With its recently introduced TikTok channel, The Wall Street Journal joins many other legacy publishers working to reach Gen Z and younger millennial audiences on the platform, where many of its consumers have their news.
The Wall Street Journal launched its TikTok channel on October 3, and since then the channel has grown to over 37,000 followers and 600,000 likes. It focuses on three main pillars of content: careers, personal finance and technology. Some videos also cover trending news stories, such as recent changes on Twitter and Taylor Swift’s concert ticket sales.
In a survey published last week, the Reuters Institute and University of Oxford revealed that 25% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 use TikTok for news. About half of the world’s top newsrooms regularly post on TikTok, according to the report. The Washington Post’s popular TikTok channel has 1.5 million followers. Vox, Vice, BuzzFeed, The Los Angeles Times and Condé Nast have also recently expanded their efforts on the platform.
At The Wall Street Journal, the TikTok channel is managed by the publisher’s visual storytelling team, which is part of its broader social team. The team often collaborates with different departments throughout the newsroom, such as the video and live journalism teams. The New Ventures team, created in the spring of 2021 to expand Dow Jones’ audio and video initiatives, also works with the Journal’s TikTok team.
“We need to introduce The Wall Street Journal brand to an audience that might not otherwise associate with it,” said Ann McGowan, svp of New Ventures. “If we were only reporting on text, we would have missed that opportunity.”
Adam Puchalsky, global head of content at GroupM’s Wavemaker agency, agrees with that logic: “It’s a missed opportunity not to distribute their programs on TikTok because that’s where people are. go for news, where they eat entertainment,” Puchalsky said.
The Wall Street Journal has no deal with TikTok’s revenue share and has never worked with advertisers on the platform. “Right now we’re just working on the content, and getting the right content out there and engaging with the audience and seeing how things go from there,” McGowan said.
Puchalsky said he sees many opportunities for Wavemaker’s advertiser clients to work with the Journal. “As long as it’s true to the platform … and not just a plug and play in a different format,” Puchalsky said.
GroupM’s MMI agency clients in sectors such as financial services, recruiting and employer branding that previously worked with the Journal “were looking for the right partners to work with TikTok,” Dana Busick, MMI group director, said in an email. “The opportunity for them to work with [publisher] on this platform is very attractive. I also think that players like WSJ and other big publications are opening the door for many other brands to start thinking about playing in this space,” he added.
TikTok also gives the Journal’s journalists another platform for their reporting. For example, personal finance reporter Julia Carpenter discussed TikTok’s salary negotiations, Munslow said. Graphic journalist Emma Brown is featured in a video discussing the maps she created for a Journal story on the World Cup. During last month’s midterm elections, the Journal’s TikTok team worked with about a half-dozen reporters from the Washington, D.C. bureau to create videos for the app, said Patrick Hedlund, the off-platform editor at Journal. Even journalists who prefer not to be on camera but are enthusiastic users of TikTok who flag the trends they see on the platform. In addition, editors flag stories that they think will resonate with a TikTok audience.
“I saw [the Journal] Post more about current events as well, which I think is a smart move to jump on current cultural moments and trends to increase following and engagement,” Busick said.
The Journal’s turnaround time to publish a TikTok video ranges from within an hour to a week, depending on how complex the topic or concept is, Munslow said. Videos are posted on the plate about twice a day on weekdays and once a day on weekends. They were shot from the publisher’s office in New York City (“When we brought ring lights around, people knew what we were going to do,” Munslow joked.), from home or onsite.
Many TikTok videos are associated with specific Journal articles and include a screenshot of the story. The Journal’s TikTok team also wants to create more videos from the publisher’s live events, where some of the team members interview speakers and guests. Content from The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference drew more than 1.5 million video views, and the WSJ Magazine Innovators event brought in more than 1.2 million video views, Munslow said. .
The Journal’s TikTok team also wants to engage in the comments sections of their videos, by answering questions using TikTok videos to encourage engagement, Munslow said. They will also experiment with more covered areas in the future. “While we want to deliver what people expect from us and our journalism and our core coverage of business and finance, we also see this as a great opportunity to expose people to things they might not can immediately interact with The Wall Street Journal,” Hedlund said, such as sports and lifestyle.
“Trends and topics of conversation come and go quickly on the app, more so than on other social media platforms,” Busick said. “Publishers must be prepared to change their strategy and plans for content quickly and frequently.”