Tagged: trends

Tips and Tricks for Capturing Quality Video with Your Smartphone

Social Content Marketing revolves around two goals:  Getting audience attention, and Keeping it. And the most effective way to do this is through video.

This information isn’t new. With the growing popularity of social media, marketers have found that videos of original content are up to ten times more likely to be embedded or shared than similar static social posts.

And a convenient way to get this content is sitting in the palm of your hand.

Your smartphone is capable of doing more than making calls and surfing for cat videos. You can shoot short-form, highly engaging video content perfect for Social Media simply by following these five guidelines.

Blog1. Turn, turn, turn

Do. Not. Shoot. Vertical. Video.

Websites, computer screens, televisions, movie theaters — even our own eyes — are engineered to be wide screen. Vertical video is squeezed between two black bars, giving the impression that your audience is missing out on the big picture. And it just looks bad.

Shooting horizontally, or in landscape, allows your smartphone to capture more of the picture, including backgrounds often missed in vertical shots.

And shooting a landscape will actually make your picture better too. By turning your phone, the video capture loads more resolution, allowing the video to be utilized on any platform, easily edited or even incorporated into existing higher resolution video.

Switching to landscape mode may also help with stability because it nearly forces you to use two hands.

2. Check Your Audio

Smart phone microphones are built to provide good sound quality for calls, but this does not transfer well to video, particularly when shooting at a distance.

And easy fix is to use an external microphone, which can be as cheap as $10.

Not so easy to fix is distracting background noises like traffic or voices. Even quiet sounds such as air conditioning fans can muddle your sound quality. To avoid these sounds coming through on your final video, film in a quiet, carpeted room if possible, setting the external microphone as close to the action as possible.

On outdoor, live-action or loud demonstration shoots, consider utilizing post-production music additions via a smartphone app.

3. Go Slow and Steady

Shaky-Cam may have made 90s horror films unique and exciting, but that camera trick doesn’t belong anywhere near your social media.

The most effective method of ensuring steady video is to place your phone on a tripod. These range from anywhere between $8 and $50 and are specially made for smartphones.

For shots that require mobility, invest in a gimbal. These handheld stabilizers hold your phone on an axis, allowing it to remain stable while providing a more fluid moving shot.

Gimbals can run anywhere from 50 to 400 dollars, so if you’re not ready to invest just yet, try this: start filming from a sitting or kneeling position, supporting your elbows on your knees to stabilize your hands.

If you need to pan, first stabilize your elbows on a solid surface such as a chair or table. Then pivot slowly, keeping you your elbows stationary. And although most mobile phones have a zoom function, the quality is better when the camera is moved closer rather than zooming in.

4. Switch on the lights

If you have ever had your picture taken with a smartphone’s flash, you know all too well that the photo is not likely to be flattering. But capturing video in low or poor light is not an option with a smartphone. They just simply are not advanced enough to capture video without adequate light. That’s why images and videos shot in low light look so grainy.

Consider investing in a lighting kit that includes a soft box. A soft box works by producing an even and soft light that reduces shadow without over lighting a subject. These start at $75, and an inexpensive starter kit with three lights can cost about $150.

For a more portable light source, an external LED flash and video light may be the answer. These wireless lights usually charge through a USB port and are easy to set up with any smartphone or tablet. These usually start at about $30.

5. Adapttangerine002

As useful as you smartphone may be, it does have limitations. But these can be overcome with add-ons that amplify your phone’s abilities.

For instance, if your content tends to center around live events such as races, sporting events or nature videos, consider investing in a lens adaptor. The adaptors can be used as external zoom lenses, fish-eye, wide angle, macro, filters…the list goes on.

These lenses run from anywhere between $50 and $500, but are worth it if you are looking for particular shots time and time again.

An external lens filter kit can give you special effects without utilizing an app or expensive hardwear. These small adaptors can split images into twos and threes, take closer video and add color easily, all for about $40.

Instagram for the Small Business

instagram-logoBusinesses are flocking to Instagram, but you may be wondering how exactly it can help your business.  We’ve got some more tips on how to use your images and videos to super charge your company’s presence on Instagram.

