How to show readers what is most important in your live coverage

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How to show readers what is most important in your live blog

Why highlighting important posts in your live blog is key… and how easily you can do it

Live blogs are a great way to communicate with readers in an on-going stream of updates. Be it events in a football game, live updates from an election, or breaking news about the stock markets, live blogs help tell stories in concise updates.

However, by their innate structure of a stream where new posts are added on top, and updates happening frequently and in plentiful posts, it is easy for important posts to get pushed down the feed by less important, but still relevant posts.

This means that readers that land on a live blog page might have to scroll and navigate through the news feed to find the most relevant posts. This is of course not a problem if the reader is a loyal reader that is motivated to do so, but if the reader is a new visitor who stumbled upon your live blog on google through a search, they might not be willing to scroll through your content (despite how engaging and qualitative it might be), but instead choose to bounce back to google and search for another live blog.

Grabbing readers attention & piquing their interest

For these visitors, you only have a short period to grab their attention and help them find what they are looking for before they decide to leave. You need to tell them why they should stay.

Achieving this, together with the overall goals of running a live blog presents a challenge to content creators. In other words, how do you create a live blog coverage that:

  • Updates frequently
  • Has posts with a lot of content, including tweets, images, videos, etc.
  • Highlights the most important posts
  • And finally, helps users easily find these posts

Example of a SKY Sports live blog utilizing several features for highlighting and summarizing important content. 

How you achieve this depends on what type of live blog you are running. A live coverage of a hockey game is widely different than a live blog of a court case, which again is different from a traffic live blog.

To give an example, if you are covering a hockey game, the live blog has to be in chronological order with the most recent posts on top. This means that pinning posts, or using a New overview (we’ll cover what that is later on) might not be desirable.

If instead, you are covering a festival or a parade, pinning posts at the top can be a great way to grab the attention of new visitors. And using a Highlighted posts panel, where the most important posts can easily be seen and navigated to, can also help users find the key milestones of the event.

If this seems complicated, or resource-intensive, don’t worry. The good news is that there are a lot of tools and smart features available that make highlighting your content easy and practical. Below we are going to go through some of these tools and features, show them in-action from some live examples, and briefly discuss their pros and cons.

Features that make it easy to highlight important posts in your live blog

Pinned posts

This is the feature most familiar with live bloggers. Pinning a post puts it at the top of your feed even when newer posts are published. The top of the feed is obviously what readers will see first so it makes sense to put the most important post there. Pinned posts are great because of their simplicity; a content creator can easily pin a post, and just as easily remove or replace it once desired. 

Example from SKY sports live blog

Example from SKY sports live blog

This is an example from Pink Un https://www.pinkun.com/sport/norwich-city/live-updates-brentfordfc-v-ncfc-8468908

A pin is easily set inside your editor by selecting the Pin button on any post that has been published.

However, one downside of pinning posts is that they can potentially take up a lot of space at the top of your feed. Especially on mobile devices, a pinned post requires the user to scroll down far in order to see the regular, chronological, feed of posts. Another drawback is that they are in fact manual, an editor needs to remember to pin and unpin posts. This can interrupt workflows and there is a chance that a pinned post is kept at the top of the live blog for too long. 

Bonus: Most live blogging solutions only support one pinned post at a time. This can be rather limiting if you want to highlight two posts that users should see at the top of your feed. Thankfully, Live Center supports multiple pinned posts.

Breaking news highlights

Highlighting your posts with a simple yellow flag is a simple yet effective way to communicate to readers that a post is important. Especially if an important event just happened, quickly applying breaking news flag and publishing a post can be very impactful and give your live blog a sense of urgency and timeliness.

Worth noting is that a breaking news highlight does not change the order of the post, as a pinned post would. So once a post is flagged, and new posts are published thereafter, the flagged post will be pushed down the feed. This can of course be desirable in let’s say a football live blog where it can be helpful for readers to easily see where a corner, goal, etc. happened. But it’s crucial not to overapply this feature as it easily becomes difficult for users to navigate what is important and what is not when many posts are flagged this way.

Bonus: Want a different breaking news color than yellow? No problem – Live Center easily allows you to change this color to whichever you would like it to have.

Tags

As well-understood as the word is in media, as unknown is it’s use in live blogging. Tags, when properly used in live blogs and coupled with a capable live blogging tool, give users a lot of control of the live blog to help them find the type of content they are looking for.

Tags are applied directly to a post, and the tags that are available to choose from should be controlled so that different spellings or typos do not create problems.

When a post is tagged, it is effectively categorized and can therefore be used for a wealth of different purposes. But to take a simple example, if you are running a “Silly Season” live blog, and you tag different posts with the team that each post relates to, readers are able to click each tag and thereby filter your whole live blog to posts related to that team. 

This is an extremely intuitive way for readers to consume your live blog content. They are able to click any tag that is available and thereby effectively creating their own feed of content.

