search-social-strategy.jpg

blog

The SEO Hack You Need To Optimize For, But Aren't
web servers.jpg

Everyone says they optimize title tags, meta tags, they build links, grow brand queries, but rarely do people focus on their site performance. Of course you can optimize your site speed by modifying the site's source code but hosting deeply impacts your rankings also. 

 

Google now has a mobile-first index. Because they're showing mobile results in a different index, they really look at site speed. It doesn't matter if someone has a LTE phone or 4G or 5G or whatever the next "G" is: the latest and greatest. When speed is negatively impacted on your site, visitors bounce away. This is especially true on mobile devices when a site visitor is in an area that has poor reception and it takes forever to load your site. 

 

With my gallucci.net site being hosted on SquareSpace, and with the large amount of images I have on the homepage of the site, I am negatively impacted by this issue. I don't have access to the server-level control I need to optimize the site at the host level which makes me question whether or not I should move my site to another platform. That won't happen anytime soon as I am working on building up content on the site and the homepage of this site is the only page with a serious performance issue. I'm also a huge fan of the platform and will most likely just live with the knowledge that it's a cost of having all the other benefits I enjoy by being on the platform. 

 

Your site needs to load fast in every situation and you can help facilitate this by implementing solutions like using a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN is a geographically distributed group of servers which work together to provide fast delivery of Internet content. A CDN allows for the quick transfer of assets needed for loading Internet content including HTML pages, javascript files, stylesheets, images, and videos. Today the majority of web traffic is served through CDNs, including traffic from major sites like Facebook, Netflix, and Amazon.

 

You use a CDN so if someone's looking at your site from India, they're seeing the content in India. If someone's browsing your site from the US, they're seeing your content from a US server. So, not only do you need to make sure that the machine serving up your website, the hosting server is fast, but you also need to make sure that you're using a Content Delivery Network so the network is serving up content fast.

 

Google PageSpeed Insights

There are plenty of tools you can use to measure your site's performance. The first obvious one is the Google Page Speed Insights tool. PageSpeed Insights reports on the real-world performance of a page for mobile and desktop devices and provides suggestions on how that page may be improved.

 

PageSpeed Insights incorporates data from the Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX) to display real-world performance data about a page. PSI reports two metrics: First Contentful Paint (FCP) and DOMContentLoaded (DCL). The median value for each metric (FCP or DCL) is compared to all the pages monitored by the CrUX report. 

 

The Page Load Distribution section of the PageSpeed Insights report presents the distribution of this page’s FCP and DCL metrics in the CrUX dataset.

The PageSpeed Insights tool also evaluates how well a page follows common performance best practices and computes a score from 0-100 that estimates its performance headroom. This optimization score estimates the performance headroom of a page. A page with slow speed might have high optimization score because it has a low ratio of render-blocking resources relative to the total resources used by the page. On the other hand, a fast page might have a low optimization score because it has a high number of render-blocking resources relative to its total resources.

 

The Page Stats section of the PageSpeed Insights report describes the round trips required to load the page, the total bytes used by the page, and how it compares to the median number of round trips and bytes used in the dataset. It can indicate if the page might be faster by modifying the appearance and functionality of the page. There is an additional a list of best practices that might be applied to a page.

 

Since the performance of a network connection is different in every situation, the tool addresses aspects of page performance which will improve the page, not matter if you are accessing it on a wired network connection or via a cell connection in a rural area. The server configuration, the HTML structure of a page, and its use of external resources such as images, JavaScript, and CSS would be areas this tool will make optimization recommendations for. Implementing the suggestions provided but he Google Page Speed tool will improve the relative performance of the page but the real-world performance of the page will still dependend upon a user’s network connection.

 

GTMetrix

GTmetrix is one of the tools I have found myself using more and more to get detailed reports about client site performance. It is a free tool that analyzes your page's speed performance using Google Page Speed and YSlow.

 OUCH.

OUCH.

GTmetrix will give you a score on your site that you can share with your website's developers. GTmetrix will show you all the things that are slowing down your website. It will tell you what the key things are that you need to remove from your site. One of the first things you will surely find on your website is that you're probably evaluating your website on a WiFi network. That's understandable, but you should be also be looking at what people see when they are connected at 3G, for example. Not everyone has a good connection on the go all the time. You will probably found that on your website it might take 15-20 seconds, maybe even longer than that, to load on 3G, which is way too slow.

 

Another common discovery I come across when I run GTmetrix on unsuspecting client sites is that a well meaning SEO specialist might have installed and configured Google Tag Manager on the client site but, because they added too many tags to it, caused a huge slow down on the client's site. So you can start by doing some quantitative analysis, looking at Google Page Speed tool, looking at GTmetrix, and other tools out there to get the ball rolling on this.

