VIDEO TIMES: Updated optimum video lengths for social media



There is nothing that is quite as good as showing you the fractured landscape than video.

Time was when there was one home for video and that was on YouTube.

You filmed it, posted it to YouTube and then pasted the URL all over the web but no longer.

How different optimum video length was born

Social media companies twigged that they were sending away audience for YouTube to make money out. They also twigged that the longer they spent on their own websites the more they could charge advertisers. So, native uploads were born. If you post video to Facebook on Facebook itself then Facebook rewarded you by showing more people your content.

But then it was discovered that the optimum length of video was different depending on the platform.  Facebook? 21 seconds. YouTube? Three minutes.

LinkedIn and video

The most recent change is for LinkedIn. The Microsoft company have introduced native uploads. The company in their own guidance suggest from 30 seconds to five minutes as the best time. So, I suggest a middle-of-the-road three minutes. I’ve blogged some ideas on how to use LinkedIn and video here.

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More about the video skills workshops I co-deliver here.


PRO VIDEO : How to get the most out of LinkedIn video

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At last, LinkedIn has joined the race to encourage people to consume video on the channel.

The long-predicted move sees the platform for professionals allow you to upload directly to the site.

How you can upload video to LinkedIn

Easy. You can do this by adding a video when you are adding an update from your own profile from a PC. There is a video button as part of the range of options. You can also shoot video from your phone or add a video from your camera roll.

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At the moment, this is limited to updates in your own name. You can’t do this yet from the company page. For me, this isn’t a huge loss. People connect to people on LinkedIn and let’s face it, the company page is a pretty dull place.

So, cat memes on LinkedIn now is it?

What this does is add some extra dimension to the field. This is unlikely to see an explosion of cat memes on LinkedIn. This isn’t Facebook. But it does mean that when you are looking to communicate a new field has opened-up.

How you can use LinkedIn video

LinkedIn themselves have published a short guide to using video on their platform. This is going to be a bit trial and error, I suspect. You can read LinkedIn’s own advice here.

In short, LinkedIn think:

  • Something work related.
  • Less than five minutes in duration.
  • Tips, a talk or a how-to guide they are keen to share

Interestingly, they are after candid, not-overly produced and over-selling, too. This should pave the way for in-house video that doesn’t cost the earth.

At the moment, they don’t have a live broadcast functionality but I can see that changing.

Five ways to use LinkedIn video

Consultation. If the audience is more professional than other channels, that’s fine. This is where business people and others are. So if you need to get their feedback try here. A short video may work as part of the mix.

Recruitment. If your HR team are looking to recruit a short video may help.

How to guides. There are a range of things that professional people need. Advice on how to complete a planning application, take on an apprentice and many other things present themselves.

Professional opinion. Best practice guides or vlogging could lend itself well to the platform.

Experiment. The field is clear. Dip a toe in the water.




AUNTIE SOCIAL: Why the BBC should be your new favourite corporate account

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I’ve often said that the secret to decent digital communications in being human.

What is being human? You recognise it when you see it. It can be sharp and witty. It’s not corporate speak and its not jargon.

Often when I’m training I’ll see a look of anguish on people’s faces. They’d like to be human. But they’re worried about what people would think.

Step forward, the @bbcpress Twitter which has been on fire of late. But rather than be a branch of the entertainment industry the account skilfully switches between the humorous to the rebuttal to the more measured. But that’s fine. Choosing which is what makes the account special and why it should be your new favourite corporate account.

If the BBC can you can

Often, people will be reluctant to be human because they are risk averse. That’s fine. The BBC has been a political football for decades. If they can you can.

The Alan Partridge announcement teaser

There’s a great scene where Alan Partridge tries to attract someone he knows from a distance away. It’s painful. So, the teaser is marvellous.

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The Alan Partridge announcement with the Alan Partridge meme

There was a running gag in Alan Partidge’s first series about wanting a second series. Badly. Really badly. So desperately, you could smell it. So, of course an Alan Partridge meme to announce a new series is the way to go.

