Snapchat: 5 Ways to Customize News to Attract Younger Audiences

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Short videos to call attention to a story, compelling headlines, text in the opening page summarizing the story, condensed information, and content relevant to younger audiences. These are some ways news organizations, like CNN, is customizing content using Snapchat’s Discover tool to reach a younger crowd. The Discover section was launched earlier this year. Stories in this section of Snapchat remain visible for 24 hours. In an effort to speak to the community of the third social media platform teens prefer and use most, according to Pew Research Center’s Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015, CNN has taken a step forward by delivering news using a different format, which makes it a priority for content to be more visually appealing. CNN publishes a total of 5 stories per day.

In Read the news right away or it’s gone: CNN, ESPN push for Snapchat users, Cecilia Kang discusses how Snapchat has become a way for big media organizations to connect with an audience that is less interested in news. About embracing this opportunity, Meredith Artley, editor in Chief of CNN Digital says, “It’s not about getting everyone to come to you. It’s about getting young audiences where they already are.”

Here is a closer look at these 5 main components of a CNN Discover news story about a young teenager, Hannah, diagnosed with scoliosis since she was 9:

1.  Short video to call attention to the story at the beginning playing continuously: The first screen of the news story consists of a video that’s 75% graphics or visuals. According to Pew Research, 41% of US teens use Snapchat to share images and videos, meaning this is a very effective strategy to begin a story by capitalizing on that fact and attract the audience’s attention by giving them what they appreciate. Here is the video that appeared on the first screen of this CNN story:


2. Compelling headlines featuring friendly fonts and colors not usually associated with news.
The headline is: Teenage Years Trapped in a Shell.

CNN, Snapchat, Celeste
Screenshot Snapchat-June 23, 2015


3. Text in the opening page summarizes the story:
In Hannah’s story, there is a two-sentence news briefing that remains on the screen as the images change. This summary tells who, what, when, and how.

4. Main story format features a condensed version and organizes it in sections, which integrate text with photos: There are two ways to find out what the whole story is about, from beginning to end. Either one follows the chronological sequence of the story by only taking a look at the photos and the caption each one has or one reads all the text of the story to discover more detail. In other words, the narrative here is given in two different forms, taking into consideration that teens respond better to visuals. 

This is part of catering to an individual audience that Ekaterina Walter discusses in 5 Ways to Use Pictures to Tell Visual Stories With Social Media. She says: “Sometimes, when you try to reach everyone, you end up reaching no one. In those cases, it helps to setup channels for specific niche audiences and just tell the story that’s relevant to them.” Here is a snapshot of the second and third pages of the main story, in which there is a story told in chronological order:

Snapchat, Discover Tool, CNN
Screenshot- Snapchat- June 23, 2015
Snapchat, Discover Tool
Screenshot- Snapchat- June 23, 2015


5. Content is relevant to a younger audience:
It’s no secret that this story appeals to teens because it’s a story about someone in their age group. It’s a powerful and emotional story about a young girl, who is also relatable to the majority of Snapchat users. Also, according to 10 Facts Every Parent Should Know About Their Teen’s Brain, “the decision to take a look at the story may be due to “their decision making can be influenced by emotions, because their brains rely more on the emotional seat of the brain.”

In CNN and other media brands come to Snapchat, Samantha Barry, head of social news for CNN says: “You’ll be surprised by the amount of context we can include in the snaps,” said Samantha Barry, head of social news for CNN. “They are visually-led with great images and videos, but when you swipe up, you will get great CNN context with more images, text and background.” While this tool is relatively new and analytics are limited, this strategy is working for CNN, as they say that they get seven-digit figures representing people who read these stories. What are other ways publishers are using Snapchat’s Discover Tool to get younger audiences attention regarding news?

 

Immediacy Illusion: Roles in the Newsroom that Should not Overlook Social Media

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When we look at a newscast on the TV set we immediately feel there is some type of mediation. There is an anchorman or anchorwoman sitting in front of a teleprompter reading the news and presenting stories that have already been produced. We don’t see the cameraman and have no idea who he is. Almost everything is completely planned in terms of how the show will run. As members of the audience, we listen to the story from our side (the television set). I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to feel any sense of presence there, neither from the reporters, nor from us as active members.

