For the past few years, news publishers have pointed to online video as the next frontier — so much so that, beginning in 2015, many reorganized their entire newsrooms. This “pivot to video,” as it was dubbed, was so dramatic and widespread that some newsrooms even laid off editorial staff to make room for video.
The result? Few achieved the success they had hoped.
After watching as companies like Vice and Mic invested too much in new video content, Guilherme Ravache, content director at the publisher Editora Perfil in São Paulo, Brazil, was hesitant to jump in. “Video is very challenging,” Ravache said. “We have a digital operation that is profitable, and when you start something new, like video, that is expensive.”
Yet as the opportunities for online video keep expanding with new tools like Instagram’s IGTV, he knew he couldn’t ignore video’s importance for Editora Perfil’s six different publications, which share a video team. Said Ravache, “Overall, video is something that our audience is looking for. It can improve the experience for them and increase engagement with our brands,” which include CARAS, focused on celebrity news and Ana Maria, a housekeeping magazine.
Ravache first wanted to see what other companies had learned from their own experiences, and how he could improve on that, before adding more video to Editora Perfil’s strategy.
“[Other publishers] started earlier, so we have a good chance to see what others have done. For starters, they got the arrows in their backs,” said Ravache. “There's no formula for digital in general, but as a rule of thumb, you can avoid the mistakes of others.”
To better understand how to successfully approach online video, Ravache attended the Facebook Journalism Project’s video accelerator in São Paulo, coordinated by the International Center for Journalists, a Facebook partner. Upon returning from the first of three sessions in April, Ravache asked his team to completely revamp their video content across the entire company.
The team initiated a mobile-focused approach, ditching big cameras in favor of mobile phones. They adjusted their frames to leave space for graphics, used Skype for interviews and provided mobile phones for reporters to create their own videos. They also began scripting every video, something they hadn’t done before.
“For a long time, we used TV as an example,” said Vitor Balciunas, head of content at Editora Perfil. “It's not working anymore. So we changed our framework, added some graphic resources and [made] our videos a little more catchy."
The team was nervous that reducing the level of production might cost them their audience. “We actually got a surprise, and people started liking, commenting and sharing our videos so much more. Our numbers are growing everyday,” Balciunas added.
The results have been huge levels of growth across social media platforms, and increased traffic to the publications’ websites. CARAS and Ana Maria’s Facebook following grew by nearly 50% each in July, and CARAS has the most engaged Instagram news profile in Brazil, according to Executive Editor Camilla Queiroz.
Editora Perfil has grown their team significantly to keep up with the success. Before the accelerator, three people produced three videos per day. In just one month, the team grew to 10 people. Today, four months later, a team of 15 produces 12 videos per day in almost 50 different formats. Queiroz said they plan to continue to grow to eventually produce 100 videos per week.
Queiroz and Balciunas credit their unique structure of “small teams inside a big team” to make the growth possible. The video department is broken into smaller teams including creatives, script writing, production, editorial and distribution. Each has their own, unique role in the production process.
Shortly after implementing the new structure, they also integrated the video team with the social media department so they could better collaborate.
“We need the social media team to upload our videos, and social media needs the videos to increase their numbers,” said Queiroz. “At the end of the day we are on the same page, we want the same thing. We can help ourselves, so we unified a team and we work so much closer now.”
“There was some resistance,” Balciunas added, “but then they all saw that we could do this together.”
Now, the challenge for Ravache is to turn these followers into funds.
“It's the chicken and egg problem,” he said. “It's hard to get money if you don't have an audience, and first you need the audience. So, that's what we're all working on — we are increasing the numbers, CPM [cost per thousand impressions] and all that stuff, it's going better.”
Today, Editora Perfil monetizes their video content through advertisements. Queiroz notes that more engagement on platforms like Facebook have, in turn, increased their website views, making the regular site more attractive to potential advertisers.
In August, five more people joined the video team as editors and distributors, and Ravache expects they’ll end the year with a team of 30. With a larger team moving forward, Editora Perfil hopes to stay on top of industry trends, including new platforms like Tik Tok, the social media app for creating short lip-sync and comedy videos, for one.
In the meantime, they’ll continue to try to monetize, while pushing out new content. Editora Perfil will be launching their first long-form video series later this summer, for example, on the LGBTQ community in Brazil.
Above all, they remain dedicated to meeting the demands of their audience as their video habits shift and change. “If the public are there, we’re there,” said Balciunas.
All images and videos courtesy of Editora Perfil.
To learn more about the Facebook Journalism Project's video accelerators in Brazil, check out these recaps: session 1, session 2, session 3, session 4, session 5.