We know younger audiences are more likely to receive and engage with news from social media than via a Web site or in print. We also know they are heavily active on video-based platforms and prefer to consume content in different formats.
Launching and experimenting on new platforms such as TikTok can be daunting, but as newsrooms struggle to engage with Gen Z, it’s the natural next step. According to this year’s Reuters Institute Digital Report, TikTok reaches 40% of people aged 18-24, with 15% using the platform for news.
Newsrooms worldwide are all trying to tap into the younger demographic as their current reader base ages. To evolve, we need to be where those audiences are. When new social platforms emerge, and it is clear that it resonates with a particular audience, we need to come up with innovative ways to present our work there.
As a news organisation, it allows us to showcase the breadth of our content and a different side to our reporters. It gives us an opportunity to introduce our journalism and get our work in front of new audiences — those people who may not know of or engage with our content otherwise.
Our social media team up-skilled in video production so it could shoot and edit content when necessary. We created a format deck of examples to show journalists how they can use vertical video to tell their stories in different ways. This includes:
- Pieces to camera (when a reporter speaks directly to the camera, whether in front of a camera or via the selfie camera).
- Green screen piece to camera (similar to pieces to camera but shooting on a green screen in studio or via the green screen function on the apps that allows us to insert in our desired images and footage).
- Day-in-the-life-style vlogs.
- Behind-the-scenes access.
It took us a few months to find a rhythm and settle on a strategy regarding what vertical video to output on Instagram Reels and TikTok, but when we did, we saw a massive spike in growth. On TikTok specifically, we saw a more than 2500% increase in followers across both The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age this year.
We found hyperlocal content performed best and naturally reached the target audiences. If there was a particular viral or cultural moment, the fuller, lengthier video would perform well and garner strong engagement despite traditional perceptions of social video being quite bite-sized.
As a result of constant collaboration with reporters within the newsroom on day-to-day stories as well as bigger long-term projects and events, many now proactively shoot video content for social.
We always use data to inform our decision-making. When we see a story has performed particularly well on the Web site or another social platform, if a video cut has not been commissioned, we’ll discuss how to best translate the story into a video narrative.