SHOT LIST: 8 key lessons on how to make engaging video from joe.co.uk

A while back I sat next to a journalist from joe.co.uk and the conversation turned to video.

Video was a central plank in how journalists reach an audience and good images made a story, he said.

Crucially, good images at the start of the video were crucial, he added. That’s something that I wholeheartedly agreed with and it was good to hear it from a journalist, too.

This week, I saw a joe.co.uk video that really brings strands together. It looks into how a no deal Brexit will affect Northern Ireland. The video is longer than you’d think it would be. It rolls on for more than nine minutes but doesn’t have slack.

It has an audience of 1.6 million on Twitter.

Whoever you are, take inspiration from where you can find it.

News organisations online are giving you a free lesson in how to assemble good content.

Social media video best practice

Put the most arresting clip right at the start

In training, we often talk about putting the exploding helicopter in the first three seconds.

In other words, put a clip of the strongest footage in the first three seconds to grab attention and stop people from scrolling on.

In this clip, the quote from one man: “Ten of my friends were shot beside me.”

That would stop anyone in their tracks. Why? How? When? What happened? Your interest is piqued and you want to carry on watching. While visually not arresting the strong line coming from a kindly-looking old man certainly is.

Leave the office, find the real people and talk to them

Real people can be far more interesting that a politician reciting lines to take or trying to make them up on the spot.

Real people also have more friends on Facebook who are more likely to view and share the content. It also shows that real people are affected by decisions made by politicians.

Add a logo in the corner

Some people are wedded to the idea of having three seconds of logo to act as a kind of MGM Lion roaring into your consciousness.

The problem with this approach is that this doesn’t meet social media’s scrolling and goldfish-lite attention span. The way round that is to add a logo in a corner in the style of Channel Five’s football coverage.

Add a title to each interviewee

So, as each interviewee is introduced, they have their own title to display their name.

Joe.co.uk use black on yellow for titles – in other words people’s names – to introduce them to the viewer. The title sits above the sub-title which is what the person is saying. It puts them into context.

Add sub-titles into the video itself

When you burn the sub-titles into the footage you don’t have to worry about whether or not the viewer has switched settings to allow sub-titles on Facebook.

Subtitles are the text of what the interviewer, interviewee or narrator is saying. By using sub-titles you are reaching a wider audience. Not just by making it accessible to those who have hearing difficulties but also making it accessible to people who are second screening at work, on the bus or while on on the sofa while their partner watching Eastenders.

Use cutaways

Cutaways are shots which add colour and context. They make the video more interesting.

So, shots of road signs, the garage and the countryside show the Northern Irish community that will be affected by a Brexit ‘no deal’. The fact that they look ordinary and every day reinforces the message of concern from those interviewed. This is not Beirut or Kosovo. This looks like many parts of the Brritish Isles and island of Ireland.

Build a story

The video builds a narrative. The story is of a journalist who voted for ‘Leave’ in the EU Referendum in 2016 but is now having misgivings.

He returns to Northern Ireland where he has worked as a journalist before to ask how people there feel. He asks what the town was like during the Troubles from the late 1960s to the large 1990s. The people who lived there were often anxious and there was a large police presence, he is told.

He finds disquiet amongst people that a hard Brexit may see a return to the bad old ways and his final interviewee recalls how he was dragged off a bus with 10 workmates by terrorists who shot them leaving him as the only survivor. That’s a powerful story. But as we’ve seen the stand-out quote has been pulled out to form the first four or five seconds to draw the viewer in.

Put your logo at the end

The Joe logo animates into the screen right at the end. It;s the full stop to the video.

The video shot list

1.Opening shot. Interviewee: “Ten of my friends were shot dead beside me.”

2. Journalist Peter Oborne talks of how he voted remain but he now thinks he didn’t have enough information on how it will affect Northern Ireland where he worked during his career.

3. Cutaways: The Irish countryside and road signs in Bessbrook. Armagh, Northern Ireland.

4. Bessbrook resident Ray Collins: It was scary in The Troubles with a strong Army presence and the risk of murder by the UVF.

5. Bessbook resident Tracey Feehan: Wants the British government to get real.

6. Bessbrook resident Joe McGivern: We’re in limbo here.

7. Bessbrook resident Alan Black: Ten of my friends were shot dead beside me.

8. Journalist Peter Oborne: His reaction to the interviewees.

9. Danny Kennedy, Ulster Unionist Party: When the Referendum was fought there was little attention to how it would affect Northern Ireland.

