How publishers are learning to create and distribute news on TikTok
1:30PM Dec 15, 2022
Hello, everyone, and welcome to this Reuters Institute Webinar. My name is Veronica Roubini. I'm the director of the leadership development activities at the Reuters Institute. And I'm very happy today to be moderating this conversation about how publishers are creating news on tick tock. We'll hear from Nick Newman, who's a senior research associate at the Institute and a consultant in digital media. And he'll discuss in presenters the main findings of his recent report on the adoption of Tiktok amongst news publishers, and how the publishers and independent journalist and creators are using the platform to reach younger audiences and how the platform could be better support trusted journalism. So Nick, over to you. We'll start with a presentation and then we'll have some time for questions. So you can post your question and then we'll we'll get started after the presentation. Thanks, Nick.
Thanks for the Rica and Hi everyone. It's really good to have you join us for this webinar. And I'm going to set out sort of the sort of key findings of the research probably in about 25 minutes or so. I think this is one of the first attempts to map what publishers are doing on tick tock, and in this report, we analyze data from publisher accounts in 44 countries. We've also interviewed 20 of the leading publishers, some of the early adopters about their motivations and their strategies. I should also say that is still a really small sample of all the activity on Tik Tok. So we should really see this as a snapshot particularly because this is such a fast moving area and the you know, the nature of news the way it's surfaced is changing all the time. But before we get into the publisher data, just a little bit of context, you know, why did we write this report on tick tock now, and why does it matter to to a lot of people why so many people caught joining this webinar, for example. So this is part of the reason this is this is essentially a slide from our digital news report data showing explosive growth in usage of Tiktok across a few countries. So this is audience survey data essentially. And you can see that very rapid growth particularly in countries with with younger populations like Brazil, it's worth pointing out the numbers are still much smaller than Facebook or YouTube in general, but if you focus on demographics, then it's a really different story. So tick tock usage is really focused on the youngest cohort under 20, fives or even younger, in our digital news bought data 40% of 18 to 20 fours across 40 countries or so say they use it now for any purpose. That's the blue and 15% say they use it for news. It's interesting that the age profile is actually getting a little bit older. It's certainly older than it was a few years ago. But it's still very much focused on that youth audience which is very hard for traditional publishers to reach and use is also much more important it was even a year ago. So as this quote says, you know, it's not just about dancing videos these days. It's also where news is broken. It's where news is discussed. It's where news is shared. And part of the reason for that is Russia's invasion of Ukraine before that COVID So this was really when you started to become much more part of the conversations on tick tock. It also, by the way, provided sort of a reason for some of the biggest publishers like the BBC, for example, to go on to tick tock to sort of combat misinformation and to start their tick tock activity. And then the other reason is that it matters that focusing on tick tock matters and vertical video matters is because is changing the whole social media ecosystem. The success of tick tock is influencing other networks. So this chart again from our digital news report, again, this is looking at the networks used by ACS 20 fours and what you see is this sort of relatively dramatic decline actually in Facebook usage for any purpose with the 1820 fours and that very fast rise of TiC tock so on current trends, we would expect Tik Tok to overtake Facebook next year with that youngest group and in turn that is changing the strategy of Facebook it's changing Instagram as well and and YouTube in terms of their focus on it entertainment on creators and on vertical video as well. So I think this is just a big sort of shift, not just for tick tock but also more widely. So to the data and the research that we've done sort of specifically for this, I'm about to show you new data mapping that publish your activity on tick tock in different countries. And what we did was we identified the top publishers in each country from our digital news report lists, and then we checked whether each of those publishers had posted news related content in the last week and when they started the Tick Tock activity to sort of understand really what was going on across those countries. And just as sort of a headline where in the world that we've seen most activity, what we see is very strong adoption. So the darker colors essentially are where we see a bigger percentage of those top news providers with tick tock accounts, and that is primarily Western Europe. So France been the UK. She's been also Southeast Asia, very strong there, Latin America and the United States. And you can see that you know, Indonesia, for example, 90% of the top publishers were are on Tik Tok. Compare that with some countries in southern Europe like Italy only 29% Maybe Federico can explain why. And then Eastern Europe it's also in some Eastern European countries also a lot lower. So countries like Bulgaria, just 7% of publishers. So, overall, 49% About half of publishers are already on Tik Tok and 51% are not. Why are many of them have joined in the last year? What are the main reasons? So firstly, that younger audience, so this Gen Z audience is increasingly not going directly to websites and apps and so this is a way of of engaging them and starting conversation. Secondly, experimentation so I talked earlier about the sort of growing importance of vertical video and tick tock is just a really good place to experiment to see what works and then to apply that actually to other social networks or even to your own website. Thirdly, that concern about the need to counter misinformation with reliable news as the network grows and then finally, and importantly, that sort of fear of missing out so many publishers have been late to the party with other social networks and they've seen that other people have have got an advantage by being there earlier. And so that sort of is another core core reason I think, over half are still not there. And we did also talk to some who had not decided specifically not to go on to tick tock and that includes many public media companies, New York Times, a lot of publishers have decided not to go on to ticked up. At the top of that list, is concerns about Chinese ownership. So that's partly about the fear that content may be suppressed