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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. (Update: Meerkat now lets you connect with your Facebook friends on the app.)
  • 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. (Update: Meerkat now lets you save video in a library, but you choose what is public, so this strategy might still work 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

The World Series on Twitter: #HunterPenceSigns

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Casual watchers of the World Series may have noticed some interesting signs popping up in the broadcasts of the games; signs aimed at San Francisco Giants player Hunter Pence. Giants fans may have noticed that these signs started popping up in August, and that they even have their own hashtag: #HunterPenceSigns.

We took a full snapshot report to get an idea of what the conversation around this hashtag looks like:

Hunter Pence Signs 1

Our full snapshot reports max out at 1,500 tweets, but you can see that you reach that limit in around two days with this specific hashtag. The conversation is mostly tweets and retweets, with the fewest amount of tweets being replies. This suggests it’s more about creating and sharing these jokes than critiquing them.

Hunter Pence Signs 2

 

The top contributors to the hashtag within the confines of this snapshot were San Francisco news station KTVU, and the “official” Hunter Pence Signs account. A Kansas City news station holds the top spot for most retweeted tweets, however, keeping the rivalry going in every way possible.

The above tweet was retweeted by KTVU

What does Hunter Pence himself think about all of this?

He seems to be a pretty good sport about it.  

Written by Sarah

October 28th, 2014 at 2:28 pm

5 ways universities interact with their students on social media

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In the fall of 2012 Yale University started using our Union Metrics for Tumblr analytics to get smarter about how they were using the social blogging platform to share information and relate to their students. Since then, many more colleges and universities have created accounts on various social platforms in order to stay connected with their students in the places those students already spend their time. Here are a few examples of what universities are doing to reach students across social media.

1. On Tumblr: Share information with targeted groups

Tumblr’s unique position as a blogging platform with a built-in social element works especially well for universities wanting to target different groups of current or potential students. The tagging system means different types of posts can easily find their way to their respective communities across the site, and some universities even carve out separate Tumblrs for different areas of their university and resources. For example, the University of Texas at Austin has one Tumblr for their School of Architecture, one for the Blanton Museum, another for the Harry Ransom Center, and one more for the LBJ Library. That gives diehard Longhorns the chance to keep track of all resources UT offers, while those only interested in what the Blanton has to offer can narrow their focus.

MIT, on the other hand, chooses to focus their approach to just Residential Life & Dining on Tumblr, giving incoming students a chance to learn about their options before they arrive on campus, taking a lot of the stress out of a big life change.

The bottom line? Tumblr is the best way for universities to reach specific communities. (A full list of all the universities with a presence on Tumblr can be found here for those interested.)

2. On Instagram: Capture attention with compelling images

Many universities have a presence across platforms, and they play to each platform’s strengths. Yale, for example, uses Instagram to show off campus and the school’s history, beauty, and people. Instagram images can easily be shared to other platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook to quickly catch the attention of followers in those spaces.

Meanwhile the University of Texas at Austin encourages students to share their photos with them, using specific hashtags: #HookEm, #Longhorns, #UTAustin, #UTTower, and #WhatStartsHere along with specific seasonal or event-based hashtags like #UTsummer. This helps current, former, and potential students feel connected to the university even when they’re not on campus– or feel like they’re not missing out during a semester abroad.

They also have a separate Instagram account just for Longhorn football.

The bottom line? Instagram is the best place to share engaging images that will make students feel more connected to them, or attract them to become students in the first place. 

3. On Twitter: Share information quickly in critical situations

Twitter has already proven itself to be an invaluable resource for quick dissemination of information during a natural or man-made crisis, on a campus or otherwise.

In less serious situations, universities and colleges can use it to answer FAQs from new or prospective students, provide information and reminders about university events and deadlines, and share resources for students.

They can also host tweet chats to address specific topics of interest to current students, incoming students, potential students, and alums. For example, the University of Michigan Medical School hosts tweet chats to answer questions about their program, and the University of Central Missouri has hosted two allowing attendees to chat with the school’s president.

The bottom line? Twitter is the best way for universities to connect with their communities in real time. 

4. On Facebook: Provide an easily-found base

Facebook is the perfect social home base: A university profile can share resources and lead students back to other platforms. Users are comfortable using it to ask questions, and page administrators can answer them in a place that makes it easy for them to be seen by someone who might come looking to ask something similar. There’s also a review system in place, to let potential and incoming students know what life is really like on campus, like these from UT Austin’s Facebook page

UT FB Reviews

5. On Pinterest and Snapchat: Go the extra mile

While most people- especially the younger generation- expect to find some kind of social presence for businesses and institutions, they don’t expect them to be on the newer platforms. Universities with the resources have the opportunity to really connect with their students in these places, providing additional resources that will really make a difference. What do you pack for freshman year of college? How can you decorate your dorm room in a way that’s more unique than just slapping up a Pink Floyd poster? A pinboard can answer those things and more, while Snapchat can give quick and intimate looks at life around campus, snippets of lectures, a look at a spontaneous snowball fight, and more.

Drake University uses Pinterest to share Bulldog culture, while the University of Houston sends snaps to share their story with students and followers:

The bottom line? Meeting students where they are and don’t expect you to be- in a way that isn’t condescending or pandering- will win major bonus points.

The bottom line?

Universities engage their students best when they speak to them and share resources in their own language, in the platforms they already use. Strategies should play to each platform’s strengths, without sacrificing creativity.

Written by Sarah

August 27th, 2014 at 9:39 am