Importance levels

Tagging posts with specific categories such as “Manchester United”, “Chelsea”, or “Birmingham City” can be helpful for readers who are interested in these specific teams. But let’s say you don’t want to tag with categories, but instead just how important a post is. This is where Importance levels come into play.

Just like tags, Importance levels are set on posts to signify how important, or common, a post is.

Once applied, these can be used to both visually apply a different styling to posts to help users distinguish an important post from a regular post

Below is an example from weaintgotnohistory.sbnation.com, part of VOX media’s SB Nation sports network, where a visual styling has been applied to a post when it has been marked as important

This is similar to Breaking News highlights, but this visual styling can be used to a larger extent and also in combination with the Breaking news highlight.

Bonus

Secondly, and more uniquely to Live Center, the Importance level can be used to filter the whole feed to only show Important, or Very Important posts. This can even be used in combination with tags. For example users can then click the tag for “Manchester United” and Important, and thereby only see important posts that relate to Manchester United.

Highlights panel

A highlights panel can be a separate element to the side, or sit on top of a live blog, and contain the header text of key posts in the feed below. This panel helps summarize key event of the live blog, and when clicked by the reader will bring up that specific post to be read.

When covering an election, press conference, or other event with a lot of updates, a highlights panel is a great tool to help engage your readers and allow them to quickly get up-to-speed on key events. 

Highlight panels can be managed manually, where content creators select which posts should be included. 

Bonus: They can also be automatic where the panel is populated with posts that are set as Important or Very Important. This feature is also supported by Live Center and can be further customized based on requirements and desired workflows.

Live blogging is so much more than just a one-way feed of updates created by content creators. By allowing users to submit questions and comments, they can facilitate dialogue and cover topics and ideas readers care about about.

This sort of content contribution by users is highly valuable because the readers that engage with your live blog through comments are highly motivated (otherwise they wouldn’t bother communicating with you). So to harness this engagement can be a good idea.

Capitalizing further on this engagement can be achieved by showing readers which posts in your live blog coverage are “trending”. Meaning, which posts are receiving the most comments from other readers. 

Showing that a post is Trending can be done in many different ways, in the below example, a flame icon is added to the top-right corner of the post. But how this is rendered can easily be controlled. See the bonus section further down for more details

This feature is most effective in Q&A live blogs, or generally in live blogs where you encourage readers to engage with you through comments and questions. This can be post-game live Q&As, live blogs where readers can ask questions to a subject matter expert. But the feature can of course be effective in any live blog where readers can submit comments.

Trending is defined as any post which has more than 5

Bonus: How a trending post is visually shown to readers can be customized. In the above example, the Live Center customer wanted a flame icon. However this can easily be changed thanks to Extensions. It can be updated to change the color of the whole post, replace the icon, or move it somewhere else. Only your creativity limits what’s possible.

News Overview

Our final feature that can help you show your reader what the most important topics are, is a News Overview. This feature utilizes both Tags and Importance levels that we have covered further up in this article, but uses them in an entirely different way.

Let’s say that you’ve run a continuous live blog covering a certain topic, such as the financial markets, for many months. Every day, you have tagged posts with the topic that it relates to, such as the S&P 500, or Oil price, as well as how important (or commonplace) each post is. 

Over time, the number of posts have reached a few hundred or even thousand, and many of these posts are days or weeks old. 

Even though they are old, they can still be relevant and interesting to someone who cares about let’s say the S&P 500, but finding them would be really difficult as it would require a lot of scrolling down the feed.

Here’s where the News Overview comes into play. It allows your users to select a time frame, such as last month, and then they see both how many posts were written about each topic, and how many post were marked as Important. But also, they are able to filter the entire news overview on these topis and importance levels.

Once selected, the News overview filters the posts below so that the reader sees the posts tagged with that topic:

To see the News Overview in action, please follow this link

Bonus: The News Overview is a feature unique to Live Center, and it showcases the solutions flexibility and modularity as it allows live blogs to take the shape and form that each customer wants based on their requirements. If you are curious about this feature, send us a message on our chat, or contact us at sales@norkon.net

Showing your readers what’s important: finding the right balance

Showing your audience the key events in your live blog is all about balance. If you highlight and pin every post you publish your feed quickly becomes convoluted. The key to successfully engaging visitors and loyal readers alike is striking the right balance. Users should be encouraged to scroll and explore your live coverage, but at the same time you need to pique their interest enough with highlighted content to convince them to stay. 

When used correctly, readers who land on your live blog will quickly find something important or interesting that catches their attention. They once you have convinced them to not just bounce back to google or a competitive site, keeping their interest is the job of the rest of your content – videos, images, social media, polls & quizes, etc. In other words, at this point you let the rest of the tools in your love blogging repertoire do their job. 

If you get the combination right, live blogs will become one of the powerful traffic generators on your site. If you want to read more about how to successfully plan and run a live blog, we recommend this article: https://livecenter.com/2021/04/20/7-ways-to-succeed-with-your-live-blog/

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