Using Live Video and Stories

Two strong trends have emerged in the social media space recently.  Live video streaming, that allows users to react and comment while watching a live video and Stories, that allow users to create a collection of videos and images which disappear after 24 hours.

Live Video and Stories can be great tools for activation and real-time storytelling or news-jacking.

Both are unique in their functionality, audience and potential uses. Once we’ve explored the mechanics involved let’s see how you  can best use these mediums to reach connections and enhance your brand.

Understanding Live Streaming

With Facebook live being made available to every user in April, the world’s largest social network joined Twitter’s Periscope and gave users the ability to live stream from their phones.

Compared to the separate app and clunky functionality of Twitter, streaming your activities live on Facebook is a relatively seamless process. If you combine the ease of adoption with the much larger user base, and connections – Facebook live becomes a compelling tool to communicate with your friends and followers.

Facebook Prioritising Video And Live Streaming

On top of the larger user base, Facebook’s algorithm (prioritisation) for displaying content to other users, favours live video over and above all other content. They even have a separate priority push notification that you will receive if a friend or brand you follow goes live.

What And Why Would I Live Stream? 

Live stream by nature suits to reaching your audience immediately. Here are a few ways to leverage the medium.

Local event – Streaming the bustling activity of a local fare or fundraising activity could be a great way to get more folks down and participating.  Turn the camera to the scenery around you and let them soak in the action. Of course remembering to value their time, when the action’s over.

Thought leadership – As a business owner you could leverage the channel to highlight your expertise. When legislation changes or something significant happens in the market, live streaming could be a great way to bring your followers up to speed.

Being of service to your customers or followers should always be your first thought when sharing – even on live video. Think would I find this interesting or useful?

Another way to portray thought leadership and be of service to your client could simply be to bring a friend/colleague/expert into the conversation. For example if there was a current forest fire risk in your neighbourhood – bring on a fireman to advise clients on protecting their property.

Team Updates –  As a business owner, an unconventional way to keep your team up to date might be live streaming to a closed Facebook group, you could give insights on the go and your team could catch up later if they missed you live.

Ask me anything or behind the scenes – Two final uses for live streaming could be answering questions from followers or providing a peek into your craft. I would use these sparingly and only when something unique or extraordinary is happening in your career.Remember this is Facebook not ‘bring a colleague to work day’.

A great example is Carlos Burle Brazilian pro surfer, who takes us behind the scenes at Waimea.

For more tips check out Facebook’s own ideas.

Try out personal live streaming

From your home screen there is a simple live button that allows you to:

  1. set up an enticing title, select your audience (Public, friends or a custom group you’ve created.  If you launch the live stream from within a closed group it will also protect those privacy setting as well.)
  2. before clicking go live, select a spot where wind and background noise are at a minimum
  3. clicking the blue go live button commences a three second countdown that you can use to frame yourself or your subjects correctly and to start smiling.

Stream from your Facebook Business Page

By downloading the Facebook Pages Manager app it is also possible to stream you can access the functionality by selecting:

  1. the page you wish to manage
  2. post
  3. choose a title and select which geography and demographics to target
  4. and then clicking go live, which again initiates a three second countdown.

As with all videos once uploaded they feature in your timeline and can be found by others. Remember to remove any videos that are only of relevance for a short time.

 

Instagram Stories

Originating in Snapchat, the ephemeral or short lived stories collections run in contradiction to the rest of the web and dissapear after 24 hours. Historically as marketers and salespeople our web and social media content was created to be of service to our clients, the more content we create, the more they answers a client could find and build affinity with our brand. Now, with Snapchat and Instagram stories, brands can create content in the moment, in a more playful, throw away form.

With almost double the user base or Snapchat, at 400 million (source) Instagram recently added their version of the functionality to its platform.  Instagram has a more mature user base when compared to Snapchat. So if you’re looking long term to build a relationship with millennials then try Snapchat. For a more active group of higher net worth customers – try using Instagram Stories.

