Let’s All KISS: The Importance of Short Videos on the Web

Let’s All KISS: The Importance of Short Videos on the Web

Social Media

YouTubeAt this point, YouTube is the second most successful social media site, trailing only behind Facebook. With 1 billion+ unique visitors (not all have accounts like on Facebook), and 6 million hours of videos watched each month, it’s no longer a channel that brands can ignore. It doesn’t really take much these days to make a quality video. Grab your iPhone, step in front and go to work. Free software pre-installed on most computers will help get the job done to let you easily produce and post custom video content. Not only will it be better received among audience members (multimedia > textual content), but it will help you build a library within YouTube to help be found on the web and increase traffic back to your website.

In 2008 or so, Twitter really took off among the general public. And at the same time, SMS and other text messaging apps were becoming widely popular. This issued a revolution amongst the masses. We began (whether we knew it or not) to alter the way we communicated. Everything written had to be more concise and straight to the point. We had to fit our ideas within 140 character messages. This was huge. “Text speak” and other shorthand helped to cut down on length, and hashtags and emoticons helped to describe elaborate emotions in just a few characters.

Fast forward to 2013 and we don’t want to be bothered with long pieces of communication. So now, that same revolution is becoming evident within the video world. You may have been taught that YouTube videos shouldn’t exceed 3-4 minutes or so. And it’s true, no one is going to sit there for 10 minutes to just take away a few key points. We must keep our vlogs and detailed pieces of video content short and sweet. But in addition to that, we need to be serving up content in short form.

Gap VineTwo key apps are driving this revolution. Vine allows users to create 6 second looped videos, animated gifs in a sense. Instagram launched video sharing not long ago but decided to offer a 15 second restriction – maintaining a short limit but giving more than double the amount of time for those who may feel constricted by Vine. Last week, my co-worker Melinda did a wonderful job at comparing and contrasting Vine and Instagram, so I won’t get into the nitty gritty details of each. Instead, I wanted to share some tips on how to develop great content. The apps are free and super easy to set-up, since there is very little branding involved (unlike YouTube). What makes this even more of an equalizing for brands is that everything has to be recorded strictly within the apps themselves. This means no $100,000 worth of production can be put into videos. It has to be made with the standard, stock smartphone camera. Everyone is on the same level, making brands use their imagination rather than leaning on costly equipment and special effects.

We, as consumers, are becoming spoiled by short videos. It’s now a must for brands to get their messages across in a very short amount of time. Here are some tips to get you thinking and help you pull it off:

  • First, who’s your target audience? Right now, Vine skews slightly younger and caters to the tweens, teens and 20-something-year-old audiences. Instagram is just a bit older. Perhaps your demographic does not even make this investment worthwhile yet. I say “yet” because Facebook and Twitter started out the same way. So it’s better to understand the platforms now so if/when your demographic does enter, you’re already prepared.
  • Be creative. Be concise. Make it fun, if possible. Take the emphasis off advertising and focus on entertainment. Sometimes the video shouldn’t even have to do with your brand’s products at all. But do make sure the personality of the video matches that of your brand’s messaging.
  • The more creative the better. Think about infographics. We see so many these days that the only ones worth checking out are the ones that stand out. So take some time to develop a great idea and then set the wheels in motion. The idea behind a 6-second video might take hours or even days to develop (if it’s a great one!). And that’s okay.
  • Find ways to graphically display your ideas so they don’t have to take up time to be said. Use pictures. Animation. Even stick drawings. Don’t stand there like it’s a college lecture or even showcase a talking head like a YouTube vlog. That’s too boring here!
  • Create your notes ahead of time to determine what point you’d like to make. Yes, one point per video. Time isn’t on your side. You have an unlimited number of posts you can share, but each video should live on its own as a unique message. Consider creating a series so you can tie multiple videos together with a main theme, but give each its own key message. 

The attention span no longer exists and people want to engage with your brand seconds at a time. Keep it simple, stupid. Video is where it’s at and you can’t babble on anymore. The apps won’t let you. Know that short videos are a trend that we will continue to see in the coming years, so jump on board and start getting involved on these video sharing apps. There’s a number of ways that your brand can take advantage. Start following brands now to see some great examples.

