Although many editorial offices automatically distribute content via Facebook and Instagram, these channels are not always ideal.
Thomas Lindh and John Stark from Swedish Yle presented a convincing example to show this at the Festival of Digital Narratives.
One episode of the documentary The Norden is about Halden, a high-security prison in Norway.
Inmates here can play PlayStation, have access to a kitchen with knives and can produce their own music. This very quickly triggered a debate on Reddit, a social news and entertainment website where registered users can upload content as links or text.
The creators of the series soon realised Reddit’s potential value in terms of spreading content.
“Reddit calls itself the front page of the internet. It’s the sixth most popular website and the fastest-growing,” said Thomas Lindh from Swedish Yle.
Number one on Reddit
He and his colleague, John Stark, came across the active discussion on prisons and contemplated ways to make use of Reddit while contributing to the user experience.
The prison documentary stayed at the top of the documentaries sub-reddit for eight days, which is quite remarkable for a Nordic public service provider.
Technology does not produce a good narrative.
Everything depends on your message to a specific audience. This experience, gained from a Norwegian documentary, proved a real eye-opener at the seminar.
Clever camera angles are nothing compared to the right content More than 200 users recommended the documentary to Netflix and, because of the high level of exposure among Reddit users, Deutsche Welle, BBC and Netflix Global showed interest in broadcasting the documentary on their channels.
“Reddit became our most important platform, and the content was shared again and again,” said John Stark.
Poor quality is OK…
To supplement the documentary itself, the team created additional storylines. One of these was a keynote presentation by the Norwegian prison governor, filmed with a static camera and accompanied by screen dumps from a PowerPoint presentation. This supported the claim that clever camera angles are not always a deciding factor for users to get involved.
“The greater the involvement, the poorer the quality can be,” Thomas Lindh pointed out.
Another example was the popular concept ‘I am’, where an expert in a particular field answers questions. When this was done by putting questions to the prison governor in a hotel lobby, the broadcast received considerable attention despite the very basic conditions.
As the team behind The Norden pointed out, the right content for the right audience is much more important than clever camera angles.