Since Mic decided to launch on Snapchat Discover just over a month ago, it has been experimenting with personalised, 'selfie-style' video, designed to encourage audiences to feel closer to reporters and the news they are covering.
Sarah Singer, executive producer, Mic, said her team decided to publish five days a week, keen to develop their own voice on the platform while staying faithful to their core editorial strategy.
"We tried a number of different ways to work with our correspondents," Singer told Journalism.co.uk.
One of the most successful formats has been speaking directly to the camera, as a friend or family member would, making clear eye contact with the audience on Snapchat to add a degree of friendship and personal connection to the story.
This framing technique is quite unique to the Story format, be it on Snapchat, Instagram or even Facebook, allowing news correspondents to frame their face in a way that wouldn't work, for instance, on a TV channel. But analytics show this is the right strategy, explained Singer, as Snaps produced with the most close-up frame see the lowest user drop-off rates.
This move by Mic is in line with other publishers who have made the move to vertical video over the last few months. The gaining momentum of the Stories feature even led to the launch of IGTV, Instagram's new vertical video platform, just one of many social apps designed for mobile users.
One of the most successful formats has been speaking directly to the camera, as a friend or family member would.
The bulk of Mic’s Snapchat audience is 18-24 years old, closely followed by 13-17 year-old, which Singer explained is in line with its online audience.
Keeping this young generation engaged reveals creativity, and a flare to think outside of the box – reporting in a style Snapchat users might be more familiar with on the platform, but less so in news coverage.
Making heavy news subjects appealing in this format is something the team is still experimenting with.
“For example, one of the projects that our team is currently working on is a story of an undocumented migrant woman who sought refuge in a church,” revealed Singer.
“She lives like a prisoner of the church, so to speak, as leaving the place could get her captured and deported."
To bring their audiences a real, first-person report on the issue of migration, Mic established a relationship with the woman who has agreed to tell her story.
In order to keep the feature as authentic as possible, Mic reporters will provide her with a phone, a tripod and other equipment, and have asked her to record daily diaries – a visual recounting of what she is going through.
"There is a big amount of activism on this issue but there is also a huge lack of understanding what this experience actually means,” said Singer.
Editorially, Mic strives to link Snapchat content with their website, drawing on core topics they know their audience is interested in, such as social justice, women's bodies, feminism, body positivity, technology and how it's impacting people's lives.
Politics is also doing well – Singer said an op-ed by Alec Baldwin discussing the Russian investigation was one of the top performing videos on the platform.
“We are very optimistic about our future projects on Snapchat,” she concluded.
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