Helping Musicians Get Started On YouTube

Helping Musicians Get Started On YouTube

Social Media

If you already record your own videos, congrats. You’re off to a good start. If you’re nervous about doing videos, you need to get over it. Fast. YouTube is the second largest search engine on the web (behind Google) and posted videos carry a great deal of weight in search engine rankings. This means that the more quality videos you post, the better your chances of being found online. And as a musician, this is a great tactic to have new fans hear your material. Here are some tips on getting started on YouTube.

It’s not difficult for a musician to become a YouTuber. Video cameras are very affordable these days, and many people just use their iPhones. Buy a tiny tripod or find a way to prop it up, and record your stuff. Free video editing software like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker can provide you with basic features so you can include an intro slide (with your artist name, song title, etc) and an exit slide (with your website and download info). YouTube even has built in effects and tools these days. Don’t try to get too cute or fancy though. Less is more when it comes to video transitions and add-ons. Instead, let the viewer focus on your material and your talent. If you do want to get a little creative, there’s always software like Final Cut and Adobe Premier Elements to help enhance the video and make it look a bit more professional. But those take a little time to learn and master.

Do Research
Take some time to browse around in YouTube in the genre of music that fits you most closely. Are you a rapper? Are you a rocker? Play soft acoustic? Watch videos, read comments and keep clicking on the suggested videos. Learn what fans get most excited about. For rap, you might found out that cypher battles are very hot right now. Record one with a friend. Acoustic fans might love covers that were converted from hip hop songs. Practice, practice, practice and put one together for a popular song on the radio right now. These types of techniques will lead to more traffic coming to your site from potential fans who are interested in those types of styles.

Complete the Information Fields
Headlines, descriptions and tags are very important. This not only helps people learn who you are, but it’s also how people find you within YouTube and Google. Don’t be silly or vague with your video file names like, “Awesome rock song.” Instead, be specific and thorough. “[Artist Name] Performing Acoustic Rock Version of ‘Started from the Bottom.’” Then in the description, take time to include a more complete explanation:

[Artist name] doing a live acoustic cover of Drake’s “Started from the Bottom” from his third studio album Nothing Was the Same. This is in preparation of [Artist’s] upcoming EP “XXZ.” Find more covers and original material at [artist’s website’s], where you can also download the mp3 of this song. Feel free to contact me on Twitter @XYZ.

Always include your website and social channels at the end of your description. You want people to be able to find you as easily as possible. Furthermore, if it’s an original song, include the link for fans to download it. In the tags section, include all relevant keywords. Acoustic. Rock. Nothing Was the Same. Drake. Singer. Songwriter. Upstate NY. Etc. These tags help users find your video as they are navigating through YouTube.

YouTube is a great way to showcase yourself and your music. Record often and be proud of your work. Finally, don’t forget to share those videos on your Facebook and Twitter channels. Who knows, you might be the next YouTube sensation. If not, it still will help you practice your stuff and get in front on a lot of new fans. Good luck and happy YouTube’ing!

Social Media Fosters Internal Collaboration

Social Media Fosters Internal Collaboration

Social Media

I think a major misconception about social media is that it only appeals to consumer audiences. If you have a brand that doesn’t resonate with an active online audience, then what’s the point, right? But you might be missing a major, underlying component of social media. In addition to public outreach, it also fosters stronger internal teams within a company and its networks.

Internal Distribution of News

I’ve found it pretty common for staff members to share news internally whenever they discover a neat article that the entire company might find valuable. So how do you distribute that information? Email blasts? Weekly e-mail newsletters? A carrier pigeon? Today, many companies are realizing that there are benefits to granting company access to social sites. It’s understandable that Instagram, Twitter and Facebook might discourage productivity – especially if you have a large workforce. So for those that still need to run a tight ship, why not give access to the more professional ones? The company blog, LinkedIn and Google+, for example. These channels can give your employees a chance to read the latest articles being shared in the field or by your own company. It also allows staff members to comment, share and like company posts, furthering the reach of your messaging.

