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February 25, 2018

How to Make Social Media Videos That Get Liked and Shared

How to Make Social Media Videos That Get Liked and Shared

On ocean-going ships, lifeboats are painted a very particular orange. They are designed this way to stand out against the ocean which is so vast and dull colored that this color is the only way to have a hope of being spotted by rescuers, even when they are specifically looking for the lifeboats. The noise of our digital world is, in many ways, like the ocean and if you want your brand to have a chance of being noticed, you really need to work on standing out. Today, one of the best ways to stand out is to use video. In particular, social media videos stand out from static content like photos and text  – just like orange colored lifeboats stand out from the ocean.

Social media videos get far more attention than any other form of communication. In fact, I read a Forbes article that said social media videos generate 1200% more shares than text and images combined. The catch here is social media video – not just a video housed solely on your website. Video is, by nature, a social experience — and your audience wants to engage socially with the videos you create. They want to respond to it with “likes” and if they really like it, they want to be able to share it with their friends! Thankfully, technology has made it easier and cheaper than ever before to create compelling social media videos for your small business. You no longer need a film degree to create killer social media videos to raise your brand’s awareness and grow your following. So today let’s talk about tips, hacks, and best practices for creating DIY social media videos that will get likes and shares. This is one of the most affordable ways to market your business, gain brand awareness, and grow your following.

Social media videos generate 1200% more shares than text and images combined.

Successful Social Media Videos Start With a Story

This article is part 2 of a 5-part series. In part one we discussed ways to create a compelling story as the basis for your small business’ short marketing videos. I started the series with the topic of storytelling because it really is the foundation for the success or failure of a video. Without a strong hook and an interesting story, the video will tank. So once you’re confident that you have a story that others will be interested in watching, you’ve got to choose which social media platform(s) you want to share it on. Here’s the catch— you can’t create one video and then simply dump it onto every single one of your accounts. Each social media platform has its own quirks unique requirements and best practices for getting engagement from your audience. If you’re like me, you’ll find this frustrating. You might even pout for a while. Then you’ll slowly succumb to the fact that you can’t avoid video forever; your competition is already making cool social media videos and it’s ticking you off; and finally, you’ll grit your teeth and start hustling harder to understand how to hack social media videos. So, let’s begin.

So Many Social Media Platforms to Choose From

I hope your company isn’t on every single platform. We’re not. In fact, we’re finding that our ideal audience has been shifting away from Twitter and turning more towards Instagram and the “old standby” Facebook. For some of you reading this, Twitter might still make sense. But I’m not going to spend time today discussing how to make social media videos for platforms that:

  • I perceive as dying,
  • Are geared for youngins who likely aren’t your target market, or
  • Tend to appeal to a smaller subset of businesses within limited niches (Tumblr, Flickr, etc.).

We’re going to focus on creating social media videos for the following platforms and for these reasons:

  1. Facebook. I can’t think of any business that shouldn’t have a company Facebook account. It’s literally the #1 performing social media platform out there today.
  2. Instagram. Since Facebook bought Instagram in 2012, they’ve been integrating the two platforms. In fact, if you create a marketing video on Facebook, and then pay to have it sponsored, it actually gets automatically sponsored on Instagram as well. Two for one! Plus, we’re seeing major growth every month in the number of new Instagram users. If your customers are getting on Insta, you should too! Here’s our free webinar of tips to help small businesses leverage Instagram to grow their following and earn customers.
  3. YouTube. Everybody uses YouTube. If there’s anything your customers want to know or see, they likely visit YouTube first. It’s like the Wal-Mart of social platforms—it has everything! From how-tos to just pure entertainment, YouTube is the one-stop shop for most consumers. Although we at Communication Hackers aren’t using it to grow a huge fan base of ‘tubers, we do use it as a cool free place to park our videos, edit clips, and ultimately to hold them so that we can play them from our company website. This means the videos appear nicely on our site, but YouTube is actually doing all the work to hold them so that our website’s load time doesn’t suffer and deter our site visitors. If you don’t have a company YouTube account, you need one.
  4. LinkedIn. Again, you need to be on LI. LinkedIn is a horse of another color, however, because it was created for B2B, not B2C. Sure, it’s great for networking, collaborating, and helping educate your connections—but I can’t stress enough that your videos on LI better be a lot different than what you post on the other platforms. I triple hate it when my LI connections try to sell their crap to me. We’re on there to share ideas, not make purchases. Rant over.