10. Jarlath Burns, Principal of St Paul’s High School in conversation with Peter Oborne: The Referendum was an English Referendum and English people didn’t fully realise there was a land border, Jarlath says. Peter accepts that.

11. Cutaways: the car journey to Dublin and Dublin landmarks.

12. Journalist Peter Oborne, reacts to his Northern Ireland visit.

13. Senator Neale Richmond, a member of the Irish Dail.  The border issue didn’t arise during the Referendum but it is an issue to the PSNI.

14. Montage of candid clips of interviewees.

15. Journalist Peter Oborne: conclusions.

Conclusion

Overall, the joe.co.uk video is an engaging video on what could be a dry topic. The backstop for Irish border arrangements is not the most engaging content on the face of it. They’ve made it interesting by talking to the real people. They’ve made sure it reaches a wider audience by including titles and sub-titles.

I help deliver video skills training. Workshops can be found here and drop me a line on dan@danslee.co.uk if I can help. 


NEW SOCIAL VIDEO: What are the optimum video lengths for social media in 2019? UPDATED

 

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I’ve mapped optimum video lengths for a few years now and the landscape is often moving across that time.

Earlier in 2019, it was the shift from Facebook to steer people towards three minute videos from the previous optimum of 15 seconds.

Now, looking at it fresh there has been a further tilt. Filling the 15-second void is the Chinese-owned video network TikTok. I’ll blog a quick explainer on how public sector people can approach TikToc as a platform.

Video in the UK remains a key part of a comms strategy

Globally, video consumption over the internet is expected to rise by 13 per cent over the next five years, according to PWC.

With 87 per cent of UK adults using the internet daily or almost daily, according to the ONS internet use is baked in to what we do. It’s no surprise that on a smartphone or a tablet is where a lot of video is going to be consumed.

According to Ofcom, 18 to 34-year-olds are watching more than an hour of YouTube on its own.

But as with everything, video is part of a raft of channels that can be used to the 21st century communicator. The best comms is the right content in the right place at the right time.

Research platform-by-platform

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

INSTAGRAM: Maximum length was increased from 15 seconds to 60 seconds with research via Newswhip suggesting a much shorter length. 

TWITTER: Maximum length of 140 seconds is comfortably within Hubspot’s suggested 45 seconds.

SNAPCHATMaximum 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 little research on what the optimum length of a live broadcast is. The average length of top 12 videos on liveomg.com is 18 minutenew video lengths 2019s.

FACEBOOK: Facebook has shifted the algorithm from 15 seconds as optimum length to three minutes.

TIKTOC: This video platform has been storming it in 2019 and the default length is 15 seconds with a maximum of 60 seconds.

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.

I’ve helped train more than 2,000 people from 300 organisations over the past four years. For more on workshops near you click here. Or give me a shout by email dan@danslee.co.uk.


WOOOAH: What 5G will mean for all comms people

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‘The future is here,” scifi writer William Gibson once said, “it’s just not evenly distributed.”

It’s a line I thought of while travelling through London this week while looking at an advert for 5G on the back of the Evening Standard.

What is 5G?

In a nutshell, it is the new mobile network that predicts hugely ramped-up connection speeds not just for mobile devices but for all internet connections. It is a UK government target to have the country entirely 5G by 2033. We’re behind on broadband so we’ll catch-up through 5G is the plan.

How fast will 5G be?

To download a full HD film, the timelines are:

  • More than a day at 3G.
  • Seven hours 4G.
  • Four to 40 seconds at 5G.

Of course, what you find  is often slower than what the poster offers. But even so.

This week, I spent a few hours reading-up on 5G and what it may bring. It’s a mistake to think this is just a quick way to watch movies on your phone. It meant reading through a list of new technologies.

The advent of 5G is predicted to lead to massive changes for how organisations operate. There’s a whole new babble of new technologies that 5G can open up. Reading through them is mildly mind blowing.

What’s the upside for comms?

Marketers will love what the platform can do as it will supercharge many of the things they struggle to do. Internal comms will need to understand it so they can explain what’s coming. Comms people will see how they need to adjust their communications.

