Feb 8, 2022 - Technology

News outlets ride TikTok engagement wave

Data: Axios research; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios
Data: Axios research; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

A handful of news media companies now have more than 1 million followers on TikTok, a testament to how much the viral video platform has become a central place for Gen-Zers to get news.

Why it matters: Even though TikTok has done little to court news publishers or make the platform lucrative for them, the opportunity for brand awareness is massive.

Driving the news: ABC News has surpassed 1 million followers for its main TikTok account, and is looking to now build up big followings for its shows, like Good Morning America — which currently has more than 770,00 followers on TikTok — and The View.

  • The network launched its main TikTok account around a year ago, and quickly realized that hard news worked better than some of their attempts to follow goofy trends, said Evan McMurry, senior manager of social media.
  • "We were surprised overall by the response to straightforward news that we saw on TikTok," McMurry said. Some of the content that performs best are clips from White House, Pentagon or COVID official news briefings, he said.

Be smart: Even though the platform doesn’t lend itself to hard news, news outlets can often win young audiences with news content that overlaps with the culture.

  • Good Morning America's TikTok account tries to find that balance by posting both hard news interviews and lighthearted behind-the-scenes moments from the show, said managing editor of social media Caterina Andreano.
  • ABC News' most-viewed TikTok video, with 9.9 million views, is President Biden discussing a potential federal vaccine mandate. Good Morning America's most-viewed video, with over 34.1 million views, was of Lil Nas X doing a costume change at the Met Gala, per Andreano.

Yes, but: Massive followings for publishers like ESPN and Daily Mail show that while there's a home for news on TikTok, viral cultural moments are what tend to shine the most on TIkTok.

The big picture: TikTok's explosive growth has been a boon to publishers that are investing in the platform.

  • "Our surge on TikTok reminds me of the 2015 big days of Facebook," said McMurry. "That was the last time we saw a growth wave comparable to this."

Editor’s note: This post has been update reflect the correct viewership totals for the Biden and Lil Nas X TikTok videos.

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