Mic wants to be The New York Times for millennials – and it looks like it is on its way to succeeding.
With 70 per cent of its audience between 21 and 34 years old, Mic set out to prove that young people care about the news.
Its core coverage areas are social justice, politics (it originally launched as PolicyMic), gender equality, LGBT rights, and climate change among others – topics that the Washington Post and The New York Times also cover, but "very specific things we cover very intensely," explained Cory Haik, chief strategy officer, speaking at the GEN Summit in Vienna yesterday (16 June).
To reach this highly-coveted audience, Mic's team, whose median age is 26 years old, the same as that of the millennial generation, uses a strategy it calls "adaptive storytelling".
"Adaptive storytelling is how we like to work across platforms," said Haik.
This strategy was put into practice partly by building bots to interact with the audience around news stories.
So far, Mic has launched two bots on Kik, a chat app popular in the US, and released a Facebook Messenger bot two weeks ago.
TrumpChat and DisorDatBot are Mic's two Kik bots – the organisation's policy editor works to program TrumpChat every day, keeping it up to date with the latest developments.
DisOrDatBot asks people to choose a stance against a well-known issue, and then tells them whether their views put them in the majority or in the minority.
Citing insights from Kik, Haik told delegates Mic is the most popular publisher on the platform, averaging 23 interactions per session.
On Messenger, Mic Captions aims to serve "very interactive journalism".
"We send a photo everyday through Messenger and we ask them to caption it. You can ask for more hints because sometimes a photo out of context can be difficult."
Asking for hints gives users short snippets about the news event related to the image.
The winning caption is shared through Messenger, as well as posted to Facebook, Instagram and other Mic channels.
But adaptive storytelling is not just about bots.
It is "really about our distributed strategy across all of social" – "using tools and platforms and ways that we think do journalism a little bit differently but get our messages through."
Mathew Rodriguez, reporter on Mic's identities desk, did a Facebook Live video of him getting tested for HIV to raise awareness "that taking an HIV test is not a scary thing to do".
Instagram, with its recent algorithm changes, is also becoming a very important platform for Mic.
The organisation created a team specifically tasked with producing Instagram video, which Haik highlights is different from Facebook video.
The aim of Mic's adaptive storytelling is to meet its audience "with journalism that we think is meaningful and defines our generation".
Journalism.co.uk produced a series of features looking at distributed news strategy in newsrooms. Read more here.
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