or May, certain sensitive subjects may be demoted. I mean, these are potential fears. There's there's not a lot of evidence it's happened but also data security, that that that the data of the youth of the West is being analyzed or has the potential to be analyzed by authorities, China, for example, and there's a lot of I think we'll see a lot more scrutiny over that issue over the next year as well. We're already seeing action in the US. Then I think the second sort of key reason is that for many, particularly subscription publications, but also advertising and publications doesn't there's very little monetization and so that's really limiting investment. And particularly at this moment when there's a lot of concern about layoffs in the in the media industry, people are really looking for return on investment. And then other people are just focusing on other audiences you know, maybe slightly older, maybe Millennials using snip, Instagram and Snapchat and these these kinds of things. So So you know, they're there. It's worth remembering as we talk about tick tock that over half publishers are still not on tick tock. So let's move on. Now to to look at the the brands and the publishers and who's doing best in terms of first of all follow accounts. And these are the brands the news brands in Europe. First of all, they have the highest follower count. So 4.2 million people are following the Daily Mail. And you can see the list there is dominated by a lot of big traditional media brands, but we've also got a lot of what we call digital first brands or socially native brands. So brands who are either only operate on social or have that as part of their DNA like actuality. Vice world news, Bruton France, fan patient is really, really started in social media suits. It's sort of really cool to them, and you can see how well they're doing. If you look at the United States, it's a sort of similar trend. Now this, which is a digital first brand has 5.5 million, that's the largest we could find. But you also see some of the traditional networks doing very well as well ABC, NBC and CBS.
We should say we only included brands who were doing mainly news or a significant amount of news. So excluded entertainment and sports brands as well. This is a global phenomenon. So I've focused on Europe and the United States. But you can see really big numbers and Indonesia in much of the rest of Asia Pacific Thailand has very, very high numbers as well. Interesting, a lot of these brands, television brands that are really taking television content and just putting it on tick tock so there's not not a lot of effort in sort of reversing some of that content in some of these parts of the world. And then Latin America and not surprisingly Brazil. We saw it already. You know a lot of consumer interest and a lot of Publisher interest as well Argentina, Mexico, so these big sort of population countries, which have a long tradition and social media are also there very early. So this is this is truly a global phenomenon. Now large follower accounts, on tick tock in particular is not necessarily a guarantee of success. So we also wanted to understand, you know, engagement on the platform, so to what extent do those big follower accounts carry through into engagement? At an individual video level? So I've reordered essentially the top news brands across 44 countries into the the average views per tick tock post. And what you see here is NBC News at the top there so each of the videos has views for around a million, which is you know, really significant numbers. You can see G one global, which is a global obligation in Brazil 784,000 per post. This was during the Brazilian elections. We were looking at this and some of them were getting five 10 million views for a short post about politics, for example. So this is not just entertainment content. This is serious news content. Yeah, very, very large numbers for for some of those at the top of the list, but you can see that the engagement level goes down in some of those bigger brands that we that had high follower counts. So it doesn't necessarily follow that if you have a high follower count, you're gonna get really big engagement. And a lot of this goes back to the extent to which you're prepared to really change the format and really be native to the platform. And so generally the ones on the left are the ones where people are putting in bespoke effort. The ones on the right are where they're doing a bit more reversing in general. So that's the big picture, the sort of big numbers if you like, but beyond that, what are the strategies that are being pursued? And broadly, we find two approaches. So firstly, a creator led approach, which is essentially, publisher will employ young people who understand the platform to create bespoke content. And then secondly, you have a newsroom lead strategy, which essentially takes existing faces and correspondents and then sort of reversions a lot of that content. So firstly, example of the Creator. Lead a probably the best known example of the Creator led approach is the Washington Post. So originally, it was just deep Jorgensen, The Washington Post tick tock guy. And what you see here is one of his trademark comedy sketches. So this is a story he did a couple of months ago about shrink inflation. In the packaging of sweets, and he used Halloween to talk about the story. You can see the disappointment on the face of the of the young trick and treater who sees these tiny little sweet packets. And so Dave, kind of explaining how shrink inflation works. And as you can see here, Dave Jordan says using comedy because he says it's really part of the DNA of tick tock, but what they're trying to do is take a serious issue and and explain it in an accessible way that is true to the platform. But it's also interesting that as the as the platform matures, and audience expectations change, there is more sort of traditional news, news literacy going on as well. So this was a piece that he did recently about voting in the midterm elections, for example. But also, the teams got very heavily involved in debunking, for example, misinformation around around Ukraine and getting people to tag the team. So helping people essentially navigate fact from fiction. They see now as an absolutely key part of the of their mission. So you kind of engage people first, but it's also got a really, really serious purpose to it. Many other newspapers are kind of taking a similar approach. So the LA Times recently set up what it calls a creative team, which includes you can see them all here. And artists, filmmakers, cartoonists, there's even a puppeteer. Again, experimenting with more accessible formats to get to not just young people but hard to reach audiences in general. This is the puppet it's called as a sheep. It's called Judith. And it does a little series which comes out I think twice a week, which is about the environment and it always starts with We're sorry to report that but there's a lot of humor