Snapchat, the multimedia messaging app, can be a priceless tool for attracting new audiences thank to its Discover function that allows users to see breaking news while scrolling through latests snaps of avocado lunches.
Sandwiching news between pet videos and celebs’ selfies helped The Telegraph push its content to an additional 1.04 million daily viewers on average this May, McKenna Grant, Snapchat senior content editor at the publisher, told Journalism.co.uk.
"The majority of our Snapchat users are between 18 and 24 years old and the next largest demographic is 13 to 17, so that's quite different from what we would consider a traditional Telegraph reader."
One of the key elements to a successful Snapchat story is making sure the topic is always relevant to teens and young adults. Grant and her team monitor how the audience engages with topics, events, and people, and uses that info to plan more content on the subjects that matter to them, much like a traditional site.
“We analyse our audience through our Snapchat content management system, which we use to build each edition,” explains Grant. “We can see information on age, gender, region and user loyalty, as well as general analytics.
“But what works for our readers is not the same as what chimes with the Telegraph’s traditional print or digital audience, so we have to find our own way,” she adds.
Another element to a successful Snapchat editorial strategy is always looking ahead to the next big thing by monitoring social media and big talking points. For example, when the Fortnite video game craze began, the Telegraph recognised that it was going to be huge for their audience.
“We brainstormed how we could cover the gaming obsession on Snapchat and commissioned a range of content, from comment pieces to analysis surrounding what makes video games so addictive,” said Grant.
“We also look to our editorial calendar, where we outline major events coming up in the UK. This week brings in a lot of UK politics, the World Cup semi-finals and Trump's visit to the UK, so we know all three need to be on our radar.”
The Telegraph’s Snapchat Discover channel features a range of topics including hard news, data analysis, lifestyle features, video packages and more. At the start of each day, the team plan out the edition, striving to strike a balance between news, politics and light-hearted content.
"We also have the flexibility to do trivia quizzes, polls and other interactive features that allow for nice visuals,” explained Grant.
"Since Snapchat is a very visual platform, you need to make sure the story has a strong visual aspect, whether that's a video, illustration, animation, or graphic.
"It just needs to be eye-catching because, at the end of the day, our audience is very quick-thinking, quick-moving, and if we don't catch their eye immediately they move on to the next thing," she added.
The Royal Wedding was one of the Telegraph’s biggest successes on Snapchat Discover.
"On the day of the Royal Wedding, we did an extended 20-snap story dedicated entirely to the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
“We were able to work with video and picture content, as well as comments and news that captured everything from Meghan walking up the stairs, to the private reception, to expert analysis from our royal correspondent.
"We also published five or six dedicated Snapchat stories during the wedding and then it was a full-on wedding-mania: everyone was keeping on adding more photos and videos of the ceremony, and all kinds of wedding-related content well after the event."
Grant pointed out the Royal Wedding-related Snapchat editorial saw a 50 per cent increase in unique users of the social platform which was a clear sign there was a lot of appetite for this kind of content from the younger audience.
If turning Meghan’s wedding dress into a visual story doesn’t seem particularly challenging, making the 2017 General Election palatable for the quick-swiping tweens was a whole different (snap)story.
The election happened during the same week that the Telegraph first went live on Snapchat Discover. The publisher released three editions within a 24-hour window.
“The first edition went out at 4pm, the second at 6am and the final at 4pm again. We knew that exit polls and developments in the 2017 General Election would be coming in fast overnight. We wanted to ensure that our readers on Snapchat Discover had all the information they needed leading up to election and then had a full update when they woke up in the morning.
“We accompanied straight news stories with analysis, comment, video and imagery, all in an easy-to-digest edition. Something you could read on your commute to work and be up to date on everything election-related.”
However, using Snapchat in the newsroom isn’t always easy. One of the reasons is that the platform comes up with new features all the time, making it difficult to stay on top of the latest developments.
To succeed, Grant recommends always trying new topics, stories and formats to remain relevant.
"It’s also important to pinpoint the right content and adapt it to the audience," she said.
Finally, make sure you monitor the latest features — or your readers may be gone in a snap.
Want to learn more about successful social media content strategies? Join our one-day course and discover what makes people click and share, plus what, when and where to post on social media
Free daily newsletter
- Five sources of inspiration for journalists on social media
- Tip: Create slides and cards on social media to increase audience engagement
- How to set up a mobile-first newsroom
- Tip: How to improve your visual storytelling as a cartoonist
- Ofcom: BBC One, ITV and Facebook are the most used news sources in the UK. In that order