Snapchatting Journalism?

Everyone knows the little ghost which appears on the Snapchat application. Could that little ghost and its application be used in journalism?

Journalism usually involves an picture(s) and a brief description of what is going on in the situation. I do not think Snapchat could be the best representation of journalism, but it does have it’s positives. There are some aspects of it, which local news organizations could use to gain brand awareness among the technologically inclined generation.

Most people want the most up-to-date content right at their fingertips; whether it is mobile/desktop/laptop, it is their preference. Some news companies are targeting Snapchat users to establish a base following on the social media application. For example, the NHL: They use Snapchat to show highlights of nice plays.

NHL.com Video

Not only does the NHL use Snapchat for cool highlights, they also use it for live videos and photos of what is going on right now. For example, Wednesday, the NHL announced what teams were going to be playing in the World Cup of Hockey:

NHL on Snapchat

Not only does the NHL cover live events on Snapchat, the Huffington Post is going to start covering more as well according to this article. The Huffington Post’s global social media editor, “We’re planning on ramping up our Snapchat activity. We’re going to use Snapchat to cover more live events such as award ceremonies, concerts, and popular TV shows.” Covering live events give the viewers an in-depth look into what is going on in the world. This is not the only way news organizations are trying to reach people.

A behind the scenes look at NHL Network

Snapchat fans of NHL Network got to see the behind the scenes look at what goes on during one of their shows. The photo above focuses on several anchors discussing players who were selected for the World Cup of Hockey. The live look in is pretty interesting because it gives us a glimpse into the daily lives of what is going on in the news business.

Now we shift gears to the opposition. Here is the biggest argument against local and national news stations using Snapchat: Where is the revenue stream? If there is a link between people using Snapchat and finding their way to the station’s website, I’d be impressed. There are no links from Snapchat back to their website, which means all media posted just focuses around what is on the social media site. The fact there are no links mean the news company cannot charge advertisers anymore then they already do.

Even though there may not be links back, companies still will reach a huge audience if they have many people connected with them on Snapchat. According to a New York Times article, there are over 100 million users on the social media platform. Many of those people are between the ages of 18 and 31.

According to the same article from the New York Times, a former adviser to President Obama said, “There is no harder riddle to solve in politics than reaching young Americans who are very interested in the future of their country but don’t engage with traditional news. Snapchat may have just made it a whole lot easier to solve this riddle.”

In a Nieman Lab article, the Huffington Post social media editor agreed about the age range saying, “Snapchat provides a great opportunity to connect with millennials… Our Snapchat strategy was devised with this audience in mind, and we think it helps bolster HuffPost among younger fans.”

The quotes exemplify the difference in how younger audiences obtain their information. The news organizations should use it as a platform to put out information they need the public to know. For example:

News 7 NewsLINC Facebook Post

If we took the picture from this post and used the picture in a Snapchat asking the public for help like, “St. Johnsbury PD needs your help identifying this burglary suspect” or something along those lines, it will help reach our target audience of the 18–31 age range, which is critically missed by nightly broadcasts. Some news stories, such as breaking news would make for a great Snapchat because it will provide the user with much needed information.

Users could interact with a local newsroom in many different ways. They could send a Snapchat of some breaking news to the organization if they cannot send it any other way. The main engagement should be viewers watching the organization’s official Snapchat page, as for the traffic back to the news station’s website, that is somewhat of a mystery unfortunately. Snapchat does have it’s pros and it’s cons. The social media site should be used sparingly because it will not attracted viewers back to their website and their broadcast.

The next two questions which will need to be addressed are: How can we do this without looking dumb? And How do you teach the newsroom to use Snapchat? These two questions can go hand-in-hand with each other when it comes to the social media site.

One of the ways to combat the lack of streaming traffic to the website, is to use the social media application as a tease or an in-depth look at what journalists do on a daily basis. Snapchat should also be used for either breaking news or a behind the scenes look at what journalists are doing. These are the most familiar ways I can see journalists using Snapchat. For example the NHL Network:

Once again, I will use the NHL because it is a primary example of how newsrooms should use Snapchat. They should show a behind the scenes of the story and the newscast. By doing this, it will engage the viewers and make them curious about what is going on. Then they can relay their curiosity back to the main website. All of the traffic streaming back to their website means they can charge advertisers even more money per page view.

Even as local and national news companies start to use Snapchat more, they should also be cognizant of how much is sent through the application. This is because they do not want to open the flood gates of information on the consumers, which could cause them to lose interest. Snapchat does present itself as an interesting choice especially when covering live and behind the scene events.