Entertaining videos, GIFs and illustrations on various social media platforms – to reach millennials, in 2016 the Argentinean "La Nación" launched "Muy Liebre" and received the World Digital Media Award in the category "Best New Product".
Storied Argentinian news media company La Nación set up Muy Liebre, a dedicated product and team, to reach millennials aged 17 to 25. It's not unusual today for "traditional" news media to set up completely separate digital or mobile businesses or teams to drive targeted, original content and revenue. In other words, cut the umbilical cord and let digital natives do their thing.
That was sort of thinking at La Nación when the storied Argentinian news media company established Muy Liebre, a dedicated product and team to connect with millennials on social media. This latest innovation is nothing really new for La Nación: Despite a history dating back to the late 1800s and a strong reputation as a high-quality tradition newspaper, La Nación has always embraced innovation – be it setting up a successful data journalism team or transforming its entire editorial operation as part of its "Nueva Redacción" project.
With Muy Liebre, the legacy publisher is now reaching out to a particular segment of millennials – an endeavour that has also given the publisher the opportunity to experiment with native advertising.
A standalone product
Although Muy Liebre is a La Nación product, it's intentionally not associated with the brand. "La Nacion has to do strong and permanent efforts to connect, attract and retain audiences under 35 and under 30, and our social media strategy focuses on that demographic," indicated La Nación's digital content manager, Ernesto Martelli.
"But we also think that it is very difficult for a news media company that produces quality journalism, deep analysis, scoops and investigative reports to have a strong impact on content consumers that are under 25. So, we approach Muy Liebre as a free and separate media unit."
Targeting millennials on social platforms
Targeting millennials aged 17 to 25, the aim of the project is to build a loyal following on Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The content, an entertaining mix of short videos, animated GIFs, and illustrations, is tailored to the characteristics of each platform and optimised for mobile consumption.
With millennials comfortable consuming content on social Media and on mobile, the team decided to meet them where they are, instead of centralising content on a website. Publishing kicked off in the final days of March 2016 on Snapchat. Now, about 80 Snapchat stories are produced each month.
"We knew there weren't any other newspapers or media companies in Argentina producing content for Snapchat. So that was our first step. After that, we added more social networks. Today, Facebook is our main channel, and we upload a lot of content like Snapchat stories, for example, or curated pieces and short articles, with a focus on multimedia," project leader Ariel Tiferes said.
A team of 10 is involved in Muy Liebre; two of La Nación's staff are in charge of the project work closely with the eight contributors tasked with producing content.
The pieced are deliberately kept short, visual, and designed to entertain. Some user-generated content is pulled from other sources and published on Muy Liebre's social channels, but the team also produces a variety of original formats. For example, "Videoclub" is a Snapchat story series published every two weeks in which a tributor recommends and analysed YouTube channels or particular videos. Another Snapchat story called Adultips features a contributor giving viewers tongue-in-cheek advice on how to be a proper adult.
Figuring out which formats work best on social media involved lots of experimentation. "We had to find out how long a story needs to be, and when the best time is to publish. We learn a lot, and I think La Nación can take advantage of these kind of lessens," Tiferes said. “Deciding what to produce is very personal,” adds Agustín Maggiotti, content contributor of Muy Liebre: “We have a great deal of freedom regarding the content. La Nacion's team is always there to help or give their input, but we work in quit an independent manner, and, in my opinion, that's one of the pillars of success of the platform.”
Building a following on social media
In less than a year, Muy Liebre gained more than 16,000 followers on Twitter (today: 31,300) and nearly 24,000 on Instagram (today: 76,000), and its Facebook page was liked more than 116,000 times (today: 166,962 times).
The most popular Snapchat story was viewed around 4,000 times. In the meantime, there will be a lot more viewers. " Snapchat is only just starting out in Argentina,” said Tiferes in 2016. It's not like it is in the US or Europe, for example. Instagram is a lot more popular, so we get more views for our Instagram stories." The team advertised on Facebook and Instagram, but the growth on Twitter and Snapchat was all organic.
A few of the contributors who are part of the team were already well known in the social media sphere, which also helped to boost the number of followers.
Digital Media Awards 2017 will be presented at the DCX
For this innovative initiative La nacion received the World Digital Media Award in the category "Best New Product". "We couldn't believe that we won, to tell you the truth, because the project is so new and it's a side product for us. But we are very, very happy," said Ariel Tiferes.
WAN-IFRA's Digital Media Awards are the most prestigious recognition of best-practice innovation in digital publishing worldwide. The awards are presented in several regions around the world during the year. Each year, all regional winners are subsequently entered into competition for the annual World Digital Media Awards, which this year will be presented at WAN-IFRA's DCX Digital Content Expo in Berlin an 10 October 2017 (award ceremony will beginn at 3,30 p.m. at the conference stage). The winners are drawn from WAN-IFRA regional digital media awards in Europe, Asia and Latin America and for the first time from India, Middle East and Africa.
The World Digital Media Awards are always an inspiring showcase of what the industry can do. Publishers can glean best practice from all corners of the globe.
This article is an updated excerpt of the WAN-IFRA report “Best Practice in Digital Media” with more Profiles of the 2016 World Digital Media Awards winners: http://www.wan-ifra.org/reports/2016/12/30/best-practice-in-digital-media