SnapStream Blog

Who Really Watches the News?

April 29 2021 by Sarah Eck



Audience measurement and attribution is tougher than ever, with neither surveys nor browser data telling the full story. Fortunately, the Pew Research Center embarked upon a year-long study to better understand news consumption habits, technology usage, and how research methodologies are trying to keep up.

With the rise of digital media and the diversification of channels used by traditional news sources, not only do researchers have a tougher time measuring readership/viewership, but even audiences themselves are confused. While the Measuring News Consumption in a Digital Era study in its entirety covers ways to improve news attribution surveys and data-gathering, this blog will focus on the findings related to who is watching the news, how they're watching it, and their overall understanding of the news media landscape.


News Consumption is Relatively High,About a quarter of Americans could not correctly identify any original reporting sources Media Literacy is Low

While most Americans claim to consume news on a regular or semi-regular basis, confusion exists around how news organizations actually work. 

According to the study, a little over half of respondents are at least fairly confident they can distinguish between news organizations that do their own reporting versus those that do not. 

When asked about specific outlets, including news aggregators like Google News and Apple News, more than two-thirds of respondents either thought these outlets did original reporting or weren't sure. 



Paying for News is Uncommon and Not Well Understood

Most Americans say they have not paid for news in past year… but when asked more specifically, some who initially said no indicate their household had subscribed or donated

What connotes 'paying for news' has changed drastically over the past decade. Historically, directly paying for news meant subscribing to a publication or purchasing one at the newsstand. With the rise of cable and the internet, more indirect forms emerged. 

Today, Americans get news from a vast set of sources but tend to think of buying access to news in specific terms. When broadly asked if they'd paid for news in the past year, 83% of respondents said they had not. 

However, when researchers asked respondents more specific questions as to whether they had subscribed to print or online news, or donated to a public broadcaster, the data shifted. Of the initial respondents who said they hadn't paid for news in the past year, 19% claimed to subscribe to print or online news when asked in those specific terms.

Overall, the vast majority of Americans are not directly paying to access news sources via subscription or donation, which puts greater pressure on news outlets to secure ad revenue, indirect revenue via licensing, and reimagine their financial models.

Streaming Services and Digital Devices Not Seen as News Sources

Audiences are broadly familiar with streaming devices and services, but a relatively small portion turn to these sources for news content. Less than 20% of study respondents said they get news at least sometimes from streaming devices or services, including Roku, Firestick, Netflix, and Hulu. These same respondents also responded as getting news from TV and digital devices. At the same time 85% of total survey respondents said they get news from mobile devices or PCs. 

Something doesn't quite add up, right?

The real answers emerged in the cognitive interviews with survey respondents. It turns out,  rather than seeing streaming devices or services as news sources, audiences think of them as tools that enable them to access a variety of content - entertainment, information, and possibly news - whenever they want. Put more simply, many respondents think of streaming services as either TV or internet content.

Four Ways to Make the Most of Social Media Algorithms

April 28 2021 by Sarah Eck



Social media algorithms are having a moment in the spotlight. Or rather, under the harsh light of the interrogation lamp.

From last year’s documentary, The Social Dilemma, to this week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, the algorithms powering the major social media platforms are under scrutiny. These algorithms drive which pieces of content users watch and read. And in our current landscape where the number of information sources is high and media literacy is low, disinformation can spread like wildfire.

That said, it will take time to see whether we’ll see significant changes to the way social media platforms use and tune their algorithms. For now, content creators of all kinds still need to stay aware of the routine updates made by each platform in order to maximize reach and audience engagement.


What are Social Media Algorithms?

Social media algorithms are what determine which posts a user sees in his or her feed. Algorithms utilize a variety of factors - including user behavior, post engagement, content type, and source -  to determine which content is most relevant to the user. The higher the relevancy, the more likely the content is to appear at the top of the user’s feed.  

Social media platforms use data science and machine learning to power and constantly tune their algorithms with the intent of providing an ever-better, more highly targeted user experience. Fortunately, it doesn’t take a data scientist to understand what kinds of content and behaviors the platforms’ algorithms favor. Most are pretty transparent about it and provide best practices for content creators, news media organizations, and marketers to follow. 

Here are 4 key things to keep in mind when posting newsworthy content across the various social platforms.


