The Wall Street Journal’s organic TikTok attracts Gen Z

It feels as if 2022 has been a year of reporting that this and that company are making more of an effort to target Gen Z consumers. The latest hot name in this list? The Wall Street Journal. With its recently introduced TikTok channel, The Wall Street Journal has joined a number of other legacy publishers working to reach Gen Z and young millennial audiences on the platform, where many of these consumers are getting their news.

Having launched just under three months ago, its TikTok account has amassed 37,000 followers and 600,000 likes. It’s focused on three core content pillars: careers, personal finance and tech. Some videos also cover trending news stories, like the recent changes at 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 are using TikTok for news. This statistic is most probably higher among 18 to 25 year olds. About half of the world’s top newsrooms are now regularly posting 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 all recently expanded their efforts on the platform, as well.

At The Wall Street Journal, the TikTok channel is managed by the publisher’s visual storytelling team, which falls under its broader social team. The team collaborates regularly with different departments across the newsroom, such as the video and live journalism teams. The New Ventures team, which was created in the spring of 2021 to expand audio and video initiatives across Dow Jones, is also working with the Journal’s TikTok team. 

“We need to introduce The Wall Street Journal brand to audiences that might not otherwise engage with it,” said Ann McGowan, senior vice president of New Ventures. “If we’re only reporting in text, we miss that opportunity.”

Adam Puchalsky, global head of content at GroupM’s Wavemaker agency, agreed with that logic: “It would be a missed opportunity to not distribute their programming on TikTok because that is where people go for news, where they consume entertainment,” Puchalsky said.

The Wall Street Journal does not have a revenue share deal with TikTok and has not yet worked with advertisers on the platform. “Right now we are 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. This organic and authentic approach is a great move on behalf of Wall Street as they are legitimising their name from the beginning. 

TikTok also gives the Journal’s journalists another platform for their reporting. For instance, personal finance reporter Julia Carpenter has discussed salary negotiations on TikTok, said Julia Munslow, The Wall Street Journal’s senior platform editor. Graphics reporter Emma Brown is featured in a video discussing the maps she created for a Journal story on the World Cup. During the midterm elections last month, the Journal’s TikTok team worked with about a half dozen reporters from the Washington, D.C. bureau to produce videos for the app, said Patrick Hedlund, the Journal’s off-platform editor. Even journalists who prefer not to be on camera but are avid TikTok users flag trends they’re seeing on the platform. Additionally, editors flag stories they think will resonate with a TikTok audience. 

“I have seen [the Journal] posting more about current events as well, which I think is a smart move to hop on current cultural moments and trends to increase followership 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 complicated the topic or concept is, Munslow said. Videos are posted on the platform about twice a day on weekdays and once a day on weekends. They are shot from the publisher’s New York City office (“When we’re carrying a ring light around, people know what we’re going to do,” Munslow joked.), from home or onsite.

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