The publishers achieving success on TikTok: Daily Mail, cable networks, and more

May 3, 2024

Written by Haley Corzo

We’ve watched as more and more publishers have adopted TikTok as part of their distribution strategy, especially over the last year. We spotlighted a few mainstream outlets that were leading the way with this type of reporting in our analysis from last October, but we’re now seeing an even more notable increase in publishers finding success with their short-form video content. 

Even with a potential TikTok ban looming over the US, understanding what type of content is capturing attention on the platform remains a necessary part of a newsroom’s social monitoring strategy for the foreseeable future. 

For that reason, we looked at some of the top publishers on TikTok in the month of April 2024, beginning with one that has continued its dominance on the platform in 2024. 

The Daily Mail: The star of 2024

The Daily Mail boasts an impressive 8.6 million followers on TikTok, more than double the following of any other publisher featured in this blog. With that kind of following, the publisher is a constant engagement driver, and one of the only ones to earn more than one million engagements with its videos. That video resonated strongly with the public as it reported on a fatal fight that occurred between teenagers at a mall in Wyoming, which received over 1.69M engagements.

@dailymail This is the moment when Passengers on board a Spirit Airlines flight from Atlanta to Newark were left disgusted seeing liquid spilling out from a lavatory. An aione spokesperson described the cause as “an issue with a potable water line connected to a sink in the rear lavatory.” #airplane #flight #passengers #reaction #water #fail ♬ Comedy Scenes - Comical, stupid, odd, lovely (Drumless)(1441321) - Ponetto

The rest of the Daily Mail’s top videos include a mix of reporting on events that happened all around the world, including the 4.8 magnitude earthquake that hit New York City, and two recent tragedies that unfolded in Philadelphia and Sydney, Australia. The second most engaged video, however, captured a nauseating but amusing moment when liquid began spilling out of a lavatory on a Spirit Airlines flight, and resulted in nearly 940k engagements. 

Washington Post: An early TikTok adopter still going strong

In 2019, TikTok had just hit 500 million active users compared to its 1.56 billion today, and the Washington Post had just launched its account on the platform. With slapstick comedy and workplace humor, the Post became one of the pioneering news publishers that embraced TikTok by showing a newsroom in action. And its success still rings true today. 

@washingtonpost

Swift dropped a 16-song record on midnight Eastern time on Friday, and then two hours later at 2 a.m., announced a surprise: It was actually a double album titled “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology,” with 15 additional songs. The obvious assumption before the album’s release was that many songs would be about British actor Joe Alwyn, whom Swift dated for six years before they announced their breakup in April 2023. But upon hearing the lyrics, fans instead caught more apparent references to Matty Healy, lead singer of British band The 1975, to whom Swift was romantically linked for a couple of months last year.  Swift, who has given very few details about the timeline of “Tortured Poets,” said that she started recording it after she finished “Midnights” (presumably in late 2021 or early 2022) and continued through the Eras Tour that launched last spring. So it’s unclear whether the timing would have worked for her to include her relationship with Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce — but there are some sports-themed lines in “The Alchemy.” In a brief statement on Instagram, Swift wanted to let listeners know that she doesn’t plan on looking backward for much longer, describing “Tortured Poets” as “an anthology of new works that reflect events, opinions and sentiments from a fleeting and fatalistic moment in time — one that was both sensational and sorrowful in equal measure.”

♬ original sound - We are a newspaper.

The publisher posts a mix of long and short-from TikToks, with the more humorous posts leaning towards the latter. The Post’s initial success can be attributed to Dave Jorgenson, who first pitched the idea of making videos. Now, Jorgenson and his team can be seen all over its account, participating in funny skits related to breaking news, or reporting on more serious matters. The top video from the Post in the last month was in fact one aimed at humor, featuring Jorgenson dissecting the lyrics of the 31-song album released by Taylor Swift on April 19th. The video received over 460k engagements. 

Cable networks: CBS and NBC recycle news video for social

Another key factor behind the surge we’re seeing in publishers thriving on TikTok is the growing use of the platform by cable networks to repurpose their news coverage. CBS and NBC are two that have put in a lot of effort in increasing their short-form video reporting, which has resulted in them earning even more engagement than most leading digital news publishers.

@nbcnews If you can’t find proper glasses, you can enjoy the total solar #eclipse ♬ original sound - nbcnews
@cbsnews “Best field trip in the history of ever”: Kids watch the total solar eclipse in Dallas, Texas. #solareclipse #eclipse #solareclipse2024 ♬ original sound - cbsnews

Their content includes clips of daily news stories you’d see if you tuned into the morning or evening news, and also mixes in more contextual videos about world events. There was one event that captivated the entire US for a whole afternoon, if not days, and was responsible for some of CBS and NBC’s most engaged videos in the last month, and that was the eclipse. 

CBS posted a video that showed adults and kids watching the eclipse in Dallas, Texas just at the moment when the sky went dark. NBC’s video was more about preparation for the day, and explained how viewers could make their own pinhole projector out of a cereal box if they were unable to find proper eclipse glasses. This was NBC’s top TikTok overall and earned nearly 685k engagements. 

But the national networks are not the only ones to watch out for on TikTok. Local cable networks are seeing their videos perform increasingly well, and are sometimes outperforming the networks they’re affiliated with, and even the Daily Wire. That’s exactly what happened this past month, with KUTV in Utah earning over 9M engagements with a video showing a police officer chasing and tackling a pig that was loose in a neighborhood. Feel-good stories are often propelled by local news outlets, and it seems they might have found that to be true on TikTok as well.

Key takeaway

Despite the current uncertainty over TikTok’s future, publishers continue to recognize the platform’s significance to their social media distribution, and cable networks in particular have a special opportunity to keep their momentum going with short-form video reporting, especially as 2024 continues to bring us monumental events such as the Paris Olympics and global elections.

For more on how you can monitor publishers on social media, read our blog about the top publishers on Facebook here.

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Haley Corzo

Haley is a Content Strategist for NewsWhip working at the intersection of journalism and marketing. With experience working in advertising for consumer brands, she brings a fresh perspective on how NewsWhip’s technology can be used to make an impact. She is passionate about topics such as mental health, women’s issues, and travel.

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