Understanding video is becoming more important to communications people. Here's a few basics and some slides to help you.
by Dan Slee
About 18-months ago a rather wonderful penny dropped with me and I’ve spent much of the time since helping that penny drop with other people.
Video, I realised, is not just the future it’s very much the now.
From the White House in the US to the smallest organisation a command of the strategy and tactics of video is as important as knowing the written word. Bold? Not when you look at the data and your own eyes.
As part of my job I catch a lot of trains working across the UK. Two or three trips a week is the norm. And around me are people with smartphones and tablets. Often, I’d noticed, they are watching video.
But it was the data and the numbers that really blow me away. Two thirds of the UK adult population now have smartphones and of those seven in ten use them to watch video. That’s a real change in how people consume information.
But as a real bellweather of the direction we’re heading what tech CEOs are saying matters. Tech companies realise that as smartphones improve what people can do them them improves with them. Where once a video was impossible, now not just livestreaming but running your own livestream is a reality.
Where are we headed?
As smartphones become more a part of daily life and their capacities increase video is a battleground between device manufacturers as well as social media platforms with billions of ad revenues at stake.
“Going back about 10 years, most of what we shared and experienced was text. Then it was photos. And now we’re entering into a world where that’s video. But pretty soon we’re going to live in a world where everyone has the power to share and experience whole scenes as if you’re right there in person.”
- Mark Zuckerburg, Facebook.
How fast is video growing?
In short, fast. Mobile video will increase 11-fold between 2015 and 2020, accounting for 75 percent of total mobile data traffic (Cisco Visual Networking Index, 2016).
How is video driving traffic?
Media companies such as the BBC or Buzzfeed have realised that video is an effective way to generate traffic and interest.
What should my strategy be?
Your strategy for video should reflect what you are wanting to do. So, if your organisation is looking to encourage more people to take-up sport, for example, think about where your audience is hanging out. What channels would they use?
Can I just upload to YouTube and be done?
Oh, those far-off days when video on the internet was YouTube. However, now each social media platform would like you to upload or even record video within that application. You’ll be rewarded by having your video presented more attractively and to more people.
So, think about your audience and where they are. Then create some video with that in mind. Right now, YouTube is the back-up plan. Wherever you post, think of posting something there too as YouTube acts as a kind of library where people will head for video on a range of subjects. Your video may well do well for a few days on Facebook but once the buzz has cooled the video can be hard to find.
Where is my audience?
16-to-24-year-olds in the UK use a smartphone for five hours a day on average.
More than 80 per cent of 25-to-34-year-olds use social media for an hour a day.
Of 35-to-44-year-olds 77 per cent use social media every day.
Of those aged 65+, 24 per cent use social media for 35 minutes a day.
47 per cent of internet users have used YouTube as a source.
18 per cent of people use their smartphone to create video.
Do you need to communicate in realtime?
Sometimes, there’s value in broadcasting video from that particular spot at that particular time. A press conference. An announcement. A fire. An event. An incident.
If that’s you, you need to think of a platform. YouTube Live, Facebook Live and the Periscope application for Twitter all can help you broadcast live. If not, then you’ve got a broader choice and a bit more time.
Broadcasting live? this is where having a decent smartphone in your pocket or ipad in your bag comes in handy. But be warned. There are pros and cons to the three main platforms and generally, each one want to encourage you to use theirs. Which means they won’t reach as many people or look as good on a rival platform.
YouTube Live Robust and less likely to lose the signal.
Facebook Live If there’s an interruption to the wifi you’re using the broadcast is lost. But Facebook’s audience share is huge
Periscope for Twitter Reaches your Twitter audience directly. More robust than Facebook Live and allows buffering - the signal to temporarily drop-out.
Snapchat Live This is a bit of a red-herring. It doesn’t allow you to broadcast live yourself but sometimes Snapchat picks an event and asks attendees to tag video which it can make their own video from.
What about Snapchat and Instagram?
Snapchat is booming with younger people. Many of the rules of what works best on other platforms go out of the window. So, upright works better than landscape. You can only create content in the application as-live rather than upload something. You can add text, emojis and other things. There are tips here.
Instagram started as square pictures with retro filters but has evolved to take in video. Seeing the threat from snapchat they created Instagram Stories which cannibalises many of their =rival’s approach. There are tips here.
What about virtual reality and 360 video?
As phones get smarter so does the content you can post. The New York Times have led the way in creating virtual reality content that is a new way of telling a story. Facebook
What about local newspapers?
Newspapers are becoming media companies to survive. It’s not uncommon for companies like the Manchester Evening News to adopt a digital first approach rather than print first. So, what drives the newsroom is not the print deadline but to listen and be quick to share the news wherever it is happening.
Anecdotally, reporters are being encouraged to ask for video content. Why? People engage with it. And they can place ads on the video.
How do I know what to evaluate?
‘Can my video have as many views as Gangnam Style?’ Probably not. There have been 2.6 billion people watching Psy’s video since 2012. It all depends on what your objective is and what your audience is. If your video gives easy-to-follow advice on applying for a blue badge and you get 1,000 applications a year then smaller numbers are fine.
But remember, outputs and outcomes.
If 10,000 people have watched your video, what did they do as a result?
Outputs are things like the number of videos posted, the number of times they’ve been watched and unique viewers.
Outcomes are what’s happened as a result. If 100 viewed the advice video, what would it have costed everyone had rung up the advice line, instead? How many clicked the link on the webpage and bought a ticket?
How do I know what makes a good video?
Entertain. Inform. Think of what’s visual. Don’t presume your audience has nothing better to do.
What’s the optimum length?
As each platform works in different ways we’ve an easy-to-follow guide.
How can I get up to speed on video?
We run essential video skills for comms workshops to give comms people the ability to create their own strategy. We also show practical tips on how to plan, shoot, record sound, edit, add music and text and then post. We deliver these with freelance cameraman and University lecturer Steven Davies.
Glasgow, September 12. For more information and to book click here.
Manchester. September 15. For more information and to book click here.
London. September 22. For more information and to book click here.