The opposite happens with social media. When reporters use social media both them and us are present at the location they report from. There is almost no mediation, or at least we don’t feel it. We feel we’re part of the story; that we’re right there with them, like when we play video games. The difference is in fact that physical presence which allows journalists to show us different angles, unedited scenes, and to portray stories from their own perspectives. Thus, social media give newsrooms a chance to morph traditional storytelling into an innovative and creative form. Also, social media give news correspondents, cameraman, and beat editors the opportunity to work collaboratively to distribute content outside the television screen in a way that makes audiences feel that presence. This is what I will immediacy illusion.

Even though the following roles are different, what they have in common is that presence. This is why they should social media:

Cameraman at TV News:

  • This is our chance to meet them because we never do with TV news. We only see their names on the credits at the end.
  • Their technical knowledge about filming, video and audio can drive them to produce excellent material for platforms like Vine, Twitter, and Periscope.
  • They can present a different perspective while they are on the go. What we see through their eyes on a TV newscast usually follows someone else’s instructions or direction. If they use social media, they can step away from that role and even do their own directing.
  • They can develop relationships with audiences who are only used to see the reporter or news correspondent as the “face” of the news organization they represent. Thus, they can present their human side on social media because we can meet them, their families and what they do when they are not on the go.
  • Because they are the eyes of what we see, they may see potential in some stories that can potentially represent new material for reporters.
  • It’s possible to give a voice to someone who doesn’t have one (usually). The example below is about a cameraman who went further, even made a silent movie about himself and posted it on YouTube!

Example:Paul Martin (@ukcameraman):

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He is a freelance cameraman (news, sport, and documentary) to news and broadcasters in the UK, including BBC and CNN. He uses Twitter, Google+, email list, and has a blog. He is basically building his own brand.

Twitter:

  • He shows his face (which we normally don’t see) so that the audience knows who is talking to us. Also, he gets to set a tone and voice (funny sometimes), so we can meet him at a more personal level. Finally, he shares part of the normal life he lives:Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 5.32.55 PM

     

  • He gives the audience teasers about what type of live coverage he is doing on a particular day.Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 5.28.31 PM
  • He gives us access to behind the scenes production shots and shows audiences editing equipment and personnel they usually don’t see:Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 5.32.23 PM
  • He presents a series of stories about things that happen to cameramen, giving us access to how their day it’s like.

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Blog: (The Amazing and Unbelievable Adventures of a TV News Cameraman and Underwater Rat Throttling Champion

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  • Blog posts are a compilation about cameramen related news and views, but also about life on the road, like standing in the rain and cold for long periods of time. Some of these include:

The result is a blog, not only about technical stuff, but also about a day in the life of a cameraman. Honestly, it’s the first time I see something like this, and now that I think about it, cameramen have a lot to talk about. He speaks casually, straight to the point, no holds barred.

Paul Martin is a great example of how we can feel the presence of people we usually ignore. I think he found a perfect angle and he is one of the few I was able to find who does it well. He gives us that presence illusion instantly through social media.

Foreign news correspondent:

  • Foreign news correspondents are in charge of presenting audiences with stories about what happens in other countries, including war and politics. This means they present us with reports from places usually nowhere near us; completely unfamiliar. Because they may represent the only way audiences can learn about these matters, their use of social media becomes more important.
  • Social media provide for different ways in which these correspondents can distribute content in different forms, written, audio or video. Because there are so many platforms available, this means there are more options to present different parts of a story. For example, most of us haven’t been to Syria or Ukraine. Our concept of these places is constructed with what we see on traditional media. But we can construct better images about these places if foreign correspondents take the time to portray them on social media. This can be done with hard news, as well as soft news like below. There is no time for this on a newscast, right? Max Seddon is a foreign news correspondent in Russia.

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  • Social media is timeless. When Nick Robertson is reporting from the Vatican, where there is a time difference, we don’t have to wait for the newscast to see what’s going on. If he uses Instagram at 3:40am, my time, to post a photo or video, I’m able see it when I wake up the next day. I will always have access, even though I have to look for it (in Twitter’s case, like the example below).Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 6.02.23 PM
  • They usually interview government officials. With social media, there is no time constraint regarding how much you can say in an established amount of time. In a newscast, there’s a limited amount of time. This is not the case with social. On Twitter, you can present stories divided in more than 1 or 2 posts, even with the 140-character limit.
  • A 30-second story on a newscast can morph into a 4-day event on social media with much more detail. When the Pope visited Sarajevo, Nick Robertson created a sequence of posts on different days narrating what was going on. This is very effective in order to build expectation and keep the audience alert.