This isn’t just a quicker way to download blockbusters. This could change a lot of things.

Video gets bigger. Even bigger

As download speeds increase, video becomes an even more important part of the way people consume content. Especially on mobile devices. The kid on the bus heading home can download a feature film in seconds will do so. They’ll also be able to create and post video even faster, too.

A two speed comms strategy short term

If you live in London and key British cities where there’s a patchwork 5G roll-out then you’ll be fine. Outside of those hotspots people will be disadvantaged until they roll out across the whole of the country by 2033. You’ll also need 5G-enabled phones to make the most of it. Short-term while it is tempting to make lots of lovely video content for new 5G areas and their high speeds there may need to be super-aware of audiences.

But that’s just looking at existing comms.

Virtual reality and augmented reality can happen

I’ve blogged before about virtual reality and how comms can make more of it. With the platform to more easily serve it the ability to stream VR content gets easier and it gets more of a proposition. So does augmented reality.

This will lead to innovation… and internal comms

As 5G evolves, what organisations can do with technology will change. Intelligent automation is a phrase you’ll hear more of. What’s this? This is a blend of automation and artificial intelligence. It is software that replaces tasks but it can apply some thinking to those repetitive tasks. Self driving cars is one use. So is voice recognition. But so is a system to serve marketing based on the user’s previous choices.

All of this is going to need communications to explain it to customers, service users and residents as well as the staff who will be deploying it. It will also make for less members of staff. So, it will be useful for comms people to understand exactly what intelligent automation is.

And an end to big rooms with servers in

5G can allow for cloud computing. Cloud computing can do away with traditional networks. So, the organisation can run without rooms full of servers. It’ll take some time for the public sector to feel comfortable with this approach and some parts won’t ever be cool with it. There is a risk the cloud-stored data will be hacked or stolen. But where the technology exists, the carrot of saving money may be enough to shift some organisations. I’m reading that 5G also leads to mobile edge technology. There’s a limit to what you have to know in detail. To a comms person like me it means less servers in the server room.

Prepare for those cloud computing data breach media queries, comms people.

Marketers will love it

Reading through what’s out there I kept reading about ‘closed loop analytics.’  In plain English, this is the ability to see what your customers did before they made that transaction. There’s a handy Hubspot guide here.

Good news, bad news…. comms people will need to read and get up to speed more

In every day use, comms people are plenty busy as they are. Bad news is that they’ll need to keep abreast of the changes. Good news, is that comms people will be key to explaining and exploiting the 5G changes. DCMS are sponsoring a network to encourage innovation and industry which you can join here.

Comms people will need to think through the business case to upgrade their equipment.

And there’s a danger

Working in and around the public sector for the past 14 years I can see there’s a real mile-wide risk. Predictions for what 5G can bring are bold and imaginative. But is there the funding to transform? Not just in communications but across the organisation? I’m not convinced. I’ve seen too many comms people with dated phones to cope with 4G let alone 5G.

Let’s see, shall we?

Picture credit: istock

 

 

 

 


OFCOM 2019 STATS: This is how people in the UK are consuming video

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Ofcom’s ever useful media nations report was published this week with a usual trove of useful data.

There’s been extensive coverage of the wider findings of the TV industry but for me the value is drilling into the data on how video is consumed. This is the gold that can inform how comms people look to communicate.

‘Without data,’ data scientist W. Edwards Deming wrote, ‘you’re just another person with an opinion.’

So, here’s the data.

The Ofcom report focuses on TV, radio and YouTube without looking in detail at wider social media data. There is nothing, for example, on how much time people spend watching video on Facebook, for example.

I’ll blog the radio data separately but in the meantime, here’s plenty to get on with on video.

The most popular YouTube content of 2018? Paul McCartney’s carpool karaoke with 44 million views.

Now, here’s the data…

The average UK adult watches almost five hours of video a day

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Dominated by live TV, the average UK adults is burning through almost five hours of video screen time every day. That’s around 35 hours a week.

The eye-catching figure for public sector communicators is the 34-minutes a day spent watching YouTube.

Conclusion: YouTube remains an important place to put content. There is a healthy appetite for watching content on the channel.

 

There is a split between younger and older demographics on how they watch video

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Older people tend to watch their video content as live TV while younger people gravitate to watching video as YouTube.

