For foreigners and locals alike, Argentina’s economy is extremely complex to understand.
That’s on top of ever-rising prices that put the country on track to hit a 100 percent annual inflation rate by the end of 2022, and the government’s often announced policy changes to try to contain the crisis.
Argentinians are somehow also expected to navigate a wide menu of exchange rates – namely the official rate and its taxes, the parallel market and a host of others depending on the industry sector.
Explaining this confusing economy is not easy for journalists either. Some journalists, however, turned to social media to come up with quick and catchy explanations of what was happening. They use a variety of formats to do this — Instagram stories, short videos on TikTok, and YouTube channels, to name a few.
If you too are considering using social media to explain the economy or other top issues in your country, here are some tips and caveats to keep in mind.
Journalism by other means
Estefanía Pozzo, an Argentinian journalist specializing in economics and finance, understands that communication is an ecosystem that is constantly changing. Platforms, she said, “change the way people acquire and use information.” Not only is everything instant on social media, but these platforms also “satisfy many different needs at the same time: information, opinion, analysis and discussion,” she explained. “Communities and references can be created that allow for more personal storytelling.”
Compared to starting your own outlet, creating social media content requires a much simpler infrastructure. “If you have a mobile phone with an internet connection and a camera, then you can start communicating. But it’s not easy and not everything can target a mass audience,” said economist and journalist Candelaria Botto.
For Botto, using social media to explain Argentina’s complex economy was a no-brainer. “I’m part of a generation that grew up using MSN messenger, Fotolog, Facebook, so it always felt organic to me,” she explained. Botto decided to share her knowledge in a space she already knew. It started with Twitter.
Business reporter Sofía Terrile has turned to social media for her work in television. “A lot of people started following my personal accounts and I wanted to professionalize them. I realized that I had an audience that I could talk to because they had already followed me on TV, an audience that was interested in economic topics,” she said.
A faster and more immediate environment
On social media, your work depends on you. You can work faster and discuss topics while interacting with other people, Pozzo said. She is on Twitter and Instagram and has also started her own YouTube channel, the platform she finds most interesting. Pozzo believes all of these formats are powerful and accessible — it’s important, she said, to prioritize quality information about them while creating engaging storytelling.
Turistas extranjeros que lleguen a Argentina: a partir del viernes van a tener un dólar más alto si pagan cualquiera de sus gastos en el país con tarjetas (debit o crédito). ¿Cuánto más alto? Almost el doble. A short explanation 👇
— 💚 Estefanía Pozzo (@estipozzo) November 2, 2022
Social media gave Botto more freedom—not just editorially, but in a wide variety of ways she could use it to express herself and reach people. “There [are] direct replies, comments, replies. I can say anything [my followers] they are curious [in] Argentina’s economy,” she explained.
Botto would comment on Twitter with a more critical, questioning tone, even though it didn’t attract much engagement on the platform. She felt it was more of a confrontation, that she was on one side against the other. “Instagram is friendlier in that sense,” she said.
Botto started by creating long videos under the label “Candesplaining” – a YouTube approach but on Instagram. When the Meta-owned platform abandoned the IGTV format, it was forced to change its strategy. She created “Cande al rescate” (Cande to the rescue, in Spanish) using the app’s question sticker. “I also tried Reels, but I explain [everything] in a minute and a half it’s hard,” she said.
Don’t be afraid to innovate: Botto emphasized that platforms are dynamic and what users use changes over time. “I put on their shoes and think maybe they’re tired because of the format. You have to be able to adapt,” she said.
Social media formats demand faster and shorter content, Terrile noted. It uses simple language and focuses on how to grab your audience’s attention with a short call to action.
@sofiterrile Dólar, dólar, dólar 🇦🇷 Apostemos: cuál es el que sigue? 🧞♀️ #tiktokteinforma #tiktokargentina #noticias #argentina ♬ Sunroof – Nicky Youre & dazy
To learn the basic tools, Terrile recommended starting with a video editor: “CapCut is very easy to use.” She also suggested using Canva to create cover templates.
Insights to help shape your reporting
Social media allows for direct feedback, which may not always be the case if you work in print or television. By looking at their followers’ questions, journalists can get a sense of what their information needs are. That’s strong data, Botto said.
Frequently asked questions include those about the US dollar (always an important issue for Argentinians), inflation, taxes and electricity prices. Some also want to better understand gross domestic product.
Terrile and Botto also get a question about personal investing. They try not to answer these questions as they are beyond their expertise. This interest, in turn, can later become an opportunity to partner with other accounts and expand your reach.
Pozzo, meanwhile, collected answers to questions she received about the economy and finance in her recent book. Es la economia, vos no sos estúpida (It’s the economy. You’re not stupid, in Spanish) aimed at improving women’s economic autonomy.
Take care of yourself
Direct feedback is a double-edged sword. “It’s pretty positive and it’s great. But social media is also an empire of violence. “I am systematically the target of systematic and massive aggression,” Pozzo said.
Terrile agreed. “There are very negative comments and it takes a toll because you usually measure your success and confidence level based on that, which shouldn’t be the case,” she warned.
That’s why it’s important to pay attention to your mental health. Watch the time you spend on social media, Terrile recommended. Algorithms prioritize constant engagement, so it can always be tempting to interact with followers. This can get out of hand.
For this reason, Terrile tries to regulate the time he is online: “Otherwise it doesn’t end.”
Photo by Angelica Reyes on Unsplash.