Seize the Moment on Twitter

Recently, Twitter’s big push has been around disinformation shared on its platform. Late last year, Twitter  updated its algorithms to focus on limiting the spread of misleading information or fake news. 

For legitimate news organizations, that means less noise and more opportunity for real news to take back the top spots in users’ feeds.

To make the most of this moment, news media and public affairs organizations should leverage every opportunity to deliver tangible proof and context in their Twitter posts. Give your audience the ability to hear directly from the source whenever possible. 


Experiment with New Social Platform Features

Social platforms will often give higher visibility or promote content that leverages new features. This can be a particularly useful tactic in expanding your followers and reach.

While Instagram hasn’t officially confirmed that its algorithm is promoting Reels (its response to the popularity of TikTok), users are seeing gains in their engagement when opting for Reels over traditional videos in the feed. In fact sports organizations have gotten major traction using Reels, with the NFL seeing 67% higher engagement


Since we're talking about Instagram, it’s also worth noting the platform provides greater real estate on its Explore page to Reels-based content, making it more likely for a new user to discover you and your narratives.

Redouble Your Efforts Around Social Media Best Practices

While social media algorithms are constantly evolving, there are ingredients that remain fairly constant in determining relevancy and where your post will appear in your users’ feeds. 

Audit your best-performing posts from the past few months and look for the following patterns:

Day and time - do you get better performance on certain days of the week? Are there peak times for engagement? Sure, there will always be breaking news that needs to get posted right now. Beyond that, aim to post content designed for your core target at the times where they are most likely to engage.

Conversation starters - which posts get comments or start conversations among your followers? Most platforms’ algorithms favor content that engages users with one another or prompts a response that transcends a simple like. Examine which post types and copy structures most frequently engage your audience to comment.

Impact of video - most platforms’ algorithms favor video-based posts. Look at what percentage of your posts featured video content and aim to increase it month over month. Most news organizations find that video content performs at least 2x better than text- or photo-based content.


Skip the Algorithm Entirely

Redesign of Facebook Stories/Main screen | by Giri Poonati | MediumFacebook not only continues to be the primary news source for many Americans, but it also offers a feature that is essentially exempt from its algorithm. Facebook Stories aren’t governed by the platform’s algorithm. Not only that, but Stories are featured at the top of the page, no matter what.

Facebook Stories are also a great mechanism for driving users to your website to look at other news stories. Per Facebook, 58% of users say they’ve gone to a company’s website for more info after watching a Story. Make sure your Story content is easy to understand, as 52% of users rated this as the top priority for this particular type of content. Leverage stories for breaking news, quick hits, and concise narratives.


Social media platforms will continue to pursue a more perfect user experience by way of algorithms. Though with the potential for greater oversight or regulation, it remains to be seen what the long-term future looks like for this approach. For the time being, understanding and keeping pace with what your audience wants most - and what the algorithms favor - is vital to maximizing audience reach and engagement for news media organizations of all sizes.

Evolving the Newsroom for Quickly & Accurately Breaking News

March 23 2021 by Sarah Eck

“In journalism, there has always been a tension between getting it first and getting it right.”

-Ellen Goodman


Speed and accuracy have always been strange bedfellows in the world of news media. The advent of the 24/7 news cycle changed the very idea of breaking news. And it increased the pressure on journalists to break news at a breakneck pace. Add social media to the mix and the need to feed the content beast feels nearly impossible. Then let’s not forget we are in the age of “fake news”, and the news industry must redouble its efforts around accuracy to regain public trust. Oh, and by the way, newsrooms are constantly being asked to do more with less as even the big-name outlets shrink their staffs.

No wonder burnout runs rampant among journalists of all stripes. 

With so many headwinds, what’s the recipe for success in breaking news successfully and accurately in today's media landscape?

Reimagine Your Workflows

Multi-color illustration of a multi-step workflow within an organization.

Uncomfortable as it may be, it’s time for newsrooms to take a real look at their workflows. Any news media organization that is not structured to truly be digital first will continue to face an uphill climb. 

Reexamine every part of the workflow - from research and writing to editing and publishing. Create parallel paths for activities where possible. Ensure your workflows and processes are optimized for speed and accuracy. Then take them to the next level by optimizing for production of the type of content that impact your audience reach and engagement most. Social media posts containing video clips continue to drive higher engagement and have the benefit of providing the visual proof audiences demand. 

