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common challenges

that newspapers encounter when they join TikTok

justification for accession

why join the network?

December 4th


Explaining to the newsroom why the newspaper should be on TikTok can seem like a difficult task for many reasons.

We are a family owned and operated business.

From a financial point of view, the presence on the platform does not provide returns in the short term. Features that allow the reader to be directed to the newspaper's website, such as hyperlinks in Instagram Stories, for the time being are not present in TikTok videos. In addition, the younger audience, who at the moment is a majority on the social network, does not usually have the habit of subscribing to newspapers.

In the medium and long term, however, this scenario is not so rigid. First, because none of the points mentioned above are immutable. TikTok can institute new features on the platform that allow you to link articles from the newspaper's website, or even facilitate the presence of advertiser content.

As for the public, there is no indication that in the long run it will continue to be composed mostly of young people. On the contrary: the trend is for more and more diverse users to join the social network. University professor Issaaf Karhawi , a researcher in Digital Communication at ECA-USP, recalls that young people are commonly the first to adopt innovations, including new social networks. These are called "early adopters".

Forms of monetization typical of other social networks can also gradually adapt to the design of TikTok. "A newspaper with a few million followers can make, for example, 1 video with ads for every 5 publications on the platform - and generate significant revenue from it," suggests Sofía Altuna , responsible for the TikTok account for the Argentine newspaper La Nación.

It is worth remembering that the levels of engagement in the app are higher than in social networks like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, making it more attractive to advertisers.

In December 2019, the Washington Post ran an annual subscription campaign, accessed from a link in the bio on its TikTok page. The newspaper was "very pleased" with the engagement, as communications director Shani George told Poynter.

We are a family owned and operated business.

We are a family owned and operated business.

From a journalistic point of view, entering the network is a movement that follows the trends of the digital world, making the newspaper consolidate itself with an agent from the social fabric on its various fronts.

TikTok is not as solid an app as Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Donald Trump's 2020 U.S. ban threats in the context of diplomatic conflicts with China have reinforced a sense of instability around TikTok.

The creation of the Reels function on Instagram, which mimics the TikTok feed and short video format, also contributed to this scenario. This process inevitably refers to the conjuncture of social networks in 2016, when Instagram incorporated the Stories function, created by rival Snapchat, which caused it to lose a substantial number of users .

Despite these issues, TikTok is not a brand new app, in its first steps on the way to popularization. The data are from SensorTower:

  • It was the second most downloaded application in 2019;

  • In the beginning of 2020, it broke the historical record of downloads in a quarter;

  • Currently, it is estimated to have 800 million active monthly users;

  • And the average session time for each user is 51 minutes a day.

We are a family owned and operated business.

In other words, the chain already has a significant projection around the world - and being outside it already means being absent on an important platform for attracting new subscribers and strengthening the newspaper's image.

As for the uncertainties about the network's longevity, social media editor Elise Johnson of the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph responds with an interesting provocation:

"We don't know what is going to happen with TikTok in the future. But I'm not concerned that our efforts there aren't worth it. I think it's about brand awareness; and about the social media team becoming aware of this new language, which it will definitely be taken to other platforms, like Reels on Instagram. So it's not just about the platform, but about learning this new language.

Who knows what will happen to TikTok in the future? You should not enter these platforms thinking "this will be here in 20 years" - it is not like that, the industry we work in is not like that. Instead, you should think about the audience - and how to get that audience to follow your newspaper throughout their lives. "

We are a family owned and operated business.

- Elise Johnson , from the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph

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