involved, again, using comedy and humor to tell these difficult stories. When you talk to Angie, Jamie, who's the head of creative content, probably the first head of creative content that I've come across in the news industry. I asked her you know why? Why, you know, aren't you trivializing? It isn't Tik Tok trivializing these important stories and say, you know, essentially says you've got to laugh in order to survive, which is a very Gen Z thing. And so this is this is kind of a natural way to take in information but also to laugh at the same time. And then, here's another example. From France. LeMans has gone again for this bespoke creature approach to try and say the mission is to explain the news. But using a whole load of techniques. Here you can see metaphors drawing fake video games acting, to try and explain things and here's just an example. It just gives you a sense, I guess, of how fast some of these things are and how they're really, they're really focused on that that younger audience and those expectations Why did you do what you think was question if you own this show today? Yeah. So really, really fast moving, incredibly creative. grabbing people's attention at the beginning, but again, with that kind of serious purpose that's a long way from you know, traditional television content. I think it's really something very different. On the other hand, so this is the second approach. So the second approach is the brand or newsroom led approach, and I'm going to use Sky News as the illustration of this. So they argue they have you know, a lot of journalism they have a huge amount of video. And Tik Tok is essentially just another way to distribute that so we have they say we have you know, these experienced foreign correspondents like Stewart Ramsay who's right on the ground when Ukraine is being invaded. So why don't we get him to tell the story rather than a young creator? Somewhere miles away to do it, it makes much more sense. They did another one with the Texas School shooting which was seen by I think this one was seen by 10 million. Texas school shooting was seen by something like 39 million people. So they have sort of four pillars of their strategy, essentially four things they found really work. So firstly, the idea of eyewitness journalism, and also sort of, you know, their access to be politicians or celebrities. Secondly, being first with breaking news moments.
So, I think one of the sort of keys there is if you are if you have really strong pictures. In many cases, many different media organizations will have the same pictures but if you are first with those, the Tick Tock algorithm really gives you much more traction and demotes the other one so being first on the on the sort of the pictures of the day, if you like is absolutely crucial. explainers. We've kind of talked about that already. And you've seen some examples of sort of explaining the news which works really well. For that younger audience. And then live broadcasts. Sky got 16 million people for their live coverage of the quiz Queens funeral not a lot of people know that tick tock also does live videos with a short one minute versions. Another example of the brand led approach is the economist and it's you know, a lot of people say that to make it work on tick tock, you have to have faces you have to have personalities. And of course, The Economist doesn't use faces, it has no buy lines at all. And so this is a bit of a challenge for them. But the way they've approached it is really to make the brand and the styling the star. And so to bring that sort of consistency and the wit that they use throughout their journalism to play in a different environment. They have again, a whole sort of a whole load of things. They do so many of their videos. Start with a simple question. How do chickens get so big, for example, and they choose particular subjects that they think are really going to resonate with with that audience? So, you know, for example, Factory Farming is a big issue. And that one, I think now has 5 million views. How do chickens get so big and then they commissioned a follow up to it. So again, it's kind of listening and iterating and pulling that back. Here's live Maloney, you know, we're never going to be the first so that unlike sky, they're not trying to be the first breaking news. That's not what our brand is about. It's about explaining geopolitics and economics. So we're going to be the best place to have that explained. So really clear purpose, and then, you know, taking into account that the different environments. And then one final approach to mention is the individual correspondent or reporter, so there are not that many individual correspondents, partly because it takes a lot of time. It's not as simple as doing a Twitter feed, for example, but this is Max foster Foster who works for CNN as an anchor and reporter. And he's been on Tik Tok right since the beginning because he saw his teenage son using Tik Tok and he really wanted to understand what was going on. He has a million followers, which is pretty much as many followers as the entire CNN brand, all on his own. And he does serious stuff. He does playful stuff. He's changed his approach a lot. But he's really sort of he really understands the platform and the expectations so this one about what happens to the Queen's corgis after she died. Got 4.1 million and he's you know his his point which is encouraging for people like me is you don't need to be old to work on tick tock sorry, you don't need to be young to work on tick tock. And actually when it comes to news, maybe people will listen to experience correspondence people who who look a bit older, rather than, you know, they might not listen to older people when it comes to musical tastes. But when it comes to news, the brand and personal brand matters a bit more. So just to summarize, the sort of different approaches we find. So we've got a greater led approach. On the left, you've got a brand learning approach on the right, you've got that sort of sense that some content is really focusing on information and explanation others is a bit more fun, maybe a bit more comedy. Without wishing to over generalize, what we find is that big broadcasters tend to be in this top right quadrant. This brand lead information space because they've got a lot of video assets. So they're really essentially repurposing those assets. Yes, they're taking a bit more they're versioning them a bit bits that some are trying a slightly different agenda. But broadly that's that's the approach that most broadcasters are taken. Then you have correspondents the quick takes so, you know, essentially a lot of it is serious and informative, but they're also trying to be more playful and to understand the platform as well. Then you have socially native and newspaper brands, because they don't have video assets. One of the things they've done is sort of bring in those new those people with the right skills so they brought in the creators, and