By Trinna Leong

“This is all very new. I predict that this time next month, we would lose our biggest audience…. Partly it’s our fault. We built an audience on someone else’s grass,” said Sam Koslowski, co-founder of The Daily Aus – a news startup that has an audience of more than 539,000 on Instagram.

As some technology platforms deprioritise news, small to medium-sized media organisations find themselves in a pickle. As a young organisation with less than 20 staff, all aged below 30, The Daily Aus saw a bleak future ahead with their main audience on Instagram and decided to swiftly start moving current followers to their newsletter. 

In a year, they bumped up newsletter subscriptions from 35,000 to more than 200,000. And what started as an Instagram-only news roundup account, The Daily Aus now reaches one out of every eight Australians aged 18-35. 

The “secret sauce” as Koslowski puts it, lies in; delivering news for non-news people, playing the long game, and making sense of news for readers. 

‘Our people don’t feel like they belong to any news community’

“The core idea that exists in everything that we do is that we are not going after news people,” said Koslowski at the our Digital Media Asia conference in Kuala Lumpur. 

Koslowski described news people as those who download news apps, have understanding of news and check out the news everyday. He adds that it is different for The Daily Aus as, “That is not our people. Our people don’t feel like they belong to any news community,” Koslowski said.

He goes on to explain that The Daily Aus audience is different because, “They haven’t been told to read news everyday and when they do read news they tell us they feel stupid. They don’t understand the words news are using, they don’t understand the people in it. But all they want to do is to participate when they go out for dinner with friends, in conversations.”

Challenges: Diversify revenue, and not lose audience

While the young outlet has a strong grip on its demographic, the challenge now is to ensure they are able to diversify revenue and not lose the audience that they have built on social channels. 

The Daily Aus’ worst fears are compounded by news that Meta announced in April 2024 that Facebook has closed down the news tab in Australia.

A month earlier, the tech giant said it would stop paying Australian news publishers for content on Facebook. Since Meta has already blocked news content on Instagram in Canada, there are similar fears that this would happen in Australia given recent developments. 

“Our problem is that we are too small for a bargaining deal, and we are too big to avoid a ban,” said Koslowski, adding that there are implications when outlets such as theirs, which tap into audiences on social media, disappear.

’58 percent of our audience said they stopped consuming news altogether’

“What will happen unfortunately is the rise of uninformed influencers,” Koslowski adds, warning. “To give you an idea, 83 percent of our audience says social media is their primary source of news, 58 percent of our audience said they stopped consuming news altogether, and that’s really bad.”

To counter these rapid developments and ensure survivability, the team not only pushed its newsletter subscriptions, but built a game and developed a plan to rope in content creators if and when their account no longer works on Instagram.

Wished they’d started migration efforts six months earlier

When asked if the team would have done anything differently, perhaps not build its audience on Instagram from the get go, Koslowski said he would have still utilised the platform as those are their core audience but kickstart migration much sooner. 

“What I would do differently is make that audience migration shift happen much earlier… Had we taken steps six months earlier, we could’ve been at 300,000, not 200,000. Now it’s a race to see how many we can drag over,” he added. 

Despite the ongoing challenge of ensuring they do not lose their hard-earned audience, Koslowski is determined to retain the brand the team has built.

“We haven’t won this one. But we are not going down without a fight.”

About the author, Trinna Leong is a former journalist, having reported on politics, economics and general news from the MH370 & MH17 air disasters, Rohingya refugee crises, 1MDB financial scandal, Kim Jong Nam’s assassination, to Malaysia’s 14th general election. She joined Google News Initiative during the pandemic and helped lead its annual Trusted Media Summit from 2020-2023. She also designed the Youth Verification Challenge, which gamified fact-checking for Gen-Z and ran in 8 languages in 2021 & 2022. Most recently, she is part of the founding team called JomCheck, Malaysia’s first fact-checking alliance promoting collaborative fact-checking between newsrooms, academics and non-profit organisations. She now dabbles in building a more sustainable media ecosystem through consulting work in partnerships, fundraising, grant-making and business development. 

The post How Australia’s Daily Aus is migrating young audiences from social platforms appeared first on WAN-IFRA.