Edinburgh Live is a new digital title from Reach PLC that reports on Scotland’s capital city in a variety of innovative ways — including, as you might guess from its name, live digital coverage of the latest events, sports, and news in Edinburgh.

From bacon-covered waffles at a local restaurant to marches and charity work, Edinburgh Live’s digital video strategy aims to covers the ‘real’ Edinburgh in all its glory. Using Facebook Live has been a key component of that digital video strategy, editor Hilary Mitchell says. “In an age where journalists are accused of fudging things and exaggerating, Facebook Live can seem fresh, honest, and impossible to fake.”

Mitchell says Facebook Live has helped Edinburgh Live:

We connected with Mitchell to learn more about Edinburgh Live’s digital video strategy. Read on to learn more. And if you’re interested in using Facebook Live to level-up your digital video strategy, check out our Live best practices here.

Why did you focus on Facebook Live as part of your digital video strategy?

As we’re called Edinburgh Live, we wanted to give the impression that we were just that: Live!

Also, live videos have the benefit of needing no time-consuming editing or post-production. They just need a quick run through before filming. We aim to keep them to around 4 minutes in length.

Going Live is a good way to showcase various things that are going on in the city, to introduce us to our audience, and to allow them to comment and react in real time, if they want to. The videos are natural and conversational, which helps establish trust. We go on camera too, so people see we aren’t just shadowy hacks out to spread fake news — we’re friendly faces who have a genuine interest in the city and local businesses.

What are your goals around Facebook Live?

We try to do a couple Facebook Live videos each week. Now that we’ve launched the site it’s harder to find time to do this kind of fresh, native content. But we’ve used Live recently to — amongst other things — interview a councillor in Edinburgh about plans to bring in a tourist tax to ease the pressure on the city, to chat to the owner of a chihuahua cafe, and to showcase pets looking for homes at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home. We also try to “recycle” the Live videos by embedding them in articles that we go on to write.

Can you explain your approach to using Facebook Live overall?

There are some things that naturally lend themselves to the Live format. For example: Short interviews, showcasing subjects with a strong visual element — e.g. light shows and fireworks — and although the old rule says not to work with children and animals on camera, we often do so. The unpredictability adds to the entertainment factor of the videos.

For example, this rat video took an odd turn when the owner started letting it lick her mouth! I didn’t know what to say, so my honest response on camera was “that was weird.” In an age where journalists are accused of fudging things and exaggerating, Facebook Live can seem fresh, honest, and impossible to fake.

How has your approach to Facebook Live paid off?

We have had a lot of positive feedback from our audience and the local community. I feel trust in our emerging site is higher than it would have been had we not done Facebook Live. We get nice comments and a lot of requests from local businesses and politicians asking if we’ll do a Live with them, which we always try to do if we have time. People seem to really appreciate the engagement with the community.

Plus, the quality of Facebook Live videos is always very good. We sometimes use clip-on lenses to improve the feed.

What have been your favorite or most successful Facebook Lives?

Our reporter Neil’s Facebook Live with Hollywood star Chris Pine was a big win for us, mainly in terms of the prestige of getting to chat with a big star. This simple video showing the size of the Scotland Against Trump march was effective and that we were actually at the event. Using Facebook Live with animal re-homing charities is often a big hit with our followers. Overall, I think the real benefit from Facebook Lives comes when followers are commenting along and joining in.

What are your tips you’d give other newsrooms on using Facebook Live?

Always do a practice run using your personal Facebook page. It gives you a chance to check the venue’s or location’s WiFi or 4G coverage so you don’t end up with the video failing or buffering half way through, which can be a disaster.

If you’re interviewing someone, do a run-through with the participant. But don’t give them too much time to rehearse their answers as it will lose that nice, natural, friendly chat feeling that has helped us seem “real” and present in the city.

What is your newsroom’s approach to creating digital video in general?

We like to create digital video as much as possible, and I’ve trained our reporters in using Premiere Pro to edit videos. Many of our reporters have showed a real affinity for Facebook Lives and a confidence in front of the camera that I have to admit I don’t share! Creating digital video means you’re almost like a TV presenter rather than a reporter at times. Not everyone will thrive in that setting, but the people who do gain valuable new skills.

I also think it’s important to continue making quality native video content for our Facebook followers. It helps us vary the content we’re offering so our followers don’t think we’re simply “spamming” them with links. If a video takes off it can get millions of views, which in turn brings in a flurry of new likes.

What other digital video content do you focus on creating?

We’ve learned that food videos work better as non-live video. I used to work for BuzzFeed and had quite extensive viral video training. I use this training to focus on local cafes and restaurants creating unusual dishes and I’ll make snappy, short, captioned “food porn” type videos that showcase things like raclette cheese “waterfalls,” a burger covered in fondue sauce, freakshakes and the like. One video about bacon covered waffles was an early hit for the page. It got nearly half a million views, when our Page only had 2,000 likes.

I’ve also used video to create slideshows of unusual facts about Edinburgh, which would have been impossible to do live. And I’ve turned viral video tweets into equally viral Facebook video content! This got nearly two million views for us.