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.

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.

Image is everything online. Be it words, images, audio or video.

Image is everything. Conveying the right message to visitors irregardless of the page or area of your website they land on is paramount.

Your site needs to sing your brand message.

That’s not just through SEO optimised prose, but also each and every media element on your site. Be that images, colour palette, videos, audio or pictures. It’s not just how they perform on your website though, it’s also the singular story they tell when shared on social media or adapted by your fans.

Audio and video convey the strongest messages. Think of the Intel Inside ditty (dom dum dom ding) or the McDonalds whistle or that ever evocative chime of the ice cream van in childhood. Fisher and Paykel spend significant time at a product level honing the beeps and pips your washing machine makes when finished, or overloaded. Much like Harley Davison and Lexus spend time tuning engine exhaust notes. Items that can connect you with the brand as you use the product.

In marketing, sounds can evoke strong emotional connections with brands.

Recently BMW spent millions updating their signature jingle, a series of notes to sign off their video ads. The jingle is perhaps hinting to the sound of a gear down change, but the overuse of a synthesiser leaves it hard to recognise. I’m left thinking Transformers rather than BMW.

I’ve also just watched an Audi ad and realised that, in response they have upgraded there signature too. Far more evocative they play the sound of a low solid heart beat as the four rings of their logo appear. “Duh dum, duh dum.” Relatively fast paced, the beat reminds you of spirited driving, yet (with your Audi all wheel drive) you’re not out of control. A great piece of media, exemplifying the brand.

It is of course fine for global brands to create emtional storytelling through vidoes yet rich media is often out of reach for you average SME. Small businesses, even with the budget can find the time needed to create a quality video too much of a commitment. Still, if done well, smart phone quick updates on industry changes or products or services can be enticing for users to watch.

Take the time to include up to date shots of real people and real products.

The use of photos and images is within reach of most business. Even if it has to be the dreaded stock footage. The old adage ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ is as true online as when first penned. Product shots either static or in use or motion are a great way to connect users with your products. For services where, more often than not, success is defined by personal relationships between employees and clients – staff photos or the lack thereof conveys a strong message. Using stock footage when talking ‘about us’ says a lot about a service provider…

Images are so powerful and such a part of the modern mobile web that sites are now switching focus to portrait shots rather than landscape. The endless scroll and sites like Pinterest and Tumblr promoting the quick re-posting of images, the more vertical real estate your images can acquire the better. Infographics, visual interpretations of data or stories, are a great way to explain what you’re saying in a method that is more accessible for visual learners. When presented as vertical graphics they’re great for sharing on social media sites as well.

As with all marketing, images need a purpose and goal. Think real estate and target audience with each piece of multimedia. What pain point is it addressing, which user, which phase of the buying cycle and how does it speak of your brand’s promise.

Images and multimedia should augment an article or website, adding value to the user and creating affinity or demand for you brand.

Given also that many videos and infographics are shared using social media, they should also be able to stand alone conveying their message without contextual copy or written introductions. They should also drive, in some way, users further down the the sales funnel or closer to the brand for loyalty. Always asking for the sale, even with a subtle whisper, is key.


Brand Storytelling – Part of a Marketing MIX

This week I received a copy of the book ‘Around The World in 80 Brands’.

It’s a great selection of brand stories from around the world as the authoring pair travel and interview the people behind the brands. Letting readers understand what they stand for and how they have come to get where they are.

coolbrands - Around the world in 80 brands

They have also been releasing chapters online at http://aroundtheworldin80brands.wordpress.com. Well worth a follow and inspirational to take storytelling further with your own brands.

Good Storytelling enables you to connect deeply with your audience

Storytelling at a brand and marketing level is a great tool to build affinity with your audience. They see people, not a Brand, and it resonates.

Throughout the book the typical storytelling skeleton is present. One we have seen in countless books and more recently in great movies. Even the situational stories of how they managed to get interviews with some very busy owners are easy to relate to. You build an affinity with them and their journey, wondering what the next level of cheeky intro or table ‘invading’ will be.

Storytelling and the plot most used with brands has ancient roots. It’s success is proven. You’ll see this timeline and plot ring through many of my favourites and yours.

Saving Private Ryan, Star Wars, Toy Story, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Romeo And Juliet, The Old Man And The Sea and even 50 Shades of Grey (they tell me).

