How one broadcaster is reaching the ‘YouTube Generation’

Stijn Lehaen - VRT Start Up

Delivering the closing presentation of today’s news:rewired conference, Stijn Lehaen, head of VRT’s ‘start-up’ shared his experiences of working for a large Belgium broadcaster, but in a division using the principles of a small, flexible business to reach the ‘YouTube Generation’

The YouTube generation, he said, are media users who want some control over the media they consume, if they choose what to watch or even create. In order to better engage younger users, he said his firm had outlined what he called the ‘four-pivot system’.

The first Pivot, ‘Publication’ drove VRT to switch from producing content on a daily basis to continuous production for YouTube, while at the same time learning what kind of content worked best for audiences on the social network.

The second Pivot, ‘Label’, was the development of new brand – called ‘Sambal’ with which to market the new approach across social media.

For the third Pivot, ‘Content’, Lahaen said Sambal moved away from just aggregation of existing content to creation of videos specifically for use on social media.

Lahaen describes that adding humour to content is a good way to make it engaging however you have to keep a innovative mindset about it.

He said:

If you are going to add humour into the mix you have to be the first one to it, you can’t use something that is funny and old

In order to tackle technology features such as phone reviews, Sambal gave affordable mobile phones to their readership and asked them to highlight the good points and bad points.

The final pivot, ‘Format’ saw Sambal experiment with certain different ways of unravelling news stories through experiments with formats like ‘stupid questions’ where complicated stories (such as the Fukushima nuclear disaster) would be broken down to simple questions which were in turn-answered simply (e.g. “Fuka-what? What is that?”).

Sambal also experimented with short video in order to engage young audiences.

Lahaen said:

Young people are quite interested in heavy news… So we had to find a way of providing this content in fifteen seconds.

Lahaen added that audio had to be optional, due to the fact that people may not always be able to hear their mobile phone when out and about, prompting Sambal to make more infographic-esque videos with added text captions but still providing audio.

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