The online rebuttal

The BBC have become bold at shooting down misinformation online.

 The League of Gentleman announcement

A simple announcement wouldn’t have chimed quite so well as this that chimed with their dedicated fans.


And the more formal announcement

The decision to expand World Service was treated to a more straight bat. But that’s fine.

The measured tribute But it is not all fun and games. When the mood is sombre @bbcpress find the right gear too.

All this is content that for local government digital media pioneer Alastair Smith and the rest of the BBC Press Office team can share pride in. Good work well delivered in sometimes difficult circumstances.

Picture credit: Elliot Brown / Flickr

Five things I can tell you after helping train 1,000 comms people to shoot video

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Three years ago I was sitting at my desk working through a social media review of an organisation.

The Facebook and the Twitter were okay. Good in places and poor in others.

But the wheels came off when I reached the YouTube channel. A dozen videos. None less than a month old. Two good clips that looked as though money had been spent with a few thousand views. The rest? Dreadful with a few dozen views at best.

Yet, research was showing that people were consuming video at a striking rate.

So, it got me thinking that there was a need to teach the skills to comms, PR, digital and marketing people to get them to start shooting their own content. I sat down with Steven Davies and we drew-up a day of training that would give comms people the skills to plan, shoot, edit and post effective video. Steven has been a joy to work with and his colleague Sophie Edwards has played her part too. It’s been a source of continuing pride and satisfaction that we’ve given people new skills that will help them communicate.

What started as a trial has flourished, grown and improved and I’m so proud of that. I know Steven is too. We’re past the 50 workshop mark. That’s 1,000 people. So, to celebrate here are six things I know.

Videos of real people work best

Your Chief Executive may be a great performer in front of the camera. But people connect best to what you can call ‘real people’. The service users. The seven-year-old kid who is raving about the bouncy castle on the park fun day. The parents of someone whose child spent his last days in the hospice.

You can still include the VIP without driving people away

I get it. You need to get the Councillor in. Or the chief executive. Put them on at the end. Tell them you are giving them the last word. You salute the flag without driving your audience away.

You need to cut your video depending on the platform

On Facebook, 21 seconds is the optimum length of a video. On YouTube it is three minutes. So, edit accordingly for the channel you are on.

You won’t scare people as much filming with a smartphone as you will with a big video camera

Smartphones are great. They fit in your pocket. You have them with you all the time. People are used to have them being pointed at them. So, if you see something that needs filming you can reach into your pocket and with permission film. You can get it there and then.

You are using a channel that people are happy to consume media on

Two thirds of the UK population have a smartphone and two thirds of them are happy to watch video that is less than five minutes. They are already on it.

Here are our next workshops. Or shout me if you want to explore an in-house workshop.


Leeds 26.9.17 More here.

Birmingham 5.10.17 More here.

London 17.10.17 More here.

Edinburgh 19.10.17 More here.

Cardiff 24.10.17 More here.

Manchester 31.10.17 More here.


Manchester 27.9.17 More here.

VITAL STATS: 63 useful things comms people need to know from the Ofcom report


If you are even vaguely serious about communicating with people in 2017 there is a document Lord of the Rings-style rules them all.

The 246-pages of the Ofcom communications marker report gives you a snapshot into the shifting sandbanks of the communications landscape. I simply can’t overstate how much it can help you do your job.

The document always brings surprises and this year is the same as other years. I strongly suggest you download it and spend a couple of hours with it. You can do that here. There are also inserts for Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

To whet your whistle, here are some things public sector communicators should know.

63 things comms people need to know about how people are using the media

We are more mobile and more powered by smartphones

Faster networks go hand in hand with increased data. Data used by each mobile phone have risen by 44 per cent to 1.3 GB per handset. More than 90 per cent of people own a mobile phone and 76 per cent use a smartphone.

Homes are connected, 88 per cent of households are now connected to the internet and 66 per cent use a phone online.