For 18-to-34-year-olds, YouTube is the most popular means of watching video with an hour and four minutes watching the platform every day. That’s well ahead of second-placed Netflix on 40 minutes.

Elsewhere, the data points to eight to a majority of 15-year-olds preferring YouTube to TV.

Conclusion: If you are looking to reach an older or younger audience you need to tailor your content accordingly. 

The most popular YouTube channels have been created by digital natives rather than traditional audiences

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YouTube as a place is dominated by people making content that probably wouldn’t have got an audience twenty years ago.

Digital natives is the catch-all expression for vloggers and non-broadcasting industry content. Lean over your child’s shoulder while they are watching a screen and the chances are its the content that they’re watching.  They’ve built an audiences based on generating engaging content and slowly building trust. They may not have the same slick production values as traditional broadcasters but that’s okay.

The learning point for this is that the traditional gatekeepers of video content – TV stations – have become not the only show in town.

News at five per cent is a small part of the pie and it leads to a question as to the effort chasing the traditional opinion formers.

Conclusion: Channels made by digital natives are the most popular channels on YouTube.

Young people are watching YouTubers

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Children are often known as a hard-to-reach audience as they don’t consume traditional media in a way that we are at home with.

The Ofcom data drills down into exactly watching on YouTube with some useful data for three to 11-year-olds and then the older 12 to 17.

YouTubers are significant. These are vloggers who are creating their own content and often speak to the camera directly. It’s rough and ready content built because its the content that best reaches an audience.

Conclusion: Young people are unlikely to be on your organisation’s YouTube channel but you could reach them by going through channels that are popular.

The Media Nations report published by Ofcom can be found here.

Picture: istock

I help deliver video skills workshops in-house and public sessions. Drop me a note at dan@danslee.co.uk or see the public workshops here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


VIDEO CHANGE: What are the optimum video lengths for social media in 2019?

Facebook has gone and done it again and shifted the algorithm.

For video, the optimum video has shifted from just 15-seconds to a bumper three minutes.

The new number is contained in advice to Facebook page admins spotted by eagle-eyed Bradford City Council digital comms whizz Albert Freeman.

Thinking behind three minutes

For a while it’s clear Facebook has had designs on being YouTube.

The optimum time for a YouTube clip has consistently been around the three minute mark for years. Of course, some will be longer and some shorter but around the three minute mark has been optimum.

The thing is, people head to YouTube in the same way people head to the library. They want information or to be entertained. So, to spend three on YouTube to learn how to change a tyre or watch a cartoon is fine.

But I’d bet the real driver for Facebook’s shift to three minutes is driven by money.

The longer you spend on Facebook the more attractive you are to advertisers. That includes ads cropping up part-way through videos that Facebook are keen on and with a short 15-second clip you can’t really do that.

An unscientific check of my own Facebook timeline shows these results:

56 per cent are over three minutes.

9 per cent are between two and three minutes.

22 per cent are between one and two minutes.

6 per cent are between 30 seconds and one minute.

3 per cent are 30 seconds or less.

But grabbing attention remains paramount

The temptation to use the three-minute mark as an excuse to park sloppily-edited content would be a mistake in my view.

Let the camera run for three minutes on a subject?

That would be a huge mistake.

The one thing that I think hasn’t changed is people’s attention span.

How are they consuming media? They’re scrolling through their timeline looking for something interesting.

So, the first three seconds are STILL paramount

A week or two back I met a journalist from a news site that is part of the new breed of journalism. Video, he said, is a key driver.

But for him the first THREE seconds were critical. If it didn’t have anything to grab attention in those seconds he tends to skip over your email.

If your content is interesting and tells a story then you’ve a chance. A film sent back from an embedded journalist on life as a medic in Afghanistan was re-edited to open with the burst of machine gun fire that came in towards the end.

Why?

To grab attention.

Length is one factor but quality is another

It’s tempting just to look at video length and keep the record button pressed for the required amount.

That would, of course, be really silly. The optimum lengths are useful to know what is being encouraged by big tech companies so you can plan your video accordingly.

But you also need interesting and engaging content.

You need an eye-catching start and story telling is a strong asset while you are planning your content or editing.

You also need to think titles and sub-titles as 80 per cent of video gets watched without sound.

