UPDATED: What are the best lengths for social media video?

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All video is no the same… it really does depend on what channel you are looking to post it to.

Where your audience is should frame what channels you are looking that.

In turn, those channels should have a big say in how long your video should be.

So, if you are aiming at people on Facebook, 15 seconds for video that is likeley to drop through the timeline is best. Longer than that and your audience is likely to be evaporating.

Here’s an update on the optimum times.

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Notes and queries on the research

YOUTUBE: The maximum length of 15 minutes can be increased to 12 hours through a straight forward verification step.  Optimum length is much shorter.

FACEBOOK: Facebook maximum length against Facebook’s own suggested lengths for ads. INSTAGRAM: Maximum length was increased from 15 seconds to 60 seconds with research via Newswhip suggesting a much shorter length. TWITTER: Maximum length of 240 seconds   is comfortably within Hubspot’s suggested 45 seconds.

SNAPCHAT: Maximum length is a mere 10 seconds but Hootsuite suggest five seconds is the sweet spot.

PERISCOPE: A maximum length and the sky is the limit but there is no research on what the optimum length of a live broadcast is.  FACEBOOK LIVE: Can run for 240 minutes but 19 minutes is best say Buzzsumo.

LINKEDIN is the new kid on the block with native uploaded video. Five minutes is the most you can upload and there is research that the best length is 30 seconds.

Other platforms

There’s a number of other ways to present video I’ve not touched upon. VIMEO has fallen behind in recent years but still has fans and you can upload via VIMEO LIVE with a premium account. You can go live via YOUTUBE LIVE but there is little accessible guidance for the amateur. FLICKR can take video of up to 1GB but will only play back the first three minutes.

360 & VR Facebook and YouTube in particular are chasing this new way of shooting video but there is little out there on maximum and optimum upload times.

I’m @danslee on Twitter and dan@comms2point0. If you hate missing out on the good stuff subscribe to my weekly email here.

Picture credit: Documerica / Flickr


LIVE ALIVE: Four ways how to use Facebook Live to reach your audience

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It’s a fascinating time to be a comms person… new tactics emerge and old ones fall away.

But like anything, your decisions should be driven less by the shiny and what will get you results.

So, Facebook Live. It’s something I’ve been fascinating by for some time.

The idea is quite simple. You post to Facebook and you have the option to create a live broadcast from your device’s camera as simply as posting some words.

But where does it fit into the landscape?

It’ll help you beat the Facebook algorithm

Being admin of a page used to be such fun. You posted something and your audience saw it, liked it, commented on it and shared it. You sat back and took the applause. But since Facebook Zero and Mark Zuckerburg’s announcement earlier this year that you’ll see less from pages and more from friends and family that’s long gone.

Right now though, use a Facebook Live broadcast and you’ll be reaching more people.

Cool.

But what do we do?

Here’s where it gets interesting because you are really not hemmed in right now by convention. We’re all learning but please, for heaven’s sake, look outside your sector to see how others are doing it.

Sure, think calls to action. But also see your broadcast as educational, fun and interesting that will build your audience for a time when you really want them to do something. A social channel that’s just one long call to action isn’t fun.

Broadcast because the value is to be in the right place at the right time

English Heritage look after Stonehenge. This collection of Neolithic stone tablets has fascinated people for thousands of years. At the moment of winter and also summer solstice the sun shines perfectly at an angle. It is a special place to be. So a live broadcast of the moment and the build up to it makes sense.

Broadcast because you’ve got something visually interesting

National Rail celebrated the longest day of the year with a live broadcast from a GoPro in the train driver’s cab of the Aberdeen to Plymouth service. This is the longest in Britain and runs through some stunning scenery.

It says that the country is amazing, that as a feat of engineering its incredible and also that National Rail understand how the internet works.

Some kickbacks emerged when it was admitted that the video was not as live but the playing of a video recording. But I get that. But then again, what would a livestreamed suicide do for anyone? Or for the organisation’s reputation if the train broke down?

