Ridiculous news grabs readers’ attentions. It doesn’t even have to be real news.
The Onion, a popular American satirical news website, often posts articles parodying the political and social lives of Americans and foreign nationals. As a fan of the website, I wondered if anything similar existed in the Czech Republic. Without any hesitation, a resident assistant I asked quickly pointed me to Infobaden News .
Scanning the site–through Google Translate as it is only in Czech–I found that it was fairly similar in style to The Onion. However, there was a big problem: the last post seemed to be from December 2015.
Curious about the lack of up-to-date articles and videos, I decided to check the website’s social networking sites. On Facebook, only two of the page’s over 12,000 followers inquired about the website’s lack of activity (rough translations provided by Facebook’s translate function).
The site’s Twitter page, with just over a thousand followers, not only had zero complaints over lack of posts but also had few likes and retweets. Its last post, from December 2015, seemed to have gone unseen with zero likes and retweets.
Moving on, I navigated onto Infobaden’s YouTube page. For a site that works mostly with video clips, it had a surprisingly small number of videos (only 14) uploaded onto YouTube. Once again, none of the videos’ comments had any mention of the site’s posting activity.
Searching a few more social networking sites, I encountered participation in just one other. Infobaden has a LinkedIn page, which although useful as a company branding site, offered very little information and only features one employee. In terms of followers, there are only five.
Reflecting on Infobaden’s social media presence, I wondered why it had stopped posting and, in my eyes, failed. Searching through Google, I found few articles about the site although some, like the magazine Remix seemed to laud its creation and objective: “Although the video sites are actually hysterically funny, what is fantastic about the whole report is that there are people who take it seriously” (rough translation provided by Google Translate).
The Onion, which has similar objectives, is wildly popular compared to Infobaden. According to website ranking system Alexa, TheOnion.com is the 654th most popular website in the US and 2,136th worldwide. With over 5 million likes on its Facebook page, 845,000 subscribers on YouTube, and over 9 million followers on Twitter, it is thriving with high future prospects.
Why then, did Infobaden fail even though the site was very popular at one point? My theory is that it failed to garner an appropriate fan base because it didn’t make the best use of the social networking sites available to them.
According to Alexa, Facebook and YouTube are the third and fourth most popular websites in the Czech Republic. With a relatively high follower base on Facebook, Infobaden failed to keep its audience engaged. When two of its supporters spoke up about lack of activity, there was no response which may have been discouraging for others viewing the site.
Furthermore, Infobaden failed to make use of one of its best options–YouTube. Ranging from over 500,000 views on one video to just over 1,500 views on another, it appears that the site had the potential for great success on that particular social networking site but did not capitalize on it. With just 1,325 subscribers for 14 videos, it failed to retain viewers’ attention and commitment to the site. One of the videos high view count proves that people were visiting the site but with only fourteen video options, they may have left disappointed.
Had they added more videos, YouTube could have worked as an advertisement, a jumping off point linking to the site. Furthermore, Infobaden could have employed tactics such as using hashtags in order to make certain posts trend. Infobaden’s tweets have no hashtags whereas The Onion occasionally employs them to garner more attention.
Although I wasn’t able to find any official information regarding the site, it seems to me that Infobaden functioned like a fad. Popular at its inception because it was copying another popular concept, it bloomed and succeeded in capturing the audience of many Czechs. However attention spans are short, especially on the internet where there are so many websites competing for your clicks. Infobaden did not take the necessary precautions in securing their audience’s attention. They should have striven for more follows and more subscriptions, that way they could have stayed in the eyes of their consumers. Instead, audience numbers dwindled until there was no point in continuing to make videos and writing articles for such a small following.
I am convinced Infobaden really had a chance. Firstly, the large number of views on one of its videos means it went viral at some point. Secondly, the resident assistant who pointed me to the site after I asked about satirical websites was able to name it off the top of his head within seconds. I think Infobaden’s situation really exemplifies the importance of social media networking for modern-day companies. We have evolved to the point where social media participation and engagement can make or break a company.
Featured image courtesy of Funk Dooby.