First, a major misconception about Instagram is that you have to sell something that is visually appealing.  However, selling unsexy products or being a service provider is NOT a reason to avoid Instagram.  Instead, it should be a reason for you to be creative.  The goal is to find valuable, compelling, or entertaining images to share with your audience.  If you are unable to show products, what should you put on Instagram?  The answer is “Your Culture!”

Photos of employees and their customized work areas always rank well on Instagram.  You can also post pictures of your company’s celebrations.  Things like holiday celebrations and company anniversaries show the human side of your business.  It also emphasizes your focus on employees.  If your company participates in any volunteer programs, you can share your involvement in the community with your followers.  By showing this side of your company, you make your business more attractive and instill trust in potential customers.

Now, some of you are thinking – we are a serious business.  We do not mean to distract from the serious work you do, but do not be afraid to use humor.  Everyone knows that running a business requires hard work, dedication, and sweat.  However, it should never be all work and no play.  Instagram is actually the perfect place to display the fun times in the shop or when you are out and about with coworkers.

Sharing your fun images with followers speaks volumes about you and your business.  It suggests that you must be a happy and successful business.  All work and no play will make your brand seem dull.  Integrate images that show your human side to create stronger connections with your followers.

Have you considered how Instagram can work with Facebook to leverage photo contests?  Your business can host a photo contest on Instagram using hashtags to organize submissions and an RSS feed to follow along as new photos are added.

Instagram has tips on hosting a photo campaign as well as other business ideas in their help section.  Go to “help – dot – Instagram – dot – com.  Then choose “Instagram Basics” and then “Instagram for Businesses.”

You may be aware that Facebook purchased Instagram in early 2012.  Since then, Instagram has doubled its user base.  Even more impressive is that the app now has more smartphone users than Twitter!  You can leverage that to help your business.  Together Instagram and Facebook offer some unique promotional opportunities, so take advantage of that.

gty_instagram_video_nt_130624_wgTo reach a wider audience, create an Instagram video and share it on your Facebook page.  Then boost the video into paid media that hits the Facebook news feed.  It’s what you would do to boost any text or photo post on Facebook.  This enables you to reach Facebook’s 818 million monthly active mobile users.  Basically, you are profiting from Instagram without having to advertise on Instagram.  It’s all about capturing and sharing the world’s moments—and paying to distribute them on the world’s largest social network.

Also, you should use industry-related hashtags.  If you are at an event or location that is designated by a hashtag – something like #autorama – be sure to add it to your photos so event coordinators and other attendees can find them.

You can track your hashtags with several services.  One fee-based service – Nitrogram – specifically tracks Instagram hashtags and provides key metrics on hashtags including contributors, content, engagement and context.

Widen your exposure by following related brands on Instagram.  Statigram is a free tool for finding brands and hashtags that relate to your brand.  Simply enter the brand name or hashtag into the search box and click Search.  As an example, we found 50 hashtags for “Autorama.” You can use Statigram to search for businesses and industry-related keywords.  Use this free tool to find, follow and research your competitors on Instagram.  Spend five minutes on the site and you’ll find at least one idea to help spread the word about your business.

Instagram can work wonders for your brand if you know how to use it, so take our advice and start posting today.

The Reach Problem on Facebook

facebook news feedHave you noticed that your Facebook reach has declined over the past few months? Don’t worry. It’s happening to everybody. Every Page on Facebook wants everything they post shown to everyone. But people only read a limited amount of News Feed per day. There simply isn’t room for everything, and the competition for feed space is intensifying.

When it comes down to it, Facebook is optimizing its newsfeed for humans, not businesses.

The amount of time users spend on the site has stayed the same, but the number of liked pages and other connections has increased.  This means that Facebook has to filter it’s newsfeed to keep it’s users seeing the content that they want to see and not be bogged down by stuff they don’t.  There are reportedly 100,000 different variables taken into account when determining newsfeed content. To simplify things, it generally boils down to how engaged your fans are with your content. If your fans have liked your content in the past or respond favorably to your content, you are more likely to show up in their feed.