And seek out the self-proclaimed “workflow nerds” in your midst. We guarantee your organization has at least a couple of them. They can help by taking a more holistic look across your organization's processes while you stay focused on your next story. They will ensure you rethink your processes to maximize speed, accuracy, and efficiency, and help you find the right tools to get you there.

Augment Your Angle

Illustrated image of two hands forming a square to indicate perspective or angle.Quantity of content is only one part of the equation. The sheer number of messages and news stories audiences see every day makes it challenging for digital journalists and social media managers to create content that truly sticks. In fact, it’s arguable that the angle a journalist brings to a story is more important now than ever. When every news outlet covers the same events, the content and quality of coverage determines who rises to the top and captures reader attention. 

By no means are we saying a quality angle negates the need for speed. You still have to be fast so you don’t miss out on riding the wave of a trending topic. However, the need to stand out among the noise does make a case for taking some time to carefully craft the messaging and context around a news artifact to provide the detail audiences desire.

Build a Searchable Digital Library

Right or wrong, certain topics have a tendency to stay in the news cycle, like high-profile public figures or global pandemics. Others at least rear their heads on a semi-regular basis, like wildfires, mass shootings, and corporate scandals. Shorten the timeline to finding the reference and fact-checking materials you need by building and maintaining a curated, searchable digital archive.

Illustrated image of search bar to indicate curated, searchable digital library.Sure, broad-based search engines may eventually help you find what you're looking for. Depending on how far back you're looking, it may be hit or miss whether the footage you need is still available. Curating your search universe to focus on your most-used sources saves precious minutes and allows you to be sure you're referencing reliable, accurate information. And we all know that when it comes to breaking news, every minute counts.


Curious how improvements like these look in practice? Check out our POLITICO case study


Why the Mars Video Clip Matters for Digital Content Creators

February 24 2021 by Sarah Eck

It’s official. Powerful audio and video moments can come from literally anywhere. We now know what a strong breeze sounds like on Mars. MARS. 

Visual of video image from Mars rover, Perseverance with overlay of waves to represent audio



For the first time, we are able to see the moment a rover touches down on another planet. Not only could we actually view the landing of the Perseverance, getting to also hear the sounds at Jezero Crater brings the environment on the red planet to life.

As if we weren’t already creating enough video content here at home, now we’ve got it coming from other parts of the universe. (Which is incredibly cool and makes our nerd hearts smile). It begs the question - if we can see and hear Mars - what might we be missing? If we can get video footage of nearly anything, won’t we expect to see everything? Is there any boundary to the potential of visual (or audio) proof?


Endless Possibilities 

Video hasn’t yet hit its peak - and likely won’t for some time. Yes, consumers are spending 86% more time consuming digital video than they did just five years ago. However, in many digital channels we still see large year over year increases in video consumption. Twitter is still experiencing gains in video use and watch time among its users, with no signs of slowing down.

With the growth of video-driven platforms such as TikTok, and the ability for anyone to capture a newsworthy event on their cell phone, we’ve only scratched the surface of building a collective video library of epic proportions.

As video sources and consumption grow, two significant challenges emerge for digital content creators: 

Let’s quickly explore both and a few things to think about in addressing each one head on.


Find Video Gold by Reducing Your Search Area

Broad-based search engines give us access to the whole world. A few keywords can lead to discovering new worlds, new foods, new products, new people and more. It can actually be a bit mind boggling. It's why a quarter of users click the first Google search result and few venture beyond the first page. 

But if you really think about it, you probably have a handful of go-to sources. Those that you trust and continually go back to. Most people do, whether they are content creators, social media managers, or video journalists. 

So as you think about ways to minimize the growing noise to find key moments or clips, look for tools and solutions that allow you to create your own curated search engine. Start building a library of video moments from your most-used sources, the ones you can count on to drive engagement. That way, when you need to find video content quickly, the universe you're searching in is drastically smaller.


Clips, But Make It Contextual

The rules for video in social media channels vary. For advertisers, a viewer's attention span is exceptionally short. The average watch time per video ad on Facebook is currently around 10 seconds. And some marketers have found the greatest success with YouTube pre-roll ads that are no longer than eight seconds. 

For news, educational, and entertainment-based video content, the story is a bit different.

