Posts Tagged ‘video’

To hoax or not?

The foolNews flash: the Internet is not the most honest place on Earth. And as high-profile hoaxes of late have shown, dishonesty online can have a myriad of effects.

A YouTube video revealing a shark in Lake Ontario went viral in early July. Within days, Discovery Channel fessed up: the video was a hoax intended to market its Shark Week, but the campaign was so successful parents were discouraging their kids from swimming in the Great Lakes. The pro-science, pro-health channel could hardly be seen discouraging children from physical activity and enjoying nature.

Before the reveal, even the most astute of social media mavens and traditional media outlets got snared in this net. It called to mind the wonders of April 1, 2014, where just about everyone (particularly Google), was putting out questionable news stories, tweets and videos — with many of them getting traction.

The hoax, like the traditional in-person practical joke, never seems to get old. It works when the news posted is outrageous, but also touches a nerve — such as an injustice, or when it offers free money. Celebrity deaths are often picked up. Faux job ads will make the rounds. Lately, content with video (easy to cook up with today’s editing tools), particularly entertaining ones, will get traction.

The hoax as a marketing tool is one social media marketers should handle with care. The content may seem funny in the office. But does it somehow offend as part of the joke? Will a person or a business experience a loss of reputation because of what you’ve done? There are victimless crimes, sure, but not that many of them.

More importantly, while the hoax never gets old, the Web is wising up. Once bitten, twice shy. Any outlet who got caught by the shark video is going to be extra wary next time. Annoying certain folks can make a campaign backfire and lead to brand damage.

As the window on this opportunity closes, would-be-hoaxers need to do due diligence before they try their own stunt. Does the message match what you’re trying to accomplish? Will there be no harm? Is there a plan A, B, C and beyond if things go badly? Is there follow-up to capitalize if you get lucky and go viral? And, perhaps most importantly, is the hoax content truly entertaining? If you’re going to try to fool them, at the very least, do it right.

Anti-Bullying Video Uses Sharing to Deliver Message

share_it_to_end_it-600x431Video sharing and the small number of videos that go viral are an important part of social media, as well as the overall success of organizations that want to leverage it.

It’s a popular and proven tactic but when you can find a way to get creative with more than just the content, then you increase the chances of getting your message across.

The best example of thinking outside of the box and not just focusing your creativity on the content, is this anti-bullying video produced by the Singapore Against Bullying for Children and Youth.

The more times it is shared, the shorter the video becomes. This drives home the message that bullying can be eradicated through communication and education. Pretty amazing, right?

The video is great but it compels more users to share, simply because there’s an tangible element to the “share”. It doesn’t hurt it is such a topical and important subject.

For digital marketers, there’s great lessons here but the big one is after you create great content, you need a proper answer to the question, “how do I get it out there?”

Relying on your network and your fan base are proven ways as is investing money and buying ad space. What this anti-bullying video proves is there are other ways, rather ingenious ways.

This isn’t to say you should copy what this organization did, but you have to think bigger than content in this day and age. Organizations have only started to peel away at the true capabilities of social media.

The other important aspect to take away from this anti-bullying video is how you share can reflect the message you are delivering. That’s the true beauty of what this Singapore organization accomplished. Everything aligned perfectly.

Up until this post, most organization worked hard to create a great video and hoped that it would go viral. Now, the power shifts and an organization can layer tactics for sharing and dissemination, much like it did in terms of producing the video.

This is a big deal. It is up to digital marketers and communicators to take the baton and run with it.

How Interesting are Six-Second Vine Videos for Brands?

vineVine is one of those social media services that can be challenging to grasp.

Although video is a powerful medium in a time-strapped, multi-tasking world, how much value can really be delivered in six-seconds?

As important, how much can a Vine video benefit a brand looking to connect with consumers?

Yes, people have increasingly shorter attention spans but surely they can handle something more than six seconds.

A few years ago, the TV industry made a big step forward when 15-second commercials were introduced….but they’re still 250% longer than a Vine video.

Vine is one of three things:

1. A novelty that some people and brands have embraced because it’s new and different.

2. The social version of a “Emperor with no clothes” that has attracted a lot of attention despite its lack of substance.

3. Another tool – albeit an abridged one – that brands can use to quickly connect with consumers.

At this point, it is difficult to see how Vine will evolve and grow, even if a video obsessed world.

Maybe six seconds is not enough time to make an impression.

Maybe Vine is the ideal medium at a time when people are looking for instant gratification.

Despite the uncertainly about whether Vine is the real deal, there are brands using it.

In a recent blog post, Top Rank’s Lee Odden look at five consumer and B2B brands – among them Cisco, GE and Hewlett-Packard.

To be honest, the videos are, well, cute but it’s difficult to see how much value they deliver. They feel like having an after-dinner mint as opposed to having a meal.