All Hands on Deck for Blogging

Interns all the way through the CEO should be writing blog posts and participating. When there are only certain team members involved, it ruins the whole concept that this is a *company wide* effort. From a personal standpoint, think of it as your chance to shine in front of your co-workers. Put forth effort. Highlight a recent news article and explain your thoughts. Tell us how your weekend trip to the mountains spurred your creativity in tackling this week’s project in a new way. Tell us anything!

Everyone should be reading the company blog posts too. I don’t care what division you are in. I don’t care what management level you sit. This is staff members’ knowledge, skills, opinions, insight, experiences, personality all being served out there for all to see. Read these posts. Get to know your team members. And comment! Visitors reading a blog might be intimidated to make the first move, so start the conversation. Let your co-worker know that it was a great article and add a thought or two. Don’t be afraid to debate either. This is what fuels diversity and brings out new points of view. And since most blog posts relate to your field, everyone who reads the post and the comment thread will have a more thorough understanding of the subject matter. 

Social Media Sharing

Outside of the blogs, develop an internal system for sharing links, pics and other materials on the company’s social sites. It might be best to have one or two people take the lead, simply from a structural standpoint, but that doesn’t mean that everyone can’t flag items to post. This sharing of content helps everyone feel like they are participating. Record the fun things you do in the office and load them onto your channels. It becomes a great library of past articles and events that staff members can look to at a later date, or potential hires might see when deciding if they would like to join the team. A company’s collective work culture should shine through in the voice and content of the posts.

On Three, Go Team!

Again, social media’s primary functions revolve around inbound marketing and leveraging conversations with current or potential customers. It’s a profound way to develop those relationships and build a rapport for long-term customer satisfaction. But flip this medium on its side and look at it through another lens. Internal communications can be a heavy task for some companies – especially those who are large and/or have remote offices. By sharing industry news and information through social sites, and by encouraging all team members to participate in the blog, it can have a meaningful effect on the company’s marketing efforts. Camaraderie is built in many ways. Sure, the employee Christmas party and the Friday happy hours are great. They always will be great. But in this digital age, we should be taking advantage of the tools out there. Social channels are just one more medium that we can leverage for better teamwork and collaboration. 

“Engagement” Is Meaningless. DO Something!

“Engagement” Is Meaningless. DO Something!

Social Media

If I hear the word “engaging” one more time, I just might start to cut myself. I admit it, I still use it constantly. But when a term is thrown about so often, it starts to lack substance. As social media continues to grow and the mobile revolution shapes the way brands communicate with consumers, we need to better understand how to instigate these worthwhile conversations. “Be engaging” no longer works when selling clients on a social media campaign.

And yes, these conversations you want to start? They must first be instigated. They’re not handed to you by social media faeries.

The term “engagement” simply means to hold someone’s attention. Of course brands want to do this. It’s been a goal since the beginning of marketing – it isn’t a new concept as a result of the social surge. However, with social, different tactics must be in place on each platform to grab and hold consumers’ attentions, and have them react to material.

Ask yourself:

What does my target consumer want when spending time on these sites?
What will resonate well and encourage some form of interaction?

The idea of “engagement” won’t tell you that. Engagement, itself, is a hallow term. You have to determine what it means to your business.

So let’s give it meaning. Below are some practical examples of engagement in the wild.