 

Pingdom

 

Pingdom is based out of Sweden that provides uptime monitoring and web performance management services. They are most well known for is their free website speed test tool. It is one of the most popular performance testing tools on the web. It's a really quick and easy tool. It tells you how long it takes your site to load from many different locations around the world. It's easy and there's a free 14 day trial.

pingdom.jpg

When you run your website through Pingdom it generates a performance grade, a total load time, the total page size, and the number of requests you have on your website. In my example, I am using my personal website, which is hosted on SquareSpace. As you can see I ran my first test and I scored a 75/100 on Pingdom and the total load time is 2.77 seconds. According to Pingdom my website loads faster than 56% of tested sites and it also let me know the total size of the combined assets and the number of requests from the homepage. Let's just say I have LOTS of areas to improve here... but as I mentioned previously, it's not possible to affect many of these necessary changes on SquareSpace. 

 

Servers are something that you shouldn't take for granted. A lot of people do. Here's one last thing to think about, you shouldn't just optimize your server speed and your website speed purely for SEO because while it does help with rankings you also have to consider whether it also helps with conversions. It's two fold. One, higher ranking equals more traffic and two, faster load times equals more conversions. So you can't take that for granted. All the while, don't over optimize for the bots to the detriment of user experience. 

5 Great Takeaways From Several Recent Social Media Studies
dallas search engine optimization 1 CFineLine.jpg

I understand how people might miss the different social media studies that come out every now and again, because it can be so hard to keep up with all of the changes in social media. Social media studies have given me great ideas to improve my own digital marketing strategies, helped me to understand psychology behind social media, and made me a better marketer. I think it can help you as well, so in this article we'll look at several social media studies that will indeed make you a smarter marketer.

 

The first study reveals that Facebook is more than two times as popular as the next most popular social network.

Did you know that 79% of US adults are on Facebook? That's a huge percentage. The Pew Research Center found that Facebook is still the most popular social media platform, and by a huge margin. The percentage of US adults on Facebook is more than twice the percentage of adults on Instagram. They're at 32%. Pinterest is 31%, LinkedIn 29%, and Twitter is at 24%. So it's also interesting to note that the percentage of adults on Instagram has risen significantly over the last few years as you'd expect. It went from 13% to 32%. And Pinterest has also seen a similar curve with 31% of US adults now using the platform. And that's just 1% less than Instagram. Many would not expect Instagram and Pinterest to be so close. 

 

I tend to be in the bubble of business, so perhaps I don't have a clear picture of what's happening on Pinterest. The study also talked about user engagement, and it turns out Facebook users are much more engaged than other social media platform users. That's a shock to me personally, but it's definitely still important to know. So 76% of Facebook users use it daily. 55% visit several times a day, and only 22% visit it once per day. This is quite a substantial increase from the 70% reported in 2015. Instagram coming in second has 51% of its users using it daily.

 

That is a lot of use. And I could see that even though I don't fall into any of these categories, having deleted my personal Facebook account several years ago. 

 

That's the biggest takeaway from the survey - becoming a smarter marketer, in three words: don't discount Facebook. Facebook is one of the best platforms for marketers to reach their audience if you're willing to pay for that access. Facebook's news feed algorithm seems to be prioritizing videos at the moment, so I'd recommend experimenting with videos, which I've talked about for a few years when I speak to folks. Facebook isn't friendly to organic content coming from businesses so, if you have a budget, Facebook ads is a popular option among marketers too, and I've talked about that as well at past speaking engagements

 

Personally I don't like Facebook for my own reasons, and I don't have a personal Facebook account, but don't discount Facebook as a professional marketing platform for your clients. I certainly don't.

 

The second study I read recently finds that over one-third of Instagram users are on Instagram for surveillance.

Yes, I just used the word surveillance.

 

So let's dive into that one a little bit more. A research team at the University of Alabama performed a study on the motivation for using Instagram, and the results showed that knowledge gathering was the first reason that people use Instagram, closely followed by documentation, and this is... when I say it out loud it sounds creepy, but after analyzing the results, the research team narrowed down the 20 reasons into four main motivators for using Instagram.

 

Number one was surveillance. People use Instagram to keep up with or gain knowledge about what others such as their friends, family, or strangers are doing. Number two was documentation. Many use Instagram to document moments of their lives. Number three was coolness and popularity. People use Instagram to appear cool and/or to gain popularity. And then number four is creativity. People use Instagram to portray their skills by posting creative posts.

 

It makes sense when it's presented as a list like that. I feel like most marketers could've thought about this on their own, but seeing it in a proper study is neat to see. Based on these findings when someone chooses to use Instagram, 36% of the why they use Instagram could be because they wanna know what others, you or your brand, are doing, which is great news. 10% is because they want to document moments of their lives. 8% because they wanna be cool and popular, which many people want to do, and 6% because they wanna show off their creativity. The remaining 40% was not accounted for by the study. And I'm sure this varies a lot, but this is just one way to look at how people are using Instagram.