How To Make a Winning Facebook Video

Facebook is my favorite platform to create social media videos for because it’s so flexible. With 2.2 billion active monthly users, your audience is likely very diverse. Tweens, professionals, moms, even grannies are all potential viewers of the videos you make for Facebook. If your video tanks with one audience, no worries ‘cuz other sects of your audience might love it.

Facebook Video Tips

  • People use Facebook for entertainment. Therefore videos here should be emotionally engaging.
  • Aim for just 2-4 minutes. Although FB allows for a maximum of 45 minutes, I highly discourage making marketing videos which venture anywhere close to the maximum time limit. Your audience most likely watching your video on a mobile device; they are there to stroll and scroll (with itchy thumbs). Don’t expect them to sit through a 20-minute video; unless you’re hosting a Facebook Live TV program (like Dave Ramsey’s very successful daily The Dave Ramsey Show), in which case do yo’ thang.
  • Add captions. This seems like a minutia detail, but your audience is likely watching your social media video on their smartphone. Captions will allow them to keep watching even if they’ve turned off their sound. Without captions, you may lose viewers who aren’t in a position to turn their sound on.
  • Share natively. Rather than uploading your video to YouTube and simply linking to it from Facebook, upload it natively. Why? Because the Facebook gods have given priority to native videos. This means that their algorithm is rigged to show preference for Facebook native videos and will give those more and better placement in your audience’s feeds.
  • Do this every time: add a call-to-action and a link to the end of every video you post. Even if your link simply sends them to your Facebook page or to your company website, take advantage of that feature.
  • Try using Facebook videos for shareable content such as interviews, training, reviews, and to promote your company’s events that viewers might be interested in.Social media videos

How to Rock an Instagram Video

Instagram currently appeals to a young-ish audience. Teens, millennials, and 30-somethings are drawn to the candid nature of Instagram videos. They’re We’re also drawn to the artistic nature (beauty, intrigue, freshness) of content that succeeds on Insta. The upcoming generation of thought leaders is tired of impersonal, boring brands. Instagram will allow you to showcase your brand’s human side and connect more intimately with your viewers. Keep that in mind when you create Insta social media videos. (Hint, no one wants to see dudes in suits handing out company awards and shaking hands. Gag!)

Instagram Video Tips

  • Stories keep you at the top. Instagram allows for two types of videos: regular feed stories that are located in the general feed, and video stories that you pin to the top of the feed and that only remain up there for 24 hours before they magically disappear. Make both. But keep in mind that regular video posts max out at 60 seconds, while Insta stories (the kind pinned at the top) have a max of ten seconds.
  • Experiment with the free tools. Instagram was made for social media videos! As such, there are tons of free apps out there designed exclusively for making cool Insta videos. For example, I use Boomerang for my iPhone to create super-short videos that really aren’t much more elaborate than a 2-second GIF. Here’s a list of rad apps compiled by Sprout Social to help you create eye-catching Insta videos (#13 through #20 on the list pertain to videos).
  • Get your fans involved. Instagram stats show that user-generated content does really well. Basically, that is where your fans themselves upload content for you. Tint goes in-depth about UGC (here) and examines campaigns that have gone viral on it. Anytime you can encourage your followers to respond to your video by uploading their own content, you’ve hit the jackpot.
  • Here’s what Insta is a good fit for: behind-the-scenes tours, quick how-tos, and product launch videos.
  • Here’s what sucks about Insta videos: lack of ability to use links. You literally get to insert one clickable link…the one you provide in your profile.

Social media videos

I use Boomerang for my iPhone to create super-short videos that really aren’t much more elaborate than a 2-second GIF.

How to Create a Killer YouTube Video

YouTube is the second greatest social sharing platform, only behind Facebook. Perhaps you want to be a famous YouTuber. Perhaps you don’t. Either way, you’ll likely want to create video content for YouTube. As I mentioned above, it’s a terrible idea to upload (house) videos on your company website. It slows it down immensely. Instead, you can upload directly to YouTube and then simply provide the embedded link into your website. So whether you want to host a poppin’ YouTube channel, or if you’re like me and using it as a means to an end–this is a platform you’ll want to consider because it has so many slick free video editing & video creation features already built in.