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

INSTAGRAM: Maximum length was increased from 15 seconds to 60 seconds with research via Newswhip suggesting a much shorter length. 

TWITTERMaximum length of 240 seconds   is comfortably within Hubspot’s suggested 45 seconds.

SNAPCHATMaximum 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.

I’ve helped train more than 2,000 people from 300 organisations over the past four years. For more on workshops near you click here. Or give me a shout by email dan@danslee.co.uk.

 


THREE LIONS: How the FA have changed how they use video to communicate

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There’s a time limit to this post. I hurry to write it before England play Columbia in the round of 16 at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

My first World Cup watching England was in 1982. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve been let down. Let’s get this straight. I’m a cynic.

How the FA used to communicate with video

There was a bloke called Graham Taylor who was the face of the FA. He was 40 in 1985 but his jowly face and provincial solicitor fashion mode made him look so much older. That he was the face of the FA tells you all you need to know. This is him in action, children, with an even older bloke called Ted Croker.

Fun, no?

How the FA now communicate

Coming into the 2018 World Cup, the FA ditched how they normally communicate the squad they’d be sending. Rather than a man walking into a room and reading a list of names to a roomful of journalists they released it straight to their audience.

They made a video aimed at young people of young people shouting the names of players out. A girl in a kit slides in celebration shouting Danny Rose’s name, kids on a bus Harry Kane. It’s a list of optimism and celebration.

Here’s the interesting thing.

My video skills colleague Steven Davies dislikes it. He’s Welsh but he makes valid criticism of the video as sometimes hard to follow with regional accents, a lack of sub-titles and others.

I get that and I recognise the valid criticisms. But I love it. I love how it makes me feel optimistic.

It’s short. It has the demographic in mind. It’s visual with fast cuts and I love it.

Tournament video

It’s also not a one-off. Through the tournament the FA have been producing a stack of content from match highlights to behind the scenes content and quizzes between players that are all shareable across their YouTube, Facebook and Twitter channels.

But just in case it all goes wrong, I’m posting this blog ahead of the Columbia game.

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


HARD DAYS: Two things The Beatles can teach you about tips for making effective short form video

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My Mum once did something astounding when she was younger. She blew out the Beatles.

She was about 20 and working in Liverpool city centre in the early 60s when a friend asked her to come see this new band that was playing lunchtime concerts at The Cavern club.

Off my Mum went, but half way down the steps she halted hit by a wall of sweaty heat rising from the subterranean club.

“I’m not going in there,” she said, “it’s too hot and smelly.”

And by those slight chances history passes you by.

For the past three years I’ve co-delivered workshops to show comms people how to plan, shoot and edit effective comms video. I come back to The Beatles to give two tips because people are switching off your video far quicker than you’d like them to.

Beatles video tip #1: Make your video like a pop single

In the UK, 71 per cent of the population have a smartphone and research shows we check our phones on average more than 85 times a day. So as we scroll we make snap decisions on what to watch and for how long for.

Your audience will make a decision on whether or not to watch your video within a few seconds. Surprised by this? Pick up your smartphone and go scrolling. You’ll quickly come across a video auto-playing. How much did you watch? A few seconds? And then you scrolled down to the next?

Did you watch with sound? On Facebook 85 per cent of people don’t.

The Beatles came from an era when singles were king. So, they made records to be singles. They needed a hook straight away. They needed you to listen.

When I think of The Beatles’ ‘Taxman’ I think of the count in and the riff. For ‘Twist and Shout’  I hear the guitar riff and John Lennon singing ‘shake it up baby’. Think of any Beatles song and within five seconds you’ve got a hook. You need to think of this when you are making a short form video. Put your best content right at the start. Make people watch. If you save it for the end chances are it’ll just be you.

Beatles video tip #2: John Lennon and the Beatles are bigger than Jesus

When I was a reporter I found hard news easy to write. Put who, what, when, where, why, how in the intro for a hard news story and you have a ‘clothes line’ interview. Dead easy.

I found writing a feature much harder. A feature is a more expansive think piece where you can be more creative.

The best tip I came across for writing a feature was simply this… put the best line in the intro. So the first line of the John Lennon interview should be:

“We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first – rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity.”

So, put your best visual content at the start to get people to stop scrolling and watch.

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

Pic credit: Tyler Merbler / Flickr