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5 tips for visual branding in video on social media

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Still not recommended for your video content strategy. Image via Alexandre van de sande on Flickr; used with Creative Commons license

The rising popularity of video across social media means you’re probably doing more of it and you want to be sure your videos are as recognizable to your brand as the rest of your content is.

Designing a cohesive visual style is a lot like finding your voice in writing; it might vary a bit in tone across platforms depending on the audience you’re writing to in each place, but overall you want people to be able to recognize when it’s you. With that in mind, here are some tips for realizing a cohesive visual brand across social media channels.

1. Do your research.

Who’s your competition and what themes stand out from their visual branding? What about brands or personal brands you admire? Take a look at a few accounts and take notes on what you like about their styles- intentional or not- and think about how to apply it to your own.

2. Consider your resources.

Some of the things you identified in the previous point might be impossible if you’ve got a team of just yourself and $0 in the budget, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still tie things together. It can be as simple as choosing a few visual cues to repeat or finding a design overlay that matches your branding. See the next point for more on this.

3. Decide on a common element.

Will it be the same host in your videos every time, either by face or voice? Different hosts, but a carefully chosen background? (Like John Green’s salon on the Mental Floss YouTube channel; a very identifiable background despite different hosts.) The same filter used in post-processing along with your logo? Find a common thread that will tie your work together when someone is looking at your video content as a whole, and that makes it easily recognizable out in the wilds of the Internet.

4. Consider what you’ve already created.

If older video content (say your Vine account or first run at a YouTube channel) has low engagement and doesn’t match the new style you have in mind, you can consider editing your account page and/or removing pieces from the resources page on your website altogether and starting fresh. Otherwise on a more casual platform like Instagram you can show how your brand has evolved, visually and otherwise, over time. That highlights the authenticity to your work that can’t be manually produced.

5. Test, measure, test, repeat.

The advice we’ll almost always give: Decide what your goals are for the videos on each platform you’re going to tackle, then measure and plan new content going forward based on what’s working. Test new approaches you can think of, measure those, repeat.

Last but never least? Have fun with it. Your audience will be able to tell.

Image via Alexandre van de sande on Flickr; used with Creative Commons license.

Written by Sarah

May 5th, 2015 at 9:11 am

Bare-faced on Twitter & Instagram: Amy Schumer’s #GirlYouDontNeedMakeup

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On Tuesday a new episode of Inside Amy Schumer aired on Comedy Central, and in anticipation of this boy band parody sketch, Amy posted a no-makeup selfie on Twitter and Instagram asking her followers to share selfies of themselves without makeup on either platform with the hashtag #GirlYouDontNeedMakeup.

And the response has been as sweet as a boy band’s choreographed dance moves.

On Twitter

Since it started on Tuesday, more than 13,000 tweets have been posted with the #GirlYouDontNeedMakeup hashtag by more than 12,000 different people, for a potential reach of 40 million unique Twitter users*. Many of the most retweeted tweets came from Amy herself, Comedy Central, or big media and tech outlets like Mashable or Slate, but some came from non-celebrity hashtag participants: 

(Though of course funnyman Zach Braff did add his own somewhat inexplicable and terrifying entry.)

On Instagram

While fewer posts were made on Instagram in the same window, they still had quite the impact with a maximum potential reach of 1.5 million**. The three most popular posts with the #girlyoudontneedmakeup tag were these two from Amy and one from Comedy Central, respectively, but the rest were all from Instagram users sharing their no-makeup faces, not other branded accounts as on Twitter:

#girlyoudontneedmakeup #catyoudontneedmakeup #insideamy

A photo posted by Emily Gordon (@thegynomite) on

One of the most popular Instagram posts includes an important related hashtag, #catyoudontneedmakeup.

Have you posted your no-makeup selfie yet?

Brand takeaways

The smaller number of posts made on Instagram likely has a lot to do with the interconnected nature of Twitter as a platform with its built-in retweets vs Instagram’s third-party apps as the only option for regramming. Twitter’s constant flood of information also makes it acceptable to post original and curated content several times a day, making it more likely for others to see, share, and/or participate in a hashtag than with a more contained stream like Instagram where users are more selective with what they participate in and share.

Both of these are things to keep in mind when planning a campaign, either for a specific platform or to run across platforms; you want to play to the strengths of each.