Digital journalists have plenty of room to use longer, more context-driven video to build trust in news content found in social media channels. According to the Pew Research Center, while half of Americans get news on social media sites at least sometimes, 60% of them expect the news they see in these channels to be inaccurate. Only three in 10 say it helps them understand current events. Using video as the basis for crafting well-rounded narratives can go a long way in closing these gaps.

Longer-form, more detailed, context-rich videos can also have a positive monetary impact. BuzzFeed has reportedly increased its Facebook Watch revenue by approximately 20% through production of more videos that are more than three minutes in length. When there is a real story to tell, and it is told well in a way that promotes understanding, viewers will engage.


Maybe a massive influx of video from outside the boundaries of Earth isn't imminent - yet. But now is the time for digital content creators to develop methodologies for quickly seeing through the noise to get to the video moments that deliver context, build great stories, and are truly out of this world.

Trial by Video Clip

February 18 2021 by Sarah Eck


Trial evidence can take many forms. Expert testimony. Eyewitness accounts. Documents and photos. Maybe even the occasional surveillance video. In light of the recent impeachment trial of Former President Donald J. Trump, it appears we may be entering a new era in the way cases are made and defended.

The video highlight reel.

Last week, both sides made extensive use of video clips to make their respective cases. In the days leading up to the trial, much was made about never-before-seen footage from inside the Capitol that would further the prosecution’s case. Congressional leaders used video moments taken during the insurrection of the Capitol alongside video clips of the speech the president was making on the Ellipse outside the White House that same day. In doing so, the prosecution used different types of video footage to provide context to the days and hours leading up to—and immediately following—the events of January 6.

Not to be outdone, the defense had its own clip montage prepared. 

Attorneys for Former President Trump showed highlights of various Democratic political figures using the word “fight” at events and in TV appearances in an attempt to demonstrate that the same rhetoric was being used on both sides of the aisle. Even news media weren’t exempt from inclusion in this (by many accounts) overly long compilation. Just ask CNN’s Chris Cuomo.

But so what? Based on the vote counts, it’s easy to dismiss the whole thing as political theater. Why does the reliance on video clips during the trial matter?

The answer is two-fold. Belief and context.

Seeing is Believing, Right?

We believe what we see. More than that, we rely on creating shared truths from the things we can see, document, and share with others. The widespread accessibility of video means we can share more moments with more people than at any other time in human history.

Without video proof, we wouldn’t get to collectively experience the joy of a child seeing his mother or father coming home from deployment. Or the terror of the first plane hitting the Twin Towers. And we certainly wouldn’t know that a police officer held his knee on George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. 

Video gives us all the ability to see the moments we would otherwise miss.

But…(you knew there was a but coming, didn’t you?)

Just because we see the same thing, doesn’t mean we walk away with the same conclusions. While there is truth in the notion of believing what we see, it’s equally true that we see what we believe. Humans are naturally predisposed to confirmation bias. We give more weight to pieces of evidence that prove what we already believe to be true, regardless of whether it’s actually true. And this also pushes us to discard new evidence that flies in the face of our existing beliefs, particularly when emotionally charged issues are at hand. 

Which is precisely what Trump’s defense was relying on. That they could use video to tap into the inherent biases of enough of the Senate to get an acquittal. Their video didn’t have to convince so much as it just had to further prove what their intended audience already believed.

Content Isn’t King. Context Is.

This all begs the question - what’s the point of video proof? If we all just seek out our own echo chambers and bend evidence to match our existing beliefs, is visual storytelling equal to shouting into the ether?

Not when video clips are layered with other forms of coverage to create deep context. The footage of the siege on the Capitol could mean any number of things. That is, until it’s contextualized with tweets and statements from the president. And correlated with the timing of statements made leading up to and throughout the day of the insurrection. 

But all is in the eye of the beholder. Trump’s defense accused the prosecution of manipulating the various layers of information used to create context around the events of January 6. And then showed a lengthy reel of so-called evidence that was purposefully light on context to essentially demonstrate that  — since everyone is a guilty party—no one can actually be found guilty.

And that’s the duality of video moments. They can be used to both enhance and hinder understanding. But either way, video clips are the new shared language and how they’re placed in context becomes the most impactful part of an argument.

As our communications continue to become both more visual and more bite-sized, one’s ability to effortlessly thread video highlights into the discussion will become essential. This is true whether you’re trying to win a debate on Twitter or you’re trying to convict or acquit the (formerly) most powerful person in the world.

