2023 has been a year marked by turbulence on social media platforms: Facebook severed ties with the news industry and its parent company Meta launched Threads, a clone of Twitter (rebranded to X) which, under Elon Musk's ownership, has gone through many controversial changes. Meanwhile, TikTok continues to rise in popularity amongst the younger users.
It feels like social platforms can push a button and undo months of hard work from publishers. But they are too hot to ignore if news outlets want any chance of engaging with youngsters. Where do we go from here in 2024? Our experts weigh in.
Go vertical or be left behind: Sophia Smith Galer, journalist, author and Tiktok content creator (511.5k followers)
The pivot to vertical video will now focus on deeper explainer and investigative content. We reached peak news explainer in 2023, with a lot of newsrooms putting out the same wire-footage-explainer content that everyone else was doing.
Engagement and long-term conversion to subscriptions, web traffic or loyalty was limp as a result. With TikTok prioritising longer videos, and the other platforms like Instagram following suit, we are going to see more faces on our videos and more centering of reporters themselves telling us why these stories are important and the effort it took to nail them down.
If your investigative journalists still do not know how to film for themselves, you better train them up quickly.
Get closer to the money: Jon Birchall, director, editorial strategy, LADBible Group
There are now brilliantly talented people in newsrooms and editorial teams who are younger than Facebook and YouTube. Our industry - and our audiences - will be shaped and defined by these social natives.
With this comes an almost endless list of opportunities, including the fact that the next generation of content creators and consumers know full well the value of the media that underpins their lives.
Through audience analytics and platform monetisation, data insights are simply right there in front of them. RPM (revenue per 1,000 views), in-read, engaged time - these are simply part of the vocabulary for the modern journalist.
And about time, too. In 2024, I hope the church-and-state relationship that has too often existed between the commercial and content arms of too many media businesses can evolve into something far more collaborative and quite frankly, sustainable. Editorial integrity and user experiences thrive when there is a financial model to help support the production of great content.
Through indirect revenue optimisation, deeper long-term relationships with relevant direct clients, direct reader revenue and zero-party data acquisition, we as publishers have significant - and growing - opportunities to maximise the commercial potential of our content and diversified storytelling.
It will be the organisations that make revenue growth and diversification their north star that will prosper. From senior leadership to the teenage disruptor, everybody in media has a part to play. And win.
Time to break out from the For You page: Enrique Anarte Lazo, TikTok lead, Openly, Thomson Reuters Foundation
In 2020, when TikTok went viral, many in our newsrooms said that was no place for news. The reporters who believed in Gen Z’s appetite for information were faced with criticism: "That is not journalism".
We did not listen, legacy media ended up joining the platform anyway and in 2024 we will stop talking about TikTok journalism to discuss vertical video as a field and the doors it opens for us. The media industry is finally ready for that conversation. But is it ready to talk about trust? I am not sure we are ready to talk about when and why did we fail so many people who now trust other sources of information, and have lost respect for the importance of our editorial standards.
I would like to see us talk about what we should be doing to rebuild that trust, both within and outside the For You Page. Hopefully, it will not take as long as it took to accept that TikTok was not such a crazy place for news after all.
Loyalty is up for grabs: Kevin Young, head of audience, The Economist
Demand for "my" news will grow in 2024. Consumers conditioned to endless scrolling will rely even more on screens for information and their ever-changing moods will increase the pressure to deliver what they seek.
TikTok has mastered this: a typical user is glued for almost an hour per day. They will not see exactly the same line-up as their friends, however. There will be big hits and shared moments but it is the breadth of content—and how it is tailored—that keeps them hooked. And no longer is "everyone" together on Twitter or Facebook, or wherever. Mass audiences have splintered. Their loyalty is up for grabs.