 

When we're thinking about becoming smarter marketers because of this and other studies, it's understanding the psychology and the habits behind your users that drives learning. When you're posting content and you want your users to share that content with their friends and family, just think about why they're on the platform in the first place. It's definitely not to  share a product update - it's more to share something about themselves, or to do some research, or to look cool. That's a really good takeaway for marketers for understanding the psychology of the average Instagram user.

 

For example, on Instagram, maybe you can fulfill your followers desire to know more about you and your brand by revealing more about your customers. User generated content can work really well here - there's a lot that you can do with this knowledge.

 

The third study reveals that 62% of U.S. adults get news on social media.

News - this should not be suprising.

 

Social has changed the way we consume news a lot instead of watching TV or listening to the radio, or even reading newspapers. I don't know the last time I held a newspaper. People are just using social media instead. This is from another Pew Research Center study, where on top of the 62% of US adults that get news on social media, they found that 18% do so often regularly. What's interesting here is that back in 2012 that 62% number was only 49%.

 

That is a big increase. And the newspapers didn't see it going until it was too late. The irony of that whole situation still makes me laugh. I feel a little bad about the status and inevitable fate of the newspaper industry because I'm sure there's a lot of people who still read newspapers, so no offense to anybody who enjoys a good newspaper these days. But you have to wonder what those editors and reporters were doing when they completely missed the whole internet thing... anywho...

 

But what I'm most interested in here is looking at the breakdown for each social media platform. So the researchers found that 44% of the population uses Facebook to get their news. Interestingly, YouTube is the next platform with 10% of the population getting their news from there.

 

While I watch YouTube for hours a day, I wouldn't have thought of YouTube in this case. I assumed I was not the average viewer since I work from home and have much more freedom about my work situation that most people who have 9-5 jobs outside of the home. So for me, that's kind of a neat one.

 

The researchers also discovered that Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube users tend to chance upon news when they're doing other things online. They're just scrolling and they find news. But on the other hand, users on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Reddit are slightly more likely to be actively seeking news online. Here's the main takeaway for marketers for this one. In your social media strategies, you can take advantage of this trend by sharing news relevant to your audience on your own social media profiles. Sharing great relevant content can be a wonderful way to establish your brand's authority in the field. When it's relevant for my clients, we see great engagement when we share the latest and most interesting social media news with our followers.

 

The fourth marketing study discovered that social media is proven to increase consumer loyalty, brand perception, and word of mouth.

Yes, those are all great things to have lots more of.

 

For this study, researchers investigated how social media interactions with brands influence all of these things. And overall, they found that consumers who engage with their favorite brands on social media have stronger relationships with those brands than those who don't. So they are more likely to have a better evaluation of the brand, stay loyal to the brand. And then of course, they will recommend the brands to others.

 

Isn't that why we all do what we do (assuming you are a marketer reading this)? My favorite part of this study was that they discovered that this effect is influenced by how humanized the consumer feels about the brand. If they feel connected to a brand like they do with another person, the relationship is stronger than when they view the brand simply as an object.

 

That's just more reinforcement that we shouldn't all be robots on social media and obviously, that's an easy takeaway for this one, but really talking about humanizing the brand and putting a face to the social media and sharing user generated content and connecting with the audience. It's all about being social on social. It isn't enough to be on social media just to promote your own content. Your followers want to be heard and they don't wanna hear just about you. So engage with your audience and make them feel connected to you. With all my social media client accounts, I try to reply to every single tweet about my client-brands and every single comment on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

 

The last study I want to bring to your attention is all about how gamification increases social media engagement.

Two researchers in the US studied over 200 Facebook posts by Walmart to determine how gamification can drive more social media interactions. According to this study, gamification is one of the best ways to engage your audience and drive likes, shares, and comments on Facebook. And on the flip side, posts without gamification elements had low levels of engagement.

 

Thinking about gamification Is interesting, especially to those who actually work on the product side of things, because gamification touches on how everything can overlap a social media marketing. Tons of apps are working on gamification right now. So, why not marketers? 

 

By the end of this study, the researchers found that there were three successful gamification methods. They were challenge, curiosity, and fantasy. Let's briefly cover each of those. 

 

For challenge, those posts solicited a challenge and received a high level engagement if the challenge required little efforts. That's very key. So for example, there's a simple challenge to spot the number of differences in two pictures that Walmart posted to their Facebook page and it generated over 9,000 likes and nearly 3,000 comments. And for comparison, when they posted another challenge photo and it required a really great amount of effort, so they were asking fans to post a photo, it had really little engagement and was just generally less well received by fans.

 

Just think about how simple that idea is and how well it worked.