YouTube Video Tips

  • Add captions. Here’s a how-to video that explains how to easily get free captions on your YouTube videos.
  • The blur feature is like a magical eraser. Did you know YouTube has a free, built-in, super-simple way to blur out faces or objects from the videos you upload? Yep. It’s easy. If you shoot a video with your camcorder and later realize you need to blur out faces of passersby or perhaps the license plates of cars driving past, no worries. This tutorial will show you how to do it within the YouTube platform itself.
  • Make clickable links. After your viewers have watched your video, you don’t want them to chase the next squirrel. In fact, by default, your video will end and your audience will be offered a follow-up video (likely made by someone other than you)…and poof! your viewer is gone forever. That’s bad. By adding a clickable link right towards the end frame of your video, you can strategically direct your viewers to take action—hopefully by having them click a link to your website, another video of yours, etc. Here’s how to create one.
  • Here’s what YouTube videos can be great for: reviews, training, interviews

Social media videos

By adding a clickable link right towards the end frame of your video, you can strategically direct your viewers to take action

How to Create Helpful Videos for Your LinkedIn Network

LinkedIn is obviously a professional networking platform. Clearly, that means uploading silly cat videos is a no-no here. The videos you post should demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in your professional field. It’s also a great way to let your connections see your personality shine through when they’re used to nothing but your polished profile and perfect portrait. Video here is a great way to let connections get to know you better—the real you.

LinkedIn Video Tips

  • 80/20 rule applies. We use this rule for most of your business profiles. That is, aim for creating content that is 80% helpful, 20% promotional. Sure, you might have a great new service to unveil, but make sure you’ve already created the hoopla with 80% of your videos geared toward informing/instructing/educating on the topic before you drop a promotional video on your audience.
  • Here are the specs. LI videos can be between 3 seconds and 10 minutes in length (aim for < 3 minutes). Videos silently autoplay in the feed, so know that your users will need to manually click on the video to engage the sound. Did you know you can download the LI app for your phone so you can film, edit, and upload directly from your phone?
  • Tips for video caption. Before people typically turn on the sound to your video, they’ll first read the text you typed to see what the nature of the video is and to decide if they’re interested before actually tuning in. Here’s a great tip: type a question as your caption; then ask the question in your video itself and use the video as a way to answer the question. This is provocative and makes for dialogue between your connections and you. How much text should you type to introduce the video? Well, one to three sentences is usually enough as that sets the context of the video without giving away all the juicy details.
  • Consider screen sharing. Since your audience is there to network and learn, try creating a video where you teach about a topic in which you’re an expert. You can download Camtasia for a high-quality screen-sharing tool, or go low-tech and free by using PowerPoint’s built-in video recording capability (only in Office 365) so you can record yourself on video talking while you progress through slides.
  • Here’s what LI videos are best suited for: how-tos, to introduce an upcoming webinar, and to answer FAQs in your industry.

Social media videos

PowerPoint’s built-in video recording capability (only in Office 365) allows you to record yourself talking while you progress through slides.

Final Tips for Creating Engaging Social Media Videos

Nike was right. Just do it! You’re not likely to create a social media video that goes viral on your first try. But you’ll never get likes and shares on your social media videos if you never produce any. I always say, “Perfection is the enemy of execution.” Just start making videos, listen to feedback from your followers, take cues of what when well and what went wrong. Then refine and try again! You can do this!  Now stay tuned ‘cuz I’m already working on the next article in this DIY video series. The next article will be chocked full of tips as I explain the various (dozen or so) types of DIY marketing videos from your small business you can easily create yourself. Not all videos are created equal. From animated explainer videos, to talking-head videos, to instructional how-to videos…I’ll give you the skinny on each type, when to use, where to post each type, and other insider tips from someone (yep, me) whom has tried them all and lived to tell the tale.

February 1, 2018

How to Use Storytelling to Make a DIY Video Like a Marketing Pro

How to Use Storytelling to Make a DIY Video Like a Marketing Pro

If you’re a small business, you’re likely feeling the pressure from the world to create more DIY video. In fact, I bet that’s why you are reading this article. Video is so hot that 2017 statistics revealed one-third of online activity is spent watching video. Whether you’re a 10-person small business or a solopreneur, you can make DIY video easily and affordably. Honestly, you can.

