Sunday 22 September 2019

Irish social queen heading up CNN's coverage: How we connect with millennials

Samantha Barry from Cork, head of social media for CNN
Samantha Barry from Cork, head of social media for CNN

Jane O'Faherty

POSTING pep-talks from CNN anchors on Snapchat, inviting renowned Instagram users backstage and snapchatting from the Los Vegas Democratic debates were ways CNN reached out to new audiences on social media, according to CNN’s Samantha Barry.

The Head of Social for the iconic news organisation said embracing new ways of storytelling through social media had shown great results in attracting millennials to the news cycle.

Speaking at Web Summit, the Cork native said the two-hour debate between Democratic candidates for the Presidential election was Facebook’s number one trend over two days.

She credited this to using platforms like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook in more creative ways.

“We shot vertical video of Wolf Blitzer as he walked out of the debate, so we could use that as an update for the CNN Snapchat audience,” she said.

Ms Barry also explained how she recruited Vanity Fair photographers to take ‘motion photos’ of Presidential candidates on Instagram, which sparked huge interest on the photo-sharing site.

“This was a great part of where politics and photography and social and CNN came together,” she said.

“Instagram is not necessarily a place where politics trends,” she continued.

“The Democratic debate trended on Instagram, and that was partly because of the work we did on the motion portraits.”

“They went on, but this is where they were going to get the most impact with this visual storytelling,” she added.

Ms Barry also detailed how CNN got famous social media users to get involved.

“We gave exclusive access to some prominent Instagrammers in the Las Vegas and Los Angeles area, and we invited them backstage to see CNN’s debate setup,” she said.

“We let them tell the story to their Instagram followers of what we were doing.”

She also revealed that CNN was beginning to film in virtual reality in a bid to engage with new technology and younger audiences.

“We don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole,” she said. “We are continuously trying to innovate in how we tell our stories.”

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