On day two of the INMA South Asia News Media Summit 2021, Sohini Guharoy, head - audience engagement and social strategy, NDTV, took a deep dive into the trends on social media, and the millennial and GenZ demographics’ media consumption patterns. She also pointed out a few things that publishers can do to grow audiences and drive segmentation from a news perspective.
Guharoy believes that news publishers today are competing with laypeople for gaining attention on social media. Speaking about how social media now has a standalone role to play, she said, “It's no longer a platform where you put out content after it’s published on other platforms. There is content specifically created for social media today owing to the demand.”
She explained how rehashing published content would be unfair for the medium and how publishers are focusing on the customisation of social content as the key to getting more eyeballs.
Role of social media teams
Guharoy stated that social media teams are also audience engagement teams. “Data from social media lets you understand what the audience wants and what it is that they’re watching. Attention spans have gone down drastically and since we barge into people’s me-time, we have to make sure that we’re not just scrolled away,” she added.
She spoke about the ease of social media algorithms, which are unlike newsrooms that require publishers to repeatedly check their channels to calculate reach. This is why she believes that all content on social media should be treated as individual pieces.
Need for a changing approach towards the medium
All content works differently for different news media. What works for NDTV, might not work for an India Today or Amar Ujala, according to Guharoy. “We are no longer competing with each other on social media. All respected journalists have created their own niche, some gaining as many or more followers as the company itself. What millennials want is fact-checked information, in just one click.”
She stated how consumption of video content has grown by 60% with behavioural patterns being largely induced by the pandemic. This has led companies to use social media for good.
How news publishers use this opportunity
Next, Guharoy pointed out that audiences are already on social media and the onus to engage them lies with organisations. Speaking about how NDTV’s experience, she said, “We tried to understand what's working for us and decided to be social-first. For Facebook, people prefer live news or other raw content. We also host panels on our social media, making interesting discussions easily accessible to our audiences at a time of their convenience.”
Further, she mentioned how the channel also collaborated with brands for publishers. “60% of digital media is social media; clients are increasingly sending us briefs asking what we are specifically creating for social media.”
What works to the advantage of social media is the fact that, unlike OTT, it is not subscription-based. Even with the forced need to see ads, she believes that viewers increasingly opt for content there. “We see more news publishers getting into these videos because it works, especially inspirational stories and ones which people can relate to. We have a good audience on social media and TV and we’ve tried to create a bridge. However, the merger needs to work together but also as separate entities,” she explained.
Talking about originality, Guharoy strongly feels that it’s about the approach taken. “Although you put out the same content at the end of the day, you have to add value and identify your USP. This is possible through data since it mirrors what works best for you.”
She also underlined how the dynamics of what's working, chasing quality and strategy is very important.
The rise of social media brings audiences to the question about the increasing spread of fake news. To counter this, Guharoy believes that it all comes down to the basics of journalism, i.e. fact-checking. “The truth is often one reverse Google search away. As publishers, the onus is on us to identify verified news. There are a variety of fact-checking tools available but sometimes it’s the basic thing we don’t do. It's important to speak to multiple sources and see that content is not plagiarised. However, in the end, let your data do the talking,” she concluded.
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Rao is currently CEO of dentsuMB Group India