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Why your news media company should be on Snapchat

By Jessica Berger

Hessische Niedersächsische Allgemeine (HNA)

Kassel, Hesse, Germany


In 2016, Snapchat became a big hype for the media business. More people, brands, and journalists started to use the service. According to a report from Bloomberg, Snapchat has 150 million people worldwide using the app every day (more than Twitter!).

In Europe, there are already 35 million active users daily, and three-billion daily video views.

Snapchat, founded in 2011, grew pretty quickly, especially because it’s so popular among young people. Young means between 12 and about 35 years old.

In Germany, about 3 million people are using Snapchat every day. In February 2016, Hessische Niedersächsische Allgemeine (HNA) started to use the service to create videos, chat with users, and offer special insights into the company.

Why is Snapchat hot?

  • It’s all about mobile: 84% of all Germans are online and the smartphone is the most used device for Internet access. Most of the time people use their smartphones for chatting and for using apps — and Snapchat is a chat app.
  • It’s all about videos: People love videos, especially in social networks, and Snapchat offers all of this.
  • Users can tell great stories: With short snaps (up to 10 seconds), photos, filters, subtitles, and stickers, your content becomes vibrant, and you can tell a whole story.
  • It offers nearness: Snapchat means closeness and authenticity. You create content live, and you have fewer possibilities to revise your videos, so everything happens in real-time und seems pretty immediate. It’s charming when somebody misspeaks and everything is not perfectly planned.

HNA especially shows local news on Snapchat and topics from the internet such as innovations on WhatsApp, Snapchat, Apple, etc. We offer an insight into our company and show what’s going on in a publishing house.

In the morning, there’s always a snap with the daily newspaper, users see what a conference looks like, and how online editors work. When it’s possible, we also snap when we have interview partners as guests, produce videos (for example, every week in the animal shelter), and there are events like city festivals and elections we are reporting about.

What we learned from Snapchat

  • Vertical videos are great: A long time ago, it was standard to produce videos only in 16:9 format, the only “real” format. But in the digital age you shouldn’t only think about what looks good and what you once were used to; you should think about what’s best for your users. They use this app on mobile phones and are also watching Instagram stories and Facebook Live videos). Vertical videos are better because it complies with the handling and takes up the entire screen.
  • Targeted television: Fewer people watch normal TV whereas streaming is getting more and more popular. You decide what you want to see and when. With Snapchat, you can see videos from stars, influencers, and brands — just like watching TV but better.
  • Get out of journalistic thinking: In the beginning, it can be hard to create content that seems to be only shallow entertainment and eventually self-destructs. But young people love videos with lenses, filters, and emojis. News shouldn’t only be hard facts but also entertainment combined with emotions.

Of course, you need to think about what you want to publish as a newspaper every day on Snapchat. As an online editor, most of the time you are in the office.

Think about doing takeovers: Have some colleagues from other editorial departments run the Snapchat account once a week. You can also cooperate with local bloggers to create takeovers. For example, one of our fashion bloggers took our Snapchat account when she went to Fashion Week in Berlin and showed our users what is happening behind the scenes.

Why you should use Snapchat

  • It’s refreshing to create another kind of content: Snapchat offers unlimited possibilities to create videos and photos.
  • It lets young people do young stuff: Sometimes it’s boring when adults are doing Snapchat, so let young people do Snapchat. For example, most of the time our trainees are snapping. They use this app anyway and know what works.
  • It gives an insight into your company and shows its personality: People don’t want to see photographed content from your screen the whole day; they want to know who’s behind the scenes. Show them how your office looks, who is working on what stories, and what you’re doing during lunch. Let them take part in your journalistic life.
  • Transience is not bad: All your snaps are deleted after 24 hours. Many journalists are sceptical why they should produce valuable content only for it to disappear. Richard Gutjahr, a German journalist, has a pretty good answer to this. He talked to a young person who had the perfect response: “How often do you watch a television news broadcast from the day before yesterday?” Of course the answer is never. With Snapchat, you create content for the current day. 

Snapchat is diverting, fun, and has a great enjoyment factor. You can tell news in a completely different way. And Snapchat offers a new, young target group media brands want to have. It’s easy to stay in contact with your users and answer their questions.

So give it a try. Happy snapping!

About Jessica Berger

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