CoverItLive drives engagement metrics for real-time events
CoverItLive fancies itself the Swiss Army Knife of live coverage. The service is a widget that is embeddable like a YouTube video allowing reporters to interact with readers through a curated chat, video streams, Twitter integration and even audio files (see the service’s video demo here).
“It borrows themes people are familiar with. It kind of looks like chat, kind of looks like blogging," says CoverItLive founder Keith McSpurren.
The service has become a popular way for writers and reporters to cover a live event or to hold an online chat. McSpurren says CoverItLive is tracking 50 million pageviews every month, though the service’s real benefit is the increase in engagement, something that the company hopes will come to overtake the pageview as the standard advertising Web metric.
For example, if a TV critic wanted to cover the Academy Awards, the writer would spend four hours watching the event and another hour writing a story but readers would read the review in less than ten minutes.
If that same reporter live blogged the event, readers would be interacting with the reporter four hours chatting, tweeting and answering poll questions. And suddenly, for nearly the same amount of effort, that reporter has kept readers locked in to the newspaper’s website for hours.
"Duration is a much more powerful concept than pageviews," says McSpurren.
We asked the CoverItLive’s founder for advice in getting the most our of his live blogging service:
Curate – Many first-time users of CoverItLive simply post every reader comment that gets submitted, says McSpurren. Instead, only publish the best user generated content.
Promote – Hosting a live chat needs to be a destination, an event. Be sure to let the audience know days in advance that you are hosting a live chat to give readers something to look forward to. As a bonus, have a regular scheduled chat time. For example, many sports departments host live chats after a game.
Use your talent – Don’t farm out live chat duty to interns or a general assignment reporter. Use the chats to build the brands and audience of established reporters. Most writers will carry some sort of built-in audience, so take advantage.
“When people put their star reporters in, attendance goes way up. Use assets you have,” says McSpurren.
Get your sales team involved – CoverItLive allows for some degree of customization that publishers use to sell sponsorships. Once you have a reoccurring live chat, reach out and find a sponsor and sell the engagement metrics as opposed to pageviews.
Patience - It takes time for readers to get in the habit of attending live chats. It also takes writers time to get used to using CoverItLive as a breaking news tool. Be patient and don’t expect the first few events to be a runaway success. Though McSpurren says sometimes, publishers need to know when to cut the cord.
“After five to ten events, if readers don’t come, they never will,” he says.
Shorter is better – For some reporters, it takes time to adjust to the live blogging format. It is much more enjoyable for the reader if the reporter writes in short, condensed paragraphs.
Be the color commentator – When using CoverItLive to cover a news event, don’t simply describe what is going on, especially if you are also running a video feed of the event. Encourage reporters to use their knowledge to offer analysis and context much like a color commentator would during a sports game.