 

*read more about how we calculate reach on Twitter here

**read about how our Instagram analytics hashtag trackers work here

Written by Sarah

April 30th, 2015 at 9:00 am

A social video guide for brands

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Putting a first generation iPod on a really old television is not a recommended video hosting platform. Image via Alexandre van de sande on Flickr; used with Creative Commons license.

Still not recommended. Image via Alexandre van de sande on Flickr; used with Creative Commons license.

So you want to get into video content marketing.

Those who are excellent at video content marketing make it look easy, leaving the uninitiated with high hopes and a crushing sense of reality once they start researching the work that goes into a well-executed and branded piece of video content. Should you be live-streaming? On Meerkat, or on Periscope? Should you be on both? What about Google Hangouts, is anyone still doing those? All the kids are on Snapchat, right? What about the more established longer-form video platforms like YouTube and Vimeo? Or Vine? And what about the social media platforms that have a video option, like Instagram and now Facebook? It can all be a little overwhelming. Let’s break it down, so you can figure out which social video platforms are right for your brand, based on your resources and goals.

First things first: What does each platform do?

Live-streaming platforms:

  • Meerkat: A live-streaming app where footage is not accessible later. Twitter pulled their official card access after launching their competing acquisition, Periscope, leaving some to speculate on Meerkat’s eventual fate.
  • Periscope: Owned by Twitter, it’s a live-streaming app with videos you can replay later. There’s a private broadcast option as well. (For a more in-depth comparison of Meerkat and Periscope, read this.)
  • Google Hangouts: Face-to-face video conversation where your broadcast is automatically recorded and uploaded to YouTube after you’re finished.

Prerecorded video platforms:

  • Vine: 6 seconds of glory, but recent research shows you only get about 3 to catch your audience’s attention, so don’t rule it out for length.
  • Instagram: Videos on Instagram are limited to 15 seconds, giving you a lot more creative room than on Vine.
  • Snapchat: Send quick snaps in video or photo form, or build bigger and longer stories using both; stories expire in 24hrs whereas snaps last for the duration set by the sender (up to 10 seconds). Recipients can replay one snap a day and they can save snaps by taking a screenshot, but it tells the sender you did so.
  • Facebook video: Facebook has recently launched their own native videos, which autoplay on the site (and the same 3-seconds-to-catch-your-audience’s-attention rule stands) but without volume. Another recent update has made their videos embeddable on other sites.
  • YouTube: The granddaddy of video, they’ve been moving into the original content space as more and more of the younger generation move away from traditional TV (and even admire YouTube personalities over celebs). YouTube offers a lot of tools for building your audience, advertising, and being part of the Google family makes it good choice for SEO rankings.
  • Vimeo: Another option for brands producing high-quality video is Vimeo, which gives you branded players and the ability to embed elsewhere as on YouTube. Here are Vimeo’s brand guidelines.

So what is each platform best for?

As more users adapt to these newer platforms and shift with changes on the established ones, they’ll come up with new and creative ways to use them. In the meantime, here are some ideas for how you can use each platform based on what we’ve seen in the wild. Choose according to your brand’s goals, the type of content you’ll be producing with the resources you have available, and first and foremost, where your audience is. Live-streaming

  • Meerkat: Livestream an event that’s part of a series to get people interested in coming next time- a conference series, or an interview with a well-known expert in your industry- but they have to buy a ticket to the next one or catch the stream in time. If an element of exclusivity works well with your brand’s audience, then this might be the best approach for you.
  • Periscope: Livestream a speech or presentation to increase your audience. Share the playback to your established audience that might have missed it, and be sure to watch it yourself to help you tweak your delivery for next time.
  • Google Hangouts: Google Hangouts function best for meetings and the recordings are often best suited for internal use or transcribing an interview. However, long pieces can be edited down into a summary and other usable pieces. It’s not a bad idea to start with longform content and repurpose it across other platforms, given you have the time and resources to do so.

