More young people are using TikTok for news – and they want it delivered in a creative and funny way
TikTok is an increasingly important platform for news consumption. According to the 2022 Digital News Report from the Reuters Institute, TikTok is the fastest-growing social network in terms of news consumption. Among people aged 18 to 24, 40% use TikTok and 15% use the platform for news.
Many European news publishers have built a successful presence on TikTok. For over a year now, The Fix has been regularly compiling a ranking of Europe’s biggest publishers on the platform.
Since our last ranking, a lot has changed. Notably, Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine started in late February and has been widely covered on TikTok, making the platform an important source of war news for millions of people
A week into the invasion, The New Yorker called Ukraine “the world’s first TikTok war.” As the Digital News report notes, “Ukrainians have been documenting their experience of the war, including leaving their homes as refugees, clocking up millions of views in the process.” In the meanwhile, American TikTokers were even invited to the White House to be briefed about the war.
Apart from the war, we’ve seen gradual evolution of TikTok as a news medium. Multiple new publishers joined TikTok; for many, the number of subscribers grew substantially as well.
With that in mind, let’s look at the list of Europe’s top 30 news publishers on TikTok – and the trends behind the ranking.
Daily Mail is still in the lead
In 2022, we’ve seen changes in the overall rating, but the two leaders haven’t been unseated. Like in October, Daily Mail is leading the list, with Ac2alityespanol being in second place. Spanish tech publication Xataka, while remaining in the top five, lost its previous third position to newcomer Brut. – a French digital news publication, which now has around 1,8 million subscribers. British-American publisher Teen Vogue also appeared in the top five.
Both Ac2alityespanol and The Daily Mail are showing great results in terms of engagement. The Spanish publisher not only retained its position as a leader in terms of the highest ratio of likes to views but showed amazing growth in likes. Digital publishers and broadcasters overall seem to do better with engagement rather than legacy media. If not counting The Daily Mail, digital media like Ac2alityespanol, Brut., Fanpage, and broadcasters like Tageschau, BBC, BBC Radio 1 are among the leaders in a number of the likes.
Half a year is enough for extreme growth?
As we came back to this rating in more than half a year, we can see that almost half of this list are new media accounts. This might mean two things. First, publishers are really starting to consider TikTok more as a necessary means of engaging with their audience. Second, it is possible to reach a quite big audience on TikTok in less than a year. Half of our list are new accounts and their numbers are impressive.
If we look at the growth of other accounts, we might notice that middle-tier and low-tier accounts are the ones that are showing the biggest growth. Konbini, Tatakii and BFM TV are showing more than 50% growth, while the top five accounts are hitting about 20% growth.
No Ukrainian accounts
While Russia’s war in Ukraine did lift up Tiktok, you would expect that more people would be interested in news about Ukraine from Ukrainian publishers. But they didn’t make it to our ranking.
In The Fix’s previous ranking last year, there were two Ukrainian accounts – 1+1 TV channel and Hromadske. Now, they’ve been outranked by other outlets. The only Russian account that was present before – Novaya Gazeta – showed huge growth. It grew by 182%, which makes it one of the fastest-growing accounts in the ranking, alongside BFM TV. However, it is worth noting that Novaya Gazeta suspended its publication in March, which makes it the first publisher, that suspended publication but still was able to increase following on TikTok.
Russian audiences are restricted from accessing independent news because of the continuous crackdown on press freedom. From the audience’s point of view, TikTok might be one of the few ways for some to get independent news from Russia, as the platform is not blocked. From the publisher’s perspective, TikTok became one of the alternatives to communicate with their audiences in case of block or further restriction.
TikTok is still an entertainment platform
Despite the surge of demand for war news, TikTok remains an entertainment platform, not a big place for straight hard news. Even in the ranking of news organisations, leading TikTok accounts are often infotainment, sports or music news – such as lifestyle publishers Teen Vogue or Italian Fanpage.
Yes, more young people are using TikTok for news – but they want it delivered in a creative and funny way.
This piece was originally published in The Fix and is re-published with permission.