6 Tips for Producing Shareable Video News on Social Media
Short-form video has risen to dominate our social networks, and media companies have had to adapt the way that they produce video news online in response. Success for a video on social media comes down to one thing: shareability. In order for social videos to reach a wide audience, they must be packaged into short, relatable, and easily consumed pieces that appeal to viewers’ emotions and call them to action. We spoke to Geoffrey Dietrich, the Executive Producer at AJ+, who gave us a few inside tips on how to produce a shareable news video:
1. Edit your video for a specific social platform.
Not only do platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Youtube have their separate format requirements and lengths, but they also have different audiences who want to see certain types of video. In order for your video to engage viewers, it needs to be made for a specific platform. For example, AJ+ quickly garnered attention on Facebook by telling substantive stories that that make you pause and share before you continue to scroll:
“Other publishers put videos on Facebook, but they weren’t necessarily doing it at the volume or Facebook-friendly specific formats we were doing. For the work we do with the freelance video journalists on Storyhunter, the first big hit we had was Jessica Sherry’s “Drought Hack: Lawn Painting” in July 2015 with 37 million views. We’ve had steady success with other videos before then, such as in February 2015 with Nuria Teson’s “Istanbul skirt protest” which seemed like a big deal with 1.2 million views. Those stories resonated because they were surprising angles on current issues — and visual. Since then things have snowballed. We’ve found a good balance of story selection, editorial focus, and visuals where we feel good about each assignment.” — Geoffrey Dietrich, AJ+ Executive Producer
2. Add text to your video.
On Facebook and Instagram, videos automatically play without sound in your newsfeeds. By adding text to a video, you allow viewers’ to watch and understand it without forcing them to take the extra step of listening. A video is easier to view and share when sound isn’t necessary because it can be seen anytime and anywhere. People watch and share a large amount of videos on their phones, so on-screen text is a smart mobile strategy. The same principle applies to Twitter videos as well.
3. Focus on the human connection.
Competition between media companies vying for viewers’ attention is fierce, so videos need to grab a viewer quickly with content focused on relationships and the human connection. A key element to creating shareable videos is making content that appeals to the generation that dominates social media, Millennials, regardless of culture or language. People want to connect with other people, hear, and relate to others’ stories. In other words, relatable videos are shareable, and ultimately successful.
4. Tap into emotions without being sensational.
Emotions are essential to engaging a viewer. A video that either stimulates exciting and positive emotions or activates emotions like anger, fear, or outrage spur engagement with your content and increase the likelihood of it being shared. For media companies who create news-driven social videos, the important part is to not sensationalize the story.
“There’s a big difference between capturing the story’s emotion versus being sensational, so we don’t even talk to the freelancers about emotion. It cannot be forced.” — Geoffrey Dietrich
5. Tell a story that matters.
Social videos are short — 60 to 120 seconds long. Within that timeframe, the usual norms of storytelling apply: good visuals, interesting characters, and a story that matters. Videos that are widely shared highlight a small portion of a larger story and have the ability to spark conversation. Focusing your video on one aspect of a story introduces your audience to the bigger picture and offers information in a conveniently-sized package, while still giving people room to add their own thoughts.
“If we don’t go into the project loving and caring about the issue and characters, it likely won’t become a good video…It’s easy to get caught up in seeing the numbers, but we try hard to look at how people share, comment, and like the video instead of just view…We do produce stories we know aren’t going to be huge hits, because we need to tell stories that other publications are not and that our audience likely won’t find out about any other way.” — Geoffrey Dietrich
6. Respect the people you work with.
When a freelancer makes a shareable video, chances are they can do it again and again. Cultivating the relationship between the publisher and the freelancer is key to creating content people are excited about. As Geoffrey Dietrich puts it: “It’s important for publishers to define ‘success’ for each story and their organization. For our work with Storyhunter freelancer video journalists, a lot of the success of a video is defined in the process of working with the freelancer. We want to build lasting relationships with the freelance community where we both can grow and thrive.”
By Jindalae Suh, Writer at Storyhunter