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Wooing the Millennial: Audience Engagement with Videos and Apps

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World News Publishing Focus
Your Guide to the Changing Media Landscape

Wooing the Millennial: Audience Engagement with Videos and Apps


For example, many people assume that the youth eschew weighty genres like politics.

But this is a sweeping generalisation at best and a gross misunderstanding at worst.

“Millennials actually love news-related content,” said IDN Times editor-in-chief Uni Lubis, citing topics like corruption and minority rights.

“The challenge is how to angle it to fit with them, perhaps using more visuals and videos.”

Speaking at Publish Asia 2019, Lubis shared how a routine topic like Heroes’ Day in Indonesia can be jazzed up by drawing links to heroic protagonists in pop culture franchises like Star Wars and Game of Thrones.

“It’s universal content approached via icons. That’s how our millennial journalists approach the stories,” she said.

Fellow speaker and founder of Dig Deeper Media, Fergus Bell, echoed this sentiment.

“We’ve got to calibrate our expectations as to what news is,” he said.

“Remember that social media is also where people go to get entertained. And being entertained and engaged is not always separate from being informed.”

Interacting with millennials

That said, getting to know one’s millennial audience intimately is also crucial.

Independently-owned IDN Times, for instance, prides itself on being a leading voice for millennials and Generation Z.

Before Lubis joined in December 2017, much of IDN Media’s content was creative but not necessarily newsy.

While she made it a point to hire experienced editors to sharpen their editorial coverage, she also believes in considering the views of her younger colleagues, who fondly refer to the veteran journalist as “mom”.

Now, their content is an amalgamation of what older journalists and younger creatives bring to the table.

On top of staff journalists, IDN Times also boasts a network of 90,000 community writers across Indonesia who can submit articles in exchange for remuneration.

The publication also plans to grow its number of hyperlocal sites, which not only serve as provincial bureaus but also creative hubs, from 10 to 33 by the end of 2019.

Other ways IDN Times engages with the millennial crowd include:

- More than 500 Whatsapp groups based on communities and interests. These range from K-Pop to science and technology.

- A talk show series (Suara Millennial) discussing current and pressing issues with thought leaders as sources

- Outreach events such as writing competitions, a writers’ festival and even an Indonesia Millennial Summit, where millennial leaders across various professions are invited to share their perspectives.

- An ecosystem of digital channels built around youth passions. These include Yummy, a food channel which features 60 second recipes, and PopBela, a pop culture and lifestyle concept which targets young women.

“We want to become a think tank for millennials,” said Lubis, adding that such events help them understand and engage with their young audience.

“Building communities is very important not just online, but also offline.”

Personal news on demand

Bell is a firm believer in on-demand news that comes with a personal touch.

Recounting his work on Verificado - an election reporting and fact-checking initiative set up for the Mexican elections in 2018 - Bell and his team found that social media engagement goes a long way.

In two months the product racked up over 9,600 subscriptions on Whatsapp and more than 60,700 manual and personalised interactions with their Whatsapp editors.

“It was conversational. People could message us and ask ‘Is this true?’ It was a very personal service,” he recalled.

Verificado, a joint effort between AJ+ Espanol, Pop-Up Newsroom and Animal Politico, chiefly employed strong visuals and easy-to-share content.

These included on-demand infographics, GIFs and voice messages that debunked myths and fake news.

GIFs, in particular, were ideal for contrasting real occurrences with fabricated events, took up less data than videos and could be consumed without sound, said Bell.

“Production value was still very high. It was not quick and easy to make,” he added, stressing that such personal touch made all the difference.

“One-to-one communication makes people feel listened to. I can see on-demand news really taking off.”


About the author: Yeo Sam Jo is a correspondent and video producer/presenter with The Straits Times



Kimberly Lim's picture

Kimberly Lim


2019-05-14 12:09

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