they're doing a lot more experimentation in general, as we saw earlier, and then finally you've got sort of popular brands. Were actually Tik Tok really fits quite well sort of celebrity led led agenda that many of them pursue but also they do some really good accessible political videos. And again, some of them are doing more of a brand led approach. Some of them are pushing more into employing creators. A few tips for you. So this is from actuality one of the founders of actuality. Gabriella Campbell Gomez, who, who talked about what works on tick tock, they've been on there since about 2019. So strong visuals. The first three seconds are critical, pretty much everyone talked to me about you know, having to hook that attention at the beginning through a combination of, you know, words and multimedia images. simplicity of language, so this is really the trademark factuality. So, just always using a short word when rather than a long word. And, you know, that's not about dumbing down that's just about being really, really clear. Be authentic, be authentic to yourself, be authentic to your brand. And then you know, really trying to understand how the algorithm works. So what are the what are the features that give your video the biggest chance of success? One of the things that they've done recently is up the volume. So it used to be, you know, you'd post maybe one two a day. Now they're up to around six a day. And you know, the views the more you post, the more chance you essentially have for one of those posts to go viral and it is very hit base, you know, you can have videos in the middle and then suddenly, it will really sort of capture the captured the attention. Just briefly a little bit about metrics. So followers are obviously are important. We've seen that in our data of the ones with the really big follower numbers, obviously have a head start because more people are going to see it in their feeds. But it isn't as big a factor on other platforms. You can also get huge hits with a brand that has zero followers. Views are obviously the best metric for understanding how well a piece of content has done and whether it's getting traction and average views and the percentage that people get through is also critical so complete rates here people are reluctant to talk about how good their their complete rate you know how much of a one minute video Do people watch but from talking to publishers, you know, if you get over half, that's pretty good. So people are watching 30 seconds or 62nd video, for example. And then the other factor that the algorithm takes into account apart from average view time, which is critical. It's also the extent to which you like or comment or share, because these also are signals that the algorithm uses to decide whether to show that video to more people. So these are kind of metrics that you might want to think about if you're working on tick tock. And then finally, a lot of people are on tick tock. We've tracked a lot of Publisher attention, but I guess the big question is, is this resonating? Or do people actually not look at traditional media companies? Are they looking elsewhere? And this is a chart from our 2021 digital news report. So it's about 18 months old, this data, and it may have changed a bit, but what it shows is the difference that we found between Twitter and Tiktok in terms of where people were paying attention, so in Twitter, people when it comes to news, people are mainly looking at mainstream news outlets and mainstream journalists. So as you know, they play a huge part in the debates, they shape the agenda, etc. But in tick tock it's much more the agenda is shaped much more by personalities, influencers, comedians, film stars in this is where people where the huge numbers are. And we think that mainstream media organizations have increased their presence since then, but when it comes to news that's that's really important to remember that actually it will be personalities and influence of maybe ordinary people who they're paying much more attention to, and that's one of the reasons why there's more concern about misinformation. So I did not do a sort of comprehensive look at this. I just basically talked to a few people who are not journalists, but are creating news on Tik Tok, just to understand a little bit about the landscape. And here are a few examples. So this isn't that well, and I didn't actually talk to but I looked at his account he has 2.6 million followers. So just for comparison, that's about four times as many followers as the BBC.
He tends to start every video with a very sensationalist question. I'm sorry, Russia. have just done what with a whole load of emojis and that one got 8.6 million. This is about a nuclear submarine that went missing that everyone was worried about it turned up later. But this was the that was the story. Another video began with World War Three is literally about to break out. So not surprising that some of these get get clicks. For example. This is Kyle Khalil Green, who calls himself a Gen Z historian. He was the first black student president at Yale and he's a part of a group of social media influencers who are questioning essentially what they were taught at school and one of his first videos, which went viral and got over a million views was about the white washing of Martin Luther King's legacy, for example. He's extremely thoughtful. And he was also one of the influences that the White House brought in recently, after the invasion of Ukraine to essentially do a press conference with influencers. So, you know, politicians and people want to get their message out are increasingly using influencers to do that. And Kelly look, Khalil is a good example. And then I also talked to what you might call a news activist. This has just raised He's an activist in Peru and Tik Tok is huge and prune, and one was one of the factors that brought down an interim president in 2020. During the student protests, and just was one of the Tick Tock stars at the time who was out on the picket line shooting video and talking about it. And her videos are amazing. You know, they deal with really difficult subjects with a smile and humor and positivity and sense of activism, which I think is really interesting. You know, she says that tick tock is you know, for young people, it's just where you go TV is boring. news media makes it difficult to understand. We go to tick tock to have someone explain what's going on of our own age. And it's much more fun, it's much more innovative, but she calls herself not a journalist. She calls herself an activist. So essentially, I guess the point is that journalists are competing, not just with other other media companies that they're competing with news creators, with celebrities and and all the rest of it. So just finally, before we get into q&a, just looking ahead, it's early days, and the platform is developing very fast. There's a lot of issues that publishers are worried about. So I asked all my interviewees to