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  • Social media give these correspondents the ability to use pictures they take, which may resonate more with the audience because they look like pictures we can all take, thus we can relate. Someone like us is making it possible for us to be at that place with him or her.

I would like to conclude by saying that news beat editors should also use social media. I spent quite some time searching for social media accounts of local beat editors. Sadly, only a few have presence on social and the content is in the form of general headlines about breaking news. They have both the small and big picture about a particular area; they have access to a lot of information. However, I found that they prefer to keep their role in traditional media, rather than capitalizing on social to distribute a form of content that may be valuable to audiences. They are losing the opportunity to capitalize on the immediacy factor and their presence to make people like me feel part of their role as journalists.

Jay Fonseca: Enhancing His Journalism Through Social Media

Jay Fonseca

When you visit Jay Fonseca‘s website, the first thing you see is this slogan on the top: “Solutions for the Future of Puerto Rico.” Fonseca, a young radio host, political analyst, lawyer, and journalist is committed to working towards a better Puerto Rico. Through his participation on major news television and radio stations, as well as his contributions to a local newspaper, Primera Hora, he reinforces his mission.

Jay Fonseca
Jay Fonseca

Rather than just informing, Jay explains, discusses, analyzes, gives ideas, and offer solutions using a simple, casual, colloquial language. However, he has accomplished something important through the use of social media: a younger crowd is becoming interested in what’s going on in Puerto Rico. Not only that, they’re actively participating with Jay in the discussion on issues like economics and politics. This, in my opinion, enhances his journalism through the use of social media. Out of all the local journalists I found on social media, he is the one with the highest amount of followers and engagement.

Jay is very active in his social media accounts, specifically on Facebook and Twitter, to keep his audience informed about the latest news related to politics and economics, as well as to provide his take on current issues. Just recently he began to use Periscope. What does he do to keep an engaged audience? What is his recipe for success on social media? Let’s take a look at Facebook and Periscope:

Facebook: “Puerto Rico should be a paradise, but we don’t cooperate so much” This is the short description of his page. I would say this is the platform in which he is more active. His fan base here consists of 632,000 people. Below are three of the multiple elements he uses on this page:

1.  Content curation: Most of this type of content is about Puerto Rico or about issues related to those affecting us. Here is an example:

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Translation of the post text: THINGS GET WORSE FOR ARGENTINA…BY FAR- Argentina owed 1.7 billion. Now it’s 5.4 billion, including the amount recently added…

My take: The key to success in these types of posts stems from his ability to provide a very concise, yet clear summary of the “big picture” of the story, enough to get some attention. In the example above, by providing a summary, he is making sure that an audience that doesn’t speak English gets a glimpse of the story. But there is also something about the wording of his posts that makes people feel relatable to what he is saying; there is something Jay knows about how to ignite discussion because people begin to react almost immediately. Puerto Rico’s debt is very high too. It’s a sensitive issue right now, so people respond.

2. Long, text-based posts expressing his opinion, never afraid of speaking his mind: Before I became one of Jay Fonseca’s Facebook fan, I was not a fan of these types of posts. People don’t read, I thought. But then I came to understand that what he is doing is taking issues that seem complex and making them understandable with his easy to follow explanation, use of colloquial, informal, everyday language, grawlixes to represent and….CAPS to highlight the takeaways. I really like these posts because most of the times he sounds so desperate that you get he is committed to finding those solutions for Puerto Rico’s problems.

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Translation (partial):
THIS IS WHY WE’RE FU%*@#- Victor Suarez, Chief of Staff, said: “This administration has reduced the cost per kilowatt hour by 30%.” DAMN IT. It was not this f#@% administration ! It went down because the world market prices of petroleum decreased in the market, thus the cost for the local power authority decreased.

My take: As I mentioned above, he speaks like that because he is genuinely desperate, while he questions why people should trust this administration. With his analysis, he brings this perspective. Is he throwing curveballs? Probably. He provides facts, he puts the information out there so his audience jumps into conclusions. But because he does it with controversial issues, he gets people agitated enough to begin voicing their opinion, either to agree or disagree; to become an echo of how he feels by sharing his posts on social media.

