News Leadership 3.0

Posts tagged with: Social Media

July 26, 2011

How YouTube can help the news biz: Insights from Pew, Old Spice Guy

With great difficulty, I’m tearing myself away from today’s YouTube competition, Mano a Mano in El Baño (a face-off between “Old Spice Guy” Isaiah Mustafa and male supermodel Fabio) to read over the latest Pew report on video sharing sites.

According to Pew, 71% of U.S. adult internet users now watch videos via a video sharing site such as YouTube or Vimeo. Furthermore on any given day, 28% of U.S. internet users said they had used such sites within the last day.

It’s yet another reason why news organizations should be using popular video sharing services to engage audiences and drive traffic. Here are some out-of-the ordinary ideas for making this work, ideally without creating too much extra work…

By Amy Gahran

First, some highlights from the Pew report:

  • Gender. While 71% of both men and women reported using video sharing sites, men may be using them more frequently.
  • Age. A whopping 92% of Americans aged 18-29 (a demographic most news organizations would love to attract) use video sharing sites, and 47% of this age group used such a site “yesterday.” If you’d like increase your brand awareness and market share with younger adults, that makes video sharing a good bet.
  • Ethnicity. Hispanic and African Americans (79%) lead whites (69%) in their use of video sharing services. This tracks with earlier Pew findings that these ethnic groups appear most enthusiastic about adopting mobile technology. It may help explain the strong role that YouTube played in sparking outrage in the African American community over the 2009 Oscar Grant shooting in Oakland, Calif., and similar events.
  • Income is not a strong predictor of video sharing site use. For instance, 81% of U.S. internet users earning $75,000 or more per year visit such sites—but that’s a mere 10 percentage points above the rate for those earning $30,000 per year or less. The most likely frequent users come from households earning $30,000-$49,999 per year.
  • Rural is catching up. In the past year, 68% of rural internet users visited video sharing sites—a 21% increase over the previous year, significantly outpacing the growth from urbanites and suburbanites.
  • Parents (81%) are far more likely than non-parents (61%) to use video sharing sites.
  • Amateur-produced content is a key driver of the growth of video sharing sites.


Earlier I explained how news organizations that produce online video can prepare to capitalize on viral video potential by introducing some standard steps for cross-promotion between produced videos and their web site. This includes setting up your own branded YouTube channel, as well as displaying visible short URLs (permanent redirects) in your video, supporting those links with access to updates or related coverage on your site, and keeping an eye on your YouTube statistics.

Those are the basics from a publishing perspective. But here are a few additional content strategy ideas geared toward using video sharing for audience engagement.

1. More video, more often. Increasingly news organizations have branded channels on YouTube, Vimeo, and similar services—but many only publish there once or twice a month, if that. Video sharing sites (especially YouTube) are excellent channels for discoverability: the more you post there, the more people will find you there.

So consider how to make shared video a regular part of your publishing process, so you can post at least once or twice a week. This is especially useful for your most popular stories, or for topics of special interest to the demographics that Pew noted as being particularly into video sharing sites.

2. Use simple, engaging formats. When news organizations create video, typically it’s in a narrative story format, like this recent video from InsideBayArea on a Bhutanese immigrant community celebration. That’s great—but it’s perhaps the most labor- and time-intensive kind of video to make.

Consider short formats that require few cuts and little editing: Clips from an interview with a single subject, commentaries, teasers from a longer video project in process, and more.

Also consider partnerships with popular or prolific local videobloggers. For instance, SFgate.com regularly features the work of Zennie Abraham, a master of videoblogging in the Bay Area.

3. Frame for the small screen. Mobile devices, especially smartphones, are a big driver in the popularity of online video. This is especially true for YouTube, which has an app that works well on the iPhone and iPad even though Apple’s iOS mobile operating system does not natively accommodate Flash video.

So when shooting video, go for closeups more than long shots. Make the audio a bit louder and crisper than you would for TV, to compensate for tinny little phone speakers. Also, bumping up the contrast a bit can help for viewing video on small mobile screens in daylight.

4. Showcase videos from the audience and elsewhere. Video sharing services are mainly about sharing. People embed shared videos on their own sites, post comments, shoot and upload their own video responses, post them to Facebook and other social media, and more.

News organizations can—and should—embrace this by embedding great videos from others (especially people in your coverage area) on their site, with full credit and a link to the creator’s site or YouTube channel of course. Your community engagement manager (you do have one, right?) also can selectively “like” and comment on other videos, create and publish playlists, and use other strategies to engage and curate at the same time.

This kind of demonstration of interest in and goodwill towards other video publishers tends to pay off in more socially-driven traffic to your videos and your site.

5. Collaborative public storytelling projects. Most video sharing sites allow you to create contests or collaborative projects: People create and post their own videos and tag them so they can easily be discovered and added to a playlist or other aggregation mechanism.

The classic example of this is Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project, where public figures and everyday people encourage LGBT youth who are enduring tough times to hang in there.

