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The Annotated News Phenomenon

What is “annotated news”?

Annotated news is our name for the hottest social media video trend. You’ve almost certainly seen these all over your feeds – videos and photos that use text captions (annotations) to add details.

Here are a couple examples produced by DreamItReel:

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Why is it so popular?

Annotated news is built for the on-the-go mobile world. When we’re in line at the store, sitting on the train, or taking an extra long bathroom break at work, we jump on our phones for some quick, easy-to-digest distractions.

But the phone has limitations – it’s tough to read a long article on a small screen, but it can also be hard to fully absorb a video with sound on mobile. These videos solve those issues. By using a few key images and some descriptive text, they’re able to tell a complete story that is easy to comprehend and enjoy in a short period of time.

They’re also extremely sharable. Facebook is the main home for annotated news so they’re built to be shared and go viral. Lastly, they work for just about any topic or genre. More on that in the next section.

Who uses it?

In the beginning, annotated news was used for, well, news. Sites like Huffington Post and Slate would use the style for human interest pieces or simplifying a bigger news story like Britain’s EU referendum.

Then, sites like BuzzFeed and Upworthy turned it into a cornerstone of their video strategy. Today, we have brands like NowThis that are almost exclusively producing annotated news videos as a way to deliver information. It’s grown from a video style into its own type of media used for just about any subject you can think of: politics, social issues, sports, science, comedy, music, travel, food, you name it.

How do you make a great annotated news video?

The first step is to pick a topic that people are interested in. It can be a hot-button issue, a global news story, or just an interesting tidbit. Don’t bury the lead too much, let us know up-front what you’ll be covering so we quickly know whether we want to keep watching.

From there, the biggest tip we can offer is to keep is short and concise. You don’t want to cover the screen with text or let the video drag on and on about this and that. Hook us with your opening, hit us with a few impactful points, then wrap it up.

Our last tip is to watch as many of these as possible to study what works and what doesn’t. Pay attention to things like pacing, text color/placement, and overall structure.

Need some help creating your annotated news video? Shoot us an email and let us do the work for you!