Using video to tell your story – short, professional, simple

One of the most effective ways to appeal to appeal to and tell your story to a larger audience is to integrate video into your public relations efforts. The challenge though is to tell your story well in video. There is no doubt it is easier to string together a few words and images to communicate, but putting that same communication into an effective video presentation – especially a video that you aim to share on YouTube or Vimeo – requires planning and execution.

There are a few simple best practices to keep in mind when you create video for the Web:

  • Shorter is better. A 30 second or 60 second video will have more impact than a longer spot.
  • The production value of the video needs to look professional. Unless a hand-held look and feel is a strategic part of how you want to tell your story on video, you are better to hire a video pro to help you create the spot.
  • And most of all, simple is better. If you can match compelling video with a concise message, you are well on the way to an effective video.

The video below is an example of a catchy, professional video with good production value. With the help of a funny tune and a cartoony look, the video has emerged as a viral hit over the last week or so. But the video still is a bit too long, and you can be the judge about whether it would change how you think about rail safety, if you watch through to the end:

Dumb Ways to Die (YouTube)

 

Is you website mobile-ready?

If you have been paying attention to communication trends at all, you are probably aware that the fastest growing segment of Web users are those who are browsing sites on their smartphones and tablets. Recent statistics (from NetMarketShare.com) show that more than 10 percent of Web users now visit sites on mobile devices – a big leap from earlier this year thanks to improved devices in the marketplace.

But have you taken that information to the next step and tested to see how your website works on mobile devices? You don’t have to own all of the tools to test how your site works. Simply search for browser emulator tools on your favorite search engine and you will find a number of tools to test how your site looks on popular devices like the iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

Especially if the audience you are trying to reach is likely to use a mobile device as their tool of choice to access the Internet, you cannot afford to ignore or not know how those site visitors are experiencing your site.

When should you post on Twitter, Facebook and others?

Many businesses and people looking for the best way to be effective on social media eventually find themselves asking – when is the best time to send a message out into the world? It turns out that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.

The best time really depends on what you are trying to do with your social media communications. An article posted today on the Ragan website offers an infographic on this topic: Saturday is the best day for social media engagement. Embedded in the graphic are answers to a few of these common questions.

The takeaways include:

  • In general, on Mondays through Fridays, most posts are made between 1-4 p.m.
  • As the article title suggests, Saturday is the best day to interact with social media users
  • The reach for your social media posts multiplies with the number of tools you post on

But even these tips are too simple and deserve more scrutiny depending on your goals for using social media. As an example, you may find that your community of social media friends or users is too busy with life on the weekends to make Saturdays a realistic target for social media engagement. Or, if your Twitter feed focuses on posting news or commentary as events happen, those priorities will override the general guidelines of when it is best to post.

To be effective communicating and engaging a community on social media you have to make a plan and establish clear goals and milestones to measure your success over time. Many of the fundamentals of successful communications apply on social media as well.

The role of social media during and after Hurricane Sandy

To make social media an effective communication tool in a crisis, you have to build your community before the storm hits. This was no more apparent than with the recent impact of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey. Pete Hunt outlines some of what has been learned about the use of social media throughout the ongoing disaster in Hurricane #Sandy: Socializing Traditional Media.

The key takeaways from Mr. Hunt:

Three key media lessons emerged in the storm’s wake: (1) Social media is invaluable, but its limitations are significant. Twitter is useless when your phone is out of batteries. (2) Radio and other traditional news outlets still have an important role to play in emergency broadcasting. But their reach is amplified when they embed themselves within the social media environment. (3) During a disaster, the best news is local news. People will track down local information on whatever platform they can find it.

Although I am far from the Northeast U.S. where Sandy had a direct impact, I did follow the storm live, especially on Twitter, as it was unfolding. And the networks of friends and news sources in the area continue to make Twitter and Facebook the most intimate, localized way to follow how the storm and its aftermath is impacting life in the affected area.

The article is a good read if you ever envision the need to reach out and keep your community informed during a natural disaster.

Innovative ways to build a social media community

Building a community on social media platforms is no different than building a community in the real world. You have to start small and build a network over time.

A story in The Olympian about the ways that Saint Martin’s University in Lacey is building its social media community is a perfect example: Social media builds community. In this case, the college has recruited a team of current college students to post their insights into the daily life of the university as a way to expose the university culture to prospective students who already live their daily lives on Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools.

Companies and government agencies can do the same thing, through different methodologies, to build their brand or engage their real world communities by developing a genuine voice on social media and interacting with their customers or the public where they already spend time every day.

Are you building a community through social media tools?