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A Q&A With Upworthy’s Head of Video

How Upworthy are making social first videos for a wide audience online. 

Upworthy has pivoted in recent times to become a video-first operation, targeting Facebook users keen on watching feel-good stories in their news feeds.

Recently, we saw numbers suggesting that the move is attracting plenty of interest on Facebook. On their official Facebook page, Upworthy saw an increase of 575% in their total engagements from June to February 2016, while upping their output. In January, the publisher hit 200 million Facebook video views.

Here’s how Upworthy Video VP and General Manager, Croi McNamara, answered our questions about their strategy.

 

What does your daily workflow look like? Who’s behind the Upworthy video team?

 

I truly mean it when I say that I am so lucky to work with the fantastic people of Upworthy. There is a level of creative expertise and mission focus that I have never seen anywhere else. The video team is made up of three Originals producers, three audience development producers and four story producers.  We all work together, closely, and apply our magic sauce; as Thadchai Sattayatam our Senior Producer, audience development calls “data + heart + art” – so accurate and so perfect for what we do! This combination of emotions and data have helped our video business soar in the last 6 months going from 60MM monthly views late last year to over 270MM in April.

 

Can you briefly take us through the creation cycle of an Upworthy video, from conception to distribution?

 

 

First, we spend a lot of time looking at what our audience is consuming; what do they love, what do they ignore? Next, our whole team will brainstorm around topics that we see are working and figure out our unique way of telling that story either in subject matter or in format. Next, we narrow down the list of ideas so they make sense for our budgets and our timelines, and our creative and innovation goals. Finally, we create, we test (a lot), we finesse and we publish!

 

What are the advantages in distributing your videos ‘natively’, through Facebook? Are you seeing success with any other platforms?

 

We love the Facebook environment for native video, our audience likes seeing our content there and we are getting really great feedback around our work there. We are working closely with YouTube to see what we can do there in the coming months and we are really excited to be experimenting with Instagram this year, too.

Growth in Facebook video engagements

 

How are Upworthy measuring the success of their videos on social media and elsewhere? What metrics do you find most useful?

 

We work with three metrics to help inform our success: engagement, views and shares. We are really proud of the quality of video we share with our audience and spend a lot of energy thinking about the kinds of stories we want to be telling. Our record breaking views, engagement and shares have proven that is time well spent and we are looking forward to seeing it blossom as we continue our video expansion in 2016.

 

What tips and advice would you share with other publishers looking to make the most of their videos on social media? What are the future plans for video at Upworthy?

 

The most important thing is to always tell stories that matter. It’s obvious, but always, always true. Give your audience a reason to care; an easy way to do this is to ask yourself, do YOU care? Would YOU watch this all the way through and share with YOUR friends? Be sure to give your audience context around your video and be yourself, more than ever working with your own voice is very important. Regarding our future plans – we have a lot!

We are launching franchise formats like Humanity for the Win, Another Person’s Shoes, and Testimony (launched this month) on both Facebook and YouTube and we are excited to work towards our goal of opening hearts and minds through all of our video storytelling. So far, it’s working, millions of times per day. I can’t wait to see what we will have accomplished by the end of the year!

 

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