Snapchat: 5 Ways to Customize News to Attract Younger Audiences

In How To, Journalism, Social Media by UFSocial Staff

by Celeste Martinez, UFSocial Contributor

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:

The 4 images that make up the visual components of this short video practically tell the story itself. Two images features the girl and then two very dramatic and impacting images illustrate her condition. Users can either scroll down to read the whole story or swipe right to see the next story.

This video technique capitalizes on Snapchat’s short video time limit of 10 seconds, which has proven success in providing compelling stories in a short amount of time.

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

CNN, Snapchat

Screenshot-CNN 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 why.

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:

CNN, Snapchat, Discover Tool

Screenshot-CNN Snapchat- June 23, 2015

CNN, Snapchat, Discover Tool

Screenshot-CNN Snapchat Discover-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.

About the Author

Celeste Martínez is a marketing and communications professional who has been helping brands build meaningful relationships with their customers through point-of-purchase marketing for more than a decade. As founder of Buzzworthy Creations, she brings her experience in marketing and sales to provide customers with solutions to influence customers to choose a specific brand at the point-of-purchase, online through social media and offline through promotional materials.

About the Author

UFSocial Staff