Credit: Screenshots from PinkNews Reports

LGBT+ news publication PinkNews has doubled down on Snapchat as an outlet for reaching young news audiences by launching a new channel for trending current affairs news.

The news organisation first launched on the platform in 2018 with its main PinkNews channel, now with more than 3m subscribers. It went on to launch almost a dozen more channels serving different demographics and interest groups. That ranges from meme content on NowSay (291k subscribers), to positive LGBT+ news on The Queer Catch Up (643k subscribers), to inspirational real-life stories on This Is Life (1.1m subscribers).

Its latest channel, PinkNews Reports is an in-depth look at the world's most important trending stories. The first story published yesterday takes a look at major changes at the Olympics to allow transgender sportspeople to compete without discrimination of gender-based advantages. In more than 50 'snaps', you are told the full story through senior producer Chandni Sembhi, complete with interview soundbites, meme culture-inspired clips, and much more. Future episodes will look beyond just LGBT+ issues because approximately half of PinkNews' audience does not define themselves as LGBT+, they are straight allies.

Like most of the content they produce on Snapchat, it will be repurposed across other social platforms like Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. But Snapchat is where the publisher has its biggest fanbase. In terms of followers on other social platforms, it has 250k on Twitter, 580k on Facebook, 215k on Instagram and 85k on TikTok. The 3m on its Snapchat channel is more than all of the others combined.

"We are a Snapchat-first publisher," says Benjamin Cohen, CEO of PinkNews. "We make content with Snapchat in mind and then knowing the other platforms we’ll be publishing to as well."

But Snapchat is often considered a forgotten platform and it has become overshadowed by TikTok. The Digital News Report 2021 (DNR) showed that people still use Snapchat: 13 per cent of respondents say they use it for any purpose (it was 5 per cent in 2015, and is still just in front of TikTok). But when it comes to news consumption, Snapchat has languished around one to two per cent for the last six years, and TikTok leapfrogged it in a single year, according to the report.

News consumption on social media platforms across 12 markets. Screenshot via Reuters Digital News Report 2021.

So why create a dedicated channel on Snapchat for hard-hitting news reports, especially when news is not exactly sought after there?

It is because Snapchat is still home to a large, active and young user base. It has around 265m monthly active users, of which 58 per cent are female and 75 per cent are in the 13-34 age bracket.

The DNR also elaborates on this. One 26-year-old Snapchat user from the US said: "The benefit is, it is comprehensive, it is all right there and at the same time it is relevant. So, if you are checking out like your friend’s stories you can also see the news or entertainment stories."

PinkNews's growth on Snapchat is in large part achieved thanks to the Discover partnership. The app has a specially curated place for video content from its media partners, ranging from news outlets to content creators.

Screenshot of Snapchat Discover

The Discover partnership does not just upserve more content from partners but it also grants them better analytics, more uploading tools, guidance and support, and crucially, revenue share based on the programmatic ads in their videos.

"It really works for some people, it may not work for others. It works for us, but it's a challenging platform," says Cohen.

"Like any other, you're competing for eyeballs and attention, but the reality is that for us, it’s been a contributing factor to our growth over the last two years.

"We receive lots of support and assistance with what we’re doing on Snapchat, and that's one of the reasons we continue to invest in making more content there."

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