Keeping Up With Attention Spans: How National TV Engages With Facebook Video Series

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Half the battle of hooking an audience is delivering shareable, newsworthy content, and the other half is retention. This is especially true on social media platforms like Facebook, where users are supplied with endless streams of information from friends, family and brands. To set themselves apart and attract new viewers, national broadcast programs have recently launched Facebook-exclusive video supplements to deliver messages through short, memorable and engaging content.

In December, World News Tonight debuted Facecast: The One Thing, a one-minute Facebook video that features news and top stories hosted by ABC News anchor David Muir. And last week, Access Hollywood launched a similar series for entertainment news called Early Access, a two-minute behind-the-scenes look at top stories of the day from the producer’s morning editorial meetings.

Longtime Access Hollywood executive producer Rob Silverstein leads Early Access, taking fans through four hot topics that may or may not receive air time later in the regular evening broadcast.

“The process every day is conversation, arguments, pitching ideas, stories,” Silverstein said. “It’s a process that’s organic and grows as the morning progresses. It changes, moves, adds, flows…and that’s what makes it so exciting.”

According to Silverstein, Early Access has over 250,000 viewers in only a week since its debut, . “I’m hoping it’s not just Access Hollywood fans, but these are new people and eventually we’ve turned them on to the TV show.”

While the staff shoots Early Access weekdays at 5:30 a.m. inside Silverstein’s office and uploads it to Facebook only hours later, an important aspect to the series is its highly polished production quality. “There’s a lot that goes into it – we’re putting in stills, video, text. We’re making it look better and fit with the brand,” he said.

Marie Nicola, digital strategist, content producer and blogger at Karmacake, knows the importance of video duration and high production. “One to three minutes is an unthreatening commitment of time for viewers – it gives them the vitals and gives them the opportunity to learn more. Plus, one to three minutes puts the pressure on producers to make really compelling content that doesn’t drag and is engaging,” she said.

“The longer the video drags, the lower the retention – videos less than one minute have 80 percent viewer retention, so producer should keep that in mind when producing a three minute clip. They need to present their hook within the first 9-30 seconds to keep people tuned in. That’s the only trick.”

Carly Fauth, director of marketing and outreach at MoneyCrashers, agrees with Nicola. “If a news agency, or any other organization for that matter, utilized social media for lengthier videos, I believe that would be a turn off,” she said. “In my opinion, social media enthusiasts have rather short attention spans.”

Calls to action are another effective way to drive audience engagement and encourage feedback. “Let us know, in the comments below – that’s my favorite line,” Silverstein added.

Since not all stories on Early Access make it to broadcast, Silverstein asks for feedback from fans such as what stories they should elaborate on or drop and encourages participation by giving an open forum for discussion.

Silverstein encourages engagement with viewers

“Video can be such a powerful narrative tool that when used responsibly and consistently, it can transform people’s opinions of you and your story,” Nicola said. “If you can keep people tuned in, chances are good they will communicate back and share their opinion.”

“Also, the amount of people who prefer watching video is undeniable,” Nicole added. She cites that 80 percent of viewers will recall a video they’ve watched in the past 30 days.

Silverstein admits he doesn’t know exactly how Early Access will evolve down the road, but recognizes his staff loves being a part of the process. “I just know that more and more people are dying to be on it. I got a feeling that my office is going to be a lot more crowded,” he joked.

Find Early Access on Access Hollywood’s Facebook page weekdays for timely entertainment news and more.

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