It could be that six-second videos have a place in a world of 140-character tweets, quick updates (Facebook) image sharing (Pinterest) and filtered photos (Instagram).

Personally, I’m not convinced yet.

What do think? Does a Vine video have value? If so, what are best practices for a six-second video?

More: Jay Baer has a post about how brands can make their consumers smarter in six seconds.

Is Short the New Long?

Social media is constantly changing, and you need to keep up (or ideally stay ahead) of the trends and fads to market and communicate effectively.

A new and interesting trend has emerged this year, which wil probably going to stick around for the long haul. It’s the short video, which has been gaining steam for quite some time.

This started with Keek (which we blogged about recently) and has reached a new level with Vine – a new Twitter app that lets you create six second videos

Vine is essentially a Twitter version of video messaging. Six seconds is its version of 140 characters and users are taking to it so far. It might have more legs than some of its predecessors when all is said and done.

Even if you don’t want to have a presence on Keek or use Vine, it’s not hard to see that short video is what audiences are demanding.

Some will call this another example of our attention span being reduced to nothing. The truth is, we’re embracing new modes and mediums and discovering exciting ways to tell stories.

All digital marketers need to explore and embrace Keek and Vine, and, most important, find the best way to integrate Vine into your Twitter strategy.

Keek: The Power of Social Video

KeekOne of the most fascinating things about social media is how new players can literally come out of nowhere.

Who, for example, could have predicted Pinterest would be embraced so enthusiastically in a marketplace dominated by large, ubiquitous brands such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn?

Another example of a social media service that has attracted a huge audience is Keek, a free and easy-to-use service that lets people create and share 36-second video updates.

The Toronto-based company’s monthly traffic is impressive: 15 million unique visits, 75 million visitors, 1 billion pageviews and four million user-generated videos.

As well, it now has users around the world, including fast-growing communities in South America and the Middle East.

So why has Keek, which announced an $18-million financing deal last week, been so successful? Why has it been able resonate with people who have no lack of options?

Keek CEO Isaac Raichyk said the service was designed from the beginning to focus on driving dialogue between users, rather than being an entertainment tool.

“We see video as a communications tool to speak to your friends using video,” he said. “It is not about entertaining or video productions. If you like to create musical productions, you can use YouTube. Keek is a more personal, authentic dialogue. It is truly social video, and I believe that is what is making us so successful. The engagement is created because the product lends itself very easily creating dialogue around things that interest you.”

If you try to boil down Keek’s appeal is may come to a a key issue: the ability to easily and quickly let people do something that connects them with friends and family.

For all the talk about social media being about engagement and conversations, it is easy to forget that social media is a social medium.

It is the place where people connect with other people, which explains why Facebook has more than one billion users.

As much as brands are leveraging social media to build relationships with potential and existing customers, social media is driven by personal connections – something Keek facilitates in 36-second spots.

As Keek moves forward, it will be interesting to see how it starts to make money. Raichyk said Keek has been approached by brands and media buyers looking to advertise on Keek, which is not a surprise given its large user base. The question will be how Keek embraces advertising without changing the user experience.

Is DollarShaveClub.com Really the Best Launch Video?

When DollarShaveClub.com recently unveiled its launch video (see below), the blogosphere fell over itself, calling it the “best startup video ever”.

Yes, it’s funny, entertaining, unique and captivating. Yes, it has attracted more than 3.5 million views on YouTube, been tweeted 7,586 times and earned the startup nearly 12,000 Twitter followers.

But it is really the best startup launch video ever or, for that matter, that good?

As someone who loves videos and has worked with many startups to create them, it’s my take the buzz about DollarShaveClub.com’s video is completely over the top.

The fawning, bubbly coverage is a result of a machine (the blogosphere) that jumps on new and interesting developments, and then turns on the hype machine to make them the “best ever” or, for that matter, “the worst ever”.

As blogs try to differentiate themselves amid ever-growing competition, writing uber-bubbly posts is a great way to attract the spotlight. And, let’s be honest, it’s a lot easier to put together a positive blog post about a minute and a half video than it is to write an in-depth review of a new service and how its works.

At the same time, Web users love quick, easy and funny content because there is little work in watching a short video. Combine that with user-friendly social media promotion tools, and the hype machine can be sparked up instantly.

What do you think? Is DollarSaveClub.com’s video the best launch video ever? What are some other videos that you would rank being particularly impressive.?

Should We Be Meek about Keek?

Sorry about the bad play on words in the title but Keek seems to be a social media forum that people are paying a bit more attention to, whether we should be or not.

What’s their deal, you ask? Well, Canadian startup Keek is hoping that micro video blogging will be the next big thing in social media.

Keek is targeted towards the under-30 crowd (maybe even under-20 by the looks of it), and all it asks is you turn on your webcam, and film and upload short video blogs. Apparently, it’s a service banking on short attention spans equaling social media paydirt.

