For foreigners and locals alike, the Argentine economy is exceedingly complicated to understand.
It goes beyond the ever rising prices that have placed the country on track to reach a 100% annual inflation rate by the end of 2022, and the policy changes the government frequently announces to try to curb the crisis.
Somehow, too, Argentinians are expected to navigate a wide menu of currency exchange rates — namely the official rate and its taxes, the parallel market, and a plethora of others depending on the industry sector.
For journalists, explaining this confounding economy isn’t easy, either. Some reporters, however, have turned to social media to produce quick, engaging explainers about what is happening. They’re using a variety of formats to do so — Instagram stories, short videos on TikTok, and YouTube channels, to name just a few.
If you are also thinking of leveraging social media to explain the economy or other top of mind issues in your country, here are a few tips and cautionary notes to consider.
Journalism by other means
Estefanía Pozzo, an Argentine journalist specializing in economy and finance, understands that communication is an ever-changing ecosystem. Platforms, she said, “change the ways people get and consume information.” Not only is everything on social media immediate, but these platforms also “cater to many different needs at the same time: information, opinion, analysis and debate,” she explained. “Communities and referentialities can be created, and these allow for more personal storytelling.”
Compared to founding your own outlet, creating social media content requires a much simpler infrastructure. “If you have a cell phone with 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 came naturally. “I’m part of a generation that grew up using MSN messenger, Fotolog, Facebook, so it’s always felt organic,” she explained. Botto decided to share her knowledge in a space with which she was already familiar. This started with Twitter.
Business reporter Sofía Terrile turned to social media as a result of her work in TV. “A lot of people started to follow my personal accounts and I wanted to professionalize them. I realized I had a public that I could speak to because they were already following me on TV, an audience that was interested in economic topics,” she said.
A faster, more direct environment
On social media, your work depends on yourself. You can work faster and debate topics while interacting with other people, Pozzo said. She’s on Twitter and Instagram, and she started her own channel on YouTube, the platform she finds most interesting. Pozzo believes all these formats are potent and accessible — it is important, she said, to prioritize quality information on them while producing 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 (débito o crédito). ¿Cuánto más alto? Casi el doble. Breve explicación 👇— 💚 Estefanía Pozzo (@estipozzo) November 2, 2022
Social media gave Botto more freedom — not just editorially, but also in the wide variety of formats she could leverage to express herself and reach people. “There [are] direct responses, comments, answers. I can tell what [my followers] are curious about [in] Argentina’s economy,” she explained.
Botto would comment in a more critical, questioning tone on Twitter, though she didn’t attract much engagement on the platform. She felt it was more confrontational, about being on one side versus another. “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, she was forced to change her strategy. She created “Cande al rescate” (Cande to the rescue, in Spanish) using the app’s question sticker. “I’ve also tried Reels, but explaining [everything] in one and a half minutes is hard,” she said.
Don’t be afraid of innovating: Botto stressed that platforms are dynamic and what users consume changes over time. “I put on their shoes and think that maybe they feel tired about the format. It’s necessary to be able to adapt,” she said.
Social media formats demand faster, shorter content, Terrile noted. She uses plain language, focusing on how to capture the audience’s attention with a brief prompt.
@sofiterrile Dólar, dólar, dólar 🇦🇷 Apostemos: cuál es el que sigue? 🧞♀️ #tiktokteinforma #tiktokargentina #noticias #argentina ♬ Sunroof - Nicky Youre & dazy
Insights to help shape your reporting
Social media allows for direct feedback, which might not always be the case if you work in print or TV. By looking at their followers’ questions, reporters can get a sense of what their information needs are. This is powerful data, Botto said.
Frequently asked questions include those about the U.S. dollar (always an important issue for Argentinians), inflation, taxes, and electricity prices. Some also want to better understand gross domestic product.
Terrile and Botto get asked about personal investing, too. They try not to respond to these questions as they’re beyond their expertise. This interest, however, can later become an opportunity to partner with other accounts and expand one’s reach.
Pozzo, meanwhile, has compiled answers to questions she has received about the economy and finance in her recent book Es la economía, 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 much positive and that’s awesome. But social media is also an empire of violence. I’m systematically the target of systematic and massive aggressions,” Pozzo said.
Terrile agreed. “There are very negative comments and that takes a toll because you tend to measure success and self-esteem levels based on that, and it shouldn’t be the case,” she warned.
It’s important to pay attention to your mental health, as a result. Watch the time you spend on social media, for one, Terrile recommended. Algorithms favor constant engagement so it can be tempting to engage with followers at all times. This can get out of hand.
For this reason, Terrile tries to regulate the time she’s online: “Otherwise, it’s never-ending."