2020: The Year of Video Proof

January 22 2021 by Monty Mitra

Video connects us. From lighthearted TikToks and Zoom happy hours to the sobering images from Black Lives Matter protests and the insurrection at the US Capitol, moments captured in video drive our conversations and shape our opinions.

The social isolation and turmoil of 2020 only reinforced the importance of meaningful connection and shared experiences. While we continue to be physically isolated from each other, journalism and technology have kept us current and engaged with the world around us. Reliable information has been crucial in the face of an ongoing global pandemic and tumultuous political climate.

However, bias and misinformation has called journalism’s ability to provide impartial, transparent information into question. With the very definition of truth up for debate, we saw a meaningful increase in video usage and viewership as people looked for ways to validate the news with their own eyes.


More Video Means More Video Clips

At SnapStream, we saw increases across all our usage metrics in 2020 - from video recording and search to clip production and social sharing

SnapStream customers created 25% more clips compared to the prior year, with a significant uptick in the months preceding the presidential election. News outlets, think tanks, and other media providers leveraged key moments to inform and persuade voters as they navigated a relentless influx of both facts and fiction.


SnapStream Clips Created 2020 v. 2019

Chart showing SnapStream users clipped 25% more videos in 2020 than in 2019.


Tweets Featuring Video Improve Engagement by up to 3X

According to Reuters, “[2021] will be a year when text-based newsrooms invest more heavily in online audio and video content, in data journalism, as well as the snackable visual ‘stories’ that work well on social media.” 

We already know people rely on social media to get their news. More than 70% of Twitter users say they use the network to stay informed. In 2020, the number of tweets posted with SnapStream featuring a video clip increased nearly 100% over the prior year. 


SnapStream Tweets with Clips 2020 v. 2019

Chart showing SnapStream users created 100% more tweets featuring video clips in 2020 compared to 2019.


Tweets including video clips proliferated for a simple reason - they perform. Readers are far more likely to engage with social content powered by video proof.


Tweets with video receive:

  • 2X more likes

  • 3X more retweets

  • 2.5X more replies


Video proof gives the reader a level of context for the information they’re consuming that quotes or static images can't match. As Graham Lampa of the Atlantic Council says, “Bite-sized pieces of easily consumable video content come packaged with incisive commentary that situates the source material within a broader political, cultural, and journalistic context.” 

This tweet sent via SnapStream by Oliver Darcy generated ~500K engagements and 8.6M views


What's in Store for 2021?

The pandemic and concerns about misinformation during 2020 has altered how we interact with the world. We've seen that these themes will continue well into 2021, which will keep journalism and news at the forefront. We expect usage of and engagement with video moments to continue to accelerate as video can uniquely help newsmakers deliver their audiences vital context quickly and maintain the engagement and connection we all crave.

Video clips killed the cable news star

January 05 2021 by Graham Lampa

Video clips are rapidly transforming the way political and cultural commentary is generated and circulated. Statements and actions by prominent figures that might have otherwise gone unnoticed and unremarked upon after being aired just once or twice on cable television are now increasingly being identified, surfaced, commented on, and spread around online.

This new phenomenon of video clip-based online journalism and commentary is bootstrapping a new kind of scaffolding better suitable for our more rapidly responsive public discourse. Video clips shared on social media are enabling a more visceral, richer, and more accessible many-to-many conversation about today’s most pressing issues of social concern that goes well beyond what the one-to-many medium of cable television can facilitate.

Graham Lampa at the Atlantic Council

In the seemingly ever-increasing pace of the modern world, the question is not only whether trusted media outlets can keep up but whether their audiences even have the time and attention available that is necessary to keep themselves broadly informed as citizens. Combine this with users' growing expectations of interactivity and being able to have their own say and conditions are ripe for a video clip-powered revolution in how people inform themselves—and one another—about the world around them.

Online media pioneer John Battelle has noted that linear cable television seems intent on keeping eyeballs glued to the screen all day long. His new venture, Recount Media, seeks to give people the information they need and to give them back their time.

“What you can’t do,” Battelle said in a recent interview with Paul Blanchard on the Media Masters podcast, “is set out to waste your audiences’ time, which is exactly what video journalism does both online—think YouTube—and offline in linear television.”

