Aysha Ridzuan is a well-known figure in the Southeast Asian sporting scene. This native of Malaysia has appeared on television with Astro, has worked for famous magazines and is now in Singapore looking after social media for one of the world's fastest-growing websites...
Did you always want to work in the media industry?
Yes I did. After school, I knew I wanted to do something with media but I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do, so I decided to study Mass Communications in college where it covered broadcasting, journalism, PR and marketing. I felt the course gave me a few options for me to find what I really wanted to do.
How did you enter?
After graduating, I applied for multiple jobs like every other fresh grads. I saw an opening at ESPN Star Sports based in Singapore and they were looking for an Assistant Web Editor for their Malay-language website that they just launched. I applied for it not expecting I would actually get it.
Can you describe your first job?
For someone who grew up watching football on ESPN Star Sports, it was like a dream for me to land my first job at the company. Writing about football and other sports felt right for me. I also had a great editor who I learned so much from. It was also a big step for me to move to Singapore from Malaysia at 21 years old but the job was definitely a stepping stone for me.
You worked on Astro TV (a major Malaysian cable network), what did you do there and what did you learn?
Working at Astro was something that was out of my comfort zone. I had no broadcasting experience prior as I was only writing in the first few years of my career. But it’s something I will never forget. In the beginning, I was an assistant producer for a debate show between football pundits. I had to find materials for the pundits to discuss. Later on, I had a chance to produce a sports news show where I wrote the script for the presenters and find content for the show. I learned a lot about sports TV production - the mechanics behind it, technicalities, how to operate machines in the control rooms, how to deal with TV presenters and also how to write for TV. I enjoyed my time at Astro.
As a woman working in the media in Southeast Asia, have you come across any obstacles? Has it been more difficult for you than for male counterparts?
As a woman, I think in the beginning most would look down on me thinking ‘what does she know?’ My colleagues were always great but others were not very welcoming. I remember one time maybe six years ago. I was tweeting quotes from a press conference and some journalists were questioning that because they felt that ‘real journalists don’t do that’. Which I thought was a bit odd but look at them now. That’s exactly what everyone’s doing.
Now you take care of social media accounts. Can you explain what you do? What is your typical day?
I have been specifically managing social media accounts since three years ago. First for FourFourTwo website and now at Dugout Asia (dugout.com). There are multiple accounts that are under my supervision - Singapore/Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and also Japan. My daily task is to push our website content on social. At the same time I also have to come up with a strategy to increase reach and engagement, see what type of content works for each market. You would be surprised to know that content which works in Vietnam doesn’t even interest people in Indonesia. For example I found out recently that Vietnam fans love [former Manchester United and Bulgaria star] Dimitar Berbatov, a video of him gained so much reach. But the same didn’t happen in other markets.
Can you talk about some of the major problems you have had to solve on social media? How about your biggest successes?
I think the struggle with social media, especially Facebook is that it’s too crowded with content. There’s so much on a person’s newsfeed everyday and competition is high. So we always have to come up with new strategies on how we push content on social so that they reach the right people. Thankfully I didn’t have to deal with any huge problems.
A success for me in terms of social media is when a content idea that I come up with could gain a high reach and engagement. Also when I am able to contribute more than just posting content such as designing graphics, video editing or even presenting for the brand/company I work with.
How do other media workers view their social media counterparts and vice versa? Is there a division?
I do think there’s still a division. I think some people still think social media is an easy role and not as serious as others. That shouldn’t be the case as in this era they are both as important and they compliment each other. Nothing is easy and social media can be challenging too.
What are the biggest misconceptions about social media work?
That we go to work to play Facebook, Twitter and Instagram implying that it’s easy. It’s so much more than that. There’s a lot of thinking that goes into one social media post before we share it. There’s strategy involved, there are more than one people involved too sometimes. And the job rarely stops after normal working hours especially in sports. It’s always running and your screen time is off the roof!
Are there differences in social media use between Malaysia and Singapore? How about between Southeast Asia and the rest of the world?
There’s a difference between Malaysia and Sing Want to add a caption to this image? Click the Settings icon. apore. Facebook is still top for both but Singaporeans use Twitter less than Malaysians. Younger people are staying away from Facebook. They are all on Instagram now. Each market is different in Southeast Asia. Like Vietnam for example, they are very local and would only accept local content or content in local language on Facebook. Twitter is not popular at all there and Instagram is just starting to gain fans. Facebook is everything for them and they are highly engaging. While Indonesia and Thailand are active everywhere.