3. Showing his human side: He is on radio, television and he writes for a local newspaper. While we see him moving from one place to another during the day, we must not forget he is human. He goes to the beach and watches sports games…and he makes us aware about that on social too! Here he is showing his support for cancer patients by joining the Da Vida annual walk:

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And he finds time to share what book he is reading:
Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 1.13.19 PMTranslation: Regarding my job, yesterday I had to put this book aside to read the whole IVA project document. Today I can do just the opposite. Talk to you soon.

My take: Finding some time to share with others that you do normal, everyday stuff, not only serves as a positive distraction from the hectic, hard news and analysis, but also lets your audience connect with you at a personal level. This is something that’s not possible to do on television and radio, where there is time and other constraints.

Periscope: Jay started to use Periscope recently to give his audience a special, VIP, insiders, backstage pass to his television and radio broadcasts. We now have access to what happens before, during and after his intervention on television. We see how the producers told him how many seconds are left until he goes live.

Regarding his radio show, it’s even more interesting because we get to listen to these shows; we never get to see what hosts do, how they’re dressed, if they check their phones while they are on air, and their facial expressions and reactions. Jay is using this new app to enhance his experience by taking his audience with him to places they didn’t have access before. This is a screenshot of this afternoon’s radio show:

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My take: Even though the effect is different when you see the live stream, I’m pretty sure you can imagine how much it’s possible to see now. There’s also something different and that is that before each broadcasts he looks at the phone camera and says what will happen after: “We’re going live at…” It’s a journey.

I would like to conclude by saying that Jay’s use of social media is an extension of the work he does that allows him to fill in those spaces in which he does not have a time constraint or a defined schedule. He speaks his mind, that’s true, but that’s probably one of the factors for his success on Facebook, evidenced by high engagement from a younger crowd: as young as university students and beyond. His content strategy and use of language, I would say, are two areas he clearly knows how to use in order to get where he is on social: someone with a lot of influence on public opinion.

How BuzzFeed Creates Social News

BuzzFeed Logo

BuzzFeed Logo

The Real Problem with Clickbait presents a side of this issue that maybe we’ve heard before: it’s basically a game that tricks people to take action and click on a story after reading a very powerful headline that makes some kind of promise. I believe this is clicking for the sakes of having a best-case scenario related to metrics: a very high number of clicks. What’s the value of that? Nothing. This is why content writers engaged in these types of actions are also tricked, in my honest opinion. I understand the part about relying on advertising for revenue, but at that point in which readers get that it’s a trick and click less, what else besides metrics could be the benefit for companies that engage in over promising and then deliver less?

BuzzFeed’s value is just the opposite. It has a content formula and a storytelling technique that move people to actually share content to the point it becomes viral, which is the whole point about its concept. I found this short interview with Eric Harris, BuzzFeed’s Executive Vice President, in which he summarizes this by saying: “You can trick somebody to click but you can’t click somebody to share.” That sounds about right. He says they combine science and art. Science is the analytics part they handle, optimizing for sharing, and experimenting different things. Art is to get people to have an emotion, like inspiration or nostalgia, which gets them to share content.

Sharing happens organically by not over promising. My take on this is that this happens because the type of content BuzzFeed shares is that which makes you comparable to something. Content is sharable not only for its informational aspect, but because it moves people and they identify with it. It’s an experiential feeling. Why do you think BuzzFeed’s content is sharable? This is seen in most of the quizzes, lists, and news pieces. One example is in one of the assigned readings, the What State do you Actually Belong In?, which had 3.7 million  interactions.

When you read the headline, it makes you think whether you’re living in the right place, where you belong. Sense of belonging is “a human need,” according to Psychology Today. “Some find it at church, some with friends, some with family, and some on Twitter or social media.” BuzzFeed creates some quizzes, like this one, which move people to complete and share. They do the quizzes because they are curious to find out if the results are accurate, according to their own self-notion. They share them in order to compare results. They are able to create a whole experience with which people can identify. The results usually sound like self-help messages, trying to look at the positive side of the results. In my case, this test says that I belong in Massachusetts, where I just came from 2 days ago. “You’re a unique person, and someone who doesn’t care what others think.”
Readers also identify with stories, like Eric Harris says, that appeal to the emotional side.