“Without the ability to quickly assess, with your own eyes, using the most powerful medium we’ve come up with—which is digital video—the national dialogue is suffering,” Battelle says. “What you have instead are these sort of endless yell fests on television… they tend to push people into confirmation bias bubbles or worse.” Recount Media, he says, was founded in part to reimagine the “manufacturing process for video journalism” and employs short video clips to quickly provide its audiences the news and context they need, at the time of their choosing, and in the places they tend to gather.

A key platform for such short-form video journalism is Twitter and one of the most prominent leaders in this space is my close friend and journalist Aaron Rupar of Vox Media. Rupar has helped establish the “Twitter video clip thread” as an entirely new and uniquely impactful form of media content as he’s simultaneously grown his Twitter audience to over 600 thousand followers. Rupar takes a clip, contextualizes it from a sharp political perspective, and sends it out into the world.

The video clip thread fundamentally transforms its source material—often hours and hours of cable television coverage of political speeches—into an entirely new product that is quickly scannable, watchable, and shareable. Bite-sized pieces of easily consumable video content come packaged with incisive commentary that situates the source material within a broader political, cultural, and journalistic context.

Video clips are not only highly consumable, they’re now also highly producible. The relatively recent availability of easy-to-use tools like SnapStream helps make working with video content more akin to editing text than to traditional video editing. My and Rupar’s mutual adoption of video as the primary medium for our work was not expected—hen Rupar and I first met over 15 years ago, I was the editor of our college newspaper and he was preparing himself for a career in print journalism. SnapStream and other tools allow us—as words-oriented content creators—to be able to produce video-based content (normally quite time-consuming) en masse. For example, almost half of Rupar’s more than 12,000 tweets in 2020 containing video content, up from just 8% in 2017.

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At my own organization, the Atlantic Council (a Washington, DC-headquartered, non-profit, non-partisan think tank with significant international reach), I have similarly led an effort to derive greater value from our own most plentiful resource—hours and hours of video of traditional think tank panel discussions—by distilling these often highly academic, niche policy conversations into more engaging Twitter video threads. Since going fully remote in March this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council has hosted some 370 public online events.

Following my very first application of Rupar’s SnapStream-powered technique (a thread covering HR McMaster’s final speech as National Security Advisor, hosted at the Atlantic Council in April 2018) went viral and smashed all existing engagement records for Twitter at my organization, the Council has since adopted this method as the main way in which we publicize our own events and the ideas they generate—live as they are happening. The McMaster thread generated what was for us at the time a significant amount of engagement—over a half million impressions generated through over 300 retweets of the tweets in the thread. This was the most Twitter engagement we’d generated on any given day—five times the daily peak for impressions in the preceding three months—and we now internally use “a McMaster” as a unit of measure for Twitter impressions. Users’ retweets of our thread enabled us to distribute our exclusive video content beyond our own following and also helped spark additional traditional media interest in the speech, which had occurred late the night before after primetime, resulting in roughly 1,000 media hits within the first 48 hours, including among top-tier media outlets such as the Washington Post, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox.

Our use of live video clips shared to Twitter, combined with our well-regarded ability to convene prominent world leaders in outstanding highly produced public events, allows the Atlantic Council to regularly boost our own events' hashtags into the trending list on Twitter, giving our content much greater visibility interest well beyond our existing audiences. On average and consistently over time, our tweets containing video clips generate more than 2X the engagement of tweets without video clips.

As a non-profit think tank, our value lies in our ability to have an impact on public discourse and policymaking. However, one the most successful clips we’ve ever tweeted—of Canadian Prime Justin Trudeau speaking about youth leaders—appears on the surface to be bereft of any actual policy content at all. However our overarching policy goal for the event at which the Prime Minister spoke was to engage the next generation of young leaders to help re-establish the relevance of NATO within today’s more complex and dynamic global system.

This one video clip—served up as a standalone tweet that received over 1300 likes and 400 retweets rather than as part of a longer thread— delivered on that policy goal in a way that noa research paper, study, or panel discussion traditional products for a think tank) geared towards more mature audiences likely never could—by reaching our target audience (young people across Europe and North America) where they congregate (on social media) and capturing their attention to deliver our message  that “young people must actively shape the future by the things they do today.” The clip also helped make our #NATOEngages hashtag trend in London where we hosted the event in December 2019, leveraging popular appeal to focus greater attention on the often inscrutable topics of international affairs and alliances.

