Why TV News Programs Are Going Social

Why TV News Programs Are Going Social

Social media

Television news programs are not dying. They’re just changing. Case in point: on July 26, ABC News announced that it will team with digital media company ATTN to develop and distribute news videos across social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The two companies will create video content such as guest interviews and features, customized for social viewing and sharing.

Commenting on the relationship, both ABC and ATTN both acknowledged the changing video consumption habits of audiences in the digital age.

Colby Smith, vice president, ABC News Digital, said, “Great journalism resonates with audiences across all platforms. Partnering with ATTN: allows us to experiment even further with new formats. We will take compelling stories and interviews and craft them in a way that feels organic to our digital platforms.”

Matthew Segal, ATTN’s cofounder and editor in chief, said, “To reach audiences today, you have to meet them where they live on social platforms. We’re thrilled to leverage the resources of ABC to provide social audiences with great storytelling that focuses on the issues important to them.”

ABC News is certainly not the only bastion of the old-world news networks to react to changing times. Also in July, NBC News launched “Stay Tuned,” a twice-daily Snapchat broadcast that joins other Snapchat-based NBC programs such as “The Voice.” Meanwhile, Twitter and Bloomberg offer 24/7 streaming news, and CNN is turning to YouTube for a forthcoming news broadcast. And earlier in 2017, the BBC and Snap announced a relationship to distribute a new Snapchat-based show that draws upon the BBC’s popular Planet Earth II documentary series.

These announcements occur at a time when TV-based content in general continues to expand into digital. We’ve already seen longstanding entertainment shows such as The Academy Awards and The Walking Dead embrace digital with second-screen experiences, and the NFL streams games on Twitter, just to cite a few examples. These programs have good motivation to increase their online video content. With TV viewers cutting their cable subscriptions and becoming more comfortable watching TV on desktops, laptops and mobile devices, TV broadcasters and their advertising partners are being forced to transition to an increasingly digital-only experience.

Social media is especially attractive for distributing content for three reasons:

  • Targeting shareable content. As we have noted on our blog, social sites such as YouTube make it possible for content creators to offer advertisers far more targeted audiences than TV can. Facebook alone offers increasingly sophisticated tools (including building lookalike audiences) for targeting different segments of its 2 billion audience based on who they are and what they do on social. And social platforms, are, of course, imminently shareable, which is why Twitter, despite its operational woes, remains a popular platform to distribute movie trailers and music videos – when they resonate, they get shared.
  • The power of livestreaming. Livestreaming in its various formats has become a powerful method for sharing real-time content, especially after Facebook expanded its livestreaming platform. Livestreaming has given everyday people a chance to act as citizen journalists by broadcasting you-are-there raw footage of breaking news and events. But networks can livestream as well by empowering journalists to act with the same real-time insight on the ground in a nimble fashion with nothing more than a mobile phone. Journalists can report news with the professional discernment and interviewing skills that they possess. And on social media, they can more easily amplify their coverage of real-time news. In fact, according to WGN-TV reporter Nancy Loo, livestreaming on Facebook is the best way to interact with your audience. (She provided this insight to us directly at the Social Media Day conference in Chicago June 30.)
  • Reaching the cool kids. In 2016, millennials overtook baby boomers as the largest U.S. population segment. And in 2017, Gen-Z – people born between 1997 and 2015 – overtook For Gen-Z and millennials, digital defines their world. Snapchat especially has famously become the go-to content consumption source for millennials – and where this large population segment goes, advertisers and their content partners are sure to follow.

But moving to social networks does not guarantee an audience. Audiences on social are not necessarily engaged with brands. They lack the intent that people searching for content on Google possess. They’re probably distracted by consuming and creating information on multiple screens and devices even while they are watching yours. Whether producing organic content or advertising, broadcasters need to engage audiences with small, bite-sized morsels that earn attention. To learn how to transition to the digital world with your advertising, contact KeywordFirst. We’d love to help.