Pick a topic that your community cares about—especially one where people can act together to encourage each other, solve problems, or have fun—and try a similar project format.

6. Have fun. Most news videos are pretty serious and deadpan, even when they’re upbeat. But if we’ve learned anything from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, it’s that fun is a powerful way to engage people’s interest in the news.

If you have a columnist or reporter with a gift for wit and a penchant for video, let them loose.

For instance, WSJ reporter Andy Jordan’s Tech Diary video podcast is a lot of fun. Alternatively, you might focus on simple animations rather than video—like Slate.com’s Dear Prudence advice column.

If you want to go whole hog in terms of YouTube sophistication, try having a contest where viewers choose winners by rating videos which in turn are responding in almost real time to what people are tweeting or commenting. Yeah, that’s terribly “meta,” but as Mano a Mano proves, it can be fun, addictive, and incredibly viral.

Hmmm… who might play your news organization’s equivalent of the Old Spice Guy?....


The News Leadership 3.0 blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

November 09, 2011

Google+ pages: What news organizations and journalists should know, so far

Talk about stealing a page from Facebook: on Monday Google announced that businesses and brands can now set up their own pages on the Google+ social network.

This move has significant implications not only for engaging your community and building your brand, but also for how people find and share news—or news professionals…

By Amy Gahran

Previously, only individuals could present a coherent presence on Google+—to the consternation of several tech blogs and news organizations.

Now, several news brands (ranging from Oakland Local to Anderson Cooper 360 and The New York Times) have already created Google+ pages.

While many journalists use Google+ via their personal profiles, at this very early stage few appear to have set up Google+ pages to promote themselves as individual professionals yet. But other media pros, such as author Jan Kabili, are doing this.

Just now I created my own (and so far, very basic) Google+ page intended to help brand me as a media professional: Amy Gahran, Media Geek. It’s a work in progress. If you want to help me kick the tires on this tool, please add that page to your circles on Google+.

It’s not yet clear whether Google’s recent move to highlight journalists’ Google+ profiles via Google News will allow journalists to link to their Google+ page instead of their profiles. But if Google does offer that option, that might be the best approach. Stay tuned on this.

Background on Google+ pages:


Getting started:


CAUTION: Before you create a Google+ page for your organization or brand, make sure the person creating that page will also be the primary page administrator.

According to Search Engine Land:

“At first, whoever creates the page initially will also be the page administrator. No one else will be able to admin that page after them, at first. Nor can that page be transferred to someone else. Multiple administrator support is promised in the near future—but until it arrives, it seems important that if your company has a social media manager, that person should be the one to create the account.”

Should you have a Google+ page?

If you value search visibility—and most media brands and professionals should—it probably makes sense to use this tool. ZDnet sums this up:

“By linking Google+ Pages with basic web search, Google gives itself the advantage over social competitors and other search engines. ...And think for a moment about all of the other Google properties and how they might interact with these new Google+ pages. Google owns YouTube and, aside from the embedding videos into Google+ posts, you can imagine that Google+ Pages and YouTube channels might soon become chummier.

“Likewise, I imagine that Google+ Pages might soon find themselves ‘localized’ and built into Google Maps results. Better yet, as a powerhouse with its Android mobile OS, it’s not hard to imagine that Google+ pages would get wrapped into location-based services.”

Looking forward, Google’s new “direct connect” feature eventually will help make Google+ pages very easy to find via Google searches. If you’re creating a Google+ page, this is probably something you should set up.

Search Engine Land’s Greg Finn explained how to implement direct connect for your Google page. He noted: “Right now, only a few pages actually have Google+ Direct Connect including YouTube, Toyota and Google itself. While only a few have it, Google+ Direct Connect shows up in the administrative back-end of all pages.”

It’s also possible to create multiple Google+ pages—which could be useful if your organization has sub-brands (such as zoned editions of a metro newspaper), regular beats or sections that attract their own community, or special campaigns or programs.

Even if you’re not sure how you would use a branded Google+ page, it might be a good idea to set one up anyway—to ward off squatters who might use this tool to dilute or damage your brand.

Search Engine Land editor Danny Sullivan noted: “Anyone can make a business page for any URL without providing proof that they somehow ‘own’ or are associated with that URL. Potentially, that means pages can pretend to be representing a site they’re not connected with.”

How might Google+ pages affect your social media strategy?

It’s obvious how Google+ pages are attempting to rival Facebook pages, Wired points out the competition with Twitter—a service that is probably more popular with news brands and journalists than Facebook:

“The addition of Pages may be more of a challenge to Twitter. While a certain portion of the population is accustomed to information in 140 character bites, Google+ provides a richer forum where companies can release news to the public.

“Sharing pictures and video on Twitter, for instance, is still a rather clunky process. Followers usually must click through a shortened link and wait for a new page to load. By contrast, Google+ integrates directly with YouTube, the web’s unquestioned video heavyweight, and Picasa, its photo sharing tool.

