We have been experimenting with video content for the past 2 years and it seems like we are finding new ways to achieve audience growth. Content is typically “king” but success also comes down to how easy it is to find content on the web. In that regard, the importance of tagging was far greater than we ever anticipated.
Recently one of our video websites, 4flagtv.com, changed it’s approach to video. Originally 4flagtv.com shared content with it’s sister site, 4cornerstv.com, based in Durango, Co. Our hope from a production and business perspective was that sharing video content between the sites would increase our inventory and give our audience more content than one production team could produce.
However, analytics showed us that videos produced in the Durango area scored poorly when compared to the page views and time spent on videos produced in Flagstaff, about Flagstaff. To support this notion we wanted to pull all the non-Flagstaff content off the site and focus on local coverage. As we prototyped what the site would look like we had very few ‘shows’ left on the site. Up to that point our programming was similar to a broadcast model.
The Broadcast model
Originally, there were shows on our Flagstaff site with particular topics and a specific host, and they were published on a regular schedule. But we were hearing from the production team that the broadcast model was actually confining what they would cover because they were always trying to find a story that would fit into the shows’ format. One such example was Escape the Grind, a show about fitness. Our shows were simply too constrictive to allow us to adequately cover topics outside their scope.
In another show, #Flag, we had far fewer parameters on what we were doing. It’s open-ended content allowed us much more free range in coverage, letting us bring together disparate topics in its two-minute-plus running time that was far more of a YouTube model than what we had been doing.
#Flag taught us that it was the content, not the brand (especially at the show level), that was important to the younger readers we wanted to court. These millennials were far more accustomed to the YouTube model of programming, not the broadcast model. And if you’re true to your audience, you need to follow what they’re familiar and comfortable with, not what you want to impose on them. Our audience didn’t care about “shows,” so we needed to move away from slavishly producing them. We also needed to acknowledge that our audience cares about specific content, and they search it out by categories.
The Youtube model
We decided to break the broadcast model of branded shows and move to a system that utilizes topics and tags to associate content for the user. It also allows the production team to cover a much broader range of content.
What’s different for our users? Now when they come to the site, instead of seeing videos categorized by show name and episodes, they are greeted with the latest content published in reverse chronological order. Each video has collection of tags connected to it. A user may start with a video on bicycle products, but be exposed to links to other topics such as “industrial design, bicycles, business profile, sports, downtown, Flag and Dapper Dre (a local celebrity).
The idea is to get the user to follow a click trail to videos about their favorite things. To make it easier for them, we went back through over 2,000 videos and retagged them with additional information. Navigationally, our site is now structured to make it easy to find content based on categories of content, trending content and newest releases.
We spent much time and energy promoting our show names and branded websites when in reality our viewers only really cared about content categories and the pure entertainment value we could offer. Our road map now follows a major and important detour that emphasizes tags over titles.
Below are 3 examples of our current format.