say what they would like tick tock should do differently, to make a better environment for journalism. And the first thing that they said was, they wanted tick tock to give more prominence to reliable news sources because misinformation has become a big, big problem on the platform. They feel it should be a better system of of credibility, especially around elections or stories like Ukraine. So how, how these things are labeled. It's obviously a debate in tic toc as well. In terms of verification, but also some kind of some kind of a better way for people to work out what is what is true and what is not true, essentially linked to that transparency. So tick tock removes a lot of content or it applies warning screens, the algorithm applies WARNING WARNING streams to demonstrations, for example. And publishers argue that a whole load of legitimate stories are being suppressed effectively, often for good reason because tick tock wants to protect a younger audience. But again, they argued that reputable publishers should be given more leeway. Monetization is, as I mentioned earlier, a huge issue and it's one that's really holding back investment for a lot of people. And also, there's no opportunity to link out back to your website, as you can do in Tik Tok in Twitter or Facebook. So even indirect monetization is a problem. And then finally, publishers say they want better opportunities to understand how their content is being used so they can improve and optimize it and that's not as good as other platforms. So a whole range of things that publishers would like tick tock to do differently. So that's just a sort of a roundup of what we found, I think really significant changes over the last year. Publishers really embracing the platform, or many of them are many of them are still worried about different aspects of Tik Tok and where it's going. There's a lot of experimentation going on. Different approaches, there is no single way to be successful on on tick tock. There are many ways to be successful on on tick tock. And hopefully this report has given some interesting insights on some of the things that are working now and some that might work in the future. So back to Federica.
Thank you so much, Nick. We already have a few questions. If anyone has questions, there is a q&a function on Zoom. So you can put your question there, and I'll read them out to Nick. Nick. The first question is from Hans, who asks what makes the Daily Mail so popular? Is it because they were early adaptors or because they will publish a lot and frequently?
They certainly publish a lot a lot and frequently, I think the Daily Mail is a little bit different from some of the others. So I said earlier that, you know, the qualification was that you were publishing news material, and a lot if you look at the Daily Mail's tic tock account, it's mainly entertainment content, but they obviously do cover you know, news and they do explain us as well. So yeah, it's basically why is the Daily Mail successful on on online is because the, the agenda is, is is popular, essentially. But it's interesting, if you look at the engagement levels, they also employ a sort of crater approach broadly. So, you know, few young journalists who are sort of translating these stories into Tik Tok language into the Tick Tock vernacular, but the engagement on the Daily Mail is much lower than it is from others. So it's not necessarily the best example.
We actually have a question from Oracle on somehow also linked to that. So is it correct to say asks Oracle, the Tiktok accounts with a newsroom led approach performed better in terms of followers and engagement than the Creator lead accounts and how to publish and justify a creator led approach if it doesn't perform as well?
I I'm not sure I mean, I think if you look at the if you look at the follow accounts, that's probably true. And I think one of the ways in which the broadcaster's have done that is basically use their broadcast channels to say follow us on Tiktok. So actually, that you know, they've got that sort of that that reach advantage but I think if you look at the, I mean, just look at the some, some of the look at actuality, for example, which is a creator led approach, and they have something like 700,000 and are outperforming a lot of the a lot of the others that are just basically reversing material. So as I say, I don't think there's a single best way of doing it. I think some of the crazier approaches are working really, really well and connecting with people at a deep level. And some of the broadcast approaches, I think are a bit more hit and miss so what you see as you look at them, is that you may have some that go completely viral and suddenly get, you know, 15 million. And then one of the reasons that NBC did so well is because they had a couple of huge hits and that others will only get a few 1000 Whereas I think the Creator led approach is more consistent probably.
We have a question from nothing about local news. And I know there is a net I think one of the case studies in the report about regional publisher and nap and ask what should local news outlets should local news outlet be on Tik Tok? And he says he asked before because he understands that so much more traffic comes from the algorithm versus who people follow. So having content just targeting a small number of people may not make sense. So
yeah, there was a really interesting case study in the full report from client inciting which is a regional newspaper in in Austria, and I think they were really smart. So they follow a basically a creative lead approach. They've employed people under under 25, which is what a lot of local newspapers are doing, actually somebody who really understands the platform and then just trying to match interesting stories in their paper and then turning it into content that they would be useful. But in theory, the Tick Tock algorithm is really good at finding specific communities. So automatically without you having to set up you know, Facebook group or something like that. So in theory, you know, it's sort of the perfect piece of content should find people and then if they see content from your local area, and you like it, and you're consuming it, they should give you more of it as going forward. So I think it could be a really good approach without having to put a huge amount of of effort in because the algorithm does a lot of the work for local but there aren't many great examples and obviously when we're looking at the bigger counts, you don't really see locally now which is why I was keen to include one in the in the report itself.
I'm gonna sneak a question of mine in there in the audience. In the report, you also talk about a case study from Italy, where it's a bit less of like, creators versus newsroom but there is actually a publishers who partners weed creators, from child people in in Italy and sort of like uses the Creator approach but with the publisher behind us a little bit more about how they work with them.