 

The second gamification method is curiosity, meaning posts that spark and fulfill curiosity for fans, and these worked really well for Walmart as well. There's one little caveat, though, it only worked if there wasn't a link in the post, which I thought was interesting. The researchers hypothesized that links redirect fans away from the Facebook page. Here's an example of a top curiosity post. The post says, "Boring biscuits? No way! Try this sweet potato biscuit recipe" and it included a photo of a recipe instead of a link. It was shared more than 3500 times. And because fans could view the recipe and engage with the post immediately without having to leave Facebook or the Facebook app, they were obviously more likely to do so.

 

The last type of gamification is fantasy. Those were posts that provided followers an opportunity to fantasize. So, Walmart might ask their fans, "What would you do with a $7,500 Walmart shopping spree?" The post generated more than 3600 likes, 700 comments, and 150 shares. These types of posts allow fans to express themselves creatively, share a personal narrative, and validate their emotional experiences. The key takeaway here is that understanding the psychology of human interaction will help you better understand why your followers engage with you. Try experimenting with gamification techniques in your own social media posts even beyond Facebook.

 

Give your followers a challenge, spark curiosity, and create opportunities to fantasize.

 

So - what do you think of these takeaways? Do you have any high-level strategies or tactics you've learned in the past year you can share with me? Leave a comment and let me know! 

Actionable Social Media Video Tips You Can Try Today
dallas search engine marketing

Let's chat about some social media video tips that you can use to help increase your reach and engagement. Break out your notepad because this post is packed with actionable tips that you can experiment with immediately. Some are short, others are more involved, but they're all useful.

As video content becomes more and more widely used, it's becoming clear that any company not using video is missing out on a really big opportunity to bring their brand to life. Video makes your brand more human, engaging, and helps to create trust because people get to meet the people that help to make your company thrive.

 

Today, social media is basically synonymous video. Facebook alone boasts 8 billion daily video views. Almost all mainstream social media channels have already begun to prioritize video, whether it's in their algorithm or in the various features that are now offered for brands.

 

So, what's the next big thing for brands on social media? Attention spans are shortening, social feeds are crowded, and ad costs are increasing.

 

The answer? Video, of course. It must be an integral part of all of your social media and marketing channels. And there are so much data out there to back up why this is important. For example, 64% of consumers say that watching a marketing video on Facebook has influenced a purchasing decision and 55% of people watch at least one video online per day? Your competition isn't waiting for you to catch up, so let's get into some actionable tips on how you can create some really great videos for Facebook and Instagram.

 

These are quick tips, but you're welcome to contact me if you need more detail on executing any of these tips. They are broken into sections to make it easier to follow along, but kicking things off right away you have to have some sort of game plan going in. Are you going to be making product videos, explainer videos, fun videos, team videos? Once you have a basic game plan for the types of videos you'd like to make, it's critical that you either have a script or a storyboard going in.

 

VIDEO STRATEGY TIPS

My experience has taught me that the storyboarding tip is huge. For the clients I work with and the videos that I make, I always have a general outline and script that'll help keep your video tight and increase watch time. But yeah, so let's quickly talk goals as well. You gotta have goals going in. For me, for example, I create two types of videos: Product explainer videos that help people visualize and use a product with the goal being activation and retention. I also create fun, engaging videos where the sole purpose of those is to drive views and engagement. So this gives me a lot of room to experiment.

 

Along with goals, I found that keeping this one simple word in mind when creating videos has helped me find continual success and that word is "infotainment." My clients have certainly heard me use this one before, but infotainment is a mix of informational, educational and entertaining content. You can't go wrong with any one of those. So I think it's easier to create good educational content, but both work really well on social.

 

Last tip for video goals is to be realistic with what you'd like to accomplish. Sure, we'd all love to go viral and have a million views on our videos, but just because you're not going viral doesn't mean your videos aren't successful. The 4,000 people who watch your two-minute educational video might be much more valuable than the 100,000 people that watch your 15-second viral video. So it's all about perspective here.

 

Now when it comes to what sorts of videos you can and should be creating, my tip is to, first, make it relevant to your brand. You can lay the ground work for creating videos that are going to resonate deeply with your audience based on their needs and the solution that your product offers, needs and solutions being the keywords here. So remember this doesn't mean just talking about your product or service, a lot of the times their need is to learn or to be entertained. It is social media after all. Social is social. 

 

Next, and this one is great if you're fresh out of ideas for video, and that's to be topical. Now I'm not necessarily saying you should make a video to celebrate every holiday or video around whatever cultural phenomenon is happening at the time, but there's something to be said for having your finger on the pulse of what's going on in your industry specifically, and even around the world.

 

I've seen a lot of brands have a ton of success by just making a quick explainer video about a recent news story or a story that's happening specifically in their industry. I think a big tip from all of this is to not overthink video too much as well. You can't always know what's going to work well even after taking a multitude of aspects in a consideration, including your research. So take a risk, branch out creatively, make something that's out there. I spend so much time thinking about what video I should make that I never end up actually making the video and that's one of the things that I talk about with clients all the time. 

