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August 14, 2018updated 12 Dec 2022 9:17am

‘Social first’ Pink News wants to ‘make waves’ as it becomes first LGBT publisher on Snapchat

By Charlotte Tobitt

Pink News is still aiming to “change publishing” 13 years after first launching, the website’s head of content has said, as it leads the way on Snapchat and wins funding to build a unique advocacy platform.

The website became the first LGBT publisher globally on Snapchat Discover last month after decided to invest in the platform, with the aim of tapping into a younger readership demographic.

Other UK publishers already targeting Snapchat’s 10m daily users include the Sun, the Telegraph, the Daily Mail, Sky News, Buzzfeed, the Economist, Vice, Mashable and Vogue.

Pink News also won funding from Google’s Digital News Innovation Fund in June and will receive €299,338 (£266,665) to develop and launch an advocacy platform in early 2019.

The platform will connect readers to causes, activists and charities so they can engage further with the issues they read about, going back to Pink News’s roots of lobbying for LGBT+ issues.

Ellen Stewart, head of content and Snapchat launch editor at Pink News, told Press Gazette: “We really want to change publishing and we want to be making waves and being the first to do ‘X’, ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ so we think now is a really exciting time for us.”

Pink News’s Snapchat strategy began by publishing some original material along with relevant news and features from the website twice a week.

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It aims to become a daily publisher by the end of September after experimenting with different length editions and types of content.

Stewart, who joined Pink News in January after working in audience development and social media at the Evening Standard, and previously the Independent and Metro, said Snapchat has already helped the website reach younger readers.

The website’s core audience is aged 24 to 35, but on Snapchat its top demographic is the 18 to 24 group, followed by 13 to 17-year-olds.

Stewart said: “Although there has been LGBT content from other publishers in the past, there hasn’t been an LGBT publisher on Snapchat ever so we’re the first globally to be on the platform and I just felt like we’re serving a need that was probably there.

“Our aim on Snapchat is to entertain and also educate people. The core users on Snapchat are between 13 and 24 years old and that’s the generation who are questioning sexuality and gender and things like that.

“So I think it’s really important that people at a young age are getting a diverse cross-section of content and I do think there was definitely a voice missing on Snapchat Discover that we’re hopefully trying to fill.”

Stewart said it was essential to diversify the site’s strategy after Facebook’s news feed algorithm changed in January to favour posts by individuals over those from publishers.

“I started working in social media when you could just post something on Facebook and the traffic was just there… it always felt like that wasn’t going to be sustainable – even the social media editors [said] we need to diversify where our traffic is coming from because it never felt like it was a stable strategy,” she said.

“Then I think it went to show how quickly the algorithm changed and how quickly that impacted publishers. If you aren’t thinking about being on places like ‘Snap’ or you aren’t thinking about how you can use your Instagram following or SEO as well then you really need to be doing that now.”

Stewart said Pink News had taken a hit when the Facebook algorithm changed because it was such a “social first” platform, but that it had made up losses with growth through search engine optimisation, or SEO, thanks to the site having good authority on Google.

Still, Snapchat “came at the right time”, she added.

The platform has also enabled Pink News to reach more people outside the UK, which it hopes will convert new readers to the website.

The team is hiring two Snapchat producers and two designers as part of investment in the project.

Pink News is also hoping to lead the way in diversity, as it adds a new freelances to its team from areas it was “lacking” before, Stewart said, including Colombia and Ireland.

“Having different voices, different parts of the LGBT+ spectrum on our platform is where we’re aiming to be,” she added.

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