TV and DVD ownership s declining while people are binge-watching TV on demand. More than a third watch back-to-back TV programmes while 30 per cent sit down with the family once a week.

Most popular UK social media channels

YouTube and Facebook still dominate. LinkedIn has fallen away and Twitter has gained ground.

YouTube 42.0 million

Facebook 39.7 million

Twitter 21.9 million

Instagram 19.4 million

LinkedIn 15.9 million

Pinterest 12.4 million

Snapchat 10.3 million

Google Plus 8.7 million

The most checked app is Facebook

Those with the Facebook app on their phone check their accounts almost 12 times a day. This is higher than 10 times for WhatsApp, twice a day for Spotify and once a day for YouTube.

Ownership of internet-enabled devices

It is not just the desktop PC that people are using to go online.


What the internet is used for

General surfing and browsing is most popular (87 per cent) with email (85 per cent), online shopping 69 per cent with social networking 61 per cent, watching TV and video 53 per cent, short video clips 43 per cent. A flat 40 per cent use the web to visit local government or government websites.

Young people watch YouTube most but over 55s are the biggest audience

The peak time for YouTube is 5pm to 11pm.

Most dedicated YouTube viewers are 18 to 24-year-olds with 31.9 hours consumed a month. But this demographic (13 per cent) is smaller than the over 55’s (22 per cent) who consume 6.5 hours of video a month.

There is a generational gap amongst favoured plaforms

Facebook is most favoured by 18-to-24s, with 83 per cent using it. This outstrips the two thirds of over 55’s who use it. 

Almost three times as many 18-to-24s use YouTube (68 per cent) compared to over over 55’s. Twice as many of the younger demographic (42 per cent) use WhatsApp compared to their older colleagues and almost double (35 per cent) use Twitter.

Android apps

Google Play leads the field with 96 per cent of android phones carrying the app. Following behind, 88 per cent navigate with Chrome, 86 per cent use maps, 80 per cent YouTube 80 per cent and gmail users are at 71 per cent. Facebook is used by 64 per cent and Twitter 45 per cent of android users.

Winding down is a generational thing

Adults on average turn to live TV with almost 50 per cent using this as a crutch. But 12 to 15-year-olds mostly turn to social media to unwind (27 per cent).

Most look on YouTube and Facebook on a laptop and PC

With YouTube, the PC or laptop is used to view by 71 per cent. Jusy over half use a smartphone and 39 per cent a tablet with 33 per cent using a TV.

With Facebook, PC or laptop is favoured by 67 per cent, 63 per cent for smartphone and 36 for tablet. Just six per cent use TV.

We keep in touch by sharing images and video not SMS

In 2012, SMS was the most favoured way to stay in touch. This has become images and video.

Almost all smartphone users – 97 per cent – use the device to view pictures and images and almost two thirds post images and video themselves.

Holiday pictures are the most popular images shared

24 per cent share holiday pics

20 per cent share pets and animals

20 per cent share landscapes or buildings

19 per cent share funny images 

16 per cent myself

15 per cent friends

13 per cent sunrise, sunsets and nature

Emojis have become mainstream

Far from being niche, they are being used more and more. A quarter use them every day while one-in-five think they’re important to their communications. A majority – 80 per cent – think they are fun.

Audio remains important

Radio numbers dominate with almost one-in-nine listening to the radio every week with the average 21.4 hours a week. A third use podcasts every week.






A PLANNING PLAN : Bad comms plans and Anthony Scarramucci


I do try and avoid commenting on news stories on this blog. Others do it perfectly well. But this is a doozy.

You may have noticed that blink-and-you’ll-miss-him White House Director of Communications Anthony Scarramucci lasted 10 days in the post.

What emerged in the last 24-hours is a draft comms plan posted by a blogger sympathetic to Scarramucci. You can read it here.  You can also read Buzzfeed’s confirmation that this is not fake news and also a take down of it here. I suggest you do. It’s jaw-droppingly bad.

