How CNET links its video and social teams

As publishers look beyond YouTube and Facebook to distribute their videos, they’re recognizing that their video and social teams can no longer operate in silos. Case in point is CNET, which is adjusting its editorial structure accordingly.

CNET has taken an integrated approach to its 25-person video team and five-person social team. A video producer works with the social team. The producer works with a social manager to determine which videos should be recut or entirely reshot for different platforms. Nearly every video produced lands on YouTube, where CNET has more than 1 million subscribers. Facebook is CNET’s fastest-growing social video platform. Facebook, where CNET has nearly 2.1 million followers, accounted for 62 percent of CNET’s social video views in November 2015, versus only 14 percent in September, according to Tubular Labs.

“Content will not succeed if it’s not in sync with the way that platform operates,” said Lindsey Turrentine, editor-in-chief of CNET. “But because each platform is so different, we’ve had to create a much closer bond between our social team and our video team.”

Across YouTube and Facebook, CNET is besting its top competitors by video views.

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Turrentine credits CNET’s growth on Facebook to honing in on what works on the platform, namely shorter videos, often featuring striking images in the first few seconds and text throughout for those who are watching with the sound off. This format has become the primary language for Facebook video and has been used by publishers from BuzzFeed to Tastemade to grow viewership on the social platform.

To hone its expertise on the platforms, CNET has also been hiring platform-specific specialists who act almost like analysts alongside the content creators. It hired a Facebook specialist early last year for just this purpose, similar to a role it already had for YouTube. As CNET increases its focus on other types of video, namely vertical and 360-degree videos, it has also hired specialists for those formats.

For instance, it hired a Periscope specialist nearly three months ago. It has added 18,000 followers on the live streaming platform since then and now reaches 61,000. It still lags its competitors in terms of followers — from Engadget’s 108,000 to Wired’s 195,000 — but is second only to The Verge with 540,000 “hearts” (Periscope’s equivalent of a like). In comparison, The Verge has 2.7 million hearts and third-place Engadget has 100,000.

The YouTube and Facebook specialists have direct relationships with the platforms, which helps CNET not only understand what’s working on those platforms but stay ahead of any changes that might be coming, said Turrentine.

Companies need to structure themselves to account for social’s role in their editorial video distribution, according to Chris Dorr, executive director of the Global Online Video Association.

“It used to be that you could make a piece of content and then focus on distribution and social to see how it does. Now, it’s, how do we create content in a way that anticipates how it’s going to be shared?”