 

Next tip? Be sure to experiment. I'd be embarrassed to tell you how many bad videos that I've personally made. So many embarrassing videos that I had to hire the Bleach Bit Email Destruction SWAT Team to come and erase them from my hard drive so they wouldn't even survive a congressional investigation. Well, maybe they weren't that bad, but they sure were terrible enough that I never even considered putting them on social. But, if it wasn't for constant experimentation and trying new topics and themes and formats, I certainly wouldn't be where I are with video today.

 

FACEBOOK VIDEO TIPS

So now that we've talked video strategy and how you should be approaching video, it's time to get into some specifics. Let's talk Facebook video first. Users who log into Facebook are expecting lighthearted, entertaining content. Think about your Facebook experience. Do you go on there to watch product videos that are serious or to connect with friends and family, and maybe watch a few funny brand videos instead? So you have to adapt to the platform that you're posting videos on.

 

Can we agree that no-one logs onto Facebook looking for product videos?

 

Also, it's critically important to know that 92% of people who use Facebook are using it via their mobile device. So this means two things: One, keep your video short and fun. Users are probably on their lunch break or commuting on the train. They don't have time to necessarily watch a five-minute in-depth video. And then number two, create videos in either square or vertical format. These are the optimal formats for social media because of how much real estate they take up in the feed.

 

INSTAGRAM VIDEO TIPS

Over on Instagram, a lot of the same rules apply, but Instagram is mostly about recreation and inspiration. The brands that are successful are cultivating a fun feel on their profile. Instagram is also a great place to build excitement and connect with people on a one-on-one basis through the comments or direct messages.

Instagram videos autoplay silently by default. So some general best practice rules apply. Keep your video short. There's also a 60-second time limit so they have to be short. 

 

Make sure the visual is still effective without any audio. If big brand style, commercial looking, high-production videos aren't aren't within your budget, don't worry. You can still creating an awesome Instagram presence with video. I have shot ALL my video for the last two and 1'2 years on an iPhone (some clients are just now finding this out) and no-one was ever the wiser!

 

Speaking of creating a great Instagram presence, Instagram stories can help take your content to the next level. So take advantage of the Instagram stories feature if you'd rather make scrappy spur-of-the-moment content. Instagram stories, temporary videos, and photos are content pieces that build upon one another to tell a story. The benefit of posting on Instagram stories is that whoever follows you on this channel will have the opportunity to watch your video right from within their main feed. The placement of the stories feature is actually really favorable for businesses. Stories is the best organic placements in social media right now.

 

When you take a video or picture for Instagram stories, you should be using the same filter across all of your stories so that you can have a consistent brand identity that your followers can expect to see throughout the images and videos you produce. The same goes for your feed, your Instagram feed, whether you're posting videos or not, you should have a consistent look and feel. Filters, like I just said, help you to do this as well as consistent colors or a consistent theme. I've talked about this before when I teach and speak at events, people follow you because they come to expect a certain type of content.

 

Personally, I can't help but follow photography feeds that are full of consistently strikingly beautiful photos. One thing I love about Instagram is that it gives creators so many options to reach their audience. In addition to the feed and Instagram stories, there's also Instagram life, which is another way to do video. So whether you're providing viewers with a quick tip or showing off a new product update, it's best to use these sparingly. You don't wanna become known for overloading your followers with content that is spontaneous, but not professionally produced, but they can be great in off-the-cuff moments that invite inspiration and engagement.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA VIDEO GEAR

We've covered strategy and we've covered specific platforms, but how about the technical aspects of video? Just about the most popular post on my blog is a yearly update on what I'm using to create content for my clients named The Social Media Photographer's ShotKit. You are welcome to head over there to read the nerdy details on all the gear I'm currently using, but there are three main components you need to know before I can let you go in good conscious. 

 

The first one is lighting. Filming with the overhead lights from your office tend to create nasty shadows on your face or on the room. Sunlight or natural light is great, but often sunlight changes throughout the day and it can be tough to maintain a consistent look (if that's necessary). I've definitely experienced that before. How do you deal with this? Turn off the overhead lights in your office, block out as much of the outside light as you can and bring in your own lighting, believe it or not. And a lot of people first think, "Well, it's probably expensive to get a bunch of fancy lights." But all you need is three, three well-placed lights: Right, left, center. And you can put it all together for just about $100 with some cheap clamp lights from Home Depot and some gauze to disperse the light. 

 

Don't be embarrassed to get scrappy with lighting. The best photographers know how and do it all the time.

 

Sound is the second technical quality for great videos. Shooting in an empty room can create an echo and reverb. This is not only distracting, but it sounds like you're filming in the bathroom - not a good visual from the mind's eye. There is a rule in video, you can get away with bad video, but not audio. Audio must be high quality, crisp, and clean. No exceptions and no excuses. 

