Ac2ality: the twenty-four from Madrid who created the largest Spanish-language news outlet on TikTok | Technique

“Adidas not appearing in the hottest World Cup photo,” began a recent video from @ac2ality’s TikTok account. Everything is announced in a voice turning off On the images of the Argentine national team: “After the uproar that erupted in the last minutes of the final match that gave Argentina the title, it was time to present the trophy, but the image that was going to spread around the world was not quite what was expected.” The robe that the Emir of Qatar placed on Messi hid the brand’s logo.

The video is 1 minute long and has been watched by more than 5 million people so far. The source, according to the video, is the newspaper Marker, although it is actually from a website called Direct Marketing, from which they also take whole sentences in the text. The impact of the video is certainly much greater than that of the article. Ac2ality has 4 million followers on TikTok. This number places it as the largest Spanish-language news account and the second largest in Europe, behind only the English language. daily Mail, According to a recent report by the Reuters Institute.

In the world there are only five media accounts above Ac2ality: Plus daily Mail, Now This and NBC News (USA) and Metro TV News and Republika (Indonesia). In terms of video views, they are the third medium in the world, only behind NBC and G1-Globo (Brazil) The founders of Ac2ality are four 26-year-olds from Torrelodones (Madrid): Gabriela Campbell, Daniela Alvarez, Maria Murillo and Paola Muñoz.

TikTok, the short video platform, has been the most downloaded global app since 2020. The use of TikTok for any purpose in Spain rose from 5% of users in 2020 to 25% in 2022, according to the Reuters Institute’s Digital News 2022 Report. . The app explosion has replaced Google in certain age groups. Among people ages 18-24, TikTok’s global use of “information” is 15%, the highest among all ages. This group is the main audience for Ac2ality, although they also have a lot of teens. By gender, the audience is strictly divided: 51% women and 49% men.

The four founders say they live off Ac2ality today. For a year now, working on the canal has allowed them to generate enough income to become their main job. They explained that this money does not come specifically from views or ads on their TikTok account, but also from podcasting and content creation for others. They prefer not to talk about specific characters, in part because negotiations are underway, they said, so that the account is being taken over by a large group.

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How did they get to this point? There are basically two reasons: One, they started in earnest in 2020, when there wasn’t any information competition on TikTok. The second, language and tone. “The words must be very colloquial,” Campbell says via video call to EL PAÍS. “It is a simple vocabulary, and we do not take for granted that the followers understand certain terms,” ​​he adds.

This simple language is associated with some background images associated with the news and some memes flying over it. They also speak faster than, say, a radio broadcaster, and they don’t use an informative tone. They speak normally. Its various slogans are “we translate newspapers”, “news in one minute”, “we explain it to me easily” and “the five things of the day”.

The rest of their work is similar to any other medium: see what happens, decide what interests your audience, and repackage it. “I am the editor,” says Daniela Alvarez, also via video call. I read all the newspapers every day. There are five news items that get repeated, especially international politics. We usually take these, as well as some that we consider interesting to the general public”, he adds. As is also the case with the traditional press, the AK2Yeti audience complains in the comments about “news” that shouldn’t be (for example, Shakira’s divorce and Pique) but later are among the most consumed.

None of the four founders studied journalism. They explain that they created Ac2ality because they didn’t understand what Brexit was when some of them lived in London, so they decided it was a good idea to create Newspaper for dummies [periódico para tontos]. Ac2ality started on Instagram, but its founders soon realized that TikTok was their platform. Today, she follows Ac2ality on Instagram and has an account on Youtube, Twitch, and Twitter. But none of them have much influence in terms of TikTok, posting an average of five videos per day, excluding weekends.

On TikTok, as on traditional media, the headline is just about everything. “In the beginning you have to make it clear what you’re going to say. It’s key,” says Alvarez. “The consensus is that you need to be noticed early on, use simple language, have a light touch, and be open to conversation to have an account. [informativa] of success on TikTok,” says a Reuters Institute report on journalistic publishers and TikTok by journalist Nick Newman. “The main thing journalists can learn from TikTok is new storytelling techniques, more compact, engaging, and fun ways to tell stories. Newman also explains the editing technique, use of music, humor and animation via email to EL PAÍS.

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Ac2ality suffers from two more shows of how platforms are changing, but the information audience bias remains. First, they perceive some anxiety as to whether they are more right-handed or left-handed. We try to be as objective as possible and that is why we take newspapers with different ideologies. But there are always those who like us to speak more in the tone of the left or the tone of the right. We’re going to do something right because they call us the far right and the far left,” says Campbell.

Second, they receive criticism because some believe that with their accounts they are causing young people to read less or care less about current affairs. “On the contrary,” says Campbell. “We give them the opportunity to learn about TikTok and generate a desire to learn more about a particular topic,” she adds.

Ac2ality also faces more complex issues. Sometimes it is impossible to stick to the self-imposed limit of 1 minute per video. They have, for example, a 4-minute video on the history of the ETA: “It rarely happens that it’s impossible to explain something in a minute,” says Alvarez. “Now we’re literally doing one about the Vietnam War. It usually lasts a minute and a half or two minutes. At least you can’t. If I see that happening, I’d rather make it a little longer, like an ETA. It wouldn’t be well explained. If we did In less time, we’d have comments attacking us,” he explains.

The Ac2ality account makes videos that are actually ads, but they don’t label them as such so you don’t lose views. It is assumed that warning against it is obligatory, but since it was natural, it is like declaring that it is a door symbol pictureWe didn’t want to put it in because the algorithm punishes you,” Alvarez says Hashtag association get it. They put this video behind you. Many companies trying to break into TikTok are desperate for views. Then they pay [a la red]. This is why the algorithm tends to give it back when it detects other ads.”

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There is a bit of a revenue optimization controversy within Ac2ality. The way out to monetize the project is to jump into a raft. “One day a group will tell us that they are not reaching us targeting “It will be easier for them to acquire us,” Alvarez says. “It actually occurred to us that a whole lot of journalists literally knew who we were, saw us, we were counselors, and ended up creating a new outlet for young people by copying us,” she explains. Next time it won’t be the case. The founders complain about how many media outlets are already copying them, including some traditional media: “Our followers wrote to us to explain that they were copying us as it is: using the app we edit our videos, the format, or the type of image property we added that goes in and out.” from the screen.”

These outlets have focused on TikTok and with many members who must make a living from it, find it hard to monetize not successfully migrating to other platforms, something Ac2ality doesn’t do: “It’s very difficult for us to establish on other networks,” says Paula Muñoz. “The movement of followers from one platform to another is impossible. Thus, if we post on Instagram, it reaches other types of followers, which are different from those on YouTube, for example.”

Newman sees the same problems on the path to monetization. If you don’t move to other platforms, there are at least two other options: “TikTok is good for proving you can build large audiences and a lot of local social brands are hoping you can capitalize on that in other ways, which could include selling their audience to brands. Or selling your skills and understanding.” to others,” he says. Ac2ality expects to withdraw soon.

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