Broadcast because you are commenting on breaking news

Look at what newspapers are doing. They don’t call themselves newspapers anymore. They’re media companies that happen to produce some print.

When the football fixtures were published my team Stoke City’s local media company ran a Facebook Live to run through them.  Leeds away is first up. They incorporated comments from readers – or should I see viewers – too.

The camera work wasn’t amazing. It doesn’t have to be.

Broadcast for a Q&A

Over in the Public Sector Comms Headspace Facebook group I’m admin of, we ran a Q&A ahead of GDPR on how they may affect websites.

From the more than 2,000 members of the group we had more than 900 views and more than 50 questions and comments which was fine with us. We’re a niche but highly active forum.

If you’re a member you can see the broadcast here.  But as the stream went into a closed group we can’t embed it elsewhere on the internet.

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The topics you can live broadcast are pretty wide and vast. I’ve blogged more than 30 of them here.

So, if that’s the topic, how do I do it?

I co-deliver workshops on live video skills that goes into the planning and the delivery using some handy BBC principles.

Before you go live, run a test broadcast where you broadcast only to yourself. You can select ‘only you’ from the settings before you hit post. This allows you to see if your device can be help landscape or has to be held in upright portrait mode. At a big set-piece event like an election count you’ll need to be aware that media companies will more than likely be broadcasting.

But what if my audience isn’t on Facebook?

Then don’t use Facebook, you big silly. With Twitter, Periscope is the live app of choice and instagram and YouTube have their own functionality. But the numbers behind Facebook make it important.

I’ve heard it said that people are leaving Facebook. The stats don’t support that globally although I’ve heard of people leaving the platform in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica saga. That’s fine. I get it. But until there is a better way of sharing cat videos the mass audience isn’t leaving Facebook anytime soon.

I’m @danslee on Twitter and dan@comms2point0. If you hate missing out on the good stuff subscribe to my weekly email here.


FREE SITES: How to find royalty free music for your next video

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You’ve made a short video but you need some music to make it fly. Where do you go?

Firstly, don’t ever rip of a pop track from your itunes library. You don’t want copyright lawyers on your tail.

Do go and find some music and make sure you use it with the right permission. This can be through a site offering royalty-free or creative commons music.

Tips on searching

Most music libraries organise their content through mood and genre. So, if you are after upbeat and happy you can find what you are after quickly. Quite a few mix up their free content with paid for. So if you have no budget just stick to the free.

Tips on crediting

Many sites allow you to use the track with the artist’s blessing so long as you meet the terms of the licence. This could be credit including a web address in the content or just the name of the composer. But maybe not if you are a business. Always check the individual permission on the piece of music. Don’t cut corners and deliberately forget to credit. You’ll be in breach of copyright. At best, that’s bad form. At worst, your content will be pulled and you’ll be billed.

Tips on downloading

Most sites which have music will involve you downloading the track. Your mobile device may not have stacks of spare memory so I’d be tempted to download and save to something like Google Drive using a laptop first if you are android or icloud if you are Apple. This means the track is stored in the cloud for you to call on as and when. Make sure you keep a note of the licence you are using somewhere so you can be sure this random mp4 file is actually fine to use.

Here are a few places you can go to

Bensound.com This is a royalty free site with around 100 tracks ranging from cinematic to world, acoustic, folk and the interesting classification of corporate / pop. Lots of royalty free tracks and some you need to pay for. PRO: Free with a credit. CON: Not the largest selection.

YouTube Music Policies. This is where you can use some chart hits from recognised pop stars like Ed Shearan, Celine Dion and Psy. There are dozens there. PRO: You can use music people will have heard of. CON: You can only use on YouTube and you agree to ads being played during your video that will earn the artist – not you – money. You won’t have control over what ads.