Personally, I was intrigued enough to check out Keek after hearing about it. That said, my initial thoughts were based on not having many fond memories about other video blogging platforms that didn’t resonate with audiences.

Overall, Keek’s layout is clean and the service is easy but I found the appeal ends there.

Video content needs to be dynamic, interesting and engaging but what Keek does is make even a 36-second video mundane and rather vanilla. Keek will only go as far as the users and uploads take them, which right now that doesn’t seem so far. There are better ways in social media to spend 36 seconds.

The micro element isn’t the only similarity to Twitter as Keek is trying heavily to lure in stars and celebrities into their community. They even display the name on the top of the homepage as a means of enticement. After watching the ticker for close to 10 minutes, Keenan Cahill and the Canadian Football League are the biggest names that were displayed.

The video status update could take off but my guess is more people will flock to a more substantial and easy way to get updates. Of course, these already exist in the form of Facebook and Twitter (and to a lesser extent Google+), and users will also seek more substantial video content.

Is YouTube the Most Important Social Media Service?

Here’s the thing about social media: it fueled by innovation and creativity while being layered with many elements of human nature.

Over the past five years, our lives have been significantly changed by social media but there is heated debate over which services have been the most influential in our lives.

I would suggest the social media service with the most impact is YouTube. It can even be argued that YouTube is one of the greatest innovations in the modern era. Social media services come and go – Friendster, Bebo and MySpace – but there will most likely never be a substitute for YouTube.

Granted, you have to acknowledge the popularity of other social media networks when discussing the success of YouTube given they have allowed YouTube videos to be easily embedded. Even on its own, YouTube was worth the $1.6 billion that Google paid for it, and has seen very few speed bumps during its rise.

If is a knock against YouTube and its success, it has been the use of illegal content to attract in users. This might be accurate but it is a small part of its success, if not a mere footnote.

YouTube has been difficult to monetize but it seems to be overcoming that hurdle as well given in-stream advertising among other ventures coming into play. In fact, at this point in time the future is incredibly bright for YouTube when you consider people spend about one billion minutes on YouTube each day collectively.

Smartphones have only helped YouTube as they all come with video cameras and the ability to upload content instantaneously. This has turned just about everyone into amateur auteurs, while filling the coffers of YouTube.

Some would argue Facebook is the predominant social media serviced while others would suggest Twitter but from my perspective YouTube rules the social media universe, and with apologies to Vimeo, there isn’t a strong competitor in sight. At least, for now.

You’re Doing Social Media; Now What?

For many companies, social media is a multi-phase process.

First, they have to get comfortable with the idea of social media, and how it will be part of their communications, marketing and sales activities.

Then, they need a strategic plan that features the most relevant and effective social media services based on what a company does, the competitive landscape and its goals and objectives.

Finally, there’s tactical execution in which social media services such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or a blog are launched and maintained on a regular basis.

But then what?

Social media can be a lot more than just posting tweets, doing Facebook updates, writing blog posts and responding to complaints, criticism and feedback.

These are meat and potato activities that are an important pillar of a social media program but there’s also a need for sizzle to jump-start marketing and sales activities.

This is where creativity comes into play. Whether it’s cool videos, fun contests and applications on Facebook, or Twitter Q&As, social media can become compelling, engaging, entertaining and extremely effective by injecting creative elements into the mix.

The ability to leverage creativity doesn’t happen overnight. Many companies need to become comfortable with social media before they start moving in new directions beyond just having a presence. In time, however, successful social media programs need a healthy dose of creativity to keep them vibrant and appealing.

The Mysteries of the Viral Video

Earlier this week, I did an interview with the CBC in Thunder Bay about a video by a local rap singer that had gone viral with more than 150,000 views. For a small city such as Thunder Bay, this was a major news story because the video went from being the toast the town to being an online phenomena in a few days.

One of the questions asked by the CBC host was how and why videos go viral. The answer is far from simple because it can be a difficult, if not impossible, to pinpoint why a video captures the imagination of people to the point where they enthusiastically share it with other people, who share it with other people, and so on.

So what does a video need to go viral?

Perhaps the most important element is it needs to be entertaining to engage people enough that they want to pass it around to other people. “Entertaining” can be defined as funny, silly, captivating, enjoyable, interesting, different or immersive. It can apply to a song, a dance such the “Evolution of Dance“, a stunt such as putting Mentos in Diet Coke or just be something out of the ordinary such as steps that play music.

A viral video also needs a social media spark. It needs a person with a following or someone seen as an influencer to elevate the video to another level where it can be exposed to a larger audience.

In the “Tipping Point”, Malcolm Gladwell described these people as “mavens” who accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace, and know how to share it with others.

For viral videos, there’s also an element of luck and being at the right place at the right time, which is probably more difficult to define or capture.

So, what are you thoughts about how a video goes viral? How would you explain it?