Bad comms plans and Bob Dylan

Sure, it is in draft format. But it appears an unstructured list. Poorly thought through. With not much sense of direction. No evaluation. Like Bob Dylan in ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ it has no direction at all.

Good comms plans

Good comms plans involve a round table of input from people you want to work with. They are strategy and they are the tactics of how to do it.

They look at where you are now, where you want to go, what the one thing is you’d like people to do, who you’d like to talk to, where they hang out, what time and money you have and how you are going to evaluate.  You can add who you are going to tell you are doing this and a timeline for the things you’ll do too.

There are many comms planning templates. This one is mine. You are free to use it.

Picture credit: Loco Steve / Flickr.

THEIR DAY: 14 ideas to reboot your Twitter day


In the near future planning for #ourday will swing into view… a day when local government posts what it does in realtime across 24-hours.

It’s an event that is close to my heart. It is modelled in part on #walsall24 a day which I was involved with six years ago.
As an experiment, at the council I was at we posted updates to Twitter from the mundane to the significant. The aim was to create a wall of noise and in doing so told the bigger picture of what local government does.
I still remember the feeling of unique stress and, frankly, loneliness when I opened the office and fired up the PC to send the first tweet. Would this work?
Bright sparks at the Local Government Association have since picked-up the ball and run with it since to turn it into a national initiative.
Six years is a long time. I got to thinking that it is maybe time it had a bit of a re-boot. This should be much more than Twitter. It should be more than council staff talking to each other although I do recognise a real benefit to this.

What should a day of online activity look like?

It needs to tell day-to-day stories… think of how best to do this.
It needs to focus on real people.
It needs real people telling their own stories.
It needs to have people who use the service and live, work and play in your area.
It needs some employees but only if they are named.
It doesn’t need offices. Go outside the ivory tower to see what people do.
It doesn’t need to Twitter, either. It is the fifth largest UK social media channel. Use other channels. Go off-line too.
But don’t just make noise set a few targets too. Sign-up for a library. Pledge to use a park. Pledge to exercise. Whatever.

Here are 14 ideas to make it more interesting

1. A Facebook Live Q&A on the local newspaper’s Facebook page with a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum stores. There is a trove of fascinating items. It would be great to hear someone talk about them. Give people a chance to see and put stories to their heritage.
2. Video clips of real people talking about the job they do for the organisation while out actually doing it.
3. Live tweeting shadowing the contact centre posting a snap shot of the calls they recieve.
4. Get people to sign-up to something. Join a library. Make the process easy to do online. Make a target. A hundred. Five hundred. Whatever.
5. Create a Facebook quiz to ask how much people know about what their council does. Do that here.
6. Use Twitter’s Periscope app to live broadcast a Q&A with the Leader of the Council on the budget. What should they do less of? And more of?
7. Plug into an existing campaign and create some content. You need more foster carers? Live tweet what a carer does for an hour or two.
8. Celebrate your area. Encourage people to post pictures on a hashtag that celebrates their area. Instagramers may warm to this. The best pic gets hosted on the homepage. Or as part of the website’s banner image.
9. Talk to people at a library event. What brings them to this book club? What book do they recommend?
10. Go behind the obvious and get others to join in. What goes on in school during an average day? There’s a breakfast club? No way? How does that work? Schools are getting better at posting their own content. Invite them to play.
11. You have a niche job? You look after the borough’s trees? Tell us about that. Give us a tour of what to look out for. Shadow the officer if needs be.
12. Adult social care is a growing issue? What do service users look like? Heck, he looks like my Dad. He even talks like him too. Can he talk about growing up in the area? And what help he gets from the council?
13. Aggregate your content in the one place. Pull a page together where people can follow all your stuff.
14. Make it live after the day. Two thirds of Facebook live views come after the event. Can you capture and share it in a storify? A pdf? An email?
Look for the real people and create some content there. Move #ourday on a notch. You work in an amazing sector so go and share some of the amazing stuff.
Picture credit: Marco Verch / Flickr