YouTube audio library. This has more than 150 tracks with different layers of permissions. The site itself is well classified and easily searchable. PRO: The library is straightforward to use. CON: You can only use on YouTube and you’ll need to give a credit.

Audionautix. This has several hundred tracks which have been added with a creative commons licence. PRO: There is a wide range of genres to look for. CON: The website is a little clunky to navigate around.  

Kinemaster. This is editing software that also has some 30 tracks for you to download. If you take out a pro subscription you have an extra 50 to choose from. PRO: This works seamlessly with the editing software so you won’t have to navigate around the web saving to Google Drive. CON: A limited number of tracks for free and is also mobile or tablet-only.  

Purple Planet. This comes highly recommended from my colleague Steven. PRO: There is around 100 tracks that are available royalty free. CON: There are larger collections around.

freemusicarchive.org. This site is recommended by the Creative Commons organisation and has hundreds of tracks. PRO: There is a wide choice of genres. CON: The site is trickier than others to navigate around.

Facebook sound collection. This is Facebook’s library of music to use. You can search through tempo and genre. Great if you want a Mariachi band singing happy birthday on Facebook. Not so great if you want to post to Twitter. PRO: There’s a lot of decent tracks that’s fairly easy to search. CON: You can only use the music on Facebook and nowhere else.

ccmixter.  Another site recommenced by Creative Commons with a library of several thousand tracks. PRO: A lot of choice. CON: The tracks are filed by artist and song so you’ll need to do some digging to find the right mood or pace.

EDIT:

mobygratis. Music visionary Moby has 150 tracks he is prepared to release to non-profits and students. There is a process to go through but its well worth a look. PRO: It’s Moby. CON: Not everyone will get licensed and it will take time. Thanks Chris Davies for this tip.

If you want to learn more about creating video with your smartphone or tablet I’ll be co-delivering ESSENTIAL VIDEO SKILLS FOR COMMS in London on March 27London on May 21, Manchester on May 30, Birmingham on June 4, and Edinburgh on June 7. I’m also co-delivering SKILLS YOU WILL NEED FOR LIVE VIDEO in London on May 22.

Picture credit: US National Archives / Flickr


WINTER COMMS part 1: Seven ways to communicate using video

If you don’t think that love is a little bit like gritting in icy weather then, boy, let me convince you. 

There’s a short 48-hour window every year when Valentines cards are hugely important. Then for the other 363 days a year they’re not all that.

For a handful of days a year the state of the roads, grit levels and snow are really important. But unlike Valentines Day those days don’t come pre-printed in your WH Smith desk calendar. You don’t know when the cold blast will come.

My gritting obsession

For three years, I was a local government Twitter account. Every tweet in. Every tweet out. I put back Christmas dinner by 10 minutes to tell people that we were going out gritting. The reason for this? Those handful of days people wanted to know if it was safe to go out.

There’s a lot riding on getting it right. Reputational damage. A switchboard in meltdown. Serious injury. Loss of life. Get it right and your follower numbers increase and people see what you are doing.

Why video is important

I’ve been banging a drum for video as a comms channel for three years now. More than 70 per cent of the UK population have a smartphone and almost three quarters are happy to watch videos of less than five minutes, Ofcom say. That’s your audience right there.

In the latest cold snap,#BestFromTheEast – or #BeastFaeTheEast if your are in Scotland – has shown public sector communicators going into overdrive to communicate.

Here are SEVEN videos that communicate a cold weather message

Using humour and song a pre-prepared snow day announcement

Frimley Junior School in Surrey made this great video to announce a snow day. They’ve used a homage to an 1980s rapper to get their point across to parents. It shows humour and delivers the message.

Using a Facebook Live on icy roads

The Facebook Live platform is currently being encouraged by Facebook. Shoot one and you’ll reach more people. So, hats off Oldham Council for shooting this on what looks to be an ipad. An officer introduces himself and introduces the vehicle driver who is responsible for the gritting operation. As they negotiate the streets they talk about the myths and what they are doing.

