New social media and communications apps spring up at alarming rates for publishers who want to experiment with new technologies. So how can media outlets decide which of these emerging platforms to join and build a presence on?
A good way to focus experiments is to look at platforms with a "new type of engagement mechanic," explained Nick Perrett, an investor and entrepreneur previously digital director of HarperCollins, speaking at FT Digital Media yesterday.
He gave Snapchat as an example, where the way users interact with the temporary messaging app is remarkably different from other chat or photography apps.If something happens in the world you have to push that information out across, like, six different platforms at the same timeChristene Barberich, Refinery29
"You have to go into it really just trying to learn – test and learn very quickly and not spend a huge amount of money doing it," he explained on a panel looking at new forms of storytelling.
Mashable UK editor Blathnaid Healy said publishers on Snapchat need to be "exceptionally creative" and authentic.
"You can't just come into it and expect to broadcast at the audience there."
Mashable's own Snapchat account is over one year old now, and the media outlet recently launched a creative project called Mashable Collective to look at emerging platforms.
But it's the creativity and instant reactions required to have a successful presence on emerging platforms like Snapchat that could be shaking up the role of social media editors.
At Refinery29, an online media outlet aimed at young women, editor-in-chief Christene Barberich considers the ability to create content on the spot a requirement for social media roles.
The success of its Snapchat accounts is closely tied to "matching talent to that platform", she said, and finding people to foster that instant connection with the Snapchat audience.
The need for the 'creator' side to the role of social media editors becomes more evident when publishers think about connecting the stories they publish on different platforms.It's still really important to continue to explore, research and test on your core platforms as wellChristene Barberich, Refinery29
"If something happens in the world you have to push that information out across, like, six different platforms at the same time," said Barberich, adding that this approach doesn't allow for "taking advantage of the value that these different platforms offer".
Refinery29's social media editors also work on specific platforms each rather than cover the whole of the outlet's social presence, and meet the team once a week for "skill sharing".
But Barberich said there is an expectation for news outlets to jump on board every up-and-coming platform.
"There's a lot of new pressure as soon as new platforms emerge to get on it as soon as possible and be there, because you think your audience is there.
"And in some cases they are, but it's still really important to continue to explore, research and test on your core platforms as well," she said.
Free daily newsletter
- A decade on from the Arab Spring: ten ways use of social media has changed in the Middle East
- Online communities for young journalists: the good, the bad and the ugly
- Facebook ban on news in Australia: "It caught us completely off guard"
- How to track down case studies for your next article
- Tip: Keep your cool on social media