 

To fix this, you need to deaden up the room. So this sounds weird but sound dampening panels do the trick. If you're in a pinch, bring in a couch, hang up blankets. One of of my favorite podcasters, Grammar Girl, has mentioned in the past that she records her audio podcasts in her walk in closet for the sound quality. You can't really do that for a video, but you can put pillows and cushions around you on the floor and behind the camera while recording audio. It works. You can also just find a room that has minimal echo. Think of something with carpet and curtains. Lastly, make sure to always use a microphone. You can buy an inexpensive Lavalier mic from Amazon for about $30.

 

The third component of great technical videos is image stability. No matter how steady your hands are, your camera is going to have to work pretty hard to stabilize a handheld shot. If you're editing multiple takes, slight movements can be very distracting, so it's definitely worth the extra effort to stabilize your shots with a tripod. I you are shooting with a phone, you will experience a weird phenomenon called shutter-roll when making abrupt, but even small movements. While you can definitely find more expensive options out there, when starting out there's no reason to not just get on off Amazon for $20. Even when you're shooting live videos or Instagram stories you should use a tripod because stability is one of those things that your viewers can't always put their finger on, but it helps to add and make your video seem higher quality. What's the saying, they won't notice when the video is stable, but they will notice when it's not. 

 

OK - just remember the three big technical tips: light, sound, & stability are the three most critical technical elements in video creation. 

 

My final tip for creating great social media videos is to learn about "The Hook". The first three to five seconds of your video makes a world of difference in all sorts of things like watch time, engagement views, sharing, etc. Focus on creating a memorable first three to five seconds and your video will perform much better. After the 3-5 second hook, to just get right into the content. Don't mess around with title scenes or drawn out intros - no-one cares about your cool time song or your spinning logo. IF you must have that stuff to stroke your ego, work it deeper into the beginning for the video or leave it out until the end credits. On Facebook and Instagram in particular, you only have so much time to get people's attention, so don't waste it. On YouTube & Vimeo though, you might have a little bit more time to mess with. But with the other social media video platforms, you have to get right to business.

 

There you go. I hope that you are able to walk away with some actionable tips for your own video strategies.

The State of Video Marketing & Youtube Hacks
dallas local internet marketing 2 CVA.jpg

I've just come across some interesting insights into the current state of online video. I am starting to wonder if I, as a marketer, am talking about video too much or maybe not enough.


It seems like every time I turn around, new studies are being released about the effectiveness of video on social media. I want to share some interesting insights into the state of video marketing in 2018 based upon the data points I follow on a regular basis.


Let's start with an overview of a few of my favorite stats. Video is on a dramatic rise. One is that 81% of businesses use video as a marketing tool. That's up from 63% as reported in 2017. Another one is that people watch a lot of video. How much video content do people watch on a typical day? The current average is 1.5 hours. And a whopping 15% of people watch more than three hours of online video on a typical day so twice as much.


That's just wild. If you're reading this post, I ask you the same exact question - leave the answer in the comments.


Some other video stats that really make me notice not just the rise of video but the importance of it as well: 76% of marketers say that video has helped them increase sales, 47% say it helped them reduce support queries, 76% say it helped them increase traffic, and 80% of marketers say video has increased time spent on their website.


It's these kinds of stats that really stand out to me, particularly the stat about how visitors spend more time on pages with video. Another one that I love was that they found that 85% of people say they'd like to see more video from brands, which represents a great opportunity when people are telling you they want more from you. How many times do brands hear consumers really say that? 


There are two reasons for that. One, is that people prefer video to learn about things over written text as I do. And two, video content is more sharable. 83% of consumers would consider sharing video with their friends over a link image or text post from brands. People share videos with me all the time. They also share text/articles and photos but video is just as important.

YouTube-Hacks.jpg

Youtube Hacks

Let's talk YouTube for a minute. This is a channel that I haven't spent too much time discussing here, but considering the fact that it boasts over 1.3 billion users with more than five billion videos watched every single day on the platform, I thought it might be fun to share some hacks. And then if everyone finds these useful, maybe I'll even do a full article on YouTube marketing in the future. So, definitely let me know if that's something you'd like to see. Use the hashtag #askgio on Twitter.


I've been experimenting with my YouTube channels over the last several months and I've seen some really solid growth. I'm talking like 300% increase in video views, 50% increase in followers, and a 50% increase in video watch time, which is pretty decent. So my first hack is on the creation side and that's using YouTube as a massive search engine.


This is one of the most underrated features of YouTube. Or maybe it's more like the most underused features of YouTube for marketers in particular. Let's say you're looking to create a video in your industry, but you don't know which specific topic to cover that will really get you those views. The easiest way to find popular ideas is to use the little YouTube search bar at the top to find the most searched keywords on a particular topic.