Stepping aside from the quizzes, take a look at A Cop Who Had To Tell A Teen His Parents Had Been Killed Showed Up At His Graduation. This story, in the BuzzFeed News section has 1.9 million views. When you take a look at the headline, basically you understand what the whole story is about. BuzzFeed stories function like little novels, in which you see a lot of visual content and news told in the form of captions for images or videos. In this story, you see the headline attracts the younger BuzzFeed audience with these elements:

  • Teens
  • Parents that were killed
  • Graduation

Readers identify with these types of situations. They experience feelings when they read this type of content, they feel sorry, happy for the young kid who graduated and had this cop “standing in his parent’s place.” They identify with this situation because this is something that can happen to them. They also see the cop as a hero. While the audience shares its friends, they create new “movements” or stories on social media, in which they begin to show support for the student, as well as the cop. The word then spreads. By combining content, headlines, and simple, short storytelling techniques, BuzzFeed creates experiences.

Most shared Sites on Social Media: Elements of Success

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Which Broadway musical best describes my life? Into the Woods, according to this quiz from PlayBuzz, which also includes the fact that I have a truly magical mind! How comforting for my ego! My life is a fairy tale!

PlayBuzz is at the top of the list on NewsWhip’s Facebook data from January 2015, regarding the most shared sites on that network and Twitter. Taking a look at these results, I was able to identify some key elements of success of these sites, how they are similar in some ways and different in other aspects. Finally, what I have learned from them that we can put into practice; key takeaways that will help us all moving forward. Let’s start by taking a look at Facebook:

Most Shared Sites Facebook

PlayBuzz:

It was no surprise to see PlayBuzz at the top of the list .Why? Because people like to play; people like fun and games. Also, according to Why Content Goes Viral: What Analyzing 10 Million Articles Taught Us, 8 of the top 10 shared articles in an 8-month period on 2014 were quizzes. In addition to the fun element, there is a narcissistic element, according to the article. “Why quizzes? Because when we share our quiz results, it fuels our identity and ego. Others will learn more about who we are, what we value, and our tastes.”

I have to admit it, I’m part of the audience that completes and shares quizzes. The fun part is to complete the quiz and share results, but I’m aware people probably don’t care about these results. However, sharing this encourages them to play, resulting in more shares and engagement with this type of content. Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 12.38.07 PM

Bottomline: Content that engages people because it invites them to have fun works well on Facebook. Also, this content means little if you don’t use the correct text and images to deliver the message to the audience. As a matter of fact, there is an image on each post. PlayBuzz did a fantastic job using a quote from Heinrich Heine on the text of the post, plus a captivating image with three photos of famous Broadway musicals that the typical Facebook audience can identify. Finally, I must add that this type of content is great to distract people from hard news and other type of content, which is different and entertaining. This is the case of the next two on the list: The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed

Buzzfeed also focuses on some entertaining content and finding other angles to stories so that people engage easily. They also have the famous BuzzFeed quizzes (now on a separate Facebook page), meaning this is what they have similar to PlayBuzz. Where they are different is in the fact that BuzzFeed has other types of additional content. I like what they use because it’s everyday, normal stuff that happens to normal people, like you and me. Some content will make you laugh, other may make you cry, both appealing to your emotional side and your sense of humor. If not, it will entertain you, that’s for sure. All content has a visual element on each post. Just yesterday, they posted a very emotional video about an engaged couple exploring how they will look like as they get old. Will you still love me or not?

Just like PlayBuzz, the text on the posts are very clever and invite people to want to find out more. Also, very useful, they feature lists, which we know engage people, like for example, 13 Steps to Instantly Improve your Day and 11 Reasons to Shave your Hoo-Ha. The 13 Steps post featured this headline: “Having a rough day? Follow these directions to take you from the harsh drudgery of daily existence all the way into sanity and peace of mind.” Philosophical, yet motivational and real, isn’t it? It made me open the link!

Take a look at this post. I’m sure you’ll find that fun and entertaining element right away. Social media is not only about choosing the right content, but in terms of stories, how you tell them, particularly on the text of the post.

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The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post brings to the table even a mixed-themed type of content. You can visit their Facebook page and will find anything from today’s news, politics, and business to recipes, travel information, articles about American trying bizarre Russian food (brought from Buzzfeed) to Sex Toys that Will Make your Orgasm Better, with the text post: Magical Toys. Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 1.29.35 PMSounds like everyday stuff that even touch on some topics people don’t normally talk about? What these 3 sides intent to accomplish is to make a general audience want to stop for a second the socializing with friends on Facebook part, to learn about other stuff (most useful), while they’re entertained, which is the whole purpose of Facebook. Sounds like everyday stuff that even touch on some topics people don’t normally talk about?

