In June 2017, The Telegraph announced it was joining a publishing project that may seem unlikely for one of the world’s newspapers of record — a brand dedicated to quality, authoritative journalism for more than 150 years.
Launched two years earlier, the Snapchat Discover platform offers a unique news environment. It’s an information source native to a mobile-only social media platform, wholly curated by publishers. It was built on a foundation immune to the problems of user-generated news content, including the “fake news” that plagues many of Snapchat’s rivals.
Through animated, visual storytelling, publishers can use Snapchat Discover to present their content in a new way to young readers, an audience that has always proven frustratingly elusive on other platforms. Perhaps most importantly, the audience was new, with millions of highly engaged users in the under-25 age bracket. These readers are a generation away from The Telegraph’s traditional demographic.
The Telegraph was the first quality UK news source to join Snapchat Discover, which we did during the 2017 UK general election. The challenge for The Telegraph was to make an impact in a UK news environment that had, up until that point, been dominated by lifestyle, specialism, and celebrity news.
In the months leading up to the launch, designers worked to create a unique visual language that was bespoke, yet kept The Telegraph’s distinctive brand and design aesthetic at its heart. The designs on each 10-second “Topsnap” aimed to drive the vitality and urgency of photo-led news stories, while using custom animations for the lighter touch where required.
A dedicated Snapchat Discover editorial team was put in place to pick and tailor stories for the new audience. From the copy to the story sells and designs, everything was reworked with the Snapchat audience in mind.
With a planned launch during the election, politics was the first key focus, but the edition soon evolved. We introduced a balance of tech, lifestyle, foreign, and business topics. The editorial team worked with desks across the newsroom to re-package content with vibrant, urgent, visually-led narratives. The vertical format and 10-second play time required video-led stories to be re-cut and re-thought for the platform.
From the outset, the key aims were brand awareness and content engagement. Stories needed to provide top-line news content, but also to offer audience-specific opinion and insight alongside reporting on domestic and world events. This was something lacking from other UK news brands on Discover.
The audience immediately responded. Coverage of election on Snapchat drove more than 1 million unique viewers to the edition, more 60% of them in the 13 to 24 age range.
The Telegraph set itself apart by driving innovation with its Saturday stories, which were often native to Snapchat, unavailable elsewhere on the main site. Examples of some of our early successes include:
An edition focusing on the crisis in North Korea, made up of 24 Topsnaps — double the length of a standard edition. Pegged on the launch of the North Korean ICBM in November, the edition delved into the history of crisis, offering photo essays from inside the North, as well as an idea of what war with a nuclear-armed hermit state would look like.
A deep look into the #MeToo scandal as it reached Westminster. We commissioned a video project to see how different generations viewed sexual harassment in the workplace, comparing and contrasting video interviews with younger and older women about what they consider to be inappropriate behaviour from men.
A set of interviews published in March 2018 spoke to young men and women who had decided to never have children, asking why. The edition pulled in well over 1.3 million unique users and became one of our most popular editions since launch.
After months of building a voice on Discover, the editorial team looked to lead the news agenda with Snapchat coverage of an event that would resonate with its unique audience. In January 2018, the news broke that YouTube star Logan Paul had posted a film of a suicide victim in Japan.
Spotting the heavy engagement with the initial news story, our Snapchat editors immediately began working with other desks to get below the headlines, commissioning articles that unpacked Paul’s uncomfortable relationship with YouTube, the power and reach of its stars, as well as opinion pieces on the scandal itself. The series set new records for user engagement on the channel, as well as attracting millions of new readers.
Working with the sales team has become an integral piece of the Snapchat Discover editorial calendar. In March, working with Alzheimer’s Research UK, The Telegraph became the first channel to feature a branded content takeover. This landmark innovation on the Discover platform is leading the way for other ad sales strategies into 2018.
With 667,000 subscribers and counting, we’re now looking ahead to developing the channel further, with a raft of new format and content ideas in the pipeline. The project has proven that The Telegraph brand has impact across age demographics.
Through innovation in both editorial and design, the team has become a permanent part of the newsroom. And with the creation of the audience on Discover, we have forged a new generation of readers who will continue to engage with the brand across platforms, ensuring The Telegraph remains relevant in an increasingly competitive digital media landscape.