Because there is so much to learn about DIY video, I’ve decided to break this up into a 5-part series. After years of researching DIY video, investing in dozens of DIY video-making software programs and mobile apps, and using them in my own small business, I want to share what I have learned with you. After all, Communication Hackers is all about learning the “hacks” and sharing them with you— so you don’t have to painstakingly figure this all out on your own.

The Breakdown of This 5-Part Series

Today, as part 1 of this series, we’re going to focus on storytelling, the foundation of a good video. Every DIY video must begin with a compelling story– otherwise, why bother? Here’s what the rest of this series will contain:

  • In part 2 of this series we’ll talk about DIY video-making tips for the leading social media platforms (including Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn).
  • Then in part 3 we will discuss the hottest types of DIY video that small businesses can incorporate into their online marketing strategy.
  • For part 4 I will share my favorite five DIY video tools, such as super-affordable DIY video creation software and mobile device apps.
  • Finally, we will wrap up part 5 with practical tips for making DIY video (think lighting tips, best practices for audio and music, the ins and outs of using captions, and video editing tools we use and recommend).

The First Question to Ask Yourself

As I mentioned, you need a compelling storyline. Each time you create a video you are, in essence, a storyteller. We’ve seen effective storytellers take an otherwise boring topic, yet turn it into a compelling video because they were able to expose an interesting vantage point about the topic. For example, blenders. Yes, kitchen blenders. They’re boring. However, when Blendtec came out with the “Will it blend?” marketing campaign, it soon went viral. I still can’t get my kids to shut up about Blendtec blenders destroying everything from baseballs to silly putty.

Before we create anything— whether that’s a video, article, some web copy, whatever— the first thing we must ask ourselves is, “Is this interesting, compelling, or useful?” If the answer is “no,” then I wouldn’t waste my time creating the thing from the get-go. Because, in the words of my 13-year old kid, “#NobodyCares.”  That’s right, your story isn’t much of a story if nobody cares.

What Topics Suck for DIY Video?

Not everything we find interesting is actually interesting to the outside world, particularly your customers. If you’re going to make a DIY video about a mid-level promotion of a staff member, an award, internal changes, or something similarly uninteresting, I beg you to reconsider. A good story must suck in the viewer, make them feel connected to your brand, and evoke emotion from them.

Criteria for a Compelling DIY Video

Occasionally unexpected videos go viral causing nearly every awkward teenager, exhausted mother, and jovial grandpa to views/share/like the video. Sometimes these outrageously popular videos don’t even seem to fit the mold for good cinematography. But life is weird and unexplainable, so… whatev. Thankfully, just like criteria for judging a breathtaking piece of Renaissance period art, there are criteria we can use as a guide to make a DIY video that will help you raise brand awareness and build trust with viewers.

Here are some DIY video criteria:

  1. Opens with a Strong Hook. The hook (the first 5 seconds of the video) literally suck your viewers in and compel them to keep watching. (More on this in the next section of this article because I really feel like this is the #1 most important criteria [criterion??] for making a DIY video that people will actually watch in its entirety.)
  2. It’s Brief. Appropriate length varies some depending on the use and which platform it will be hosted on, but typically a video to promote your brand and gain trust from your “tribe” should be less than 2 minutes. Pretty short, ay? In fact, 60% of online viewers will stop watching a video after 2 minutes. Hubspot has got a 3-minute read here providing specifics for the ideal length of a video for each of the major social media platforms. It’s a bit scary that our attention spans really aren’t much greater than that of a goldfish. In part 2 of this article series, I’ll go into tons more detail about what works for each of the leading social media platforms, far beyond just length specificity. So stay tuned!
  3. It Uses a Full Story Arc. What’s a story arc? Have you ever watched a movie and at the end you were like: “What’s the point?” Yeah, me too. I hate those. Since the dawn of time, man has craved stories. And many intellectuals claim that every story follows one of the six basic story types (plots). Rather than get into the weeds of historic literature (I have an English background and could really geek out on this topic), let’s think about storytelling in general. The story arc is the progression of either events (or emotions) from the hook, to the climax, to the ending. In a bit more detail, a good story requires an emotional hook, rising action (like conflict), a climax (where the tension is highest), a falling resolution (where the solution to the conflict is employed), followed by a resolution (the triumph at the end).