How To Be Engaging In Social Media

  • Pay attention to current events. The World Series was on and 200,000 people were tweeting #SFGiants and #Tigers during 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Did your brand jump in?
  • Be yourself (behind the brand). Saw a funny article that made you laugh? Guess what, if you are in the target for your product, then someone else will probably think it’s funny too. Post it. Over time, an online personality will develop for the brand and people will become familiar with that voice.
  • Mix it up. Just because you sell windshield wiper fluid doesn’t mean that a buyer wouldn’t find it worthwhile to read an article on the coolest vacation spots. Do you post the same things everyday on your personal pages? Neither should your brand.
  • Have something to offer. This is not a free investment. You really want to get peoples’ attention – create stuff. Hold contests, do promotions, create infographics, hold publicity stunts and take photos. Do things other brands are not doing. Additionally, tie in traditional advertising and mobile marketing campaigns into your channels to boost reach and drive new users to these pages. I’ll say it again, social media is not free.
  • Be a quick resource. We don’t live in the age of the 9-5 customer service line anymore. People immediately go to social media for complaints and questions. Answer them quickly and accurately for the best effect.
  • Be a good storyteller. The businesses that tell the best stories have the biggest competitive advantage. We tune in to watch the story unfold and learn what it would be like to be part of the brand.
  • Give people what they want. More than what a consumer wants when engaging on Twitter, what do they want from your brand on Twitter? Is it customer support? Is it links to articles they may find interesting? Is it the chance to have a conversation? Is deals or discounts? If you don’t know, ask? Once you think you know, try different things and see what works.

Measure Success

Measurement is always on our mind because we want to identify our return on investment. Don’t just focus on likes, shares, comment and @s – focus on the social media metrics that matter to your business.

This may mean benchmarking and measuring:

  • Your conversion rate. For example, this may include a user signing up for a newsletter subscription, filling out a contact form, downloading a free trial of your product or hard leads coming into your business.
  • SEO value. This may include links back to your blog post and/or website, or increase search visibility due to social factors.
  • Traffic. All of your social media accounts should serve to drive traffic back to your website, Is targeted traffic increasing? Where is it coming from?

It’s important to remember that social media is a long-term strategy. Measuring week-by-week can drive you nuts and make you concerned for no reason.

Taylor Swift can say “What’s Up” and get 1,000 RTs and a few hundreds responses. Your brand can’t. You need to find a way to do social better and actually have conversations. That means not only starting those conversations, but seeking them out.

People will listen if you give them a reason to.

Leveraging Pinterest for Business

Social Media

Pinterest has a user base that isn’t like counterparts Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Stats range depending on the study, but it’s safe to say 80% of Pinterest users are women. As a brand, this should naturally be taken into consideration when creating pins and developing messaging. Additionally, users spend an average of 16 minutes on the site each day – more than Facebook and Twitter but slightly less than YouTube. This excessive time means users are browsing around and not just visiting quickly and leaving (as they do with Twitter).

One of the main takeaways I’ve seen from my readings is that boards/pins should reflect themes and shouldn’t simply be brand promotions. Brands should step out of their comfort zone and create boards that do not directly fit their product/service. For instance, a lawnmower company might have boards related to DIY, wildlife, home improvement, the outdoors, etc. Think about what the target might like, not necessarily what the CEO might like. Your customers only buy lawnmowers or accessories once a year. What else are they buying and what else are they doing in all that other time?

Two things that are very important, but that many users seem to forget are the use of hashtags and adding comments. Like Twitter, hashtags help people surf through material that they personally find useful. If you use popular hashtags that other brands are using (#DIY, #recipes, #animals), random users will stumble across your posts as they browse. This extends the reach of your material. Furthermore, adding commentary is critical. Even a sentence or two reveals the voice behind the brand, further develops your online personality and can demonstrate your expertise in the field.

As with most social channels, appropriate citation and copyright claims are often a concern. When sharing information from other outlets or brands, the original poster of the content should remain visible so as to not appear as though the copyrighted material is stolen.

Pinterest is also a great way to generate new, fresh content on other social media channels. Each social media channel should have its own unique voice/strategy, so you don’t want to completely duplicate all posts onto Facebook and Twitter. However, a few posts here are there are great to remind your audience that you are also present on Pinterest. It’s a nice way of saying: “Hey, come follow me!” without actually stating it.

Pinterest is all about the visuals. I recommend following other brands which have similar content in order to easily repin those posts and build a library. For example, some good Pinterest accounts for a lawn mowing company might be HGTV, DIY, Better Homes & Garden, Lowe’s, Home Depot, etc. Here is a great infographic from Mashable on brands and categories of who are using Pinterest. There are millions of photos circulating the Pinterest web, so jump in, blend in and take advantage.

Do you use Pinterest for your business? What techniques have you found to be most advantageous?