Reuters Digital News Report 2021 has clearly shown how online media has become the favorite media for most Indonesians, especially those in urban areas. With an internet penetration of up to 71 percent of its 276 million people, conventional media such as newsprints, television, and radio are all seeing their customer base being slowly undermined as many opted for the more practical digital platforms, especially social media. Shifting has become an often-heard term when talking about the rush of conventional media to convert themselves into their online version.

Reuters recorded that in 2020, two large national newspapers, Tempo and Indopos had to halt their print version in the face of dwindling advertising revenues. In early 2021, Suara Pembaruan followed suit. Joint research by Reuters and Oxford University showed that the internet was the most popular source of news in 2021, including social media which topped the list with 89 percent, followed by television at 58 percent while the print media only drew 20 percent.

Source and device for news consumption in 2021. Source: Reuters Institute.

This new phenomenon gave rise to a new term, “shifting” among the media, especially those conventional media which had already made a name for themselves in this industry. “Unlike their previous generations, the young nowadays rarely read the print version of Media Indonesia. They only use us as a reference in fact-checking, after they had obtained their information from the social media first,” Henri Siagian, Assistant Head of the Social Media Division of Media Indonesia said about the news consumption pattern of the under 35.

It is this very phenomenon that has prompted MI to accord more attention to their own social media lines in the past two years. “At present, we are in Twitter which we have already long been developing, Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok which we have only been developing in these past two years. Specifically for TikTok, its growth has been quite rapid,” Siagian said. He added that in December 2021 and January this year, MI held a poetry competition that was really helped by the amplification through the Tiktok platform that targeted young readers of between 15 and 30 years.

Northern State University Assistant Professor in Communication Studies Nuurrianti Jalli in an article carried by highlighted that Tiktok could become a new platform to channel political aspirations. She pointed out that a number of political events in three member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Indonesia, Thailand, and Myanmar – were widely featured in Tiktok. Jalli believed that TikTok was a strategic social media platform to voice issues that were the focus of public attention, especially because of the “snowballing” effect that it caused.

“TikTok possesses a unique algorithm that allows its organic content to be watched by many more people. This algorithm also allows for a wider audience, beyond just Southeast Asia, to become involved in popular content with plenty of interactions in the For You Page (FYP),” Jalli said. Siagian said that MI was not thinking too much about a strategy to deal with this algorithm saying “We are first making content, and only after are we going into the algorithm,” he said.

By the end of February, MI’s TikTok account already had 537,000 followers and all its contents were original productions in video form, interviews, or the shortened or full version of The Editor uploaded on the YouTube platform. MI’s social media team of five has long adopted a multi-platform strategy. As a print-based media, MI also often makes use of videos from MetroTV television station which belongs to the same media group. So far, MI’s TikTok content has received two million likes. Besides TikTok, MI also has a Twitter account with 1.6 million followers, and Instagram with 542,000 followers ( up to February 24, 2022.)

Media Indonesia’s TikTok front page

Besides TikTok, many media are also focusing on reel-based content on Instagram. Kumparan, for example, and even radio such as Radio Prambors are busy producing reel-based information content using the talent of their content creators. “Since early on, we have been using TikTok, but we are not yet using content creators because the content must remain in line with the brand image and should be heavier on its journalism,” said Siagian about the strategy of MI’s social media.