Creating your first Story item

From the home screen of your app the add to story icon is top left.

  1. Tapping  the circle icon for an instant snaps a picture onto which you can draw or write (should your picture not speak the right 1000 words). Your drawing or words can then be moved around the screen and positioned.
  2. Holding the circle icon with record video for as long as you hold the icon, release the icon and the upload arrow is ready to add the recorded video to your story.

 How to leverage Stories? 

Stories could allow you to give insights into what it would be like for a client to work with you. Take the story beyond you just doing your job but the extra mile you go to ensure excellence. Be of service to your clients with a handy tip.

You could also use it to alert your followers of other longer format content – a new blog post or longer video, maybe even a live streaming event on Facebook.

@garyvee Owner and instigator of Winelibrary.tv and the social media agency Vaynermedia uses his Stories to alert followers of his latest motivational videos – linking to his DailyVee updates in his bio.

Showcase your customers and celebrate their wins and if there’s something topical in the new relevant to your client’s give them a quick update.

I’m sure there’s a whole lot more useful techniques for brands on Instagram Stories but for a few more ideas check out this article from buffer, with a list of inspirational users to follow.
My top pick for instant work stories jealousy –  @chrisburkard who shows behind the scenes footage of his landscape photography.

Good Marketing

say less to be remembered more

HR

Good marketing uses technology, insights and the right questions.

It gives the right audience, the right message, at the right time.

It shows us how a brand can solve our problems. Sometimes problems we didn’t know we had.

It can either entertain you or make you feel more inclined to buy from a brand. When it does both, you’re onto a winner.

HR

Why do we do this Content Marketing thing?

With content marketing we try to address our audience’s problems at various stages of the buyer’s journey. We help them discover a solution to their problem and keep them coming back to us – their trusted solution provider. Our constant battle is for the attention of that audience. Big companies are realising that they need to build or acquire their own audience, so as to not fall foul of Facebook Edge-rank or Google algorithm updates.

Companies need to start thinking of themselves as retailers AND media companies

One company that has done this well recently is Surfstitch. They acquired two media properties Magicseaweed and Stab Magazine (great names). Combined they have around 3 million visitors a year and they are interweaving articles featuring their products to become not only surfing’s biggest online retailer, but also the biggest industry content network.

If this video is anything to go by, they will have me discovering a whole range of solutions they have to my problems.

It seems I didn’t realise I needed a custom bike to ride up the Indonesian coast to go surfing. They’re appealing to the hearts and emotions of their audience – not to the features of their product.

Oh and if surfing/bikes/the open road is your thing – check this out

Their latest film – North To Noosa.

I can see there being more brands that will take to content creation as a source of brand value and distinction.

Netflix even paid journalists a good sum to create great editorial – like this piece on women in prison to link to their new series Orange is the new black

Empathy, respect and love will ultimately keep your audience, clients, friends and family EVERYONE coming back.

If you can interweave your unique purpose, principles and pet peeves into entertaining them – you’ll stand out as their trusted provider.

Stop The Nontent – Create Epic Content

turn your nontent into great content - Value your tribe

You, as a member of my tribe intimidate me. I’m scared into not posting, through fear of as my friend AJ puts it – posting NONTENT. You know, that: meh, blah, filler, “like or share if you agree” type content. I need our connection and the learning I get from consuming your content. I want to share value to get value.

But it struck me. That is the exact message I want to give this week.

Create Epic Value And Give It Away

As many will know by now the rationale behind inbound or content marketing is to create content that answers questions that potential customers may have. In essence you are aiming to be the subject matter expert for your product, industry and niche. The main aim being to subscribe them to a content journey that ultimately converts them to purchase or partner with your brand.

The byproduct of creating answers to questions your customers may have is a bank of SEO rich pages for Google to index. If you are checking the terms people use to find your website, and using Google’s keyword planner (or other optimisation tools), over time this bank of content should ultimately help push you up the SERPs. Getting you closer to number one in Google.

