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Streaming Media East: HuffPost Live Talks Social Video Engagement

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Gone are the days of Walter Cronkite reading the day's news. At HuffPost Live, it's all about the conversation. Or, as Tim McDonald, community manager for HuffPost Live, put it during today's Streaming Media East session "How To: Integrating Social Media with Webcasting at HuffPost Live," it's about breaking conversations, not breaking news.

HuffPost Live launched in August of 2012, introducing a new kind of news show to audiences. The Huffington Post decided to capitalize on its active commenter community, and has made it possible for enthusiasts with webcams to take part in broadcasted discussions about the day's news and popular HuffPost articles. According to Mike Whitmore, head of studio technology, the average user spends 21 minutes watching video -- four times the industry average. The HuffPost team believes this level of engagement is the measure of their success.

"People are tired of being talked at. They want to be talked with," says Whitmore. Broadcasting live for 12 hours a day, HuffPost Live facilitates conversations primarily by using Google Hangouts, switching to Skype when necessary. The team creates "green rooms" where users can interact with a segment long before it goes live, researching topics and auditioning to become on-air guests. Producers are tasked with vetting the guests. They look for contributors who will bring a new perspective to lively conversations, people on an equal footing with the hosts. McDonald says they don't want users to ask a question and leave, the way callers might do on a radio show.

It doesn't always go smoothly, of course. Technology is only as good as the people using it, and hosts often find themselves troubleshooting on air. HuffPost Live is working on an app that will allow producers to control the guest's experience, Whitmore says, doing things like un-muting the user (which is a common problem).

To monetize the HuffPost Live model, producers create clips from live segments. These are turned into on-demand video and delivered with pre-roll ads. But, for the moment, the HuffPost Live team is focused on building engagement with social video.

Tim McDonald and Mike Whimore.

Scroll down to watch the full presentation:


How To: Integrating Social Media With Webcasting at HuffPost Live

This session will take a deep dive into streaming technology and how HuffPost Live is integrating social media into its live broadcast platform. Learn how to leverage social networks like Google+ in live streams and what tools are available to integrate community features into live webcasts. Attendees will also hear best practices for leveraging your online community as on-air talent.

Speaker: Mike Whitmore, Head of Studio Technology, HuffPost Live

Speaker: Tim McDonald, Community Manager, HuffPost Live

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