How to Craft an Engaging Video Story Hook

I could tell you that there are dozens, no hundreds, of hooks you can use to start a video. But that would no doubt be overwhelming and might make you hate me. Instead, what if I told you that we’ve got two hooks that we use all the time for Communication Hackers videos. These are our go-to hooks. Like a pair of tried-and-true aces up our sleeves.

Try These Two DIY Video Story Hooks

  • You’ve got this problem, I’ve got the solution. This might sound obvious, but it’s actually a great way to begin a video. Think about how often you yourself visit YouTube. You’ve broken something (perhaps it’s a 404 website error, or a broken do-dad around the house)— so you visit Dr. YouTube and begin typing “How to…” You’ve got a problem, and you’re desperately seeking a solution. A good video will suck your viewers in because they can identify with it. Perhaps they can identify with the frustration you’re highlighting. Starting with a problem and quickly letting your audience know that this video is gonna provide the solution is perhaps the #1 way to score an audience. Here’s a “problem —> solution”  example video by Mailchimp, where the problem isn’t explicitly stated, but rather implied. In this 30-second video, Mailchimp identifies with people who run online businesses who struggle to get it all done with “just one brain.” Between doing ads, sending emails, and communicating with customers, the video explains that the struggle is real. However, Mailchimp’s video here provides the solution— their Mailchimp marketing automation platform.
  • Imagine a world where… Everybody likes make-believe. But what is even better is true magic in the making. Sometimes your product or service isn’t addressing a gaping problem at all. Sometimes your product or service is visionary or your customers don’t even know they need it yet. Want a concrete example? Here’s the ultimate “image a world where” storyline: Apple’s unveiling of the first iPhone. You see, people weren’t sitting around with a problem on their hands waiting for someone to develop a solution. We already had laptops. We already had cellular phones. Our needs were met. But then along comes Apple with this visionary product that suddenly had nearly every American (okay, nearly every person with a pulse on planet Earth) lined up for hours prepared to trade their first-born for this device. Apple introduced the first iPhone with an “imagine if” scenario. The scenario came across as: Imagine a world where you can have the power and functionality of a computer in a device so small that literally fits in your hand….introducing the iPhone. Not only was the product great, the marketing of the product was great too! If you’re selling a good or service that you know people need even though they might already seem content, this hook might be your best choice.

DIY video

Here’s the Bottom Line

Behind every successful marketing video, storytelling has been strategically crafted and weaved into the fabric of the viewer experience. Although not always obvious or blatantly stated in the video’s dialogue, I find that most videos follow one of these two hooks I shared above. The first connects to peoples’ fears and frustrations, while the second example evokes excitement and imagination. Both are timeless emotions that can form a solid foundation for a compelling DIY video. As I’ll explain in part 3 of this series, there are dozens of different types of DIY video that small businesses can use to tell their stories so be sure to read that one when it comes out. Sure, you’ll have to decide for each video what style would be most appropriate (such as explainer video, how-to video, whiteboard animation, or perhaps a testimonial video), but before considering the style of video, I suggest you first consider your story and then craft a hook that will appeal to your viewers.

January 16, 2018

3 Good Reasons to Rejoice About the Latest Facebook Announcement

Don’t fret about the latest Facebook announcement. Rejoice instead.

Facebook made a big announcement last week that set the marketing world on edge.

For those of you who missed it, the point of this announcement was that Facebook will be making a major change to its algorithm to favor personal interactions and news, over publisher content.

Facebook’s announcement is great for users. Just as an experiment, right after we read the announcement we counted how many posts by marketers were interpersed into our personal feed. The number, roughly 1 in 6, was becoming a serious distraction. Add to that the fact that most of these posts were more about selling a product than sharing interesting content, and “serious distractio”n was starting to become “annoying distraction.”

What does this all mean for your business though?

Reactions have run the spectrum from “oh no” (reflected in Facebook’s share price) or serious concern, to “ho hum.”

Here’s why I think you should rejoice instead. Read More

December 31, 2017

5 Digital Marketing New Year’s Resolutions every Business Should Make

It’s New Year’s resolution time. This year, why not skip the boring resolutions that you’ll forget about before January is up. Let’s focus on your business instead and make some resolutions that you’re likely to keep (and will make you money to boot). Here are 5 digital marketing New Year’s resolutions every business should be making.

Make 2018 your year to build a competition-dominating digital marketing strategy!

Read More