What these 3 sites intent to accomplish is to make a general audience want to stop for a second the socializing with friends on Facebook part, to learn about other stuff (most useful), while they’re entertained, which is the whole purpose of Facebook.

I would say Huffington Post is the most complete in terms of themes appealing to a mixed crowd, while BuzzFeed looks for other angles and touches more on common, normal people situations. PlayBuzz, the most shared site, just features playtime content. It’s also the one with the simpler strategy: focusing on quizzes and making people want to play.

When we take a look at the results for the most shared sites on Twitter, we don’t see BuzzFeed or PlayBuzz. Yet, we see The Huffington Post, but not at the top of the list. Almost, if not all, of the top 10 sites are related to news, so maybe people are inclined to share more news on Twitter? Here is the data for Twitter:

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I took a look at two of them, The New York Times and Mashable. The success of both lies in the fact that in creating their posts, they strive to give people mixed content, in the most easy to digest and straight to the point way.

The New York Times

While The New York Times uses a more serious voice and features more hard news, it still provides some entertaining content, thus meeting people’s expectations of finding everything under one roof. I like the way they avoid using too many images, while maintaining a better mix of text posts with links. According to What Type of Content Gets Shared More on Twitter, text performs better than images. “What was even more interesting is that 65% of those text-based tweets contained a link. The link part is important because not only does that mean you can drive traffic back to your site, but it also means that tweets with links get retweeted 86% more often.”

Also, they make use of lists, like for example, 14 Summer recipes, thus capitalizing on the fact that audiences love lists and share them. In A Scientific Guide to Writing Great Tweets: How to Get More Clicks, Retweets, and Reach, Courtney Seiter mentions the most popular phrases, which include “the best,” as in this post:

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I really like the fact that this preview on the feed doesn’t need an image. As soon as you click on the post you see a small one, but the wording is perfect and made me curious enough to want to click on that link. Finally, during breaking news, like the sentence of the Boston Bomber, they start tweeting and retweeting about the verdict process, giving us more background. That’s what The New York Times does best, which is using the best judgement to deliver a well-balanced amount of content on Twitter, by using the most appropriate choice of words, consistent with its brand voice, yet captivating enough to drive engagement.

Mashable

Mashable is more casual, more entertaining and tweets more often than The New York Times. The nature of its content is more varied and tends to fall more on the entertaining side. However, on Twitter, they do post breaking news (like right now when they posted that the Boston bomber was sentenced to death).

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The post before that one is about a woman who picked the worst shoes for her graduation and fell for 15 seconds. I like the fact that this post is in the form of text with a link to the video. Yet, the headline is compelling enough to make me want to click on that. It’s more of what I mentioned earlier about The New York Times.

Mashable makes more use of image and videos on the feed than The New York Times. I keep on wondering why they just posted that tweet about Boston Bomber’s sentence with an photo of him, when I think by this time we know who he is. The text is simple: “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sentenced to death for bombing the Boston Marathon.” Straight to the point. On a final note, Mashable posts more frequently per hour than The New York Times (11-13 per hour). Content is for a more curious audience and at this moment they’re using Periscope quite a lot to live stream interviews with people on startups and technology.

Bottomline: Be fun, use images appropriately, spend some time writing a compelling post text (sometimes simple is better), use text post with links on Twitter and find out what makes a better balance between using images or plain text. Give people valuable content they can relate to, how to guides and list format posts and the result will most probably be more engagement.

News stories on social media: How the way they’re told may engage us

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Several news outlets and aggregator sites published a story yesterday about a young woman who posted a selfie showing skin cancer treatment. She wanted to raise awareness about the danger of excessive use of tanning beds. I found out about the story on Twitter.  I must confess that I saw different tweets and Facebook posts about it before I actually read the story. If I recall correctly, most (if not all of them) used the same image, but it was this tweet from ABC News (@ABC) that moved me to open the link:

Woman's Skin Cancer Selfie Goes Viral

Before discussing the actual story on the link, let’s take a look at the text on the tweet. We all know how challenging it is to say something in 140 characters compelling enough to move people to take action, in this case, to open the link. The text of the tweet is the condensed form of the story on the news website. It touches on some key points and terms, which I will discuss below and explain what they meant to me as important elements:

  • 27-year old woman– means the story is about a young person. Putting that first on the post automatically grabbed my attention. When you connect this fact to the image, you react with sadness.
  • Skin cancer- we all know how serious cancer is. It’s something that I have experienced myself, after my father died from lung cancer, but skin cancer also hits a spot. Last year a biopsy confirmed basal cell carcinoma on a scar the doctor removed from my neck. Thankfully, it’s very common and treatable, so there is no big threat there. So lets say I can identify with this, thus including it on the tweet was smart.
  • Selfie- A very popular term these days we can all relate to. This term also helps the article appeal to a younger audience.
  • Send message- We see the image and the text and then we learn somebody has something important to tell us; send a message means somebody wants to protect us from the dangers of using tanning beds.