 But what does this mean for the success of your content?

facebook-edgerankWell because of the nature of the highly individualized algorithm, different people see different things in their feed, even if they like the same pages.  It takes into account what you seem to like and tries to give that to you.  This means that you should be creating content for your customers, not the network.  The majority of your content should provide value to the customer in some way, be it informative blog posts or how to videos with your products.

Your customer profile is probably pretty diverse, so tailor your content to reach different parts of that group.  In order to please as many types of your fans as possible, you should be experimenting with different types of content as well as different times of day. Figure out what your audience wants from you and give it to them. Simple as that. Engage with your fans and always be working to improve your content.  Don’t be afraid to promote posts that are tracking well with your customers in order to gain a larger reach (even if it’s paid and not organic).

The whole point of social media is to provide value to your fan base, so stop worrying so much about how many people see your posts. Focus instead on the quality of your content and how well it does with your existing fans.  If your content is good and people are engaged with it, it shouldn’t have a problem making it into the newsfeed. Good luck and happy posting.

Diversify Your Content

FinalUsing social dashboard tools like Sprout Social and Hootsuite has helped save time for many marketers in today’s world of social media.  They allow you to preprogram content from one location to multiple channels at once, but this has spawned a particularly bad habit, posting the same material across all channels.  Users have developed each social network to have a different personality, which means that one size fits all content simply does not work. Learning the difference between reusing and repurposing content can be the real game changer in your social media strategy. In order to be successful with your fans, you need to get to know your audience and what they are looking for from you on different social media channels.  If you have the same content across multiple channels, your fans will pick their favorite and ignore the rest. If this seems daunting, we have some quick tips to get you going in the right direction.

  1. Learn the personalities of each channel and the expectation of your fans for each. Facebook is a great medium for fans to ask questions and see multimedia posts from you like videos and picture.  Twitter is better suited for sharing news about your company or products.  Instagram is almost purely visual, so fans expect to be blown away by great images.
  2. Do audience research. Use the metrics tools that your dashboards have. Learn where you audience is listening to you and tailor your content to suit them. Listen to what your fans are saying and keep track of the data.
  3. Learn to re-purpose.  Telling your story on different channels is different that regurgitating the same information over and over again across all your networks. Find different angles on the same stories and use that to your advantage.  Delegate those angles to different social networks and you will find that your audience will enjoy seeing multiple sides.

Giving fans channels specific content requires a paradigm shift, but once the change is made, the boost in engagement will be well worth it. Look at your channels and content through the eyes of your fans and make sure you are giving something that is worthwhile. Once you do, your content will never be the same. Good luck!

The “Right Time” to Publish Content

It’s odd to start an article with the phrase “the right time to…”, because there really is no right and wrong in social media.  There is a large grey area around what works and what doesn’t because there is no predicting viral posts.

There is, however, a way to figure out what times are right for YOU.

A great place to start with any social measurement is checking your network analytics.  Facebook has Insights to help you see how your posts do and when they do best.

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 2.40.46 PM

Check here weekly to monitor how your posts have been doing and adjust your schedule as necessary to maximize your reach. Pay close attention to what kind of posts get the most engagement and try to post those during your peak user times.

Other social networking sites don’t have built in tools like Facebook to view your metrics, however, there are services that range from free to expensive that will give you everything you need to know about your social accounts.

Regardless of how you choose to monitor your metrics, you should make sure it is being done.  Experimenting with your post times and days is the only way to figure out what works and what doesn’t.  Try making a post on the weekend and making a similar post during the week.  Change up the times of day that you post. Trial and error will determine what your audience will see more of, so don’t be afraid to try new things to get engagement.  If a post doesn’t do as well as you thought, don’t be discouraged. Instead take it as a learning experience about what not to do in the future.

Marketing business sales

After a few months of observing your own trends with your content, you should be able to pick up a discernible pattern.