Importantly for a Facebook Live is that there is a reason to keep watching. In training myself and my colleague Steven often talk about this as the ‘sword of Damocles.’ You want to keep watching for a specific reason. Here there are two. Will the WiFi cut out? Will it cut out before the exposed heights? Spoiler: they make it to the closed hill and see a Spanish truck stuck.

Using an animation to tell a story

The Met Office need to get a series of messages out with weather warnings. They’ve done this through a variety of means bu the animations have proved eye-catching and effective ways to reach people.

Using a GIF to make the text more interesting

The GIF is the 1990s technology that’s at home on the web. They are short animations that allow you to repurpose some footage. You can make your own or you can use a GIF library. Both Facebook and Twitter have libraries you can delve into.

Here Transport Scotland lists the prevention advice and then adds a GIF of a sliding car.

Using pre-shot footage to explain how grit works

During the time I spent in local government comms I tweeted the fact that grit was not fairy dust dozens of times. Same too for how grit works. This Kirklees Council clip with the backdrop of a salt barn shows a man in hi-vis talk through how things work. Shoot them in the autumn and have them to hand. Good tip.

Using realtime footage of work in progress

Fake news! I never saw the gritter! Well, here is video footage of the gritters in action. It doesn’t have to have a narrative arc. Just point, shoot and publish. And combat thosze trolls who say that you weren’t out.

Using hyperlapse video

North Yorkshire County Council had the bright idea of using footage from the cab of a gritter as it passed through the rural county. Shoot the footage on the hyperlapse app and you can look as though you are moving far faster.

 


30 days of human comms: day #36 A gang of geese in Sowerby Bridge wanted to cause some bother

There’s a benefit of equipping frontline people with the tech, the skills and the permission to use video.

They can come across all sorts of things in their line of work. Some of it serious. Some of it not.

What’s the benefit of this? It shows that police are human. It builds followers on a site. It allows you next week to talk to more people because you were human.

Good work.


VISUAL COMMS: Some bold and some worrying predictions for public sector comms in 2018

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For the past few years I’ve blogged at the end of the year some predictions. For 2018, here are some more.

The broad trend is one of rapid change and a broad shift to more visual ways to communicate with people… who are consuming more visually, on mobile and on-the-go.

Get Facebook right and you’ll be a long way to cracking your comms. It won’t be the answer to everything but it is so big and so all encompassing for people that it is comfortably the biggest platform, the largest way people get their news and understand what is happening in their friends’ lives.

The Facebook group admins who communicate with your audience have already become as important as journalists. Groups have grown in importance. Get to know them. Join them. Build bridges with the admin. See if you can work with them. As Facebook pages get more money driven their importance rises. They can challenge fake news about you because they are often where it starts.

Technology is outpacing the public sector massively. This worries me. In the mid-1990s mobile phones became a mainstream Christmas present. They became part of how people communicated to become the dominant platform it is today.  Today, the best organisations for years have been experimenting with voice recognition, artificial intelligence, machine learning and virtual reality.  Amazon Echo and Google Home have led the breakthrough shifting units for Christmas 2017. And where is the public sector with this trend? Nowhere. This very soon will be a comms issue.

Bad video is not good video.‘Can we have a video’ has replaced the request for a Twitter account as the request from those in service areas who think they can do your job. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. ‘What do you want to achieve?’ remains the response to the request for a video. Or a Twitter account.

Go beyond your Facebook page. Far, far, far beyond. If you think posting to a page and leaving it there is reaching your audience you are almost certainly wrong. Navigate across Facebook as your page to visit other pages. Cross post your page update to groups.

Re-balance from broadcasting by being human. After 12-months of social media reviews, the baked-in problem remains treating social media like a broadcast channel to make it work better. Calls to action should be 20 per cent of your content to be most effective.

Specialist generalists. In the NHS and other areas, the specialist or generalist debate continues as teams shrink. The answer is comms people should be specialist generalists. They should be really good at two or three niche things and have some core skills. But no-one should have the monopoly on anything.

