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Tailoring social media content is essential for capturing the attention of young news readers

By Shiddhartha Das

Prothom Alo

Dhaka, Bangladesh

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There are several pivotal factors expected to steer social media engagement throughout the remainder of 2024.

Previously, the emphasis was placed on the significance of social media engagement in contrast to traditional link posts for driving Web site traffic. Over the past three years, a notable decline in social media referrals to Web sites has presented a challenge for news companies in augmenting their Web traffic.

This predicament stems from substantial algorithmic shifts by social media behemoths such as Facebook, which devalue third-party links and accentuate visual content.

A mere deployment of visual content — including photo cards, Reels, and videos — is deemed insufficient for fostering engagement or fulfilling specific objectives. Therefore, there are some content types news companies should prioritise, given the social media trends projected for the new future.

The research and current opportunities

Crucially, it is imperative to note that 80% to 90% of frequent social media users are Millennials and Gen Z. Tailoring content in alignment with the audience’s attributes and interests is very important. The social media audience remains dynamic and evolving, and it evades political, violent, and editorial news.

Moreover, the current year is an election year (an estimated 76 countries are poised to conduct their governmental elections), underscoring the significance of election content coverage by news companies.

However, given the potential impediments posed by social media algorithms in publishing political content and curbing outreach to audiences, news companies need to strategise to stimulate audience engagement.

Despite these challenges, ample opportunities exist for news companies to engage with Gen Z and the growing Generation Alpha audience. A brief analytical study was conducted utilising Crowd Tangle and a content management tool, which focused on prominent South Asian newspapers. It yielded several insights related to social media engagement by category.

The graph above demonstrates the dominance of sports, entertainment, and lifestyle content in social media engagement on Facebook and Instagram. Conversely, local regional news and political content are experiencing a decline in popularity unless there is major news.

In today’s globalised and digital world, it is evident users are gravitating toward positive and entertaining content. It is imperative for social media managers to prioritise and promote such content to ensure maximum engagement and impact.

Social media trends in 2024

With this in mind, there are several social media trends that should remain top of mind for media companies.

  • AI will simplify and expedite the work of content managers: The use of AI tools in social media will enable quicker execution. Brands are likely to utilise AI tools to generate content ideas and create social media posts that address customers’ pain points.
  • Short-form videos are still ruling the roost: This follows the hype of platforms like TikTok, Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, and Facebook Reels. An interesting finding is that 90% of vertical videos have a higher watch completion rate compared to horizontal ones. Reels have become so popular and addictive that it’s been said that “Reels kills.”
  • Social media will become a hub for online searches: Today’s users, particularly Gen Z and Alpha, use social media as their primary platform for online searches. The New York Times stated that TikTok is the new search engine for Gen Z. Google’s senior vice president, Prabhakar Raghavan, said, “Almost 40% of young people prefer using TikTok or Instagram over Google Search or Maps when looking for a place to eat.” In this scenario, brands will need to optimise their posts with the right keywords to be easily found on social media.
  • One-on-one interaction and community management will become more prominent: Customers prefer reaching out to businesses through social media for quicker responses, making it an ideal tool for businesses to engage with their customers. Many tech companies are offering AI chatbots and consolidated query management tools to manage multiple social platforms through a single screen.
  • Nostalgia is becoming a marketing strategy: There has been a resurgence of 1990s and Y2K trends among Gen Z. Products from the 1990s and early 2000s are making a comeback, tapping into the audience’s desire for items that remind them of the good old days.
  • Midway storytelling is gaining traction: While reading a long narrative from the beginning could be tedious, catching a glimpse of it somewhere in the middle is likely to pique curiosity. After all, what’s more interesting than making people want to find out more?

In summary, whether it’s a still image or a vertical short video, providing value to the viewer remains the cornerstone of high-quality content and is key to engagement.

About Shiddhartha Das

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