GenZ news startup Ac2ality is taking over European TikTok
Plus: A reading list on the TikTok ban and social media jobs
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Q&A: How Ac2ality became the second-biggest European news publisher on TikTok
For this issue of the Mapping Journalism newsletter, I spoke with Daniela McArena. She co-founded Ac2ality, one of the most interesting TikTok native news startups.
Ac2ality was launched in Spain in the Spring of 2020 by McArena with co-founders Gabriela Campbell, Paula Muñoz, and María Murillo right after the first COVID-19 lockdown in Spain. Today, it produces an average of five videos daily for a Spanish-speaking audience.
Ac2ality has become the second biggest European news publisher on TikTok, with 4.2 million followers in just a couple of years. The first in the ranking is the Daily Mail, with 4.4 – watch your back, Brits 😏.
FZ: How would you describe your TikTok account in one sentence to someone who never saw it?
DM: We translate the newspapers – we explain the news in less than a minute in an easy, visual, and straightforward way.
FZ: What is your standard workflow to create content for TikTok?
DM: A journalist researches the news story and writes the script – the length is around 190 words, the equivalent of a one-minute video. The script is then sent to a presenter who shoots and edits the video. Depending on the video, the process can last between one and three hours.
FZ: How would you describe your mix of content? Do you have recurrent formats?
DM: We have three different formats:
5 Cosas De Hoy (lit: 5 things about today): a 30-second brief of the five most important news of the day;
Explicamelo Facil: one-minute explainers on a single news story in one minute;
Trends: we start with a popular video or trending audio to create a piece of content that is related to the news.
FZ: How many people work on your TikTok account?
DM: The team comprises four full-time members: one journalist and three presenters/videomakers.
FZ: What is Ac2ality's business model?
DM: We work with brands to publish branded content – one of our biggest clients is Disney+. We also produce white-label content for other companies social media accounts.
FZ: What metrics do you look at to analyze your content performance and why?
DM: We care about engagement the most because everything else depends on engagement. The more engagement you have, the more views you will get and, consequently, more comments, likes, and followers. But video views are the most important metric for our clients – brands want as many views as possible.
FZ: What do you find challenging about TikTok?
DM: It doesn’t matter how big you are on the platform – you can find huge accounts with a very low level of engagement. That’s a tricky part of the app. The main distribution channel is the For You page, which can feature any account based on what TikTok thinks you might find interesting. This means you can reach people who don’t follow you, but so can anyone else, and winning that competition can be very difficult. But it’s fundamental to grow.
FZ: What is your goal on TikTok?
DM: To create and ride a wave of new journalism. The short video format is here to stay. Young people (and not so young anymore) consume news on social media – more than anywhere else. If traditional news media outlets don’t focus more on that, some other small players will win over younger audiences.
FZ: What is the TikTok-specific project you are most proud of?
DM: Together with TikTok, we created the hashtag #EmprendedorZ. The idea was that people had to post a one-minute video explaining an idea or a business project. The 5 winners won 10,000 euros to start their project. People posted thousands of videos and amazing ideas.
FZ: Do you use any particular tools for your work on TikTok? Which one would you recommend?
DM: Videoleap and TikTok. TikTok is an amazing app to edit.
FZ: What project or experiment would you love to do on TikTok?
DM: One-minute interviews with famous people. The first I would like to do is with Lola Lolita, the most famous TikToker in Spain.
FZ: One thing you have learned while working on TikTok?
DM: Shadowban exists. There are days or weeks when your content is not shown to people, and your views are ridiculously low. It’s like you get punished because you probably did something TikTok didn’t like. It is just part of the game; you need to know how to play it.
FZ: One thing you would like to change on TikTok?
DM: Monetization. It should be better, like on Youtube. We are a company, so we don’t get access to monetization. However, many individual creators with access to monetization have decided not to join the program because TikTok pay-per-view is very low, and creators complained they saw their views getting worse after getting into the monetization program.
FZ: What would you do differently if you started your account today?
DM: Nothing. You learn by doing.
FZ: Which three accounts should I check out on TikTok?
DM: El Mundo, Núria Marín, and La Wikly.
Daniel Levitt kindly put together this list of social-media-related jobs. To see hundreds more listings, subscribe to his newsletter: Inside the Newsroom.
• Mirror and Express Online, Sport Social Video Journalist (Remote)
• BBC, Lead SEO Manager in New York
• Axel Springer, Social Media Editor in Berlin
• Mediahuis, Social Media Editor in Brussels
• Bauer Media, Social Media Executive in Bristol (hybrid)
• Delis, Social Media Editor in London
One question for you
I often receive messages from people who want to speak about journalism on social platforms, especially about how to reach younger audiences. In the past weeks, I had a few coffees with folks from the industry and joined some uni classes as a guest speaker. So, I was thinking, shall I set up something to make this easier?
Things to read
In the past weeks, there’s been more talking about TikTok bans in the US and the EU. So here’s a list of good reads to get you up to speed:
📌 TikTok’s master plan to win over Washington [Vox]
📌 What the US can learn from India’s TikTok ban [SCMP]
📌 What’s happening in the colleges banning TikTok [Bloomberg]
📌 EU crackdown on Big Tech omitted TikTok — that’s set to change [CNBC]
📌 Should marketers think twice about TikTok? [Digiday]
That’s all for this issue. If you liked it, please share it on social or forward it to your colleagues and friends.