Last week, I wrote about how to rethink your radio shows for digital platforms in addition to the airwaves. You can read the full column here, but here’s a quick recap of the steps involved:
- Choose your digital destinations.
- Understand the strengths of the chosen platforms.
- Understand the requirements of each platform.
- Decide which pieces will end up on which platforms.
- Design the production process.
This week, I want to apply this process to a real-world example: A music news segment.
When I worked at WBCN in Boston, one of the morning show producers would record a 60-second music news segment that ran out of stopsets several times throughout the day. The producer would write the segment by reviewing headlines from show prep services and relevant websites, then record it in the station’s production studio. A typical music news segment might contain three or four stories. Let’s pre-purpose this feature — not “repurpose,” because we’re planning ahead rather than recycling after the fact — using the above process.
The Destinations and Their Strengths
There are so many places where our music news segment could wind up that it’s probably easier to rule out destinations. While we know we want to step up our game and make this a video feature in addition to audio, it’s too short to incorporate audience reactions. So we can rule out using any of the video livestreaming platforms — Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Instagram Live, and Twitch. After all, the strengths of these platforms is that the streamer can react to the audience in real time, which we’re not going to do.
Even though we’re not going to use livestreaming video, we can still create on-demand video. Each newscast could be roughly two minutes long, consisting of four top stories. The newscast could be designed so that it can be used on some platforms in its entirety, but can also be broken up into four shorter videos consisting of a single story each. The shorter videos could be perfect for Instagram Stories, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok.
YouTube’s strength is the ability to surface evergreen content through its search engine, so while the full-length video newscasts may be too time-sensitive to garner a lot of views on YouTube, it’s simple enough to upload them there. Plus, they can then be embedded on the station’s website, included in the station’s mobile app, and shared to Facebook.
The audio of the full-length newscasts may gain more traction. It can be used on the airwaves and published as podcast episodes. Full-length audio newscasts can also be delivered through an Alexa skill.
The Platform Requirements and Production Process
This means we’ll be producing three pieces of content: A complete video newscast for YouTube, Facebook, the mobile app, and the website; a complete audio newscast for to use on the air, as a podcast, and as an Alexa skill; and single-story video segments to use on various social media platforms. While this sounds simple, there’s a wrinkle: the different destinations don’t all use the same video dimensions. For example, YouTube uses horizontal video, while Instagram Stories uses vertical video. Facebook and Twitter can use either, but on mobile phones, a square video will actually occupy the most screen real estate.
We’ll want to account for this in our production process. For example, if we’re filming the video using software like OBS, V-Mix, or eCamm Live, we may want to use screen graphics or overlays that still display the necessary stuff on screen when cropped. Likewise, if we’re adding captions to your video (which is always a good idea, since videos often show up in social feeds with the sound turned off), you’ll want to make sure that they do not get cut off.
Another issue to pay attention to is how different platforms handle music rights. YouTube will typically allow us to use copyrighted music, but not make money off these videos. Facebook, on the other hand, may simply remove our videos if they contain copyrighted music, while our station pays for the rights to use copyrighted music on the air. The simplest solution is to make sure that the music news segment contains only royalty free music. However, we can also envision a scenario where we produce multiple versions of the newscast — both with and without copyrighter music — for use on different platforms.
Finally, there’s an additional bit of writing that needs to be done for a music news segment that is destined for digital platforms. Social media posts need text to accompany the video, while YouTube videos, website embeds, and podcast episodes need descriptions. While we can use similar text in both, it’s not going to be a straight copy-and-paste job. For example, hashtags are heavily used on Instagram and Twitter, but have no place in podcast episode descriptions.
Figuring out the production process is going to be the most challenging part of this process, and we may need to make some tweaks along the way. However, once we’ve got it under our belt, we should be able to regularly pump out content that be used on multiple platforms. Over time, we will also discover new tools that will allow us to speed up this process. Most importantly, we will be using your content to play to each platform’s strengths.
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