Yeah, it's really interesting. So So what shall people say it's the publisher fan page as well. So it the company has this sort of real understanding of social media. And one of the things they were looking at was you know, the, the rise of the creative economy, if you like, and these very talented people who really understood how to communicate in new ways with young people and they found Andrea mochi who's, who's the, who was basically a scientist and and they offered him and he was doing this on the side he was creating a really successful explanatory explanatory Tiktok account and Instagram account about, you know, geography and and, you know, natural events and science and he called it geo pop, and they basically bought it and CO opted as sort of creasing if you like a first call strategy, which may include other creators over time. Those doing what I just talked about with local it's basically finding a community. And so it's a hugely successful account. I can't remember the exact number something like 400,000 followers, and again, some of those, some of those videos have really, really worked and what Andrea says is that being part of that larger company, is also really helpful because it's given him a lot more sort of support to develop the proposition and put in higher quality videos and, you know, better explanations than he was able to do before and employ more people. So again, I think it's an interesting way in which you might scale the, the creator approach to two or three people which is what your pops now about.
We have a question from Francisca about engagement, and she asks if you can talk a little bit about audience engagement metrics. She says, How do we interpret views per post if it is unclear how much of a view needs to be watched to be counted as a view by completion rate, particularly since videos can vary greatly in length? And then basically, also, they asked if you can talk about what publishers views are on experiences on the algorithm curation but mainly, maybe firstly, the engagement metric? Yes, yeah, I
think I think engagement metrics, I mean, the challenge with all of these metrics is to get benchmarks and to know what good looks like in different circumstances. And so you know, you definitely, I think you can do this with your own data. Essentially, what you're doing is you're comparing the success of one video against another video in your own ecosystem, because you can't see anyone else's data. And so, you know, you would say, Well, let's look at all videos that we do have one minute long. And then we'll let's look at ones we do with four minutes long. And then we can set a benchmark for those things to see which ones are working, and then you kind of iterate and try and improve against that. I think what other platforms have tried to do is provide guidance on sort of wider benchmarks. But tick tock doesn't really do that yet. Maybe that will mature over time. And I know that a number of third party tools that are used are also about to or have started to integrate tick tock as well, and we'll start to provide those benchmarks. So that's, that's a way in which I think those those things can help. And I think, you know, like a lot of this stuff, much of it is is using sort of common sense as well and trying to draw out your own lessons, some of which are qualitative and some of which are based on the data in terms of the general algorithm. I mean, there's there's a lot published about how the TIC tock algorithm works. And it's not the headline level. It's not that complicated. It's essentially if it engages people with time or with shares or with comments or with likes, then then it gets shown to more people. And if engages those people, it gets shown to more people, and that and that's when virality happens. And it's a very pure and simple algorithm. And in that respect.
muffle banner has a question that actually I had. So thank you so much for asking that. So you talk about one of the things that, you know, publishers thinking about the future is better monetization options. But what are the current manipulation options for publishers?
Well, I mean, for publishers, they're virtually none at the moment. So if you're in if you're in short video mode, which is where most people aren't, you know, producing videos for about a minute. There's no there's no there's no advertising to no advertising revenue. It's a cost basically, its marketing, its brand and marketing. And your hope is that you're going to you know, for example, The Economist is hoping that as it engages young people and they get to know the brand at some point, maybe in 10 years time to help become an economist, publisher. So it's a very indirect link to monetization. If you're a creator, if you're a news creator, a not a publisher, then you can get some monetization from what's called the news called the Creator fund. And there are various qualifications for that you need to have more than 10,000 followers for example. And but the creators I talked to said that the the money they get from that is really very small indeed. So that even when you have a lot of views, you're not really getting enough money. So it's not as good as YouTube's, for example. And then the other one that people are sort of starting to play around with is within feeds, sponsored content. So essentially, you will get brands using the Washington Post to start to do this. So a separate team produces branded content for an airline or whatever. And that goes out. So there's revenue attached to that actual loss. You've also started looking for sponsors, and others are looking for sponsors to do content. So I think next So Janelle, in Brazil, I was talking to they were looking for a sponsor for World Cup content, for example. So a big sponsor, and it will just have a brought to you by as part of a deal for the for the World Cup. So there are a few sort of sponsored content models emerging. And over time, you know, there may be advertising models that Tik Tok introduced as well, but there's no sort of there's no link back apart from in your bio. You can't link back to content out of tic toc because they want to keep you there. So it's actually an even worse deal than Twitter and Facebook.
And we have many questions. So I'll try to go through as many and get a bit of a different range of different questions in asked is asking, is there a difference between content made with real people and with motion graphics? Like we've seen other platforms?