Why is this content format so uniquely engaging? Three main factors make the Twitter video thread uniquely impactful on the news consumer and the online media ecosystem.

First, the combination of textual commentary layered on top of the original source video simultaneously provides a kind of self-reinforcing justification of newsworthiness. Don’t believe the journalist’s commentary? Watch the video. Don’t understand why the video matters? Read the commentary for more context.

Second, when any given tweet from a video clip thread is shared on by any given user, the entire thread of content is discoverable by their followers—not only the video clip tweet that caught the original user’s interest. The second user may find an entirely different clip that they find worthy of sharing on, contributing to the strongly viral nature of such content. While we don’t post the enormous engagement numbers my friend Aaron Rupar does, the Atlantic Council’s “McMaster moment” demonstrates that even a wonky think tank playing it down the middle can also punch above its weight online by effectively leveraging video threads to advance its impact as an organization.

Third, and perhaps most vitally, Twitter’s “quote tweet” feature allows the recirculation of the underlying source content with each additional user’s own commentary layered on top and spread yet further. For example, Rupar’s video tweets are quote tweeted, on average, 15 times more often than his non-video tweets (in 2017 when Rupar began using SnapStream, his video tweets outperformed his non-video tweets in this metric by 40 times, helping him build his following early on). Here, we begin to see how this new scaffolding for public discourse is being built quote tweet by quote tweet.

Why does all of this matter?

Although social media is often (and rightfully) blamed for creating information bubbles, I would argue that the self-evident nature of video—combined with layers upon layers of political and cultural commentary—is actually contributing to a greater circulation of ideas and viewpoints across and among political constituencies. People don’t only react to video clips by liking or retweeting them—they’re engaging in conversation themselves by using these clips as the basis for their own political and cultural commentary.

For journalists, media outlets, and other organizations seeking broad audiences for their content, video is a uniquely powerful way to connect with end users and tools like SnapStream that make it possible to produce short-form video content at the scale necessary to “feed the beast” and keep audiences coming back from more.

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What’s New in SnapStream 9.6

December 23 2020 by Monty Mitra

We’re excited to announce SnapStream 9.6, which adds support for recording audio-only streams and includes more than 80 bug fixes and stability improvements delivering increased uptime and a smoother experience.

Learn more about recording and clipping audio-only streams in this video:

We are also extending the streams free trial so you can record streams for free longer (for all customers on 9.5 or 9.6).


Schedule Upgrade to 9.6

These newest features are available as a software upgrade to your SnapStream. Want to start using them? Have your administrator schedule an upgrade.

SnapStream’s support team will perform the upgrade via a remote session that usually takes an hour.


Customer Spotlight - Media Matters for America

November 30 2020 by Juliette Richert

In our Customer Spotlight series, we highlight SnapStream customers and the important work they are doing.

With the world at our fingertips, it’s more important than ever to know what news you can trust. Launched in May 2004, D.C. based Media Matters for America is dedicated to stopping the spread of misinformation in the U.S. media. In order to monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation,  MMFA produces both rapid-response pieces and long-form, analytics-based research.

It’s imperative for the MMFA team to be able to effectively monitor, analyze and quickly report on media bias. By recording and monitoring a gamut of TV channels using SnapStream, Media Matters can live tweet and point out disinformation or misleading news (through a host of popular Twitter accounts), quickly reaching their nearly half a million followers on @MMFA twitter account and even more through the Twitter accounts of staff members. For longer form articles, the transcriptions generated by SnapStream provide a basis for analysis.

Here are some examples of the type of content MMFA produces.

A rapid-response video tweet



A longer form research study using analytics from SnapStream


We are proud of the work that MMFA is doing bringing accountability to media and look forward to continuing to support them in their mission.


Five Steps to Find Your Voice with Evan Gregory of The Gregory Brothers

November 30 2020 by Juliette Richert
Since graduating recently from Rice University, guest writer Juliette Richert is continuing her education by listening to as many podcasts about politics, culture, and society as she can get her hands on.

Much of America wondered how we were going to process two presidential town halls that replaced the cancelled debate during the 2020 presidential campaign. In response, the Gregory Brothers, in collaboration with Darren Criss, used video effects to create “an alternate reality,” where the opponents sang their arguments to each other. These melodies were created by “songifying” found footage, which is the process of applying audio pitch correction to the spoken voice to make it sound like music. The video gives you a pretty good idea of what both candidates discussed in reality (at their separate town halls), and the music is likely to get stuck in your head.

