Credit: Mousetrap Media / Mark Hakansson

MPs have recently called on the UK government to use TikTok to combat misinformation targetting young people.

It is easy to see the logic behind this. The pandemic taught us a valuable lesson: people seek out "trusted voices" when surrounded by hoaxes and conspiracy theories, and young people are more susceptible to misinformation.

So, who do young people trust? You can bet it is their smartphone screens given that nearly three quarters of 18-24s turn to social media for news, according to recent Ofcom research. However, influencers do not value and prioritise factual content in the same way news outlets do, making social media a hotbed for false information.

Gen Z, and Gen Alpha crave information and seek to learn - but on their own terms. So media companies must find ways to reach and engage with this young generation and provide them with verified, accurate information. If they do not, others will. 

Following social media trends

The media-savvy new generation does not look for lengthy analyses of current issues, politics, or sports but wants meaningful, authentic content in bite-sized, entertaining, and easily accessible formats. 

Social platforms have helped news organisations break news stories worldwide directly to audiences. News organisations benefit from the convenient tools and large user bases but social media has also brought many headaches.

One of those is the follow-unfollow mechanism, where it is all too easy to lose audiences in a world of fleeting attention spans and broadening media competition. 

However, is it possible to foster meaningful relationships and gain trust beyond the follow-unfollow dynamic? Can we provide readers with enriched, reliable, and timely content in a way that replicates the social media experience? 

Applying a social media approach to content creation 

A live blog is one of the tools that can help you achieve this. Most newsrooms have one. It allows you to publish accurate, short-form, transparent and minute-to-minute coverage.

While live blogs are traditionally associated with simple, real-time coverage of developing stories, the modern live blog can consolidate information from multiple sources - social media feeds included - into a single place, making them a convenient and dynamic way to navigate a complex, rolling news story. 

This way, live blogs allow newsrooms to report on developing stories within a broader context. By integrating multiple information sources, audiences get a more complete picture without the hassle of jumping between platforms or trying to decipher timelines. Instead, they are delivered a curated feed that includes different perspectives and media content, providing a comprehensive picture of what is happening as it evolves.

We also know from social media that young people like to feel involved and engaged, and have access to multiple viewpoints. Polls, live comments and Q&As within live blogs can help meet those needs.

Social media and live blog content sitting side by side

This is not an either-or situation. Most live blogs can also integrate social posts into the storytelling process and share posts on social media. They can work in tandem, which fosters a sense of connection and learning, making audiences feel engaged and valued. 

Look at MDR, a public German broadcaster that used live blogs during covid-19 pandemic. These blogs provided audiences with direct access to experts and countered misinformation.

New Zealand publisher Stuff had its journalists interact directly with readers as millions attempted to get Taylor Swift tickets. With over 150 comments on their live blog, a community was built on shared triumphs and frustrations - in real time. 

The key here is for publishers and media organisations to learn audience dynamics and preferences from social media and adapt their styles to help replicate the experience for their audiences, while also harnessing the power of social media platforms as information resources. 

Naomi Owusu is the co-founder and CEO of Tickaroo. Her educational background in organisational development and psychology has moulded her mission to empower individuals and enterprises to reach new heights in their digital media production. She has collaborated with numerous news providers, sports companies, and event organizsrs, including kicker, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, and the German Handball Association. Her role at Tickaroo is to increase international growth and enable partners to reach their audiences and goals while promoting positive change within the digital media landscape

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