I don't know about that. I'm not sure I've studied it enough. I think what's interesting, so people talk a lot about when they talk about real people. And they talk a lot about, you know, the authenticity of the platform. And so we see that, for example, in eyewitness reports, journalist reports. That's one way in which you can do that. Another way in which you can, can use real people is to build that relationship. With with David Jorgensen, for example of the Washington Post. So yeah, that's, that's why the creative approach is being used. And then, but graphics also work. I mean, you know, if you look at a lot of those, if you look at a lot of the Geopark when they're trying to explain, you know, complex, they try and mix the personality in the face with really, really Wizzy 3d graphics, for example, to explain this stuff. And it's a really good compressed way of doing it because if you only have a few minutes to do it, then then then actually combining those so I'm not sure it's an either or I think it depends on what you're trying to do. Essentially.
Valerie is asking, during your interviews with publishers, had some of them made experimentation on Snapchat a few years ago, obviously. And do we know if that helps them engage younger generation with their brands? In the longer term? So I guess the question is, was there anything with you know, his approach of going on new platforms and learning to be learning about how to engage with younger audiences, and then help you more broadly to engage with the younger audience in different platforms? Have anyone mentioned any lessons on Snapchat for that?
Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think I think there's a difference between these sort of what we might call first generation social networks that sort of started in the desktop age and and the more visual, social networks and I think one of the challenges for a lot of publishers is making that transition. So I would put sort of Snapchat, Instagram and Tiktok in the same bucket, partly because they're quite sort of video LED or picture led, but also because they're sort of really mobile first, and I think publishers who have experimented with those definitely see a synergy and one of the things that's interesting going back is that the experimentation on tick tock is actually now playing back into Instagram reels and YouTube shorts. So essentially, some of the things that are working, you know, originally one of the things that people said to me during this was ticked up, videos are different, you have to produce them for tick tock, and they weren't work anywhere else, but then a whole load of other people said actually, tick tock videos are working really well on Instagram reels and YouTube shorts and you can kind of reverse them the other way. Around. And then just finally on Snapchat specifically, I think there are a number of publishers that I mean, most publishers haven't really engaged that much on on Snapchat, but there are some like the son, for example, in the UK, popular out there that has really successful Snapchat channel and has definitely learned lessons from Snapchat that it's it's putting back on its again, it's usually successful on tick tock, even though it's not putting huge amounts of effort into it, and part of that it's just a learning process they've been through.
A couple of quick people are asking about getting the presentation or the recording, you'll find the recording in the next newsletter and all our social accounts afterwards and a full report is under website and Matt from a comms teams posted the link to it, so you can find it that Nick Mr. X asks if a mixture of creator lead and newsroom lead in the same account is a bad idea. Would it look inconsistent is it better to stick to one or the other?
Yeah, broadly, I think consistent I mean, one of the things people say consistency I think consistency of branding consistency of approach helps the the algorithm understand what what to expect that's not to say that, you know, you can't have a crease led approach and I mean, many, many publishers break that rule, by way, you know, they put all kinds of things in their feed. And some of the work some of them are putting in thing you know, so you've got this really authentic report, and then you suddenly put in a sponsored post or you put a trailer for a television program, there's all kinds of weird stuff going on. But my gut feel is you want to have people want to know what to expect. And I also think that while we're on this the question of branding and brand consistency is crucial. You saw how good it was for the economist for example, Aftenposten in sorry, from blood in Sweden. You know, really puts a lot of effort into taking the videos outside editing them in a different package to give them much more branding, you know, the classic black and yellow and it really cuts through I think in a in a powerful way. And you can do that, obviously, across different platforms. And I think that's, I think attribution if you're not getting money, you might as well get attribution. I think that's something that publishers should really think about.
We have a couple of question. We have a few people in the audience joining from African newsrooms. One question is about saying that African newsrooms are late adopters and tick tock, do you have any hope that he would catch up and leverage a platform for growth or monetization? And I guess maybe linked to it as someone who works for a nonprofit supporting journalists in rural parts of Africa, and how do you best thing they can use tick tock in their work? They say tick tock is given a hard time to get started feels a bit overwhelming to create content. So what are your hopes for Africa in general, in newsroom and supporting journalists?
I mean, first, just to say we only have three African countries in the digital news report. So what we looked at was just Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. But what we found is, is not that much activity there was one large one in in Nigeria polls which I think is also operates in in Uganda. It's quite effective. But I think part of the problem in Africa is obviously sort of bandwidths and video bandwidth and data charges are a completely different level to say how they are in Latin America or Asia. And that's one of the constraints around around multimedia content. Having said that, Nigeria, you know, tick tock is pretty big in Nigeria, actually. And it's just not apparently used very much for news. So it's, you know, what's so fascinating is that in different parts of the world, you can have the same platform that is used much more intensively for news or much less intensively for news. And that obviously, partly, is to do with culture. It's partly to do with what other networks are available, and you know, what, what we're creating is putting their effort. So I think and I, you know, I think a lot of this is timing, keeping your eye on it and saying where are your audience? Is this relevant to me or not? And if it's not relevant, then you know, focus on something else for now.
A couple of questions about teams, both in terms of like, you know, how big these teams are, and ready to they're in the Creator led approach and do you have any data on whether having one or two creator host is better versus just multiple posts and multiple faces in the Creator approach?