What you do is start typing the subject in whatever industry you're focusing on into the search bar and YouTube will automatically complete the word for you with the most popular search terms. Let's say you're a brand that sells fishing gear. All you do is start typing in F-I-S-H-I-N-G into the search bar and YouTube will show you tons of popular search terms that start with "fishing."


You can also reverse engineer that search tactic by adding an underscore before the word doughnut, so you would type in underscore F-I-S-H-I-N-G and then it would populate the most popular terms that are searched along with the word "fishing." And fun fact, you can also do something similar with Google Trends to find popular keyword topics. All you have to do is open Google Trends and type a search term into the explore topics search bar at the top, and once that page opens up, click on web search to open a dropdown menu and choose YouTube search so it filters by YouTube searches specifically. It's just such a simple, powerful tool.


By creating videos around a popular topic instead of just winging it, you can dramatically increased your results. It's a great place to start. One of my favorite tools is a tool which allows you to hack called YouTube Buddy. YouTube Buddy has changed a lot about how I go about YouTube marketing on a day to day basis. It provides insights that in some cases I didn't even know were possible.


YouTube Buddy is a free, easy to use browser extension that provides in-depth insights into every video and every channel on YouTube. All you have to do is install the extension and create an account. And once you have that up and running, you can go to any video on YouTube and it'll show all the metrics and analytics that you could ever want. This allows you to set benchmarks for your own channel while also seeing which videos on certain channels are performing better than others.


The other thing it does, and this can be a huge game changer for you, is that it shows the tags that the creator of the video, on each specific video, is using and where they're ranking in YouTube search. As many of you may or may not know, tags are critical in getting your content discovered on YouTube. YouTube Buddy helps to not only provide suggestions on which ones you should be using in your videos, but also how they're ranking. So you can use this information on your own videos, giving insights to help you increase the amount of traffic to your channel and videos.


So for a quick recap. I use the YouTube search bar and Google Trends to identify keywords or topics that have been proven to already be popular on YouTube. Then, once I have a list of possible topics, phrases, keywords, and such, I use YouTube Buddy to research relevant channels in my space and find out what they're doing that's working for them. And then, and only then, do I get to work.

Creating Effective Instagram Stories
dallas internet marketing 3 CDP.jpg

It's incredible to think that Instagram Stories was only just launched in the middle of 2016. It's now at 300 million daily active users, if it were its own app that would make it one of the most used social apps on the planet. In 2016 alone, Instagram generated $1.5 billion. Those figures are expected to grow to 5 billion by the end of 2018.


Instagram Stories has been one of the most exciting marketing channels for many brands. It allows them to diversify their content, connect with their audience one on one, and even drive traffic to their websites. And it's not just because of how many people are using it, Instagram stories are seen by upwards of 7% of brand audiences in organic reach, which is awesome compared to other channels, hence, why I am so excited about the future of this platform.


Let's quickly cover the benefits of using Instagram Stories and then how you can create them using a couple of different apps. Stories increases visibility, which is one of the most important reasons. Whenever you publish a story on your Instagram, your profile appears at the top of the screen. With Instagram's algorithm, that could be important for your brand getting seen by the most amount of people. It automatically shows stories that users are most likely to engage with first. So, if you consistently put out great content your profile photo will be the first every single time someone logs on.


You should be posting often, you should be posting on a regular basis. This will help you stay current in feeds and also increase your chances of being seen by more people. Pro tip: did you know that Instagram allows you to search stories by both hashtag and location? So, be sure to tag your stories to amplify your reach even more. Whenever I use location, the brand I'm posting for can get featured in the location story. When that happens, extra people see my client's story. And when you check to see who has viewed it, you can see that they came from that location. So, that can be really great anecdotally.


And even if you were to put a major city, let's say you're in Houston, you don't have to put the exact location you're at. You could put, let's say, "In Houston." And you have a much higher chance of being seen.


One thing to remember with Instagram Stories, is that your content is more visible because of the adoption rate of users. So, if a user only has 10% of the people that they're following posting to stories, you will have a higher chance of being seen with them because not everyone is on Instagram Stories right now. There's that benefit of being an early adopter. It means that your Instagram Stories strategy should be to post regularly in order to stay current in feeds. Additionally, social media algorithms tend to lean towards users who are more active and receive a lot of engagement.


Another reason to use Instagram Stories is to diversify your content. You can get really creative and post different kinds of content on stories. Stories allows you to enhance your content with colors, and stickers, and text, and filters. It's really not like anything you would see on someone's normal Instagram grid. You can do anything from photos, to short video clips, and boomerangs. There's all sorts of content, and you can repurpose it for later. If it performs really well in stories, you can move it over to your grid.