Pre-recorded video 

  • Vine: Got a clever way to show a how-to or answer a question? Vine’s for you. (Econsultancy does a monthly roudup with great brand examples on Vine.)
  • Instagram: For creative that’s a little longer than 6 seconds that you want to fit into your overall visual brand, there’s Instagram. Post a clip from longer content, as mentioned above, share tips and tricks, or even produce a series of short videos like Gap did for their spring campaign.
  • Snapchat: If your target audience is young, then sending fun behind-the-scenes Snapchat stories is a great move embraced by a lot of the brands currently on the platform. Here are some other creative ways brands are using the platform, from Convince & Convert.
  • Facebook video: If your audience is dedicated to Facebook, you might want to consider making this your video content hub. If you’re already invested in YouTube, you can repurpose content from your channel for Facebook or experiment with Facebook-exclusive content. Here’s a great example of shifting strategy from PopSugar on Digiday.
  • YouTube: Your video hub- create a dedicated brand channel from which you can spin off side-channels, if that makes sense for your content strategy, brand, and resources- from which you can repurpose content into smaller, shorter videos for all the above, aforementioned networks.
  • Vimeo: ReelSEO has a great breakdown of the differences between YouTube and Vimeo for brands, depending on what your priorities are. If you’ve got the resources, consider optimizing videos for both.

What else should I know?

It’s probably worth mentioning the biggest con in live-streaming video: Not everyone is a natural in front of the camera and with the lack of editing available when you’re streaming live, well, unless you’re famous or dealing with extremely topical subject matter in an entertaining way it can be tough to find an audience. The golden rule of content applies here as it does everywhere else: Be sure you’re creating content that’s of value to your customers and making it available on the platforms where they prefer to spend their time. Put in the work to find out where that is, and what it is they want from you.

Any more questions?

Leave ‘em in the comments. Just remember to have fun; your audience can tell when you are.

Social TV: Netflix binge-watching, Daredevil and Twitter

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The prevalence of the second screen and social television have been established for some time now, but how does the conversation differ around a show when the whole season is released at once and the audience has the option to binge-watch it all in one go?

We looked at the Twitter conversation around Netflix’s recently released Daredevil to find out.

The overall conversation

345.5k tweets have been posted about Netflix’s latest original series since the beginning of April, from 137.5k contributors, for a total unique reach of 76.2 million. That’s smaller than the few days of Twitter conversation around the fourth season premiere of Game of Thrones on Twitter, but consider that Game of Thrones was working with an established fan base and audience who were anticipating the season premiere. Daredevil does have an existing fanbase from the success of other Marvel projects, Netflix originals, and of course the original comic book character to draw from, but new shows still have to prove themselves and the social conversation is becoming an increasing part of that success. Netflix and Marvel know that, so their Twitter accounts are at the forefront of the conversation, along with two of the show’s stars, Rosario Dawson and Deborah Ann Woll if you take a look at the top contributors to the Daredevil conversation:

  1. Marvel
  2. IGN
  3. AgentM
  4. Netflix
  5. EW
  6. Rosario Dawson
  7. Daredevil
  8. Deborah Ann Woll
  9. THR (The Hollywood Reporter)
  10. TVAfterDark

And these accounts consequently have some of the most popular tweets (by retweets):

As expected Game of Thrones chatter only got louder as the season progressed as each episode was released in the traditional serialized manner. With a show available all at once, what do we see? The answer that the biggest spike in the conversation happened on April 10th, the day Netflix released the full season, probably does not surprise you: Daredevil release spike

The day of release

Netflix releases new shows at midnight Pacific Time (3am Eastern) on Fridays (weekend timing makes it perfect for binge-watching), and announces that move with a tweet:

Which coincided with a spike in the conversation for that day, too:

Daredevil release day 3am spike

 

As for the conversation itself, there was some self-aware humor around binge-watching reflected in some of the most retweeted and other prominent tweets:

As well as good old-fashioned jokes that only make sense if you’re familiar with the main character—  or start watching the show to be in on it:  

Mashable and Netflix even brought Twitter’s new live-streaming sister app, Periscope, into the conversation by using it to discuss why you should binge-watch the show and to bring fans behind-the-scenes content:

A Periscope URL wound up being one of the top URLs in the overall conversation, alongside articles around the show (like the one from Entertainment Weekly in the tweet posted above) and a Netflix link to the show itself. Something for brands- and perhaps especially for entertainment brands- to take into consideration as part of a promotional content marketing plan.

Other takeaways

Whether or not you’re an entertainment brand or have anything to do with social television and the second screen at all, you still want to maximize your social listening. Daredevil caught criticism for being a show about a blind superhero that was released without a way for visually impaired fans to fully enjoy it. Netflix heard this, however, and several days later an audio description track was added for the show, along with news that the service would be expanded to its other original series.

That’s taking a blunder, really listening to your fans and followers, and fixing it in a timely manner that results in good PR. 

