If you are a Finn and follow the English language media scene, you might have heard the name of Tabatha Leggett. You may have read her Finland-related stories published in Buzzfeed, the big American internet media. A few years ago she was even nicknamed Buzzfeed’s ”Finland reporter” in the Finnish media. I sat down with her to talk about media since she now works in Finland.
1. Hi Tabatha, could you tell me a bit about your professional background and what you do at the moment?
”I work on audience development strategy at Yle, the Finnish Broadcasting Company, and I’ve specifically been focussing on Yle Kioski. My job is to work out how Yle can meaningfully engage with young people in Finland. In practice, that involves strategising with producers and working closely with video editors to look at what’s being published, where it’s being published, and how well it’s doing. Then it’s about using all of that knowledge to inform the kind of work we publish in the future.
”For example, it’s easy to see how many people liked your post or commented on your video, but how many of those comments were productive? How many were meaningful? Did people connect with your post on an emotional level?”
Most recently, I was the Head of Buzz at BuzzFeed UK. I led a team of entertainment editors, writers, video producers, and social media strategists who were tasked with expanding BuzzFeed’s reach in the UK. I was born in the UK, studied philosophy at Cambridge University, and lived in London for six years before moving to Helsinki this summer.”
2. People probably ask you this all the time, but why did you choose to come to Finland?
”My mum is Finnish. I grew up in the UK, spending a few months at my grandparents’ kesämökki every summer. I’ve always wanted to spend some time exploring this half of my heritage and brushing up on my (very rusty) Finnish. On top of that, I was really excited by the opportunity to work with a non-English language audience. I’m obsessed with thinking about how young people use the internet and interact on social media so I jumped at the chance to do that in a brand new place.”
3. What was working at BuzzFeed like, and could you describe what you did in your role as “Head of Buzz”? In Finland, you were nicknamed ”Buzzfeedin Suomi-toimittaja”: how did that come about?
”BuzzFeed was wonderful! I was the company’s fourth English hire, and by the time I left there were over 100 employees in the UK. Seeing a company grow so quickly, and getting the chance to lead a big team, was every bit as interesting as it sounds.In my last role I oversaw the UK’s pop culture and entertainment output. In practise that was a mixture of breaking down BuzzFeed’s strategies into measurable goals for teams and individuals; commissioning freelancers around the UK; editing, and of course writing.One of the things BuzzFeed is really good at is engaging sub-groups of people with highly specific content. In the early days of BuzzFeed UK, I spent a lot of time working out how to engage audiences outside of London. At one point I realised that if I could get half a million people to read an article about growing up in Chester, I could definitely try writing some stuff for Finns. So I think that’s how I got that nickname!”
”When I think about measuring success I try to combine analytics with design-thinking, which is a problem-solving process.”
4. Lets talk a bit about measuring success. How did you measure success at BuzzFeed?
”There are lots of differences between BuzzFeed and Yle: one is a startup and one is a public broadcaster; one publishes in six different languages and one is firmly set in a country with a population of 5.5 million. But the teams I have worked on are actually more similar than different: both are committed to listening to their audiences in order to best serve them the content they want on the platforms they use.
A good article or video has to do lots of things at once. When I think about measuring success I try to combine analytics (e.g. Google Analytics, Falcon, Tableau, Mingler) with design-thinking, which is a problem-solving process.
Some analytics are easy to measure. For example, how many times was your article viewed? How much of it did people read? How many minutes did people watch your video for? Did they share it afterwards? Did they like it so much they followed you or subscribed to your channel? And then there are the more complicated metrics. For example, it’s easy to see how many people liked your post or commented on your video, but how many of those comments were productive? How many were meaningful? Did people connect with your post on an emotional level? What kind of statement did audiences make about themselves when they shared your video? Is that statement in line with your brand values?”
5. Now you’re working for Yle, which is a public service broadcasting company that has a different approach to measuring success. But the principle of really understanding your audience in order to give them the best, more relevant content remains. What are the most important things to take into consideration when you’re building a strategy?
”I think the most important things are to keep reminding yourself of the big picture; keep asking your audience what they want, and never get too attached to any single idea.”
6. You’ve jumped from working in the English-language media world to working in a much smaller media market that is defined by, and to some extent protected from outside influences by, the Finnish language? What has surprised you most about the Finnish media scene?
”I’ve been at Yle for less than two months, so I’m still learning every day. But from what I understand there are actually lots of similarities between the British and Finnish media scenes. Like in the UK, online public media is thriving in Finland. Online public media is really strong in both the UK and Finland; stronger, in fact, than anywhere else in Europe.
But one thing that did surprise me is how much of the Finnish population pays for online news: it’s 18%, compared with just 7% in the UK.”
7. This is a broad question but how do you see the future of (commercial) media? And more specifically, how do you see the future of news media and journalism?
”I think the media needs to work on gaining audiences’ trust, and that’s best done through being open, maintaining a consistent presence, and establishing productive feedback loops.
I hope we’ll start to see more transparency about the journalistic process and why reporters carry out the assignments that they do. I also hope news outlets will do better at clearly differentiating between online news and opinion content.”
8. Thank you for the interview, Tabatha! I understand that you speak Finnish quite well, so let’s ask this: what is the most beautiful Finnish word you know?
”My absolute favourite word is ’pyykkipojat’, which is Finnish for ’clothing pegs’. Literally translated, it means “laundry boys”, which is just very cute.”
Numeroiden takaa is a (mainly Finnish language) blog about measuring success, with focus on media. Here you can find the previous interview made in English titled ”Look at these numbers and be amazed – ’creating communities is much more interesting than virality’ says Joel Willans, the creator of Very Finnish Problems and co-founder of Ink Tank Media”.
Tabatha Leggett on Numeroiden takaa -blogin yhdestoista blogivieras.
Aiemmat blogivieraat: A-lehtien nuorten medioiden liiketoimintajohtaja Anni Lintula, Milttonin Social Media and Digital Strategy Director Niku Hooli, Professor of Practice & senior advisor Atte Jääskeläinen, Sitran strategia- ja ennakointijohtaja Paula Laine, United Screens -Youtube-verkoston Suomen-maajohtaja Sami Törmä, Ilta-Sanomien vt. toimituspäällikkö Panu Karhunen, YleX:n ja Yle Kioskin digistrategi Anne Saloranta, Ylen Head of Customer Experience Jaakko Lempinen, Allerin datapomo Sini Kervinen ja Very Finnish Problemsin luoja Joel Willans.
Numeroiden takaa on helmikuussa 2017 perustamani blogi, joka käsittelee onnistumisen mittaamista kansantajuisesti. Julkaisen blogin FB-sivulla myös materiaalia, josta en erikseen bloggaa, käyhän seuraamassa!
Minusta eli kirjoittajasta löydät lisätietoa tämän blogin esittelysivulta.