Winning in the Content White Space: An Interview with Barcroft Studios

Winning in the Content White Space: An Interview with Barcroft Studios

Barcroft Studios, a digital media publisher that focuses on human interest stories in documentary style, generated more than 5.6B views in 2018 across 22 different social video platforms. Barcroft’s work is wildly popular with its 14 million global subscribers and followers on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Not to ignore Snapchat, Barcroft boasts a massive following (25 million) on the platform, possibly making them one of the biggest content producers on that platform in the world. It was the company’s attention to community tastes and stories that skyrocketed it into the digital sphere. This Barcroft property features incredible stories of people around the world challenging barriers and stereotypes, like this limbless Playstation gamer or these conjoined twin brothers (the property’s most-watched video to date at 165M views). Last year, the property pulled in 690M views on Facebook alone. But how does the publisher know what stories to work on next? Trusting the Community to Inspire Video Strategy Barcroft considers its passionate viewers not as faceless “audiences,” but as a community. Sometimes, viewers will react strongly to a specific moment in a series or video, which can later be developed into a whole new vertical or show. He says this takes three main forms for the publisher: Data shows which types of content resonates with viewers so Barcroft can make similar films in the future under the same series.

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Barcroft Studios, a digital media publisher that focuses on human interest stories in documentary style, generated more than 5.6B views in 2018 across 22 different social video platforms.

Barcroft’s work is wildly popular with its 14 million global subscribers and followers on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. While they call the UK home, almost 40% of Barcroft’s audience across all platforms comes from the U.S., with India, other parts of Asia, Europe, and Australia.

Not to ignore Snapchat, Barcroft boasts a massive following (25 million) on the platform, possibly making them one of the biggest content producers on that platform in the world.

What can media publishers learn from Barcroft’s success?

  1. Paying close attention to what its communities care about.
  2. Using data to verify and respond to these reactions with new content.

This is particularly impressive considering they didn’t start out as a video publisher. It was the company’s attention to community tastes and stories that skyrocketed it into the digital sphere.

In this interview with Barcroft, we dig into how that happened — read on for more!

Becoming a Digital Media Leader by Targeting the Tails

Launched as a press agency in the early 2000s, Barcroft Studios was originally meant to be a place to get photographs for press and publisher needs. However, as the company’s employees traveled and took these stock photos, they kept stumbling on amazing stories from their subjects and people they met around the world.

Eventually, these discoveries became the editorial basis for Barcroft’s transformation into a video-focused, storytelling business. With a simple and unequivocal motto of “amazing content,” the publisher now produces around 20-25 original, short-form documentaries per month for its social video accounts, of which it boasts 22 different properties each with its own look, feel, and unique editorial angle.

“While YouTube is used for exploring series and films we can then pitch to TV, our Facebook shows really pull together people passionate about the topics we cover,” explains Nick Wheatley, New Business Director at Barcroft.

Take Born Different, for example. This Barcroft property features incredible stories of people around the world challenging barriers and stereotypes, like this limbless Playstation gamer or these conjoined twin brothers (the property’s most-watched video to date…

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