The trouble now, more than ever, is that we are all creating content and competing for eyeballs. Facebook and Twitter are overloaded, YouTube is flooded, even the TV has far too many channels for us to watch. We need to go beyond just answering problems to actively adding value with our content.

One answer is to create unique audience specific content – go niche.

One great example of giving away useful content is the website www.backofanapkin.co.nz created by Sacha Judd of the law firm Buddle Findlay.

Back of a napkin - a startup tool

The website, aimed at start-ups, provides a boilerplate company document. It outlines the main points of a company’s structure to ensure its is documented – covering things like: the parties involved, who gets what share of ownership, who gets what profits and how decisions are made.

Lightly branded with a Buddle Findlay letterhead, it’s a valuable tool for startups and connects them with a community.

I also made a little form last year to help people conduct a Digital and Social Media audit. It is designed to help small businesses check that they are on the right path and to develop a short roadmap to getting their digital presence right. I hope it has some value for a small business looking to get their online profile right.

Even though it is in essence the exact same strategy I would use with a multinational company or personal brand – it’s ingredients. It’s not the mix, nor the exact methods i’d use to bake my online cake. Hopefully it entices a few more people to check me out as a potential chef. Digital marketing chef that is.

Although that epic piece of valuable content can be related to your core business it could equally be about a unique technique, skills or knowledge you have developed. Brett Kelly was an avid user of Evernote – so much so that he decided to create Evernote Essentials a book that sold 16000 copies. This ultimately led to him being employed by Evernote.

Here are a few others that have already gotten in on the game:

  • John Deer with their Furrow Magazine
  • Adobe with CMO.com
  • Lego with The Lego Club Magazine
  • Copyblogger.com
  • American Express Open Forum
  • Entrepreneur on fire

So my challenge to you is to take what you think is IP – Intellectual Property and turn it into something VIP – Valuable Interesting and Popular.

6 Awesome Ways to Rejuvenate Old Content on Your Blog

Ways to repurpose your old blog content

There is one thing that Google and its assorted trawling bots love, and that is fresh content. If that fresh content is also linked from established websites, then Google has every reason to believe the content is quite good, assumes it has some kudos, and will rank it higher.

This, of course, is brilliant good for the content creator, and the website where the content is housed. Fresh content is the key to this process – the oil that keeps the engine running if you like – and is critical in a healthy inbound marketing strategy.

But often, creating bespoke singular content is an expensive process. So how do you get the most out of new content?  Hopefully this blog will go some way to identifying new content opportunities from old or existing content:

 

1. Switch the format up

As an example – if you’ve run surveys of your clients or market then reformat them. Oh and tweak for SEO as you go. Here’s some options:

  • Video summary of the findings to YouTube
  • Press release
  • Segment the full report – show industry cuts
  • Social media sharing of research nuggets. Social Media B2B do this very well embedding tweetable nuggets into an article. Like this article on content marketing stats.
  • Create an infographic from the summary
  • More social media sharing and discussion
  • Micro poll your users as to if the results still stand true
  • Publish results from the micro poll

2. The Friday roundup / in depth piece

Give followers a lean-back post to digest on Saturday or Sunday. Branding Magazine sends out a summary listing of their hot posts of the previous five days. Good for those relaxing on a Saturday morning with bacon and coffee. In contrast to a round up – the economist has a lean back section for a more in depth read on existing topics and themes.

3. Get all analytical

Find out which of your posts were the most popular in terms of traffic from various search terms. Promote them on social media.  Rework those that are off target.

Use Topsy to compare trending hashtags, or trending phrases and really target your next article.

4. Think of your old posts

Continuing the analytics theme – give your old posts will little traffic a tweet or a share if there’s something relevant in the news related to that post. Use this one sparingly though as it could annoy your close followers. And tailor it to each audience!

If your blog is on WordPress, you may even want to consider the plugin Tweet Old Post which will automate it for you.