Yeah, that's a good question. I mean, I think obviously, the danger of having one Creator is that that creator gets stolen by your competitor. So I think most people are kind of moving away from that and try and provide, you know, couple of The Washington Post, which, you know, had just one really has recently expanded as a team of three, for example. A lot of the Creator led teams you saw the LA Times had about sort of seven or eight. They've sort of made a major investment in, in experimentation, essentially. Typically, it would be I guess, 234. But yeah, teams of different sizes of of creators, but I would say, focusing on one person is probably not good idea in the long term.
I guess Amanda does should also answer your question, which was a different version of the same. Darren is asking how are public service news organization managing some of the brand impartiality challenges they might have? Tiktok which digital native organization might not have?
I mean, firstly, public service broadcasters are generally much more cautious. So many of them are not on tick tock or have only gone on tick tock with say, children's brands a lot. The Nordics for example, haven't put their main brands on though that kind of considering it. And I think some of that has to do with that fear that it's not possible to tell a story, a complete story in an impartial way, in a minute. On the other hand, how long is the television package? Television packages, probably. When I was working in television, it was about one minute 20 And it was 58 seconds that weekend. So not very different from tick tock one. So I actually think those things are probably overdone. I think the biggest concerns for public broadcasters is data security. You know, they have a very high bar on the extent to which they, they they they need to build that trust around data with with anyone who uses their services. And there's a lot of worry about where that data is actually being processed and what the potential is for that data at some stage to be used. Or go back to China or be used by Chinese authorities. So that's, that's definitely a worry. And that's one of the reasons why. So I think there's a number of different reasons, impartiality, being one, but there's lots of examples public broadcasts being on it. I mean, again, there's a case study of ARD, which Tigershark, which is Germany's public broadcaster, which is one of the first was in 2019. It's very successful, and, you know, really tries to explain the news and impartial way and I think has found some great examples of how to do that.
Um, there's a question about longer form. And what sort of content works better in long form, like four minutes, for example?
It's quite early to say, because, you know, it's only recently that tick tock sort of as as increased the length, I think now to 10 minutes, but what what some of the publishers say is that they're broadly experimenting with so the Washington Post for example, is doing a lot more longer videos and it's saying that actually the Tick Tock quite like the algorithm quite likes them and I suspect that why tick tock are doing this is partly to compete with YouTube but partly to open up advertising opportunities. Because you can't put you can't really put ads in front of a minutes long video, but you could put an ad in the middle of a 10 minute one as YouTube and others have done so I think that's really where they're heading. So I don't think it's just about what works. I think it's also commercial motivations behind that. But yes, both the Washington Post and JIRA pop actually said that some of their longer videos and they put them all out. A lot of the YouTube ones they cut to eight minutes or whatever, are working really well in Tik Tok as well.
Um, it was a question about do we have any relevant data on referral traffic from Tik Tok? Any publisher? Any because there is no link there is no,
there's just a bio link but off your main of your main bio. And obviously, that's a problem for publishers but it's also a problem if you're trying to create campaigns with brands for example, because they're not sponsored posts if they can't track the effectiveness back to you know, a holding page or whatever. So I suspect that will change and there will be more. You know, over time tick tock will open up some of those commercial possibilities.
And we only have one minute left and I wanted to ask one final question. Of course, you know, different strategies will play differently for different publishers in the overall other strategies aware of how they are approaching platforms, etc. But if there was a publisher in the group listening now, what questions and they are not on Tik Tok yet, what kind of questions should they ask themselves in order to decide if they should be on Tik Tok or not? Are there any things that they should consider in making this decision?
I mean, I think the primary one is what what audiences are you trying to reach? And if you're, you know, how significant is the is your need to show that you are engaging younger audiences? That's that's one of the reasons obviously that public broadcasters should be looking at tick tock, for example, because they're obviously losing, finding it hard to reach people directly through websites or television or radio. If you're a subscription publisher, where essentially, you know, your sustainability is built on people over the age of 35. It's probably not a priority for you right now. So you might say, well, let's do a bit of experimentation to make sure we understand vertical video or start a conversation or start a relationship and I think that's what you're seeing with with with a lot of other publishers. So I think you know, as with so much, a lot of this goes back to to your audience and your overall strategy and your focus because it's simply not possible to do everything in the digital world. You have to focus. You have to decide what the big trends are. And the point I would leave you with is the even if you're not interested in the audience, the reason why you should take tick tock, seriously is because it's affecting the whole ecosystem that sort of move towards making vertical video work, and new storytelling techniques, which hopefully we've illustrated in this report, I think are going to be important for every publisher, on their own websites and through distributed content.
Thank you so much to his last comment on what you're just gonna read out. Darren says, terrifically insightful and as useful as ever, so thanks, Darren. And thank you so much, Nick for sharing the insights. For everyone. You can find a full report on the lingual person on the chat or on our homepage and you can you you'll be able to rewatch and share with others that you think might be interested in this discussion. The recording of this webinar, which you'll also be finding on our website, or on our newsletters, where you can sign up from our homepage, Nick thank you so much for sharing these insights.
Alright, thanks, everyone. Thanks for the great questions.