Not keeping pace is dangerous for your organisation. The cost of falling behind with how people want to consume media is that your organisation will be at best irrelevant and at worst seen to be actively not caring.

GIFs and threads will become expected. THREAD. How Twitter threads changed. 1. First there was the tweet. 2. Then the tweet got longer. 3. But words are inherently a bit dull. 4. So the animated GIF started to be used more. 5. And the thread which links tweets together. Keep reading, okay? 6.  This is all part of a wider trend to move from text to images and video.

Twitter continues to wither. Twitter is a channel to reach PR people and journalists brilliantly. But increasingly not residents. Three years ago, it was the third largest channel in the UK, Ofcom says. In 2017, it has slipped to fifth. Against a background of hate and fake news, this trend with carry on. Good on Twitter? Fine. What else are you good at?

Social media is becoming less social. In part, fueled by the Trump effect but in part by sharing fatigue, social media will become less broadly social and more splintered into places where small groups of like-minded people will exist. No, I’m not sure that’s healthy. But that’s what will happen.

Becoming digital first. If you haven’t already work out how you’ll need to work out how to respond as an organisation to a mis-truth posted in a village Facebook group that is picked up by a newspaper Twitter account. You don’t have 24-hours to get back. You can’t leave that person in a meeting. They need to respond now. But they need to understand why they have to respond, first. That’s best done in peacetime.

Video continues to rise. It’s more than 80 per cent of the internet. This is an easy prediction to make.

Live video continues to rise. The public sector has been left behind by media companies in this field but will continue to catch-up.

360 images and virtual reality grow as part of the landscape. Where short video was once daring, the daring use of virtual reality content will continue to grow.

The need to demonstrate results grows ever more important. Again, an easy prediction to make.

There will be another terrorist outrage and comms teams need to be kind to themselves. London and Manchester suffered in 2017. They showed some of the best public sector communications I’ve ever seen. They also came with lessons from those involved. Yes, accept offers of help from day one. Yes, this will affect the mental health of you and your team.

Brexit will affect everyone. Teams in London are already feeling the effect of EU staff leaving. But the predicted economic effect will hit public sector organisations too. That means comms teams going through more austerity challenge. So, get good. Or get so small you can barely answer the phone.

Internal comms reaches crisis point. We’ve gone as far as we can with 2003-era intranets which have become a repository for pdfs. The public sector keeps its head above water through the good will of staff alone. The organisation that fails to take seriously how it talks to its staff will reap the results. The comms team that spells out the risks and leads a renewal of channels will reap the benefits.

The comms person who stands still won’t get a new job in two years. If you don’t learn you really will get left behind. Who needs a fax-operating press release writing envelope-stuffer in 2018?

Income targets will remain a minority burden on comms teams. But the trend will be slowly upwards bouyed by some success stories.

If you fail to change what you do, your life WILL get harder. This will mean changing how you do things, I know. As a team and as an individual. This will take time. But it is time you need to spend. Change the supertanker. Please. It’s more fun than hitting the rocks.

Predictions for 2017: How did I do last year?

Things I got right

Zombie comms teams did rise. The risk of being leant on by politicians did increase. Teams remain too old and there remains a recruitment gap. Educating the client remains the most important thing to do in a changing world. Post-truth remains an important problem. Facebook groups did become more important.

Things I got half right

Did the rise of dark social leave comms teams flat-footed? Dark social is things like whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. Platforms that link a few people together but can’t be searched. Thing is, I don’t think most teams even realise how large dark social has become to even become flat-footed. Twitter did wither but LinkedIn didn’t charge up the table. Press offices have transformed and changed title at a fast pace.

Things I didn’t get right

Merged comms teams that bring NHS, fire, council and police together haven’t happened. Yet. Although fire and police in some places have joined together.

Have a good 2018 and lets be careful out there.