Diversifying your content is something that many brands find success with. Stories is much more casual than a lot of other platforms, meaning you don't really have to overthink it. The best way to get inspiration for Instagram Stories is what I like to do, and that's to follow other influencers and brands. I literally study how they use stickers, the filters they choose, and what they post about. It sounds silly but you can get great little tips and tricks by following a couple of brands.


There is a reason why Snapchat's biggest users are humans instead of brands. The content provides a more personal connection, whether it's Chrissy Teigen, Casey Neistat, or DJ Khaled, these mega influencers drive engagement, because of the personal aspect of the content. So, Instagram Stories works exactly the same way. It's an opportunity for you to put your face or faces to your brand. We're literally witnessing the transition to humanized marketing. And this is a perfect example of that. These types of videos and images work well because they're different from the rest of searchable social media content.


Rather than your audience only seeing the picture perfect content you post in their feed and on your grid, stories allows you to personally connect with your audience by showing them that you too, are a human which is a great marketing asset. It creates a connection with your audience that you wouldn't have otherwise and unlike traditional social media marketing, it allows you to post as much as you want without cluttering your audiences' feed. Stories also allow brands to do fun personal things like provide special promotions, or run giveaways that are only available in stories. Again, users can witness behind the scenes content only promoted on Instagram Stories. And this makes it a social media outlet that is a more unique and connected experience.


The last thing I'm gonna mention about why stories are important for brands, is that it gives your brand a personality. Instagram Stories can be used to show your company's goofy or lighthearted side or they can just be used to show the day-to-day procedures within your company. For example, when most people buy a t-shirt from a store, they don't think twice about the process of how it got there, because  we live in a generation where so many things are automated. But what if your company leveraged Instagram Stories to show the process of how everything gets to that store, or how you set it to layout in a unique and creative way. Something like that doesn't take much energy but it does make a difference for your audience. Use Instagram Stories to reveal the personality and culture of your business on a daily basis and your audience will love it.


Now let's chat about how to actually create beautiful Instagram Stories.


You can repurpose blog posts or website content, things that you've already created, you've put the time and energy into. You can grab articles from within your industry, and share some fun stats or learnings. And plus there's always breaking news. Stories do go away after 24 hours so if you're sharing something that's really timely on your feed that's always interesting too. I've experimented with repurposing blog posts and website content, and I tend to get a lot of positive feedback around that. Whatever you've put work into already, re-purpose that for Instagram Stories. 


Another cool idea is to to create a series. You can start by committing to one day of the week, you could do a product review, inspirational question of the week, story of the week. For example, there's a personal trainer from Dallas who does a really cool Thursday evening workout. And every Thursday she does work out on Instagram Stories, it's really cool. Even if you're not creating stories, in a traditional form, you can also look into doing Instagram Live since those stay around fro 24 hours.


Now you're convinced or you're not. If you're not, we thank you for shopping and hope you have a lovely afternoon. 


If you are, now's a great time to share some of my favorite apps that I've used to create stories for the brands I work with. 


If you don't have any content at all, Canva is the absolute best tool out there if you're looking for some really great still graphics and templates. It's also great for story boarding as well. When you're in Canva,  create a 1080 wide by 1920 tall template and then you just make five to six to seven stories and then you can download them all at the same time, AirDrop them or email them to your phone and you have some really beautiful graphics for your Instagram Stories.


The second app that I like is GoPro's Quik. It's great for simple animations and short auto-generated music videos, lots of options there. They have a lot of really cool arty effects and transitions built in. 


Numbers three and four is Apple Motion & Final Cut Pro. So this is more for the creative professional who wants to get crazy with their Instagram Stories. You got the text moving all over the place, maybe even video in there. This is for Apple, If you're on Windows, Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere are really cool and are similar. Neither is cheap and both have quite a steep learning curve. 


There are also  some awesome tools within Instagram itself such as Boomerang, Hyperlapse, and then one of my new favorite tools that Instagram just released, and that's stop-motion, which is a super epic really cool way to create content.


There's some lesser known, but still really neat tools out there as well. If you want to repurpose videos from your Instagram story, but are having issues with vertical sizing. The InShot app, which is available both on iOS and Android, is the best solution here. This is a free app that converts a video of any aspect ratio into a vertical 9 by 16 ratio, the perfect size for Instagram Stories. This app lets you blur the excess background margins in your vertical video at a solid color or import a photo into the background, which is really great. If you already have video content, this app will be a critical part of helping you repurpose it.


You can also compose vertical video and photo collages with PicPlayPost, which is an excellent free app for combining multiple photos and videos into a collage. It's also available for both iOS and Android. And PicPlayPost is also effective for creating vertical photo video slide shows for your Instagram Stories, so you can get really creative with those. 


Another app is called the Hype Type. It's an iOS app that lets you add flashy text overlays to your content in seconds and this one is super sleek and quick if you're on the go and you wanna get something out there that is really flashy. 

 

That's it: I hope these tools help and you're making some awesome Instagram Stories.