Publishers should use Snapchat for hard-hitting news says HashtagOurStories' Sumaiya Omar

There is no space for control freaks on the internet anymore says social media consultant Sumaiya Omar

News organisations and publishers should be using Snapchat to tell serious, hard-hitting news stories to tap into the generation Z audience says Sumaiya Omar, social media consultant and co-founder of social video company HashtagOurStories.

Omar explains that the digital natives (gen Z) are looking for content that is real, raw and authentic, which platforms like Snapchat can provide but publishers and organisations need tailor make content, rather than repurpose it.

She adds: “Young people don't want to see classic head and shoulders TV-style, repurposed content, they want to see real and raw content that they can relate to. Especially in this era of fake news, young people crave authenticity. The publishers should use [social]apps and technology to tell stories in a native and creative way."

Snapchat claims that its users spend around 30 minutes a day on the app and visit it about 18 times day.

Audience: spectators and creators

“If you think about that,” says Omar. “The audience are not just spectators,they are creators as well. As they are spending so much time on [Snapchat] and it has created as a content creation tool, it makes sense that organisations could use these voices to aggregate content.”

Omar suggests that the publishers and news organisations should also leave behind traditional ways of filming.

“The internet has no space for control freaks anymore,” she explained. “Of course, we must maintain editorial integrity and factual reporting has never been more important because of fake news. But if you are going to see something on Snapchat, we shouldn't be pushing old TV habits into these emerging platforms. There isn’t a need for a tripod or mic with the Snapchat audience as they appreciate the raw nature of their content.

“Publishers should value the digital natives within their organisation and let them take ownership of the accounts and the narratives that are happening in a world where they were born and brought up in.

“The technology is already in their hand, it's in their phone, these platforms are building technology that is by mobile audiences for mobile audiences. Look beyond the gimmicks and look at the tech that is built into it and use it to tell better stories. Use that technology to be creative about the way we are telling our stories. We want to speak to our audience in their digitally native language."

Conversation is key

However, there needs to be a real focus on engagement. Omar stresses that publishers must focus on the conversation with their users. She said: “The chat section is very important because Snapchat is an app where you are broadcasting to many but you're chatting one-to-one.

“If publishers really focused on that one to one connection with their audience and focus on the conversation they would really find that connection and engagement really peak.

“Collaboration with influencers is also important because not only can you leverage of their reach, but people connect with them and you can take advantage of that connection with the audience.”

Publishers aim to bring in as high an audience as they can, and so many make attempts into the Snapchat playground. When asked if they should focus on bringing in the generation X and baby boomer audiences.

Omar believes that this would be a mistake. People from these generations are not as native to mobile devices as gen Z, who grew up on the internet through smartphones and tablets. They are of an era where their first steps into the internet was through AOL or MSN messenger on the desktop computer.

She finishes: “We shouldn't try to always bring audiences to platforms that are not native to them. We should go to where the audience is. Let the platforms like Snapchat work out how to diversify their appeal to the young generations but right now, don't try and bring your gen X and baby boomers to Snapchat because it won't be as native to them. You'd rather go where the audience is.”

Omar will speak amongst a panel of other industry experts on adopting a mobile-first strategy at Media Slap on Friday 24 November at Google, London.

This conference looks at the media publishing business focusing on areas such as technology, audience, content, new products and other revenue models. You can purchase tickets now via the event website.

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