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Nexo Jornal education chatbot engages young readers

By Gabriela Terenzi

Nexo Jornal

São Paulo, Brazil


Nexo Jornal is a digital-only media outlet in Brazil, based in São Paulo, launched in November of 2015. We produce news that provides accurate explanations and balanced interpretations of the main facts of Brazil and the world. Nexo is committed to delivering journalism substantiated by rigor, accurate information, and data with plural perspectives and sources.

We explore all the possibilities of the digital platform with a unique approach, using a diversity of formats such as infographics, interactive material, videos, and podcasts. The user experience is at the center of our production. Nexo’s journalists present relevant topics in clear and independent ways to stimulate and contribute to the quality of public debate.

These characteristics make our content not only appealing to traditional news consumers, but also to those who are not regular news readers — especially young audiences.

That’s what motivated us to create a product for students in preparation for Enem, the biggest admission exam for public and private universities in Brazil. It was an opportunity to raise Nexo’s awareness among this particular group, engaging with the audience in a useful and meaningful way.

In 2017, 6.7 million people registered to Enem. In addition to the traditional academic subjects like Portuguese, math, and history, Enem has questions related to current affairs. That’s why reading the news is highly recommended by teachers. But many students find it difficult to get on top of the news and/or have little time for anything besides school activities.

In August 2017, our editors, developers, and journalists sat together to brainstorm solutions that could reach this audience of high school students.

In Brazil, as in many countries, adolescents spent a lot of time on social media, and messaging apps are especially popular. From that meeting came the idea of ​​developing a news chatbot to distribute Nexo content divided into themes. Facebook Messenger was the chosen platform because is the one with the largest user base in the country and also has an open API for bot development.

Daily messages establish a topical theme and highlight related articles.
Daily messages establish a topical theme and highlight related articles.

The Enem Bot, as we named it, combined efforts from Nexo’s social media, development, art, and product management teams. We announced the new tool through our social media channels and newsletters. 

The Enem Bot worked for four weeks prior to the exam. During this period, we dropped Nexo’s paywall for the texts featured on the tool — normally it would limit consumption to five articles.

After registering for the Enem Bot, the user started receiving daily messages from Nexo each afternoon. The first message of each day explained the importance of the day’s theme (e.g. gender equality, fake news on the Internet, global warming, or violence in Brazil), followed by a second message with an article related to that subject.

The user can click on the first link or on “see more” to receive another explanation and link. We selected between four to six articles for each of the 19 themes.
The user can click on the first link or on “see more” to receive another explanation and link. We selected between four to six articles for each of the 19 themes.

In 2017, 6,268 people subscribed to Enem Bot during the campaign. On the last day of Enem Bot, we sent users a survey and 12% of the user base responded. Here are some key findings:

  • 93% said they would “highly recommend” the Enem Bot to a friend.
  • 72% said the Enem Bot was “highly useful” to their studies.
  • 47% said they did not know Nexo before subscribing to the Enem Bot.
  • 10% responded that they previously consume news only on social media or that they didn’t consume any news at all.

These results confirmed not only the project’s success — which was highlighted by the positive feedback we received — but also the great potential Nexo has for educational purposes. The idea of ​combining journalism and education has always been on the company’s horizon.

In 2018, Nexo expanded its efforts with new products focused on students and teachers: NexoEDU, a segmented version of Nexo adapted to school use, two newsletters, and a 2018 version of Enem Bot with refreshed content curatorship.

About Gabriela Terenzi

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