How to cover an event as a journalist via Snapchat
As most digital journalists know, Snapchat is a vast and in some ways underutilised tool. Snapchat claims to have over 8 billion users per day – an eye watering number compared to the 2 billion they had only last May.
Snapchat has created the Discover channel on their app. These are the snapchats that show up automatically on everyone’s phones. The channel is only open to partners of snapchat, meaning you have to be invited by Snapchat to join.
Discover channel includes big names that are trying to tap into the young audience hooked on the app. The Daily Mail in particular has pioneered the way they use this medium by creating their own distinct voice.
Another big newspaper brand that has thrown their weight behind Snapchat is the Wall Street Journal. This was an exciting step for the social media app because the WSJ is the first broadsheet newspaper to look into the potential of Snapchat and reach a more serious readership.
Currently, the Wall Street Journal have 5 people dedicated to developing Snapchat stories on a daily basis.
However, Snapchat discover is not an option for most newsrooms, firstly because it is extremely competitive to get a channel and secondly hiring up-to 5 new staff members is an expense that most newspapers cannot afford.
But if you want to brand yourself as an innovator in the newsroom you should consider suggesting how Snapchat stories might be used. Stories is the part of the app where anyone can create an account and use it. This could help reach a younger readership, something desperately needed by newspapers with an ever aging audience. If the newspaper creates a Snapchat account, each journalist can produce short Snapchats to support the stories they are writing.
Interhacktives has created a simple guide below on how to report on an event via Snapchat.
Your first snap is your headline, make it simple and clear what this Snapchat story will cover.
It’s a good idea to have a rough plan. For example, if you’re covering a football match, you might want to capture the atmosphere before, the walk to the stadium, the stadium and then subsequent news, eg goals, red cards, half time and full time.
Keep the screen vertical – jumping from horizontal to vertical ruins the experience for your audience.
Be ready to change the angle of the story if a bigger story emerges. However, remember Snapchat works chronologically so once you have added an extra snap it will be on the timeline.
For example with the football example above, at the Birmingham City Vs QPR match I noticed on the journey to the stadium there was an unusually strong police presence. The police were jumpy and insisted on escorting the away fans. This worked nicely into my story as I wanted to include the journey to the stadium. When the police became more violent, it was easier to flag it up because I had already mentioned it in my Snapchat story.
So think about the chronology of your snaps, they are important.
Once one incident is over – in this case, the fight between the fans and police, be sure to explain that the incident is over and that you are returning to the initial main story. Also make sure you round off your overall snapchat story, try linking it to the website or newspaper the story will be published.
Snapchat is such a new platform that there is of course no wrong or right way, so share your tips on successes and failures of using Snapchat in the comments section.