As traditional media outlets compete for eyeballs and ad dollars, a few innovative players have emerged as masters of rich digital content publishing and social interactivity. Following their acquisition by AOL, The Huffington Post launched HuffPost Live on August 13, 2012 as a "more relaxed, more free-flowing, and much more spontaneous and interactive" method of delivering the news of the day. Over a year later, HuffPost Live is a shining example of modern, community-based broadcasting.
Content and Engagement
HuffPost Live streams content 12 hours a day, from 10am-10pm, with live segments airing one-at-a-time every 15-30 minutes. If you logged on right now, you'd likely join a segment in progress and be able to preview upcoming segments, as well as view previously recorded segments. The format includes an in-studio host and an expert guest interview, with topics ranging from politics, economics, and arts/culture. In its first month, HuffPost Live produced 1,200 clips featuring 2,000 guests.
HuffPost Live goes beyond the traditional interview format by opening the discussion up to viewers. The platform itself includes an interactive message board on each segment page. Users can post text-based questions/comments, and even submit video messages that occasionally get integrated into live segments:
In addition, live segments routinely include additional guests who join via Skype and Google+ Hangout. HuffPost Live producers actively monitor social media for chatter surrounding a particular topics, and invite those interested parties in on the discussion. This allows for a more interactive viewing experience and richer, more organic content. Contrast this with other news outlets who simply post previously recorded segments that consist of only an interviewer and guest, and you can see why HuffPost Live has built a dedicated community around their platform. In just the month of January 2013, the site racked up 27 million views.
So what can B2B and B2C brands learn from the HuffPost Live platform?
1. Commit to Producing Content Regularly
Producing 12 hours of video content, five days a week, may be a tall order. However, the most successful content marketers do commit to publishing on a frequent basis. Consider using an editorial calendar to schedule your blogs, videos and downloadables in order to hold your team accountable for hitting production deadlines.
2. Research, Monitor, Listen.
Brands who struggle to create content may be overlooking the conversations happening within multiple online communities. HuffPost Live succeeds through active social listening, culling content ideas from the chatter happening around topics they want to cover. Monitoring Twitter hashtags and browsing Quora threads can help you glean incredible insights into what subjects are of interest to your stakeholders.
3. Involve Your Community to Build Community
Beyond just relying on external conversations for content ideation, consider involving those stakeholders in the actual creation of content. Brands like SEOmoz excel at encouraging and soliciting user-generated content, which can take pressure off your internal content marketing team to continually be producing. UGC also multiplies your promotion efforts - it's likely that the author will share content within their own communities, increasing your reach beyond just the corporate brand channels. An interactive approach can also pay dividends. Google+ Hangouts On Air are a great way to directly transform conversations into content.
Building an engaged online community isn't easy. In fact, it's impossible without rich, owned content and interactivity. If an often mired brand like AOL can get it right, so can you!