Newsrooms stop mocking the creator economy and start learning from it

“The days of poking fun at Instagram influencers are over — because they, at least, have a game plan.”

Many of us are relieved to say goodbye to the confusing year that was 2021. But with a return-to-normalcy date still TBD (thanks to the coronavirus variants), 2022 looks to be just as uncertain.

One thing audience editors know for sure, though, is that newsrooms can no longer afford to ignore or infantilize the creator economy. The days of poking fun at Instagram influencers are over — because they, at least, have a game plan. Legacy media has stood on the tall pillars that have informed its editorial strategy for so long — but in just a few short years, creators have been able to bulldoze outdated practices and find new ways to reach audiences. They’ve learned how to cut through the clutter of content and directly serve their audiences with information that simultaneously entertains and teaches.

For news organizations, the pandemic exposed a landscape that contributes to our dwindling reach to once-reliable readers. Why bother logging onto a website for breaking news when you can just turn on notifications for your favorite creator’s feed for a summary and a hot take on it? Do I like that? No. But unfortunately, it’s the inevitable path we’re on.

Social media companies have finally mastered the rollout of new app features (hello Reels, Spaces, and whatever awaits our attention spans in 2022), and they’ve prioritized investments to keep big creators on their platforms. TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube are just a few that have introduced million-dollar creator funds.

On top of those threats, audiences have learned the art of the filter. They crave content that centers community and blocks out other noise. Without truly knowing the evolution of your audiences, you can quickly be subjected to the dreaded snooze, unfollow, and unsubscribe forever.

With more inbound traffic coming from social media platforms, it’s time to get serious about what’s stopping the scroll. If audience expansion and development tactics aren’t chief priorities in the new year — with detailed plans broken out for each platform — publications risk losing even more relevance.

Here are a few tips: Employ social listening to decipher what’s relevant to the audience you’ve built as interests shift over time. Teach team members in the newsroom diverse ways to communicate with their audiences and assist in bolstering their social presence. Design every touchpoint of your operation with social behaviors in mind, from communication methods down to the positioning of buttons on the site.

Creators and influencers have gotten this far for a reason. It’s time newsrooms played the game, too.

Candace Amos is director of audience and social media at The Daily Beast.

Many of us are relieved to say goodbye to the confusing year that was 2021. But with a return-to-normalcy date still TBD (thanks to the coronavirus variants), 2022 looks to be just as uncertain.

One thing audience editors know for sure, though, is that newsrooms can no longer afford to ignore or infantilize the creator economy. The days of poking fun at Instagram influencers are over — because they, at least, have a game plan. Legacy media has stood on the tall pillars that have informed its editorial strategy for so long — but in just a few short years, creators have been able to bulldoze outdated practices and find new ways to reach audiences. They’ve learned how to cut through the clutter of content and directly serve their audiences with information that simultaneously entertains and teaches.

For news organizations, the pandemic exposed a landscape that contributes to our dwindling reach to once-reliable readers. Why bother logging onto a website for breaking news when you can just turn on notifications for your favorite creator’s feed for a summary and a hot take on it? Do I like that? No. But unfortunately, it’s the inevitable path we’re on.

Social media companies have finally mastered the rollout of new app features (hello Reels, Spaces, and whatever awaits our attention spans in 2022), and they’ve prioritized investments to keep big creators on their platforms. TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube are just a few that have introduced million-dollar creator funds.

On top of those threats, audiences have learned the art of the filter. They crave content that centers community and blocks out other noise. Without truly knowing the evolution of your audiences, you can quickly be subjected to the dreaded snooze, unfollow, and unsubscribe forever.

With more inbound traffic coming from social media platforms, it’s time to get serious about what’s stopping the scroll. If audience expansion and development tactics aren’t chief priorities in the new year — with detailed plans broken out for each platform — publications risk losing even more relevance.

Here are a few tips: Employ social listening to decipher what’s relevant to the audience you’ve built as interests shift over time. Teach team members in the newsroom diverse ways to communicate with their audiences and assist in bolstering their social presence. Design every touchpoint of your operation with social behaviors in mind, from communication methods down to the positioning of buttons on the site.

Creators and influencers have gotten this far for a reason. It’s time newsrooms played the game, too.

Candace Amos is director of audience and social media at The Daily Beast.

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