5. Newsjack

Your products or services might not be famous yet but helping out someone in a broadcasted bad situation can be powerful content. Oakley sent a new model of sunglasses to those leaving the Chilean mines a few years back – it was global news and everybody saw it. It gave others the chance to create loads of content around them.

It could also be a way to reassure your clients that this won’t happen to them – like password protection. A great example of newsjackking was Lastpass providing a tool to check if your LinkedIn password was stolen. They re-purpose this piece each and every time a new website is hacked or comes to the limelight for security breaches.

 

6. Croudsource an article from your comments area

I love when people point out an idea you’ve missed on a comments section from another article or blog. Use those ideas and expand on them in another post.

Your Turn

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments section. I’d love to create another post!

Driveway moments – how podcasts capture listeners in a content-laden world

With so much digital content competing for our attention in multiple social networks how do brands connect with their audience. What is the key?

In this era of disposable content, memes, vines, snaps, whispers, secrets and now ‘YO‘s, many brands are swinging to the polar extreme to keep users attention and to keep them interested. Thankfully there’s light at the end of the tunnel, in fact it’s an illuminated journey.

White shelters / \ #convergence

A post shared by Nick Allen (@nickwallen) on

There is a resurgence of long format content and a lot of it is supported by rich media like interactive graphics, videos and podcasts.

With a relatively short bus commute as part of my morning journey I have been consuming a lot of podcasts. Although not as rich as video, the format means I can tune in with a single sense and still go about my morning/evening commute and not feel too guiltily about mobile data charges. It’s a format that thanks to Soundcloud is simple to do with your phone, laptop or iPad.

A number of the podcasts I subscribe to really bring a rich narrative to their existing blog posts and or a closer look at a topic. Often, hearing about something is also a lot easier to digest than reading about it.

The luxury of a podcast is that you can compile segments as and when you get time. You have time to form a holistic narrative and unlike with video you don’t have to worry too much about matching sections, cutting intros and outros etc. There’s no other conflicting posts. Scheduled news, announcements and down time messages don’t interrupt it – you can focus on a singular message, or two.
The art is in creating enough value and keeping users entertained, hopefully creating a driveway moment.

What’s a Driveway Moment?

Hopefully I’ve encouraged you, if only just a little, to think about podcasts and consider them in your digital mix. If not, then maybe this list and their inspiring long standing podcasts will help.

Here are 5 exemplary podcasts that I find really interesting. Their topics challenge and I think improve my digital marketing knowledge, and help me grow. I’m on a journey too.

99percentinvisible.org
I have a lot of time for @romanmars and the crew at 99percent. Their mixture of informative and eclectic topics has me hooked and I get excited when their latest release appears in my soundcloud feed. Covering everything from walled cities to shoe design and the Chrysler vs Empire State building feud.

thewebpsychologist.com
Nathalie Nahai is the Nigella Lawson of the web theory, UX and UI design space. Her sultry voice and the amazing guests she has talking all things digital come psychology are awesome.

cc-chapman.com
C C picks me up and motivates me. He’s all about doing the right work and valuing connections. He’s also the source of my favourite content marketing quote. The miniskirt philosophy for content: Long enough to cover the essentials, but short enough to keep it interesting.

forimmediaterelease.biz
Although a long listen The Hobson & Holtz report is digital from a PR perspective. Two very smart minds from either side of the Atlantic cover the latest developments in the digital and online space. Seeing a UK and USA perspective in one is insightful.

newrainmaker.com
Brian Clark of @copyblogger fame also talks of the Hero’s Journey and explains well why we should not be social sharecropping – building your digital home base on land you don’t own.

I’d love to hear what podcasts you like or your Soundcloud / iTunes address so we can connect!

Three pillars to a great online presence

Western Architecture Principles

Yesterday I visited New Zealand’s first 6 Green Star Office – Geyser, in Auckland.

Visited Patterson Architects' Geyser user green building. Nice courtyard!

