World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

Social video: What viewers are watching, and sharing

World News Publishing Focus

World News Publishing Focus
Your Guide to the Changing Media Landscape

Social video: What viewers are watching, and sharing

It’s an instructional video on how to wrap your cat for Christmas. And it has 96 million views.

This is what journalists are up against in a digital world that’s increasingly pivoting towards video, and the scene setter for a session on social video at WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Asia 2018 conference.

“Research shows us a video tweet is six times more likely to be shared, rather than a written tweet”, said moderator Glenn van Zutphen.

There’s a push for more video and digital content in the scope of journalism, but not all videos are the same.

“How do you make your video memorable?”

That’s the rhetorical question CNA Insider’s Yvonne Lim asked the room. 

Since launching in April 2016, her team has garnered more than 590 thousand Facebook followers, 87,000 YouTube subscribers, and 6,000 instagram fans. What’s more, their top videos rake millions of views with consistently high engagement rates.

“We formulate videos first and then figure out how to flesh it out”, she said.

CNA Insider creates made-for-digital short documentaries with a small dedicated team of multi-skilled producers. Their most successful video features Tadashi Yanai, the founder of Uniqlo, with about 8.9 million views, and the topics they cover range on everything, from Singapore’s elderly ice-cream uncle to South Korea’s granny prostitutes. But even with views in the millions, Lim says that’s not how she defines success.

“We prefer engagement”, she said. “People don’t remember facts, figures, issues. They remember people”.

Lim’s team has dared to do what most on social media would shy away from: long-form video. One of their longest, at 9 minutes, has done surprisingly well, with 3 million views and an astounding 10 percent retention rate. “That’s a miracle”, Lim quips. It’s about dedicating resources to an impactful video that will stay with audiences in the long term, she says. She points to comments from viewers as an indicator of whether or not the audience cares about the piece. Many of them, with hundreds of likes, praise CNA’s production or even ask whether they can help the subjects in the pieces. 

R.AGE’s Ian Yee has a similar view. 

His small editorial team started as a youth lifestyle print publication, but made the decision to pivot -- not only to video -- but to what he calls ‘hardcore investigative journalism’.

“This was an idea that everyone thought was a bit crazy”, he said. “My boss asked, ‘how will you make money?’ It was a good motivation”.

He says it took about two years to produce their first documentary, and it came after numerous compromises. They had to do paid collaborations to fund their ambitious project.

Now many of their videos, including a recent 2016 piece called ‘Predator in my Phone’, have prompted staunch calls for change and justice on the national level in Malaysia.

Both speakers at the panel say their teams are willing to work, albeit selectively, with partners to do either funded campaigns or collaborative projects. R.AGE is also planning to do crowdfunding.


Grace Lee is a digital reporter based out of Hong Kong.



Kimberly Lim's picture

Kimberly Lim


2018-11-09 06:34

Author information

© 2020 WAN-IFRA - World Association of News Publishers

Footer Navigation