Newspapers and other traditional news outlets have depended heavily on Facebook for content distribution, but Snapchat is emerging as a rival for reaching millennials
Rapid changes in social media — from the creation of Twitter to Facebook to Instagram — are sparking an evolution in journalism as organizations incorporate new tools in their newsgathering arsenals.
Social media platforms offer invaluable information, giving journalists a glimpse of what’s trending with audiences and helping both groups connect and interact. And while Facebook has long dominated social media platforms, Snapchat has emerged as a popular new source for younger consumers pursuing news.
“If people are looking for something a little off-beat or different, I think Snapchat is a nice alternative for media outlets,” said Mike Reilley, a Google News Lab trainer and business director of Mediashift.org, a website that tracks and analyzes journalism trends.
Experts say millennials — people in their 20s and 30s — are ditching more traditional social media platforms to seek news delivered through Snapchat’s bite-sized videos, or “snaps.”
The mobile-only app was introduced in 2011. Its use has ballooned to over 150 million people every day, according to Bloomberg.
Snapchat allows users to send and receive photos and short videos to friends or post on a personal feed. But the direct recipients are only allowed to view the photo or video once before it disappears.
The app also features fun add-ons like camera filters, photo editing options and special Snapchat channels featuring content from top media organizations including CNN, Yahoo News, ESPN and the Wall Street Journal. e outlets refresh content regularly, posting new snaps every 24 hours.
Experts say many are drawn to Snapchat’s accessibility: You don’t have to be a huge media outlet to join in and post your own snaps. The free app is especially beneficial for smaller outlets with limited resources.
“Even the most basic Snapchat account can make it worthwhile,” Reilley said.
The app also allows audiences to follow reporters in real time.
But for all its benefits, Snapchat doesn’t replace other social media platforms — different tools attract different consumers, experts say. News organizations should carefully consider what type of audience they aim to draw before investing on a new social media platform.
There are some important questions to answer: Is the target audience using the platform in question? How would people interact and utilize the platform? How will the platform’s success be measured?
“I think it’s helped media outlets better understand their audiences by engaging with them on a number of platforms,” Reilley said
Facebook, for example, tends to mirror the demographics of adult internet users, said Joy Mayer, a community engagement strategist. Snapchat, meanwhile, skews younger.
“Journalism has become a two way conversation in that it’s not that we are mass communicating anymore,” said Marcus Messner, a professor at the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture at Virginia Commonwealth University. “The audience is talking back to us.”
Rarione Maniece covered the 2016 NABJ/NAHJ Convention in Washington, DC. Click here for more stories from the convention.