Follow your own data and tailor your posting schedule to the trends.  Don’t take someone’s word about the best times to post because they can only speak to their content, not yours.  So get out there and put your pages under the microscope.  Good luck!

Why Video Drives Sales

20130612_142504We know that content is king on the web, but what type of content drives the most engagement out of your audience. Simply put, video is on the top of the food chain. Youtube is the largest and most popular video site out there, and is one of the top search engines used.  What it comes down to, is if you are trying to sell products or services, adding video to your online strategy is a must.

The average tweet has a shelf life of 3 minutes. Facebook posts have 3 hours.  The average video lifespan is 4 years.

That is astounding. That makes video a greater long term investment than other traditional social media marketing. Not to mention, Google gives higher rankings to videos over text format because it gives more information in a shorter amount of time.  If that isn’t reason enough to get into making video, we have a few more surprising statistics that should convince you.

The average web user spends 88% more time on a website with video than on one without.

Most users will spend at least 2 minutes watching a video that educates them on a a product they plan on purchasing.Marketing business sales

This means that the most effective video is 2 minutes or under, so keep that in mind when planning video projects. 75% of executives or people with purchasing power watch work related videos on websites once a week.  Videos build trust, relationships, and credibility in an easy to watch, share and educational format.  Video attracts 2-3 times more monthly visitors than text sites and increases engagement about as much. Furthermore, almost half of all viewers say they are more likely to seek out information on a product or service after watching an online video about it.

Simply put, video not only drives more traffic to your site but it also sells more products and services.

Making the dive into video can be scary, but it’s well worth the investment if you do it correctly.  Stay tuned for more from us on how to make video and how to market yourselves online.  Thanks for watching.

Social Trends for 2014

It’s clear that social media is here to stay, but many businesses are still slow to adopt a strategy on how to best utilize it for marketing.social-media-trends-for-2011  New social networking platforms continue to appear and the existing ones, like Facebook and Twitter, continue to evolve to keep up with the changing market.  We have analyzed the current trends in social media and have made some predictions for next year so that you can be ahead of the curve.

1. Investment in Social Media is a Necessity

It’s already been clear that your business should have a presence on social media, but in the coming year it’s absolutely necessary.  Integrating social media into your marketing plan is key for generating leads, referrals and brand recognition which in turn leads to higher revenue. Brand awareness, word-of-mouth advertising, improved search rankings, and direct customer interaction are just a few of the key benefits from having engaging social media pages.

google-plus-3602. Google+ is on the Rise

Google+ already has the second highest number of monthly users behind Facebook, and that user base continues to rise.  It’s proving itself to be more than just another social network, with the integration of higher SEO rankings for Google+ pages, improved social signals and a more personalized search experience for users. Also, with the new Google Authorship, You can link content you publish on a specific domain to your Google+ profile. Businesses that are having trouble keeping up with multiple social networks at once could turn to Google+ as their main outlet because of all the benefits associated with content search optimization.

3. Image is Everything

We cannot emphasize this enough, but image centric content is key in generating engagement on social media platforms.  Many studies show that users are much more likely to click on posts with images or videos than just text-based content.  Coupling important information with eye-catching images or graphics is a great way to stand out in the news feed, so do it.

4. The Rise of Micro-Videoinstagram-vine

Vine and Instagram have revolutionized real-time video sharing in social media. With a max of 15 seconds for Instagram and 6 seconds for Vine, users can create short pieces on their smartphones to share instantly with their fans. We’ve already talked about the many benefits of using these services for small business marketing, so it’s only fair that more and more companies will be jumping on the video bandwagon.

5. LinkedIn Will Become a Major Player

LinkedIn has always been the #1 social networking site for business professionals, boasting nearly 240 million users, but now with the launch of its Influencers program, it will become a source for content creation and curation.  This program allows for selected “thought leaders” to share original content directly with LinkedIn users. Where LinkedIn was already a great source of information, now it will provide insight from some of the best minds in business.

Looking ahead to the future is not easy, but if you keep these trends in mind going forward with your social media plan, you should be ahead of the curve.