Social video for local news: 3 tips from Ahsante Bean from Poynter and VidSpark


How can local media approach video storytelling for the next generation of news consumers? In 2020, Ahsante Bean, editor and program manager, video strategy at Poynter, led the VidSpark project, funded by the Google News Initiative. Bean helped three local newsrooms — the Star Tribune in Minneapolis/St. Paul, 89.7 GBH News in Boston, and 10News WTSP in Tampa Bay, Fla. — bring local news to younger audiences through social media video series aimed at GenZ viewers.

During LMA’s webinar at 2 p.m. Eastern time Feb. 10, Bean will explain lessons from the new VidSpark Playbook for Social Video Strategy, which includes several case studies and detailed best practices for local media. Bean will be joined by Star Tribune staff involved with series supported by VidSpark, including Alexis Allston, who did hosting and audience engagement, and Mark Vancleave, who produced the videos.

Bean shared with us some of the most valuable insights from VidSpark ahead of the webinar. Register here to join our live Q&A and explainer.

1. All three newsrooms pivoted from some of their previous practices to produce the best collection of content tailored to the platform – resulting in higher engagement and page growth.

“One thing that stood out was the initial perspective shift for all newsrooms in thinking about their social handles as a destination and not a repository. … The Star Tribune had a very strong Instagram presence going into this. They were already curating that experience and saying, ‘why would someone come back to our page time and time again?’”

2. Signs point to sustainability for video designed for the GenZ audience. The social following for each news outlet grew from several hundred to more than 1,000 followers in six months. Videos averaged 500 to 1,000 views, with top-performing posts garnering 50,000 to 100,000 views.

“The long term goal is for the audience building, and as it builds and the community gets brought in, there are hopefully going to be more ad and sponsorship opportunities.”

3. Even small teams with limited resources can make worthwhile social videos by testing frequency and production workflows to figure out what works.

“The audience-first approach is the good starting point in a strategy that will attract a specific audience. … Experimentation is something you can do in a two- or three-episode series. You can have a small team dedicated to this.”

Register to attend the webinar with live Q&A.

Ahsante Bean is editor and program manager, video strategy at Poynter, where she’s focusing on developing innovative digital content with local newsrooms to reach younger audiences.
This webinar is offered through the Local News Resource Center, funded by the Facebook Journalism Project, to offer social media support, solutions, and strategies for local newsrooms.