That’s an excellent lesson for any brand.

 

Do you binge-watch series? Do you tweet about it? Leave your thoughts in the comments! 

 

Written by Sarah

April 22nd, 2015 at 12:44 pm

3 Steps to take when your brand joins that New Social Network

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coffee in the morning

Step 0: Be sure you’re properly caffeinated. Photo via Flickr.

You’ve been paying attention to your fans and followers on your established networks and they’ve been asking why you’re not on That New Social Network, so you signed up, if only to reserve your brand’s handle. Your target audience is here, but you haven’t posted anything yet. So. . .now what? What should you do first?

Start with these three steps.

1. Research, research, and then research some more.

How are people using this space? This is likely to shift as the network becomes more established and more users join and experiment with what it has to offer, but it’s always a good idea to know the existing protocol backwards and forwards before you start posting.

Always be sure your content fits the place but is still true to your brand’s voice and core values.

2. Ask your audience: What do you want to see from us here?

How do you figure out what your audience wants from you in a specific place? Try asking them. Ask them on the new network, ask them on your established networks. Send out a survey via email, or tweet and Facebook links to a survey asking what they’d like out of your social media presence, including on the new platform.

Don’t assume you know. Ask, and listen. Then plan your new content strategy accordingly.

3. Test, measure, plan, repeat.

Experiment with different types of content, pay very close attention to the results, and base your strategy going forward on those results. What is touted as a best practice on a new network might not necessarily be what your specific audience wants to see from you in that specific place.

Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things. Anything your audience reacts positively towards isn’t something to just repeat ad nauseam, but to analyze and figure out what about it worked and why. Then use those elements in all of your content strategy moving forward.

Written by Sarah

March 31st, 2015 at 8:08 am

The power of visual storytelling on Twitter (and beyond!)

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It’s no secret that in the never-ending stream of 140-character messages that is Twitter a snappy visual can make yours stand out; Twitter themselves did a study and found that across different content categories adding an image to your tweet boosted engagement in the form of a higher retweet rate.

So simply adding photos to your tweets is a great starting place and one that we’ve discussed before as Twitter has rolled out more image-friendly updates. But if you want to take it further than just adding relevant visuals to tweets, design a way to tell a visual story on Twitter. Put together something where the pieces can stand individually- after all, your tweets will be part of your followers’ stream- but when a prospective follower or curious fan looks at your homepage, they also see a cohesive visual story that communicates your campaign or company values, whatever it is that you’re trying to get across.

What does this look like?

Starbucks is great about using their timeline to tell little mini-stories, and they incorporate their fans and followers in them by retweeting their tweets as well. A great example is a recent celebration of National Croissant Day:

Starbucks visual storytelling Twitter

 

This example also takes it further, by integrating Snapchat. (We’ll talk more about expanding to other platforms in just a bit!)

Keeping things to Twitter, look at the timelines of any major brands you admire and ask yourself what makes their presentation successful or unsuccessful; do their visuals feel cohesive? Do they work together towards telling a single story and letting you know what they can do for you? Figure out how you can answer those questions and provide value to your own fans, followers, and customers.

Take it beyond a campaign.

Twitter shouldn’t just be about selling to your audience; using it like a bullhorn to shout at your fans and followers is unlikely to result in a reciprocal, engaged relationship with them. Use your social presence to tell any number of stories about your brand. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Tell the story of how your company came to be
  • Tell the story of how two companies came together as one in a merger, or the story of a rebranding
  • Show off company culture: Share spontaneous images your employees take of one another and let them tell daily office stories in their own words
  • Show off company values: Share the story of a day spent volunteering, or the different charitable things employees do on their own time and how you support them
  • Tell the story of an event or anniversary of your company
  • Tell the story of a partnership of two brands or a brand and a celebrity spokesperson around a campaign

All of these are ways to show off the human side of your brand, in addition to giving your employees some storytelling power.

Take it even beyond Twitter.

Go beyond just adding a photo to your tweets and use photos to tell a story not just on Twitter but across platforms: Tailor your story so that it’s told on your Facebook timeline, on your Tumblr, across your Instagram page. You can choose different parts of your story to tell in each place, if that feels more appropriate for your brand. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your narrative as long as you stay true to your brand values and the voice you’re trying to build or strengthen. 