A post shared by Nick Allen (@nickwallen) on

Geyser is created as 6 separate parts with courtyards to let natural light into each area. It has a thermal chimney façade that heats and cools the building. It does this by circulating fresh air through an outer layer that can open and close in response to the ambient temperature. It has a rainwater collection system and an automated “stacker” car park that make use of the limited space underneath the building. In all an impressive building and in my eyes – it looks wonderful.

The building and its architect think of a wider audience than just tenants, addressing how it fits and improves the lives of the community around it.

What does this have to do with digital and online marketing – or social networks for that matter?

Last night I watched the architect Andrew Patterson talk a little bit more about the project as part of his TEDx presentation. He talked of the origins of Western Architecture Principles and how his buildings embody them.

These principles form a tripod that supports great architecture and I would argue serve well as points for a good online presence.
Western Architecture Principles

Attitude – Utilitas – fit for purpose

Use the right tools for the right job.

  • Customers or clients should immediately see how your website brings them value and meets their needs. Make it all about them.
  • When creating a new website have clear goals around the user experience and what you ultimately want to accomplish. Strip out distractions and ambiguity in user journeys.
  • If you want to blog, install a blogging platform. Don’t hack your content management system (CMS) or retrofit a forum as a workaround. If you want to sell things online implement a fully fledged eCommerce platform or leverage one run by experts in that area.
  • Use a CMS that befits the scale of your website and ensure you support it with adequate hardware. WordPress is fine for blogging but not for running Amazon or eBay. End users are the main focus of a website, but a good architect and web build thinks of longevity and maintenance as well.
  • Know your audience on each social network you use. Covering live events is Twitter’s space and photography looks fantastic on Google plus for example.

Concept – Firmitas – permanency

  • Single page websites or empty websites don’t instil confidence. Show that your website is robust and in for the long haul.
  • Ensure you have depth of content, products and services on your website and a stream of future content ready for the first few months. Content that addresses as many buyer personas and stages of the purchase cycle as possible.
  • If you’re building a community consider renting a crowd or launching in beta. Yelp, before launching in a new country, hire people to rate and recommend local businesses. That way the first real users see value from day one in being part of the community.

Communication – Venustas – as beautiful as the natural world

  • The concept for a building is that it should delight more than the natural world it is taking away. This isn’t a push to Skeuomorph design, rather that your website should be a delight to use.
  • If you can purchase online it should be super simple, far less stressful than standing at a counter waiting.
  • Time spent in your networks should delight more than competing TV channels and offline experiences.
  • Your audience should be excited to see your next alert, push notification or email in their inbox because it’s providing value they don’t get elsewhere. That value may be insights or knowledge to make their lives better but could equally be entertainment.

The combination of these three pillars should always support the end goal of delighting your audiences. Be they clients, employees or the community.

5 ways to have the freshest marketing and sales materials

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.

For many, finding the time, source or quality for consistent content marketing can be a problem.

Your editorial calendar might be perfect and you have lined up authors to pen or record videos. Content for each of your buyer personas is scheduled weeks ahead and it is connected to the various stages of the purchase cycle.

Then it all happens. Half the business team that were writing for you get called into a special project. Your top author decides to return to New Zealand and the company switches focus to B2C.

Don’t fret, get creative. Here are 5 new sources of fresh content.

  1. Walk your clients through the creation of your product, the teams involved and the steps taken to ensure quality. Market the unfinished product and give them a behind the scenes exclusive.
  2. Take a deeper look at your vertical. Talk to your suppliers for stories about how your components are sourced. Sustainability, innovation and social responsibility are great stories to tell. Talk to your retailers for moments of great customer service or great product or in-store stories. Like this great weed gun from Kiwicare!
  3. Run a photo contest on your social channels and get your customers to create content for you.
  4. Tap your employees for content, they all have phones too so run a competition, or include it in their KPIs to see who has the best in context shot of your product.
  5. Connect your time sheet tools to a mapping engine to provide real-time updates as to who just got connected, serviced or installed. And if you’ve got an exciting product or service like speed boat rides, include media rights in their liability waiver and record each journey with a GoPro.

