Day in the Life: What a BuzzFeed social news editor does
With a combined audience of around 1.5 million, BuzzFeed U.K.’s social reach has some way to go to catch up to the publisher’s U.S. flagship. Helping to engage that audience, particularly on Facebook and Twitter, is the job of BuzzFeed U.K. social news editor, Andy Dangerfield.
Right now, there’s a lot of attention on video, specifically of the live variety: Facebook pushes live-streamed video to the top of its news feed, giving publishers a nudge of incentive when it comes to getting them to experiment with it. And if that’s not enough, it’s also paying some of them, too.
We caught up with Dangerfield and had him break down a recent Friday for us.
6:00 a.m.: I wake up to an enthusiastic “good morning” lick on my face from my French bulldog. There’s usually time for a few tummy tickles before I get on my iPhone to check breaking-news alerts from overnight.
If there’s been any big news, I’ll share these stories on BuzzFeed’s U.K. Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Next, I see how well posts I’d scheduled for last night did in terms of reach, comments and shares. The post that did best was a comedy explainer for British people on who Ted Cruz is and why should we care. I’ll share that one again later in the morning.
6:30 a.m.: Catch up on the latest news on BBC Radio 4’s Today while I’m in the shower.
7:45 a.m.: Coffee brewed and sipped, shirt ironed, dog fed and walk to train station complete, I’m on the Tube using the Wi-Fi on my phone to get up to speed on the latest trending stories, plus see what the competition’s up to.
8:15 a.m.: I’m at our Oxford Circus office on my laptop reading story ideas shared by reporters on internal messaging system Slack, plus scheduling tweets and Facebook posts for the next hour our so.
9 a.m.: It’s time for our daily news meeting, where we catch-up on stories that did well the previous day and where fresh ideas are pitched. I joined BuzzFeed U.K. a few months ago, and the first thing that struck me was what a strong news team the company now has. I never fail to be impressed by the specialist knowledge and original ideas every single reporter brings to the morning meeting on a daily basis.
I tell the team we have a big Facebook Live planned for the evening — our LGBT editor Patrick interviewing band Years & Years’ openly gay frontman Olly Alexander at Wembley Arena. Just this morning, NME published an article calling them the most important pop act of our time. Good timing!
10:30 a.m.: Friday’s free bagel day in the office, so that’s breakfast sorted. After an hour spent scheduling posts, I get together with the team of four I’ve assembled for today’s Facebook Live. Patrick runs through potential subject areas for questions (politics, sexuality and mental health, and the band’s success). Matt and Laura talk about sound and lighting plans, and I run through the social strategy (which includes promoting the live stream on other social media though out the day, getting the band to promote it too, and reaching out to fans as it’s happening for engagement).
11 a.m.: Fellow social media editor Maggy [Van Eijk] and I have a meeting with our editor-in-chief Janine [Gibson] to review how our foray into Facebook Live has gone so far. We did our first live under a month ago and have since been experimenting with one or two a day. We’ve tried all sorts of things — from reporting from outside Rupert Murdoch’s wedding to our Budget Live coverage and broadcasting BuzzFeed’s live Music Breaks.
We’ve had big successes. Our TV reporter’s attempts to bake a soufflé in his kitchen was watched by almost 500,000 people, while our broadcast from Brussels the day after the attacks attracted 280,000 live viewers — that’s more viewers that most TV channels are getting at that time of the day.
We’ve also had inevitable teething problems experimenting with live rather than regular Facebook video. There have been occasions when the 4G signal has let us down and other times when a great-sounding concept just didn’t quite work in reality. But each broadcast has helped us learn the kind of things that work well on what’s essentially a completely new platform.
12:30 p.m.: I have Slack chats with reporters I’m working on Facebook Live stories with for next week. We discuss narrative concepts, potential props, pages to stream on and potential content to drive referrals to. Lots of exciting stuff coming up!
2 p.m.: Our U.S. team is now awake, so while eating lunch at my desk, I have G-chats with editors of our LGBT and music Facebook pages about today’s live plans to see if they fancy sharing on their pages. They both do. Great result!
I prepare Facebook and Twitter posts to promote the live and schedule posts for the rest of the day for other stories.
3:15 p.m.: On the Tube to Wembley, I spot Years & Years have tweeted about the upcoming live stream. I retweet from @BuzzFeedUK.
4 p.m.: At Wembley, the band’s manager whisks us past the line of die-hard fans some of whom have been waiting outside since 6 a.m. We’re taken backstage to our interview room where we have plenty of time to decorate the set with BuzzFeed swag and Years & Years posters. We set up the phone, lights and sound equipment and test the Wi-Fi and radio mics, which are working well. I tweet to say the live’s happening soon.
4:55 p.m.: We’re joined by our star of the day, Olly, who’s full of energy and easily convinced to swap his cap for a BuzzFeed one. The questions get off to a good start, but one of the mics has failed us last minute! Luckily, Matt and Laura are quick fix it within three minutes.
Olly answers questions on everything from his hottest man and favorite food to more serious subjects like body issues and HIV prevention drugs.
The live’s going down well with Facebook fans who are writing lots of positive comments and asking questions, which I scribble on a big whiteboard for Patrick to read out to Olly. We attract around 100,000 viewers – which I’m really pleased with. The first of many “Patrick on the sofa with” Facebook Lives I hope!
7 p.m.: We arrive back in central London. It’s off to the pub for a well-earned pint!
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