Service with Ade Astuti

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Ade Astuti has been in the news business for nearly 10 years.  At the BBG, she’s been employed in a wide range of capacities—everything from Reporter to Producer to her current position as New Media Manager.  In this role, she took on exclusive responsibility of managing the digital and social media of VOA Indonesian Service.  This is a huge task, because according to the latest audience survey, VOA Indonesian Service is reaching 21 million people in Indonesia each week.  However, the survey also found that only 1% of the adult population in Indonesia is exposed to VOA content online.  This means Astuti has quite a lot of work ahead of her!


As the New Media Manager she’s in charge of the Service’s websites, social media accounts, and mobile apps.  As her team’s project manager and strategy developer, she’s also been responsible for such digital projects as testing version 2.0 of VOA Direct and striving for Indonesian-browser friendly versions of the upcoming VOA Umbrella App.  “Our digital goals can be defined as expanding our reach online through various platforms and strengthening our brand through social media presence,” Astuti explains. “The strategies consist of providing various outlets for Indonesians to be exposed to our content online which includes syndication, mobile and apps; and the other half is our social strategy of increasing our level of engagement with the audience through the popular social media.”

 

 

Challenges, Changes, and the Future

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VOA Indonesia Service Facebook

According to Astuti, the biggest challenge for her is to be “wearing a lot of hats at the same time … it’s overwhelming at times but it’s also exciting to keep up with the trends that are constantly changing, especially with social media.”  Well, Astuti and her team have done pretty well expanding their Facebook base so far.  As of today (November 16, 2012) there are over 980,000 fans.

As someone who came from a journalism background, Astuti (like many others in her field) are learning how to best use social media.  Of particular interest to her is “keeping up with the trends and looking for ways to improve and adjust,” she explains.  “One example is Facebook.  They recently made our posts from pages less visible,” thanks to their new algorithm targeting ways to boost advertising profits.  Astuti said her team noticed a decrease in comments on posts and less engagement, so they’re trying several new techniques to boost engagement.  While Astuti said they have run advertising on Facebook, they are currently waiting for new funding for Facebook advertising so they can expand their fan base.  “We’re trying our best to maximize resources,” Astuti adds.

The future?  “I think the future is with mobile,” Astuti says, explaining that mobile is the way to definitively increase traffic.  This isn’t just her assumption, however—it’s fact.  Plus, the fact that BBG is addressing it is putting them light years ahead of other international news agencies.  She also says it’s important to evaluate digital needs for each language service.  “For African services, SMS is popular, where VOA Indonesian Service use is on the decline,” she details about the variation and evolution to how VOA Indonesian users are now all about Facebook and Twitter.  “Not to say the website’s not important, but we have to adjust what the trends are in Indonesia,” she continues, “Internet penetration is not all that high, but it is high among the educated people. … We hope to reach out to the young, educated audience; they’re very important for the mission of VOA.”

 

Version 2.0 of VOA Direct

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VOA Direct, Indonesian Service

The original VOA Direct was meant to be merely a streamlined way for VOA content producers to populate a centralized portal for affiliate networks to access new stories on a daily basis.  “It’s an online portal for our affiliates in Indonesia to get audio and video content in broadcast quality,” further explains Astuti.  However, with increased popularity, VOA Direct needed to be revamped.  So, the big news is that version 2.0 of VOA Direct is now ready to rock thanks to VOA Indonesian Service acting as the test pilot prior to launch.  On the front end, the user experience has been streamlined—like making it easier for affiliate networks (such as Indonesian TV and radio stations) to sign an agreement to actually use the Service’s content.  On the backend, VOA Direct will now be run in-house without the use of expensive outside contractors.

“For VOA Direct, we have the producers upload the content and then we announce it to our affiliates,” details Astuti about the content sharing process, whereby affiliates can either manually download content from the portal or simply auto-subscribe.  “Usually there are producers in Indonesia that check regularly, every day, for new content,” continues Astuti, “In the last year we got about 8,000 downloads, much more than other services.”

Astonishingly, these 8,000 downloads are all from registered affiliate TV and radio networks throughout Indonesia.  The public can view content available for download, but content is only available for use by those who prove they’re reputable affiliates overseas.  This allows VOA Indonesian Service to verify if the user is a legitimate syndicate user who will use the content appropriately and for VOA to accurately track what content is being consumed.

As for content, what’s available all depends on what’s trending.  In addition, there’s a topic of the day, some evergreen content, feature stories about Indonesians in the United States, and stories about gadgets and technology—just to name a few things.

 

Umbrella App for VOA

The BBG Android and iOS Umbrella App will soon be available to the public.  In Indonesia, Opera and Nokia may be a couple of the current top mobile browsers, but it is expected that Android and iOS will rapidly grow to similar levels.  Relating to the changing operating system landscape, Astuti added, “In Indonesia, Apple products are considered a luxury… but Android is picking up.”  Getting mobile apps developed is particularly important for regions of the world that are increasingly mobile Internet users.  And, of course, this is how these users are accessing Facebook—via the Facebook mobile site.

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Top Mobile Browsers in Indonesia (Oct 2011-Oct 2012) [source: StatCounter]

 

For more info:

 

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(Thank you to Ade Astuti for her contributions to this post.  To contact her: aastuti at VOANews dot com [or] on Twitter @adeastuti)

(The foregoing commentary does not constitute endorsement by the US Government, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, VOA, MBN, OCB, RFA, or RFE/RL of the information products or services discussed.)

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April Deibert

April Deibert

April Deibert is the Multimedia Blogger/Producer for the Office of Digital & Design Innovation. Follow her on Twitter: @BBGinnovate and @AprilDeibert.

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