Handle this, media houses!

I recently came across a new Instagram handle started by CNN.

Now, I merely hover on Instagram – I hardly use the platform. I’m not a visual-first person, I’m decidedly more words-first. But I’m fully aware of Instagram’s power globally, particularly to reach younger audiences.

The new handle is called CNN Climate.

In 2018, CNN launched a series called “Why I Vote” and found that climate change and global warming were the two top policy issues of younger voters. So, to reach out to that segment with one of the topic that was important to them, this handle, on Instagram, makes perfect sense.

Such specific theme-based handles are very different from broad social handles media houses usually launch and run. Most extension-handles are very predictable ‘beats’ (journalistic beats) – sports, fashion, movies, architecture, politics, country-based handles etc.

But I really like the idea of theme-based (more so, if they are topical) handles for social media.

Another great example of theme-based handle is NYT’s Parenting handle on Instagram. Very focused, relevant content.

The Hindu has an interesting broadly-thematic handle called The Hindu Explains, on Twitter, where they take one topic and explain it deeply.

I believe there is a lot more potential on this line of thought. Why not handles by media houses around specific individuals?

If people like Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have a lot of followers already, and are in the news almost everyday, imagine The Times of India Group having dedicated handles for them, on say Instagram or Twitter, curating news and views about them!

Or, even themes that affect local areas could be a great idea. Imagine a Delhi Air Quality handle curated by a media house like Hindustan Times. Or, Bangalore Air Quality, by Deccan Herald, on Instagram.

The point of all these handles on social media is that they offer a direct connection to people for whom these topics are most interesting, specifically. That’s almost like building an audience for one particular column in the newspaper!!

If the handle is not merely sharing links, and actually has a voice and opines with a point of view, that’s almost/actually editorializing these topics… not on the print newspaper, but on social media, to an audience segment that doesn’t even consider buying newspapers necessary. That means, these handles cannot be handed over to juniors or interns – they need people who can argue, think and articulate.

That’s one way to win back audiences. Yes, they don’t pay, but there should be other ways of monetizing such focused audiences, however, beyond thinking only about paying-for-news customers.

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