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

alex

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

15007462864_08aa213bb4_o

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

 

 

 


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

7157945400_fb2c85fd04_o

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.

opt

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

fbtv

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.

fblive

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

7158275740_57304ea1d1_o

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.