Audience Engagement Digital Publishing
4 mins read

How live blogging serves as a critical communications tool for newsrooms

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With a rise in consumers looking to social media platforms to consume news, publishing houses need to mimic the social media experience with bite-sized and engaging snippets

Technologies such as live blogs have emerged as a critical communications tool to cover the world’s most pressing events – from the novel coronavirus pandemic to the war in Ukraine and even global elections. Live blogs have the toolkit journalists need to keep consumers updated on the latest events in an engaging, digestible, and authentic format. 

Whether audiences are reading about a striking restaurant review or a ground-breaking election, today’s consumers say the ideal length of an article is 346 words. As breaking news – whatever it may be – unravels rapidly, newsrooms around the world need to communicate critical information visually while also keeping the information accurate, concise, and digestible.

With a rise in consumers looking to social media platforms to consume news, publishing houses need to mimic the social media experience with bite-sized and engaging snippets, even if they’re delivering a stream of polarising news. 

Live blogging as a critical tool 

Live blogging emerged as a critical tool for Stears, a subscription-based data and insight provider, when covering the 2023 Nigerian elections. Live blogging allowed Stears to highlight their visual representations of their data in smaller, accurate, easy-to-follow segments covering the polls in real-time. 

Stears explained their success in covering Nigeria’s 2023 election could be attributed to the “dynamic imagery, conversational style, professionalism, and flexibility” their live blog format was able to provide. 

When Stears was looking for live blog software to support its election coverage, its team needed a tool that would help meet its ambitious traffic targets. Tickaroo’s live blogging software helped increase Stears’s search engine visibility thanks to several enhancements, including the ability to fetch and insert structured data server side – a feature not available among other tools/software that Stears considered.

When done in a way that best suits your target audience’s preferences and needs, live blogging can reap the rewards for both consumers and publishers. Stears experienced more traffic on their live blog covering Nigeria’s 2023 election than on other articles covering the same news. Specifically, Stears achieved a 1039% increase in traffic during the presidential election and a 1632% increase during the gubernatorial races.  

Stears’ live blog also experienced considerable international traffic outside of Nigeria (their core market) and was linked to renowned websites like Wikipedia and The Guardian. The image below shows February 2022 vs February 2023. In February 2022, only Nigeria was shaded deep blue, indicating that is where the majority of Stears traffic is concentrated, but by February 2023, many other countries outside of Nigeria show a nearly equal concentration of traffic. This can be accredited to the visibility of their live blog covering Nigeria’s elections. 

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Live blogging within wider business strategies 

Live blogs can be implemented into broader business content strategies. During Nigeria’s elections, Stears created a product releasing election results and interactive maps in real-time. The live blog was paramount in keeping users updated on all aspects of Nigeria’s elections. Historically, Stear’s usual content strategy has not featured live blogs. Yet, the success of the elections live blog has opened the door to considering how to incorporate more live blog coverage into typical workstreams.

Like any online information users can look up, live blogs can benefit significantly from SEO optimisations. Stears implemented SEO optimisations to improve the visibility of the live blog and, in turn, their website. Some of the SEO strategies paired with Stear’s election liveblog include: 

  • Metatags, including topical keywords that could help rank highly on SERPs 
  • Updating the live blog every 30 minutes, signalling freshness and relevance to Google.
  • Linking to other pages on the election data product, establishing sufficient internal linking.
  • Significant partnerships with publishers created a smooth path for effective backlinking, a critical factor that ranked Stears above competitors. 
  • Short hard-coded descriptions added more context to the blog and got it a favourable ranking, even before posting regular updates.
  • Launching (and populating) the live blog page a few days before the live event to help improve the ranking.
  • Regularly pulling the SEO data feed for the live blog.
  • Tickaroo’s liveblog schema amplified the page’s indexability.

Keyword optimisation for topical keywords was also a significant component of Stear’s broader live blogging strategy. Stears also worked with SEO consultants from State of Digital Publishing who helped identify the best keywords to target and recommended the Tickaroo Live Blog software to the team

Currently, 60% of UK adults don’t believe everything they read in the news, and 69% of UK adults believe ‘fake news’ can even impact political elections. By using new and innovative tools like live blogging, Stears could relay election coverage quickly, accurately, and in an engaging format – further building trust with their audiences. 

When utilised with purpose, live blogging can serve journalists and their audiences as a critical communications tool for various topics, from floods to world cups to elections. The ability to deliver news updates through a mix of different media while being implemented into additional business strategies is a win-win for both publishers and their audiences.