In my opinion, the post itself tells a story of a young woman who has skin cancer and wants to raise awareness about it using a very compelling photo of herself going through treatment so that people understand the consequences. It’s a form of micro narrative, in which there is a main character, a conflict and a resolution/conclusion.

The link takes the reader to the detailed version of the story. However, as you can see, the headline of the story has a complete different meaning than the text of the tweet. The selfie went viral, that’s the story.

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As you read the story, there is no additional information to support the main idea of the headline. It doesn’t give information about the viral aspect of the photo. The article focuses more on information obtained from a dermatologist regarding a specific treatment for this type of cancer. One of the basic aspects of journalism is to get comments from experts, so I firmly believe this was a good idea. Because the young woman, Tawny, wanted to raise awareness about the effects of tanning beds and skin cancer, it was necessary to get expert advice. There were two experts interviewed, two dermatologists. One of them agreed with the fact that the photo was a good way to raise awareness. The other one said that he was afraid people would be scared with the photo and may consider avoiding that treatment. I think it was clever to present both sides in the construction of this story and offer different opinions.

In general terms, the structure of the story is not organized and some information is missing, meaning the way they constructed the story doesn’t make sense to me. In addition to what I mentioned about offering more in depth information about the main idea on the headline, I think it missed asking dermatologists specific questions about which aspect of the tanning beds may potentially cause skin cancer. It talks about the treatment, but not about specific tanning bed components that may result in a similar situation.

When I read the tweet post, I expected the link to the story to have more information, maybe a video or first tell Tawny’s story, how it went viral and then move to asking the experts. In conclusion, I would have used a different sequence to tell the story. Still, the truth I take from this is what Tawny intended: tanning beds may cause skin cancer. In terms of how the story is told, I would say that technique is the inverted pyramid, where the newsworthy information is at the top, followed by other details and background information about Tawny’s post at the end.

Point of Purchase (POP) Materials: Part 2

ceiling dangler

In this second part of a series of posts about the different types of point of purchase materials, I will talk about stoppers and ceiling danglers. These are additional ways in which you can improve your brand’s visibility at the point of purchase. Remember you want to influence buyers right at the place in which they make the purchasing decision. This is why, if we have resources allocated for in-store signage, I advice you to use these materials so that you stand out from your competition.

  • Stoppers: One of the most popular point of purchase materials. These are the ones you can see as you walk from any direction in the aisle, meaning you don’t have to stand in front of the shelf to be able to see it. No matter which side of the aisle you are coming from, your customers will see the sign.  Standard size: 9″ x 13″ (printing area: 5″ x 13″). Material: Cover cal .28pt. Options: die cut, 4-color process, total UV, matte lamination, UV lamination, holographic effect, rotating pieces. Fixture: plastic clip.pop material, stopper
  • Ceiling danglers: These are bigger pieces that hang from the ceiling, thus creating great visual impact. They offer the possibility to put your message outside the shelf, where there is less clutter. They are optimal for supermarkets and drug stores. What I like about these danglers is that the options are many, especially in terms of how many sides they can have, thus maximizing opportunities to include more than one image and message. Sides: 2, 3, 4, or custom. For example, you can do a 2-sided display with one more piece hanging below. Options: die-cut (different shapes) and 4-color process, UV lamination. Fixture: universal mobile kit, which includes a white cord, formers, and panel edge clips.mobile danglers, ceiling dangler

It’s important to mention that the idea behind POP materials is not only to have presence, but that these items support your overall brand goals, objectives, and strategy. We strongly recommend that these materials are consistent in terms of communication and design with your brand’s strategy, including the main message, brand voice, and design elements like colors, logo, and images. You don’t want to confuse your customers by sending them messages that are not consistent with your brand’s image. We’ll discuss this in future series of posts. Has your brand used stoppers and mobile displays?