Millenials phone social media
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Journalists at The Wall Street Journal have been experimenting with Facebook Live and Snapchat Discover in the last year in order to engage with new, younger audiences on social media.

"Snapchat tells us there are 150 million daily users of the platform, and 60 per cent of them are between 18 and 24 years old," said Sarah Marshall, audience development editor, EMEA, at The Wall Street Journal, speaking at the 'Social broadcasting: Where next?' conference in London on 9 December.

"We were the first US newspaper to go on Snapchat Discover in the US, so it was a big deal, but we did it for two reasons – for new audiences, and new revenue opportunities."

Marshall explained the WSJ tried to maintain its visual and brand identity on the platform, by publishing similar content and including the black and white images the news outlet is recognised by.

"We stick to our core on Snapchat, producing a lot of business, finance and market news for a younger audience," she said, adding that the team often has to explain abbreviations and terminology for the audience who might not necessarly be aware of the issues the WSJ usually writes about.

One of the WSJ's features on Snapchat Discover is called 'What's news?', which has been running as a side column in the print paper throughout its history. The feature rounds up the three top stories of the day on the social platforms, for readers on-the-go.

"We usually run eight to ten stories everyday at noon UK time, which is 7am in the US. Most are made in advance but two new stories are made on the day so we are up to date – but sometimes we run a full edition on one topic.

"While planning the content, we kept going back to three words – inspirational, aspirational and entreprenurial. We are not going after the masses, we are going after our future Wall Street Journal readers."

She explained that the stories have to be able to flow as users tap through the snaps as and when they like – with no reassurance they are going to watch or read the whole way through.

"It is a bit like putting together a TV or radio bulletin, where you have to think of the flow of the story and the transition between snaps.

"It has brought a great culture into the newsroom about shortening stories, making things visual – it has had a knock-on effect."

Marshall mentioned the number of people that come back to the channel has been promising, with a large share of viewers staying loyal, returning to view the editions five days a week.

Facebook Live has also played a prominent role at the WSJ over the past few months, with journalists experimenting with the feature in different ways.

"A good Facebook Live is not something that mirrors TV," Marshall said.

"Vice pioneered that kind of 'come with me' style of reporting that works very well on the platform – I always tell people when they're getting ready for a Facebook Live that they're talking to a friend. It is about access."

Reporters at The Wall Street Journal went live on Facebook at 3.15am on the night of the EU referendum results in Britain, giving viewers an insight into the working newsroom.

"For you and I, newsrooms are pretty everyday, but for our viewers this is privileged access.

"As we have a global audience at the WSJ, this platform enabled us to go live just as the news was unfolding, to audiences around the world."

She explained that they have found livestreams from a journalist's desk, or round the coffee bar, to be a relaxed and inviting way to open the door to the audience, developing a more personal relationship with viewers.

"Suddenly we have an entry to social broadcasting, by going live straight from our phones.

"We like to allow people to ask questions in Q&A livestreams. We then say their name with their question when we ask it – giving viewers an opportunity to have that direct relationship is really important."

The emoji reactions on Facebook can also be used by publishers to learn more about their viewers, she added, but The Wall Street Journal is still experimenting with the potential of Facebook Live.

"One thing we know is that the rules are still being written," Marshall said.

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