07 Jun 2023

In conversation with Claire Hubble

MHP’s James Rollinson hosted a Q&A with Claire Hubble, Head of Social Media at The Telegraph. Here’s what she had to say on the evolving role of social media in breaking, reporting, and consuming news.

Josh Powell

On the relationship between social and the newsroom:

We are increasingly the first to see new trends or content that has gone viral and Senior Editors are increasingly turning to their us for advice or research. The way consumers search for things like holiday destinations or restaurant recommendations is changing, with increasing numbers using TikTok or other social platforms rather than Google. The newsroom is increasingly aware of this and so social is having more of an impact on reporting.

On how different channels form a part of The Telegraph’s social strategy:

As a legacy brand, it’s important for The Telegraph to have a presence on all channels.

TikTok has created an entirely new way of presenting and consuming news. We saw this with the war in Ukraine, where for the first time we were seeing first-person perspectives of war, people fleeing the country and even those in the trenches. The Washington Post and New York Times are doing particularly well at presenting their news in a TikTok native manner.

Twitter has undergone significant changes over the past year, with many journalists losing their “blue tick” status that serves as verification of identity. It’s important for The Telegraph to maintain a presence on platforms like Twitter as they feel a responsibility to ensure users can access verified news sources. With the current spread of misinformation, the importance of having a Twitter presence has only been amplified for us.

Reddit has become a key part of The Telegraph’s social strategy, both for breaking news and for building trust between consumers and journalists. One of the key causes of news avoidance is distrust for journalists and publications and the industry needs to make news more accessible. Reddit’s popular “Ask Me Anything (AMA)” threads have enabled users to ask journalists questions and receive responses in real-time, which has aided in building trust across news desks. 

On the decline of digital-first news sites:

Digital-first publications like Buzzfeed and Vice relied predominantly on social traffic. News publishers have reported a significant drop in link-referral traffic in the past two years so brands like these will be disproportionately affected by it. It makes a strong case for diversifying across channels and platforms. If brands only have a presence on one or a limited number of social channels there’s a real risk. Any change in the algorithm or a shift in consumer behaviour can then have a major impact on visibility.

On how brands and PRs can engage with the social team:

The Telegraph’s social team is not directly involved in commissioning stories, but social can play a role in increasing interest. It’s worth flagging to editors if the release topic is popular on social media or if there is a relevant hashtag that the piece feeds into as it shows organic growth potential. Similarly, if the spokesperson or brand you’re pitching to has a large social following note that they are willing to engage with or reshare any content posted. Pitches that demonstrate an awareness of how the story fits into social media trends stand out and are more likely to be picked up.

On what the future looks like for social media:

2023 is going to be the most exciting year for social media to date as some of the large platforms are experiencing a decline. Twitter is witnessing a decline in interest and loyalty amongst its user base following the takeover by Elon Musk and subsequent changes to user experience. Consumers have proven they’re open to trying new apps – the rise of BeReal over 2022 was a good proof point for that, though it has struggled to carry its momentum into this year. It’s worth keeping a close eye on Barcelona and Blue Sky – two relatively new platforms that are showing potential to compete with Twitter.

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