“What’s more, anyone can readily comment on a Goggle+ Page post, and the Page owner can readily respond. With Twitter, that sort of communication becomes a tedious series of @-messages.”

Next week, I’ll examine how Google+ pages might affect local advertising.

The News Leadership 3.0 blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The Knight Digital Media Center at USC is a partnership with the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. The Center is funded by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

April 17, 2012

Local news enthusiasts: Pew research hints at opportunities for ethnic, community media

By Amy Gahran

The vast majority of U.S. adults are really into local news, Pew research shows. How might ethnic and community media outlets capitalize on this as more media goes digital and mobile?...

Over a year ago, the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 72% of U.S. adults say they follow local news closely most of the time, whether or not some important local news is happening. Today, a new Pew report takes a closer look at this group of “local news enthusiasts.”

According to Pew, local news enthusiasts are more likely to be female, age 65 or older, and retired. “Politically, they tend to be conservative in their outlook (although they do not differ from others in party identification) and they also attend religious services more frequently than others. They do not differ from other adults in terms of household income, but are less likely to be college graduates.”

In terms of ethnicity, the vast majority (69%) of local news enthusiasts are white, Pew found. Black and Hispanic adults each comprise 13% of local news enthusiasts—roughly equivalent to the representation of these ethnic groups among the U.S. population at large.

Interestingly, adults with the lowest annual household income ($30,000 or less) were by far most likely to be keen on local news: 32% describe themselves as local news enthusiasts, compared to 22% in the highest income bracket (over $75,000). People with $$50,000-$74,999 annual household income had the lowest representation among local news enthusiasts (12%).

This finding indicates that ethnic and community news and media might be especially likely to gain traction in poorer communities and low-income demographics within communities—a point that might interest local advertisers and sponsors wishing to reach those communities.

Local news enthusiasts don’t all have gray hair. Fully one fourth are age 18-24. However, according to Pew this is the only age group where “other adults” outnumber local news enthusiasts—by almost two to one. This hints that right now is probably a crucial time to engage younger people in local news and information.

Digital media, including mobile and social media, might be particularly valuable in engaging younger people in local news and information. Pew noted: “91% of younger local news followers are internet users, compared with 71% of local news followers age 40 and older, and 82% of adults who do not follow local news closely.”

For contrast, another recent Pew study found that 20% of U.S. adults—mostly those over age 50—still don’t use the internet at all.

Also according to Pew, 73% of younger local news enthusiasts use some kind of social networking service (such as Facebook), compared with 35% of older local news followers and 53% of adults who do not follow local news closely. Twitter is not quite as popular—only 16% of younger local news followers use Twitter, but that’s far more than older local news enthusiasts or other adults. This indicates that using social media to complement your local news and information offerings on the web and in other media might be an especially effective tool for engaging younger community members.

Mobile devices represent a huge opportunity for ethnic and community media. Overall, 84% of local news enthusiasts have a cell phone, and 7% have a tablet computer—slightly less than penetration among all other adults. Also, Pew found the highest penetration of both types of mobile devices is among the youngest local news enthusiasts (under age 40).

This Pew report did not explore how many local news enthusiasts currently use smartphones. However, this year marks the tipping point when smartphones take over as the majority of U.S. handsets in use. Also, most simpler, cheaper “feature phones” are capable of browsing the web and accessing e-mail—and virtually all cell phones can send and receive text messages.

This means that a robust, inclusive mobile strategy (ideally one that includes text messaging alerts or interactivity) can help any local or niche news outlet connect with its community via the devices that most people already carry with them everywhere they go. Also, since social media is one of the most popular things that younger people do on their cell phones, social media can help jumpstart your mobile strategy.

Online media is definitely not the leading source of local news for local news enthusiasts—which may put online-only ethnic or community news and info outlets at a bit of a comparative disadvantage. According to Pew, enthusiasts’ most popular sources of local news are broadcast TV (80%), word of mouth (57%), radio (52%) and print (48%). In contrast, 41% of local news enthusiasts use search engines to find local news, 23% turn to the websites of local newspapers (TV stations sites, 20%), and 12% get their local news from social networking sites.

This points out an opportunity to leverage partnerships for cross-media promotion. For instance, online-only ethnic or community news outlets might provide some articles or other content to run in local newspapers, in exchange for the print outlet providing information about how to find the ethnic/community news site or do other cross-promotion. Similarly, providing simple, short, broadcast-quality audio or video news segments or community updates to local radio or TV stations could help broaden your audience. Many local stations are eager to run such content.

Finally, ethnic and community news sites with a strong mission to improve local communities may be encouraged by this Pew finding: “Slightly more local news enthusiasts than others think they can have a big impact on making their community a better place to live (33% vs. 27%).”

The News Leadership 3.0 blog is made possible by a grant to USC Annenberg from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

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