With younger generations increasingly moving towards social media to find out about latest happenings and current affairs, it has never been more important for journalists to be clued-up on the latest smartphone tools at their disposal.
News organisations have to produce content that will stop the audiences from endlessly thumb-scrolling, freelance journalist and trainer Bernhard Lill explains at Mojofest (7 June 2019).
To do that, the everyday mobile journalist has a wealth of editing apps to put into their arsenal, to turn around creative video, audio and images in a matter of moments.
“The micro-storytelling format is grasped and digested in a very short time, so you don’t want to have a production time of several hours when it’s viewed in a few seconds,” he said.
So, if you are looking to explore your options, Lill offers his best picks for social media storytelling on a smartphone.
Making the top of his list of recommendations is the app Canva, a ‘freemium’ graphic design app available on both Apple and Android platforms.
Lill said that Canva is perfect for creating collages, combining videos with still images for Instagram Stories and infographics.
If you are finding that working on mobile to create infographics using Canva is proving too fiddly, there is also a desktop version which allows users to resume projects from their smartphone on their computer.
Storyboard and Snapseed
To really get the best results out of social media content creation apps, sometimes you need to combine forces, Lill adds.
Case in point, TV channel RTL received 150 likes within minutes for a social media post promoting the new series of the German TV show ‘Take Me Out’.
To create it, they used the app Storyboard (only available on Android) which transforms video clips into images resembling a graphic novel.
Next, they took the image and added speech bubbles using the app Snapseed (Apple and Android), to help create a narrative and present a story in a new and engaging way.
Lill explained that such tools can breathe new life into normally very boring or generic images.
“In Germany, we always have the same press agency pictures of politicians. They always look very bland. So, if you have the footage and the legal right to edit it, why not throw this footage into one of these apps?” he asked.
For video editing, PicPlayPost (Apple and Android) is a great option for presenting different images or video at the same time in different panels. He said that weather reports can use this to explain the forecast for the coming days, while pointing to different panels depicting weather patterns.
Stop Motion Studio
Stop Motion Studio is an animation app which provides more possibilities on social media. Whilst visually engaging, he warned that it requires significantly greater time investment to pull off.
Interactive graphic tool ThingLink could be a useful and versatile tool in the run-up to the European election. It allows you to add multimedia buttons to a still image to bring up additional text, pictures or video.
There is one big drawback with ThingLink, though. These features are not yet compatible with social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. It can only be embedded as a plug-in within a website.
At a time when ad revenue is continuing to drop, some journalists are concerned that, by creating more native content, specifically tailored for social media, the incentive for users to visit their respective websites will continue to drop. Lill sees it differently.
“You need to take people seriously in their respective social networks. Talk with them there, make them curious about what your website has to offer, but do not always try with each and every post to lure them away from the social network to your website.
“Social media is like an after-dinner work party, where you talk with people and there are different topics you talk about. If there's one guy in this group who always talks about his work, people will leave him alone.
“That would be the equivalent of a news site always trying to get people out of the social media timeline onto their website, always talking about themselves.”
He adds that creating native content that lives on platforms can help news organisations discover new audiences and form a better relationship with them.
Free daily newsletter
- Five surprising journalism disciplines all students should know about
- Weekly journalism news update: Facebook Community News Project, disabled journalists and tech reporting
- App for journalists: Nuzzel, for digesting the news from social media
- Mobile journalism tips: how to capture social audiences with mobile-first content
- Weekly journalism news update: Google vs. news industry, innovative crowdfunding, and how to improve work experience