Here We Are
If you’re not in the game, let this be a wakeup call: Produce content for the platform it lives on. Below are actionable things you can do today to improve your social content.
I’ve worked in the news business for the last 11 years, and had a front row seat as technology and content consumption changed in that world. But I’m fascinated to see many reporters, producers, and decision makers still avoid doing this at scale.
Over the years I’ve watched the consumer shift as platforms like Facebook took center stage for America and the world. And I was one of many who thought social media was just another distribution channel for whatever content you had.
Basically, the consensus was this: you put the same content out across however many platforms you were on, and the audience would see it, accept it, and consume it.
Unfortunately, and especially as mobile internet consumption has grown over the years, that’s just not how it works.
Social media is continually changing, just like the internet is continually changing. So by the time you read this, things may be moving in a different direction.
But for now, we must take note and take action on what’s really happening. If you’re in a leadership or management position, it’s time to get rid of the silos we think about content in.
These include: “Nobody’s on Snapchat,” or “short videos are the only ones that work on Facebook,” or “YouTube videos will only cut into my website revenue.”
Attention and Measurement
Let’s be real. Attention is attention. And this is key to growing your distribution of content when you’re in the content business.
Sometimes it’s been difficult for me to explain to people who are in, say, the physical product business how I measure KPIs — when at the end of the day I don’t have anything to sell. That means there’s no ultimate outcome or action that I can hang my hat on.
The end user didn’t buy the thing, because there isn’t one. They didn’t purchase the service because the station didn’t offer one for sale.
News stations are simply a creator and distributor of news content for a local audience – a public service of information designed to connect a community and keep those in public leadership in check, among other things like being a record of daily history.
That’s the real end result. And that’s the real end product. The content is everything in this atmosphere.
Content for the Platform
It’s time to embrace the always changing internet and the platforms that live on it. Here’s a list of platform-specific content models that currently work on various social media networks.
Please make sure to update and curate the thumbnail for each video upload where available. This is such a key to capturing attention and gaining video views.
Part 1: Video in feeds that is square or 3:4 ratio with text across the top or bottom will grab attention and be more “thumb-stopping.”
Part 2: If you are uploading long-form video here, try as hard as you can to apply for and get into a Facebook Watch environment. These types of pages still see elevated lift in the feed algorithm and are much easier to find in Facebook’s OTT apps.
IG feeds – Videos up to 1 minute in length: square or 3:4 ratio with text across the top or bottom.
IG feeds – Videos over 1 minute in length: embrace the full 9:16 vertical experience or edit your video to fit in that space with text above or below AND make sure to upload it to IGTV to then share on the Instagram timeline.
Snap Stories – Part 1: Straight to the face videos still win here, but don’t forget to add links to your content! Snapchat allows ALL users to add swipe-up links to any piece of story content. USE IT.
Snap Stories – Part 2: Compelling produced video uploaded to stories works too. Just remember to capture the person’s attention quickly – if you have a lot of content to go through, consider a “tease” montage that introduces the viewer to what they will be seeing as they watch your content. Example: Barstool Sports is excellent at this.
Snapchat stories – Part 3: Create video that follows a “process” or “climb” format so that the viewer feels like they are gaining meaningful progress as they consume your content to eventually reach a “mountaintop” ending.
Part 1: Go live. Just do it! This is likely one of the most underrated social media gems out there at the moment and not enough people or news organizations are using it. Would you like to be at the top of someone’s feed who follows you no matter what? Go live. Top-of-the-screen real estate on social media is super valuable and Twitter is literally giving it away to people who go live there. TAKE ADVANTAGE NOW.
Part 2: The second thing I would recommend right now is to use the built-in Twitter camera for photos and videos. You may not get as many options but you do get greater visibility in the timeline.
Part 3: Since the character count was doubled from 140 to 280 characters, there’s more room than ever to say what you want. Use the space wisely and don’t forget to use your hashtags!
Part 1: One of the earliest social media platforms, YouTube is (naturally) a great place for video. Medium to long-form videos work great here and look wonderful on most any screen as long as it is in HD.
Part 2: Don’t forget what I said at the top of this list about thumbnails!
TV History: Fighting Mobile (And Losing)
I know I’m not the only person who’s said this, but it isn’t being said enough: we must create, curate, and edit content for the platform it lives on.
I remember (and took part in) the collective campaign by news stations everywhere telling their viewers to “turn your phone sideways” when recording video so that when a particular piece turns into a news story, it would be easier to view on big widescreen TVs at home and on desktop computer screens.
Vertical video was the enemy — and news stations, unwilling to be flexible and change, were on a crusade to stop it. I recall watching one market’s main news anchor lie across the stop of her studio news desk in an effort to remind viewers to think “horizontal” when recording video.
Those efforts, while rigid and valiant, did not work out. News stations ultimately lost that battle. Snapchat and Instagram (don’t forget Tik Tok) fully embraced vertical video as consumers marched into the world of mobile-first internet. Attention of the consumer, as always, was the winner.
The internet, and especially the mobile internet is here to stay. Everything is a fad, until it isn’t. Produce content for the platform it’s on. Attention is everything, so get it and use it wisely.
This is a pretty long post, so in order to get the most value out of it, I suggest you re-read it, bookmark it, download it, or however you best keep good information at hand, and then don’t forget to use it and share it. ❤️