The plots follow a skeleton of:

  1. Hero we can all relate to shows their likeable or understandable personality – we relate to their situation,
  2. trouble comes and they deal with it, they will be knocked down, face adversity and
  3. they get up and are where they are today.

And even storytelling Steve Jobs’ life follows a similar path. The story of Richard Branson, Mandela and most successful entrepreneurs have similar stories to tell. Adversity bringing strength.

Today’s podcast

I’ve recorded some additional comments here on the topic. (Oh, and the Volkswagen Beetle – tough in its latest rendition – has a great story, even in its name “people’s wagon”).

Storytelling is a technique with its own unique intricacies

I highlighted MIX in the title of this post as storytelling is powerful tool if used correctly. Yet is is a different beast to content marketing, how to guides and sales decks or brochures.

You might be the CMO, or even the Marketing specialist creating the pages on the website. But understanding that storytelling is about connecting with people, characters and personalities behind a brand is key.

You all have sales and the rest of the business breathing down your neck to show the ROI of marketing, to have some good consistent quick wins. Maybe your Harlem Shake clip generated some traffic and ‘buzz’ but nothing leading to sales. Then when you talk about the REASON, behind your company – it’s direction and how it got to today – the sales team have something to run with. Clients empathise, market share rises and you are closer to the companies overall goal.

It is nothing to do with product specifications or the number of high level clients your service has.
It has no spin, it is honest and as transparent as possible.

Few will get it right, but some key tips that you’ve got it wrong are:

  • Titles replace names in your storytelling.
  • Product specifications get mentioned.
  • Price is mentioned, heck, any of the 6 P’s that isn’t PEOPLE sneaks in!

Again, knowing when and how to use this tool in your marketing mix is paramount. Find where it fits with your brand and their path (story).

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!

Excite customers with video storytelling in your content marketing mix

Storytelling has been around for many years and used by smart marketers to hook you on their brand messaging. Aligning your message with stories that: resonate, entertain, educate or delight your clients, can be used to pull clients through the purchase cycle and enforce bonds with brand advocates.

Typically they focus on a company’s history, morals, virtues and what they stand for. The best, step away from “me, me, me” messaging and yet, you are still left unequivocally knowing that was a “Kodak moment” or “just do(ing) it”.

The combination of storytelling and content marketing is however still in its infancy. Creating compelling stories that move you (hopefully towards a purchase) be it short or long format, is rarely tied into an overarching story, strategy or company raison d’être.

For others though, storytelling and the brand story even takes them as far as changing the company’s direction. For example, Red Bull is now a publishing and media house in my mind.

But there can be subtle new areas to explore too.

A mini pivot through content and storytelling

Here are the results of a collaboration project by Marcio Kogan and the team at Studio MK27 that houses (sorry, bad pun) a story within the results of their services. Portraying a day in the life of their V4 house.

Originally designed for the Brazilian pavilion at the Venice Biennale architecture festival, the film was segmented into snippets that attendees could view through screens. This encouraged them to explore the pavilion and Brazil’s offerings. A neat form of experiential marketing.

Coming home, the clips were merged and re-purposed into a clip that is now with a good 28 K plays on Vimeo. A great case of cross platform marketing. Offline, online, in social media and embedded in a number of key architectural website and blogs. They’ve also sparked a new tangent for the practice and a push in the short film direction. 

The results

NOTE – It’s not really suitable for work, featuring some of the rooms in full ‘use’.

Still it entertained me, and I got a good feel for some of the spaces, dimensions and ambience of the house. I’m now even more convinced Márcio is top of my list to design my future house.

PEEP_ film exercise #1_ La Biennale di Venezia from studio mk27.

The key opportunities

Storytelling is an art all marketers need to master.

The notion of your product as a platform for storytelling is compelling and provides a number of opportunities and angles to explore.

  • It gives you the opportunity to subtly communicate features through benefits.
  • You can educate clients on how to get the best our of you product throughout the story.
  • You can entertain them, give them a feeling for the people behind the brand, while showing off your product

Scaling and ensuring consistency in messaging is the hard part .So ensure your story and strategy are robust and well told. You’ll need fans internally to build support your marketing efforts before that content goes viral.