How are news media optimizing their TikTok content?

Stemming the increased demand for entertainment during the Covid-19 pandemic, TikTok has accelerated to become one of the world’s leading social media platforms. According to We Are Social’s Digital Report 2022, TikTok is currently ranked 6th globally in terms of users and popularity.

In Vietnam, TikTok is the 4th most popular social media channel, after Facebook, Zalo, and YouTube (Vietnam social media popularity, 2022, Q&Me). Besides the high ranking, TikTok is growing at a much higher rate than other competitors, which is reflected in its rise in popularity between 2021 and 2022. Although Facebook still takes the first place, the number of people who adore the platform (Favorite) has dropped by 12%. YouTube’s popularity increased slightly by 4%, while TikTok saw a significant 9% increase.

Under TikTok’s rising fame, many brands have launched their official accounts to target users on this platform. News agencies are no exception in light of current events. Mainstream media in Vietnam have also adopted their TikTok accounts, such as Tuoi Tre, VnExpress, VTV24 News, etc.

How should news agency adapt their content and develop their TikTok account? Let’s find out some successful case studies from well-known media.

Developing Tiktok content – Examples from well-known media

#1. The Washington Post:


The Washington Post, founded in 1977, is one of the oldest newspapers with a large readership in Washington D.C. It also possesses a large international audience and is famous for its political reporting.

On TikTok, Washington Post doesn’t target the general public like they usually do. Instead, the media now heading for teenagers and young adults, TikTok’s main audience

Despite the change in the target audience, Washington Post’s content direction remains unchanged. They seek to deliver the latest update on economics, politics, and society. However, this poses a major question: How to attract user attention to these seemingly unexciting issues when their main purpose of using TikTok is for entertainment? To solve this problem, Washington Post has transformed its content into short videos that leave a strong impact on viewers. By adding the “fun and trendy elements” into their news narrative, Washington Post has successfully captured the young audience.


Most Americans expect inflation to get worse in the next year and are adjusting spending habits, according to a poll conducted by The Washington Post and George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government. #inflation #spendinghabits #gasprices

♬ original sound – John

Example: A video describing the change in American’s spending habits due to inflation.

The key factor that makes Washington Post’s TikTok stand out is their story-telling. They’ve transformed the usual unexciting news coverage into hilarious and lively videos with the aid of unique story-telling, acting techniques, and other visual elements.

Washington Post’s example demonstrates that mainstream media can adjust their target audience accordingly to each platform. In Vietnam, many organizations, including media, are using the omnichannel approach as part of their communication strategy. And when they set their foot on TikTok, which is the youth’s playground, these mainstream media can shift their focus completely on Gen Z with creative and entertaining content. Therefore, the advice is, before setting up your presence on TikTok, or any emerging social media platform, the organization needs to understand its user database to map out an appropriate content strategy.


#2. The Telegraph:


The Telegraph is a national daily newspaper founded in 1855 in England. Similar to Washington Post, Telegraph has a reputation for high-quality journalism, featuring the latest news, business, sport, comment, lifestyle, and cultural insights (i.e. the current Ukraine-Russia war).

Heading for quite similar content direction, but how Telegraph conveys their message is different from Washington Post. If you don’t want to give up your professional persona and the broader range of target audience, then Telegraph’s method is worth learning from. Their TikTok short news report still displays a professional journalism vibe with reporters wearing suits while covering brief explanations of ongoing world issues. Without adding entertaining factors, Telegraph still captures the short attention span of TikTok users by focusing on generating concise and comprehensive 1-minute news reports.

This approach is suitable for media who want to maintain a unified professional image across all platforms. However, to avoid losing the audience’s interest, TikTok news video should have expressive and captivating voice modulation. In addition, organizations can add special animation or effects to brighten up the video.


Three reasons why #borisjohnson is in so much #political trouble #ukpolitics #politicstiktok #journalism #uk #news #politics

♬ Background Music Documentary Short – GalimovIL

 Example: A short video explaining why UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, was facing trouble


#3. BBC:

BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), founded in 1922 in London, is the national broadcaster of the United Kingdom. This is the oldest and largest national broadcasting company in the world in terms of employees, with news reporting provided in many languages.

For TikTok, BBC split their content into two accounts: (1) @bbc featuring entertaining content, and (2) @bbcnews featuring news reporting. However, these two accounts share one similarity –they both repost existing content extracted from BBC’s TV shows.

@bbc with entertaining content

@bbcnews with news content

Unlike Washington Post or Telegraph, BBC does not generate original content for TikTok, but their videos are snippets from TV shows or newscast that was aired previously. This method helps BBC save time and effort, but sets higher content requirements.  Traditional TV news will be much less attractive than other vivid content on TikTok. Visibly, the number of followers on @bbcnews is 20 times lower than @bbc at the time this article was conducted. The enjoyable nature of TV shows snippets published on @bbc is the hook to attract viewers’ attention. From BBC’s example, we can see that this approach works better on content that suits the likings of TikTok users – those who came to this platform to find entertainment.

Another disadvantage that this method entails is that TikTok video will be resized from horizontal frame to vertical frame. During the process, it is inevitable that some frames will be out of balance. This disproportion will make viewers irritate.

In Vietnam, re-uploading daily newscasts is most commonly used by local media due to its convenience. This helps the media maintains their active status and professionalism on this channel. Through observation, these news snippets still have a certain amount of viewers because news is always informative. However, these mainstream media should keep in mind how they present the news and select interesting coverage to ensure that it can compete with other content on TikTok.


#4. The Daily Mail:

Finally, we’ll come to The Daily Mail. This is a tabloid newspaper founded in 1896 in England and has been criticized many times for publishing sensationalist inaccurate news.


With a focus on entertainment, The Daily Mail’s Tiktok features showbiz and celebrity updates, such as the dramatic trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard); and user-generated content (UGC).


Why can’t she just relax in one of the four beds I bought for her?!! 🎥: ViralHog#dailymail #lol #cute #funny #haha #cat #cats #aww

♬ Sneaky Cat(962379) – Lesya nZ

 Example: Silly cat video (totally unrelated to news)

This type of content, especially UGC content, offers no unique value to the audience or adds credibility to the media, but it is very effective in gaining views and followers. As a matter of a fact, the number of followers on The Daily Mail’s TikTok is the highest among the media mentioned in this article. Later on, The Daily Mail can utilize their pool of followers to collect ad revenue.


Despite using the same TikTok platforms, the mentioned media have different content strategies. Some are willing to change their way to satisfy the target audience, while some insist on standing their ground. There’s no one-size-fits-all framework. Therefore, news media need to clearly define their goals to come up with an appropriate TikTok content strategy that brings long-term benefits.

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