This unique work is a product of a decade of practice and has attracted a following of more than 3 million.  Browsing their YouTube channel is like walking through a library of past internet culture from memorable moments in US politics to iconic memes. The group, which includes Evan, Michael, Andrew, and Sarah Gregory, are foremost musicians, but their distinctive music videos that tie together comedy and current events have turned heads. Evan Gregory of The Gregory Brothers attributes their success to finding their voice. On your path to success, “finding your voice” may feel like a vague, overwhelming goal, but Evan gave us some insight into how you can find your voice and what makes you unique, too. 


1. Get your reps in. 

When you’re figuring out what you’re going to be good at, it’s going to take a lot of practice. If you want to make music, make a lot of music and then make some more. Producing a lot of videos over a long period of time has given The Gregory Brothers  practice and perspective to figure out what they like and what they want to be good at.  

The team has refined their process to be as efficient as possible. Before a big event, like a presidential debate, the group has a fair idea of what will be discussed (climate change, coronavirus, etc.), so they write a script and do pre-recordings with their guest. During the event itself, two of them, usually Evan and Michael, will watch the debate and take notes, sending messages to the other, about which clips from SnapStream they might want to use. They listen for moments where someone says something notable or speaks musically, making it easier to “songify.” They didn’t come up with this process overnight, rather it’s a result of countless hours of practice. 


2. Better done than perfect. 

Rather than focusing on getting everything perfect, it’s best to not get overwhelmed with perfection. If you’re going to make a lot in order to “get in your reps,” there may be times where you don’t hit the mark. Defining what is most important to you and focusing on that (more on that below), may be helpful in coping with a loss of perfectionism. 


3. Define your guiding principles.

The Gregory Brothers put their creative process first. Though it’s gratifying to see that millions of people liked their videos, they’ve decided that it’s most important to make sure their music sounds good.

First and foremost, they always aim to create high quality music. If you listen to their music from the 2020 presidential campaign, the group wants you to feel like you’re listening to an album that “captures a snapshot of their aesthetic” and accurately reflects the essence of today’s political movers. 

This leads us to their next priority, which is to accurately reflect reality. For example, watching their video of the cancelled debate will give you a pretty good idea of both presidential candidate’s arguments with a comical take. It might be easy to fall into the trap of thinking of their work as educational, a label which Evan rejects, as not to venture into the realm of journalism. They always want their videos to be interesting, frequently using comedy to heighten an opinion or statement. In Evan’s words, "comedy speaks truth and highlights things that are not spoken about." Though rarer than their comedic feats, the brothers use their process to highlight poignant events, like this speech of Martin Luther King, Jr. 


4. Build your expertise one area at a time.

Coming from a musical background, the group's video expertise has been entirely self-taught. In order to manage this learning curve while still producing, Evan described his incremental approach to self-education. Currently, he’s mastering video effects and creating video worlds, exemplified below where Darren Criss appears to sit at a table with Joe Biden. Evan’s next goal is to dive deeper in cinematography, which has become one of his long term goals. The progression of the group’s videos tells a story of the progression of their expertise. Looking at their earlier videos, you can tell when they were working on green screen effects versus now where they integrate green screen effects quite effectively. By choosing to get really good at one thing, they have been able to integrate new forms of tech and video production, from efficiency tools like SnapStream which makes it easy to find, edit, and share the most important video moments to creative video effects, without getting overwhelmed. 


5. Attract your audience.

The Gregory Brothers’ videos are designed like any good song, which keeps you coming back to hear it again. It’s “rewatchability,” a term coined by Evan, that draws their audience back for more. If you’re like me, their songs will be stuck in your head for days at a time. Because their tracks are designed to be listened to repeatedly, they’re able to benefit from multiple revenue streams. You can find them on Spotify and iTunes, as well as YouTube. They’ve found a way to hook their audience by using video. People come for a funny video and stay for the jams.

The Gregory Brothers have amassed a following of more than  3 million by focusing on an authentic creative practice, motivated by their desire to make high quality music. By venturing into video, which they knew little about when they began experimenting 10 years ago, they stumbled onto something great and found a career. Finding your voice will take time and might be messy, but the risk is worth the reward.

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