USA Today’s parent company, Gannett, has found success on social media with Humankind and Problem Solved, two of its editorial franchises that have experienced an increase in social reach on TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram.
These brands have focused on vertical video formats, tapping into an audience that has allowed for advertising revenue and expanded brand awareness for USA Today. Humankind has 4.2 million followers on TikTok, surpassing industry giants such as CNN, The Washington Post, Disney, and Nike, while Problem Solved has 1.2 million followers on the platform after gaining 440,000 last year.
The company has monetized the reach of these franchises through video ads on Gannett sites (45%), revenue sharing on the platform (25%), approximately eight to 12 annual video sponsorships (20%), and their connected television channels (5%), among other revenue sources (5%).
Although the company wouldn’t share the total revenues generated by the franchises, sponsorship packages can generate multimillion-dollar payments. The adoption of the vertical video strategy has inspired publishers to realign their editorial strategies, but monetization has lagged behind adoption.
Meanwhile, Gannett has faced significant financial pressure, with operating revenues falling 8% in 2022 to $2.9 billion, and the debt accumulated after its 2019 merger with GateHouse has forced the news organization to drastically reduce its workforce.
The two franchises, along with a third called Sports Seriously, rarely, if ever, feature news content. Humankind, which includes Animalkind, Womankind, and Militarykind, follows a classic formula: adding feel-good videos that can become viral sensations on TikTok and attract tens of millions of views. Similarly, Problem Solved brings a proven formula to a new platform, meeting the needs of younger users facing everyday life challenges.
These franchises offer a mix of entertainment and service journalism, which has helped introduce young audiences to the USA Today brand. They also drive traffic to the USA Today website, which hosts verticals dedicated to the franchises and their various spin-off products.
Creativity and journalism
USA Today has found success on social media by focusing on positivity, creativity, and service journalism, allowing for expanded brand awareness and attracting young audiences. By avoiding news on their social media accounts, the company has been able to reach a broader audience and generate significant advertising revenue.