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News On Facebook: Your Front Row Seat

Facebook is taking a road trip around the country to meet with local journalists and media companies. We caught up with them in Atlanta at their invite-only event and SND Founder, Kim Wilson did her best impression of a news reporter while live-tweeting the sessions for those unable to attend in person!

It’s all part of Facebook’s new journalism initiative which is backed by a growing, dedicated team and a new resource website for journalists here.

There’s a lot to unpack. I don’t want to bury the lead, so here it is:

Yeah, you know what I’m talking about: “Heart” if you want to see a Firefly reboot, “Angry” if you don’t, et cetera. While those of us you who have tried it have surely seen some amazing numbers come from your live streaming poll, Facebook has gone on the record to say that they don’t like it. Facebook says a graphic with a poll on top goes against the spirit of the live streaming video feature and is against its platform terms. So, for the record, they ask that we please knock-it-off, thank you. Will they penalize you for doing it? That’s not clear, but it’s generally not a great idea to repeatedly violate Facebook’s terms of service. So, we’ll let you pick your poison on that one.

You know what IS a good idea? Using Social News Desk. It’s true!

So let’s put this one to bed. You don’t take a hit for using a publishing tool like Social News Desk (or any others for that matter). You heard it straight from Facebook.

Anyway, let’s get back to some Facebook Live Stream tips from the media team at Facebook.

  • Meghan Peters (@petersmeg) suggests that we try to build suspense in our live videos. We’re telling a story, so let’s tell it. What is the big visual reveal? What “mystery guest” is going to join you on your broadcast? What can you do to keep the viewer watching past the first thirty seconds?
  • Engage in real time. Part of the spirit of the medium is that people aren’t just watching you, they’re interacting! Get a coworker to help you manage responses, and call out viewers by name as you answer questions.
  • Set and reset the scene as new viewers enter the stream. People will be popping in and out of the stream, so make sure you have a way to catch people up without beating them over the head with the broad details over and over again.
  • Here’s something new: in your market, you might have already noticed ad breaks for saved video in your stream. Facebook is now testing ad breaks in live video. It’s a small test group for now, look for more on that later.

Here’s a big live streaming reveal:

Yeah, live streaming on Instagram! Even Instagram says it’s still too new to suggest any best practices, so go out there and give it a shot! See what you can see. Overall, Facebook says no single news org has figured out exactly what to do with Instagram. But, they suggest you learn through experimentation. Here’s what they tell us about Instagram’s audience:

Here’s what the media team says about achieving success on Instagram:

  • Post more often. It takes a little more work to add Instagram into your day, but if you want to build an audience you’ll have to find a way.
  • Post more video. Videos get more comments from viewers, and – according to Facebook – success on Instagram starts with comments.
  • Speaking of videos, let me throw some numbers at you: Facebook says 50% of users listen to Instagram video with sound. 70% listen to Instagram Stories with sound. While your videos need to be visually compelling from frame one to stop a user’s thumb, the audio on that video is something that needs to be considered carefully.
  • But Facebook warns us not to overproduce our content. They say an authentic video or picture is much better than one that has been filtered and edited to within an inch of a Salvador Dali painting.
  • And finally, keep your focus narrow:

Be specific with what kind of content your brand covers. Then cover the heck out of it. Be the go-to expert on whatever specific thing you’re doing. Also, using location tags will help your audience know you’re authentically local.

And about all that fake news? Here’s one thing Facebook says the company is doing to combat it:

TL;DR

Yeah, I know how it is, newsies. So here are the key take-aways in list format:

  • News Feed: the amount of content in our feeds has increased while the time to consume it has remained constant.
  • Think about the “thumb-stopping” element that captures attention in the first 3 seconds of your video.
  • Watch metrics to understand optimal post frequency. There’s no perfect posting volume for all.
  • Post a mix of content types: links, photos and videos.
  • Develop an authentic voice that resonates. (That’s key for talent accounts and franchise pages.)
  • Timely video: evolve storytelling with the news cycle.
  • Personal, immersive video: connect with real time conversation. (Especially in live video.)
  • Local video: focus on community angles.
  • Involve your viewers in the live video experience.

Looking for more? Check out a new monthly feature on Facebook’s Media Blog called Spotlight on Local News, where they showcase exceptional storytelling from local news publishers on Facebook and Instagram. And keep an eye out as Facebook plans to release details soon on the next two stops for the News on Facebook tour: San Diego and Seattle!

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Ryan Morris

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