Francesco Miceli, a senior strategist in YouTube partner organisations, led a workshop on how news organisations can best use YouTube to engage with their audience at Digital Media Europe in London yesterday.
Here are his top tips on what news outlets can do to make the biggest video site in the world work for them.
1. Cultivate conversation
Although YouTube is a video publishing platform it is still very much a social network, where users can create their own content and converse naturally through videos.
To be a genuine part of that conversation news organisations should have a "real personality" presenting their content, said Miceli, in a manner that fits the medium, rather than transplanting TV tropes into an online offering.
2. Target existing fans
Promoting videos on the organisation's social media channels or website will bring the existing audience to the new YouTube videos, while also helping to channel new viewers from YouTube back to the website, said Miceli.
He highlighted Buzzfeed as an example of a website that has been particularly successful in forging a path for viewers to and from a website and YouTube with links and pop-ups. Encouraging "superfans" to visit the YouTube channel led to a 168 per cent increase in average daily subscribers compared to the previous month, and a 22 per cent increase in active subscribers withing one month of promotion.
3. Create shareable content
Making content 'shareable' has been a large focus for many organisations recently, and YouTube provides an excellent platform to achieve this in the most visual way.
"Optimise your story with great titles and thumbnails that are both clickale and shareable across devices and platforms," Miceli said, highlighting the opportunity that repackaging archive content presents in testing what works on YouTube.
4. Collaborate and cross promote
Collaboration has been key to how some brands have succeeded on YouTube, working with other channels to "reactivate broadcast or archive content to generate new value and help reach new audiences."
In the below example, BuzzFeed teamed up with Earth UnPlugged to repackage some of their videos – giving BuzzFeed new content and Earth UnPlugged a different audience.
5. Curate and own the beat
If an organisation or publication focusses on a specific topic, it should aim to "become the trusted, go-to source" for that subject on YouTube, curating content from elsewhere to "own the beat", said Miceli.
Verification and reliability are just as important on YouTube as on other platforms, so he advised caution in the content that is shared to maintain authority.
6. Provide a context
News organisations should always seek to put stories and events into context for the audience, but the same is true of putting a video into the larger context of an organisation, said Miceli.
"Find a way for users to be guided into videos," he said. "Once users go to video it needs to be a door for subscriptions or going to other videos."
This can be through pop-up windows or banners in the videos, links to websites or having a presenter or graphic point out other options to viewers.
Organisations should also make videos accessible from the very beginning, in order to grab and maintain a viewers interest. YouTube provides a large amount of data to support channels in making the right choices, including information on who likes or dislikes videos; viewers' age, location, language; how long people watch content and at what point they leave.
7. Interact with the audience
YouTube gives channels the opportunity to engage with viewers much like other social media or in comment threads, so Miceli encouraged organisations to "communicate with viewers wherever they engage with you and help fans connect with each other around their shared interest in your content."
8. React quickly
"Find a way to promote your breaking news," Miceli said, highlighting the possibilities YouTube holds for breaking news. When a lot of user-generated content used in breaking news situations is uploaded to YouTube soon after the event, news organisations can do the same.
"If you have an event which is particularly important, cross-promote," he said. "Find a way to promote it and make it more accessible.
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