See an example of each for inspiration: IKEA built a catalog on Instagram last year, Charity: Water mixes in stories from their different well-building campaigns with user-generated stories on their Facebook page (also seen below), and Sephora’s Tumblr acts as a combination catalog and digital magazine repository of inspirational images, tips, and tricks for their followers.

Charity Water FB

One woman even used Pinterest to tell the story of her Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler, which eventually expanded to a presence on other networks and a book. In that case a powerful visual story became a brand.

Test content types constantly.

Finally, use the engagement levels on the types of visual content you use- images with words superimposed on them, images without words but with captions, etc- to plan content types moving forward. And you’ll want to keep testing; your audience’s tastes will most likely shift over time.

Written by Sarah

February 18th, 2015 at 9:41 am

Superhero Super Bowl Bet: The stunning conclusion

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Since Star-Lord and Captain America set a wager on Twitter about whose team would win last night’s Big Game, we’ve been watching them and the rest of the social media sphere egg each other on good-naturedly. Good Morning America got into the discussion last week, and some other celebrities even asked to get in on the action:

Since January 19th, 182k tweets and counting have been made around this superhero Super Bowl bet by 93k contributors (and counting). The two most retweeted tweets came from Captain America and Star-Lord themselves wrapping up the bet last night on Twitter:

So while in the end Captain America won his bet, Christopher’s Haven and Seattle Children’s Hospital are the real winners with all of the donations made in honor of this bet and the upcoming superhero visits to the kids.

Stay tuned for more on the rest of Super Bowl XLIX!

Written by Sarah

February 2nd, 2015 at 9:46 am

Superhero Super Bowl Bet: Updated

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The Big Game is Sunday, so how’s that big Superhero Super Bowl Bet going? Since the bet started, more than 50k people have posted more than 88k tweets, and counting.

Good Morning America has joined the conversation on Twitter, and they’re asking their fans and followers to retweet the superhero whose team they want to see win on Sunday. Want to wager who’s winning in terms of retweets as of this writing?

It’s Captain America, with over 4k retweets on “his” GMA tweet to over 2k retweets on Star-Lord’s.

Keep an eye on the conversation on Twitter with the three most popular hashtags:

  1. #SuperBowl
  2. #GMASuperBowl
  3. #SuperBowlBound

The tides can always turn on Sunday. Will you be watching?

Written by Sarah

January 31st, 2015 at 9:00 am

Super Bowl Bet: Captain America vs. Star-Lord

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Super Bowl betting certainly isn’t new, but two superheroes making bets on Twitter certainly feels very modern. Chris Pratt, who plays Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy, bet fellow Marvel superhero Chris Evans (Captain America in the Avengers franchise) some acts of charity based on whose team wins The Big Game.

The two tweets laying out the terms the bet have been heavily retweeted already:

In just a couple days, the bet has generated more than 40,000 tweets from 26,000 people. The most popular hashtags around the heroic Super Bowl bet conversation are:

There’s no clear winner yet, but Chris Pratt has a slight edge over Christ Evans. And don’t worry, we’ll keep you updated on how this bet unfolds! Oh, and the rest of the Super Bowl too, just like we always do.

Written by Sarah

January 22nd, 2015 at 11:33 am

The most popular #BlackFriday hashtags (and the most mentioned brands!) on Twitter

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Whether you’re scouring for deals on social, or you’re a brand who’s trying to get the word out about them, check out these top ten hashtags around the Black Friday conversation on Twitter:

  1. #BlackFriday
  2. #CyberMonday
  3. #KohlsSweeps
  4. #deals
  5. #giveaway
  6. #sale
  7. #Samsung
  8. #Christmas
  9. #Thanksgiving
  10. #Retail

What sales are being talked about the most? Here are the ten most-mentioned brands and products so far.

  1. Amazon
  2. Walmart
  3. Apple
  4. Kohl’s
  5. Best Buy
  6. Target
  7. iPhone
  8. GalaxyS5
  9. Samsung
  10. Microsoft

Apple is definitely leading with 4 of the 10 mentions, but Kohls is running a very popular Black Friday Twitter contest.

Feel like you can’t compete with the big brands? Use the knowledge of which hashtags are the most popular to see which perform the best for your brand; it may be that popular hashtags give your content a boost, and it may be that your tweets get lost in the noise. Only testing will tell! Want another tactic? Consider creating your own holiday, rather than trying to compete with big brands that have bigger budgets and resources.

Written by Sarah

November 26th, 2014 at 12:00 pm