Upskilling its social media team in video production has helped Nine’s the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age to a 2500 per cent increase in TikTok followers.
Growth content editor Sophia Phan says that while launching and experimenting on platforms such as TikTok can be daunting, “it’s the natural next step”.
She points to Reuters Institute research that TikTok reaches 40 per cent of people aged 18-24, with 15 per cent using the platform for news.
“Newsrooms worldwide are all trying to tap into the younger demographic as their current reader base ages,” she says in an INMA digital strategies blog.
“To evolve, we need to be where those audiences are. When new social platforms emerge, and it is clear that it resonates with a particular audience, we need to come up with innovative ways to present our work there.”
Platforms allow the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age to showcase the breadth of their content and a different side to their reporters. “It gives us an opportunity to introduce our journalism and get our work in front of new audiences – those people who may not know of or engage with our content otherwise,” she says.
A TikTok video showed the moment when – after 46 days and almost 4000 km, Nedd Brockmann arrived in Bondi, finishing a run from Perth to Sydney that helped raise more than $1.5 million for homelessness charity Mobilise.
The Nine mastheads’ social media team up-skilled in video production so it could shoot and edit content when necessary, creating a “format deck” of examples to show journalists how they could use vertical video to tell their stories in different ways.
-Pieces to camera (when a reporter speaks directly to the camera, whether in front of a camera or via the selfie camera);
-Green screen pieces to camera (similar to pieces to camera but shooting on a green screen in studio or via the green screen function on the apps that allows us to insert in our desired images and footage);
-Day-in-the-life-style vlogs; and
“It took us a few months to find a rhythm and settle on a strategy regarding what vertical video to output on Instagram Reels and TikTok, but when we did, we saw a massive spike in growth,” says Phan. “On TikTok specifically, we saw a more than 2500 per cent increase in followers across both the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age this year.”
Instagram Reels are also seeing tremendous growth for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
She says hyperlocal content performed best and naturally reached the target audiences. “If there was a particular viral or cultural moment, the fuller, lengthier video would perform well and garner strong engagement despite traditional perceptions of social video being quite bite-sized.
“As a result of constant collaboration with reporters within the newsroom on day-to-day stories as well as bigger long-term projects and events, many now proactively shoot video content for social.
“We always use data to inform our decision-making. When we see a story has performed particularly well on the website or another social platform, if a video cut has not been commissioned, we’ll discuss how to best translate the story into a video narrative.”
• The Nine mastheads have released their third annual Impact Reports, detailing their contribution to the fabric of Australian society through investigations, holding the powerful to account and celebrating the cities.
The report hightights the “deep significance” journalism has played in keeping Australia a vibrant democracy, told in the words of award-winning reporters who give readers a behind-the-scenes insight into the impact their stories gained.