The advent of social media was quickly identified by legacy publications as another avenue to expand the reach of their content. The likes of Hindustan Times and NDTV already had a following from print and broadcast which smoothly transitioned to social media platforms; bestowing upon them followers in the millions. However, the internet also saw the rise of new forms of publications, those which dwelled only as websites and social media pages; The Quint is one such story of success.
Founded in 2015, first as a Facebook page and then as a full-fledged website, The Quint is a mobile-first digital news platform which targets millennials: the age group which witnessed the emergence of the internet and social media and grew up with it. Young and looking to shake things up, Quint’s social media head, Medha Chakrabartty, is synonymous with the platform. A Social India reached out to her for an Email interview to discuss why The Quint thrives on social media, how important the platforms are for the publication and more.
Chakrabartty has been a part of the social media team for over three years now and recently took over as the head. She expresses how content she has been with her time at the publication as she exclaims: “It has been super exciting every step of the way!” As the one who oversees all social media and related functions, Chakrabartty realises just how essential it is for her to carry out her role and make sure everything is in place because of how crucial the online world is for The Quint.
“For a digital news organisation, it is extremely important for our social media channels to remain in sync with The Quint’s ethos, the kind of stories we strive to narrate, and the quality of journalism we strive to maintain,” she says. Another very important consideration is that the nature of the content shared is not offensive in any way. “Given the hydra-headed nature of the platforms at our disposal, it is super important to keep digital hygiene and editorial sensitisation in mind before posting anything on our channels.”
Today, the news platform boasts of 6.2 million Facebook likes and 300,000 followers on Twitter, and this has only been possible because of massive effort according to her. She admits: “There was a strategise and hustle period in the beginning, but we managed to crack the right codes, I believe, and then there was no going back!” She adds that the platform is still learning with each day and attempting to understand and perceive the nerve on every platform.
Questioned on which platform was the hardest to crack, she says: “I wouldn’t say ‘harder’, but Facebook and Instagram are platforms that have always been exciting and challenging! There are new tools to fiddle with every day and user behaviour on these platforms can’t be boiled down to a science. A case-by-case analysis and a thorough study of the platforms are the best hacks” Facebook is also one of the platforms which provide the most exposure to the news platform alongside YouTube.
The Quint’s rising popularity on social media has helped it in gaining a solid following. According to Chakrabartty, there is a major reason why it has managed to resonate with the audience to this level. “The Quint is young, vibrant, and always willing to speak its mind, for or against the tide. Our social media content reflects that. I believe people always appreciate such mince-no-words absolute honesty!” She states.
Numerous posts go out on each platform every single day. She says that each post undergoes a rigorous procedure before being given the green light. She explains: “There is strategising, planning, tweaking, editing, and then revisiting (for each platform) … every piece of content goes through a gruelling process of screening before being put out.”
Responding to whether any stories unexpectedly go viral, Chakrabartty confesses that “there is no method to the madness on social media”. She has learnt that absolutely anything can go viral due to the diverse groups and demographics the internet caters to. “A cat video will have as many takers as a fact-checked video! it is all about segmentation and an understanding of our audiences,” she adds.
As a publication existing solely on the internet, The Quint faces a huge challenge in the prevalent issue of fake news. Chakrabartty reveals that finding ways to avoid fake stories is a major focus for the publication. There is a separate team which fact-checks all content and ensures veracity. Apart from this, there are WebQoof handles which focus on busting fake stories doing rounds on the internet.
With each passing day, the relationship between social media and online publications is becoming increasingly symbiotic. The success of a digital news platform is heavily impacted by how it performs on various social media channels. Chakrabartty opines that the two are now firmly connected. “They are inextricable! That’s that,” she announces to conclude the conversation.
(Featured image source: Medha Chakrabartty)