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Credit: Image courtesy of Fusion

For some news organisations, packaging and distributing news on social media falls under the remit of the engagement team. For others, the task is assigned to a distributed news team or to a social content studio within the editorial department.

This is the second in a series of articles on how news for social is produced – take a look at how this is done at Vox and check back next week to learn about the approach at BuzzFeed.

Fusion launched as a joint venture between Univision and Disney in 2013, aiming to reach a young, diverse audience with a mix of news and culture content on television and digital platforms.

Two years ago, the organisation had only two people in charge of producing short videos for Instagram and Vine, but as the popularity of this type of content increased, Fusion created a social content studio in November 2015.

The 12-person unit, called the social stories team, includes a variety of roles: writers, animators, graphics professionals, and producers, who create and package content for Instagram, Vine, Tumblr and Snapchat Discover.

Laura Feinstein, head of Fusion's social stories team, said the latter has been one of the outlet's "central focuses" over the past few months – eight of the 12 people on the team work to produce the daily Snapchat Discover edition, which has been similar to "creating a mini-magazine, everyday".

Feinstein and her colleagues report to the editorial arm of the organisation but they also collaborate with the audience development and socials teams for cross-promotion on Fusion's other channels, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Weekly meetings with the two teams consist of looking at audience numbers and analysing which content performs better with viewers on each platform.

On a daily basis, she works with Fusion's editor-in-chief, Alexis Madrigal, to "conceptualise the vision" for upcoming social stories, as well as special editions or guest appearances on Discover.

In her role, Feinstein also collaborates closely with: Fusion's Snapchat manager, who coordinates and implements the technical and visual aspects of each Snapchat edition; a social art and Instagram manager, who oversees the organisation's output on Instagram and also creates illustrations for Snapchat; three writers, who develop original stories and repackage essays and articles commissioned from other members of Fusion's editorial team; and a group of designers, animators and graphics professionals, both Fusion staff and freelancers.

"The process that brings conceptualisation to fruition is often so quick, that an idea becomes a reality within a matter of days," she told Journalism.co.uk, "so it requires constant communication between branches."

The team is divided between New York, Oakland and Fusion's headquarters in Miami. In the morning, everyone checks in on Slack to establish the agenda for the day, while Feinstein looks at the editorial calendar for upcoming events.

"From there, I assign pieces, follow up on already assigned pieces, edit contributions, view and give notes on videos, and work with the team on placement of content."

She attends daily meetings with editors from each of Fusion's verticals, to see what they are working on and whether those stories can be incorporated into Snapchat, and communicates regularly with the video department to adapt any suitable footage for different platforms – "vertical, native-shot video is always ideal".

"Essentially, there isn't a branch of Fusion we aren't in some ways collaborating with and seeing how we can bring that into the Snapchat family.

"The same goes for the other platforms but there isn't as much planning and production required as we have for the Snapchat editions."

Fusion has had a presence on the international version of Snapchat Discover since the launch of the channel in January 2015, but it was announced in December that the organisation would get a trial run on the US and UK editions, with the goal of ultimately securing a permanent position on Discover.

Two weeks ago, in a special edition focused on gender equality, Fusion hosted US presidential candidate and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on their Discover channel to talk about women's rights and progress.

Before that, it was President Obama who spoke to Fusion's Snapchat audience about climate change, ahead of his last State of the Union Address.

And last week, Miami producer DJ Khaled took over the channel for a five-day series. It touched upon issues like entrepreneurship, health and friendship, Feinstein said, and it proved very successful with their audience.

"I like to think of it as something akin to the evening news when I was growing up: you either had to catch it that night, in front of a TV, with your family, or it was gone forever.

"So hopefully, our Snapchat channel has the same effect on our audiences."

In the past, Fusion has also explored issues ranging from Islamophobia to transgender rights and diversity in Hollywood.

"We try to bring the ideals of Fusion – inclusiveness, diversity, and an irreverently-smart take on global issues – and make them more bite-sized and accessible to our Snapchat readership."

She defined the aim of the social stories team as two-fold: increasing the organisation's reach through "several internal mechanisms that gauge loyalty, read-through rates and time spent", but also bringing their storytelling to a "new generation".

Feinstein said one of the key things in producing and delivering stories on these platforms is speaking to the interests and issues that matter to a young, multicultural audience.

"We have definitely tried, within reason, to become a well-oiled machine. The level and nature of the content we produce means that we are essentially creating something from nothing – often within 48 hours.

"We hope that by speaking to this audience, on platforms that are native to them, we can contribute to the broaden conversations that are already happening within our culture."

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