There’s a few. I’m sure you can think of more. Think outside the square boxes of your content calendar and cubicle and get creating!

What Jenson Button’s driving taught me about consistency and marketing

Jenson Button

Jenson Button the Formula 1 driver has a driving style that is very different to his competitors and even ex team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Contrary to what were told at pro driving schools, do your braking and accelerating in a straight line, Jenson continues breaking right until the apex and accelerating straight after. Lewis and others stamp on the brakes turn in and nail the accelerator on the way out.

Jenson keeps his tyres at a much more consistent temperature. The grip once established is consistent for him and on an overly hot circuit, he can last longer without his tyres going off.

It also means he gets out of sync easily with the pack. Meaning he gets different windows to pit, and be released into fresh air. He can also go longer, or pit earlier on options and stretch out his primes, but I digress.

How does this relate to content marketing?

Good content marketing is a lot like being Jenson Button in F1. These days you need a consistent stream of contact to keep leads warm.

Those that are still very campaign focused, on and off the brakes, with no content calendar – well they may put on a good show, but are they keeping our attention? How much do they need to build it back up each time?

In campaign focused platforms or ad focused platforms you can wow with a showy piece. Conversely, consistent content means you can determine when you release your more important pieces. Lead them into it with notifications. “Don’t miss next week’s big release”. You dictate the ideal time to be released into the right spot in the market. Like Jenson and his pit stops.

Now, he’s not all race wins right. Jenson struggles to warm his tyres on cold tracks, the others get heat into them earlier. He is also constantly on the limit and more prone to locking his inside tyre through the corner, which can ruin his race. Lock it once, badly and it just keeps locking up and sliding until you change tyres.

As content marketers, community managers and social media “gurus” today we are also at more risk. Constantly interacting with audiences, risking friction that could cause the wrong reaction.

Keeping an eye on the ball and not only knowing how our fans will react, but also the wider audience and sadly Trolls or for the unlucky, brand haters.

Give them every chance to be delighted with your brand, but no chance for you brand to be misinterpreted.

Giving away valuable information online

I’ve just been listening to Brian Clark’s talk on affiliate marketing and loved the elevator pitch he mentioned for @copyblogger.

“Build an audience and sell them stuff”.

Succinct and definitive.

This seems to be the root of all we do as content marketers. Yet as we see content marketing trending as a topic in Google trends and affiliate marketing declining, I can’t help but worry that the focus will shift from evergreen, useful content, to another keyword crammed selling fest.

Don’t get me wrong, our prime focus as marketers is driving sales. Yet old habits raise the thought – could we just regurgitate the news with a link to products? Traditionally we would tell them how to deal with this month’s flittering focus on #horsemeat (UK in joke as we worry about our processed burger supply chain).

Could we do this without thinking what has sustainable, long-term, bottom line impact for their organisation?

A colleague shared a great quote today which focused this ‘In content marketing, give and you will receive’ ~ @mbakkes.

I would adjust it ever so slightly:

“Give away Valuable content and you receive value”

Tried and true vs. something new on Pinterest

It’s often possible to try something different in beta. Soft launch or A/B test your marketing campaigns and  in fact turn them into iterative waves of content.

I’m into residential architecture and my Pinterest board Modern Residential Architecture has been gaining real traction since Pinterest added the “Also pinned to:” feature. From 100 odd  followers last week to 801 today. The site really seems to be taking off. Stats about it being the third largest are highly believable. With good content the instant gratification of a like or repin comes with ease, vs. getting someone to retweet my posts.

Yet I digress, a few days back I posted this to another board, as a tester. Something new. It was far more popular than my architecture pins in plain likes and repins.


So the challenge this week is to find an architecture related motivational pin. The combination of the old and new that doesn’t alienate my followers and target audience.

Being agile, I can always tweak the idea as I go. Launch, analyse, learn and adjust. Of course if the analytics don’t support it I can still roll back to my tried and true without investing in a big campaign.

Follow me if you want to see where the iterations lead.