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Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Other People’s Platforms

June 17, 2016 Leave a comment

mashable

Mashable posted an article about an attempt by the Australian government to hold a live political debate via Facebook. Sadly for anyone interested in watching the debate, the quality of the livestream was terrible, largely due it seems to the low overall quality of connectivity in Australia (the article lists them as 48th in terms of global internet speeds).

There are some lessons to be learned from this exercise for the enterprise user. First, it’s important to consider the likely end user experience, and be extremely aware of the outside factors that can influence it. They cannot be controlled, but they must be accounted for. If you’re going to deliver a live event, are you prepared for the possibility that end users might have a terrible experience? What steps can you take, perhaps with your CDN provider, to provide extra capacity to ease the loads? Are you set up to field complaints properly, both by phone and social & email outlets?

Second, are you prepared to put yourself at the mercy of someone else’s infrastructure? Not everyone can or should build or buy livestreaming capacity, especially if it’s not something you intend to do very often. But are you prepared to risk a major (or even minor) live event on Facebook’s or YouTube’s live delivery options? These are wonderful platforms to be on, and your audiences are certainly there to be reached, but there are risks involved in depending on these tools as your sole delivery mechanism. You have to trust that in the midst of everything else these platforms are doing, your event will receive the attention it deserves.

Finally, think about the level of support you want to have when something goes bad. As the Mashable article indicates, even a Buzzfeed chat with President Obama went sour and they had to shift away to a YouTube feed. If a major media source and the President of the United States couldn’t get their problems sorted by the provider, how much better service will your organization get? Companies like Ustream and Livestream do this as a sole function (and I’m not shilling for either) for large-scale events; they can provide one-off services if these are only needed occasionally; and as part of an arrangement with them it’s reasonable to expect a high level of service in the event of a failure.

By all means leverage every tool at your disposal, and go where the audiences are. But be sure to understand the potential for problems is high, and in the end you get what you pay for.

Image courtesy of Mashable from the article Australia’s first online leadership debate marred by buffering complaints

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Periscope: Concerns for the Enterprise

November 12, 2015 Leave a comment

Periscope-Logo

I sat down with some old friends yesterday to chat about all kinds of things in the streaming universe, and at one point we got into a discussion about Periscope, the livestreaming tool available through Twitter. It got me thinking about the revolutionary nature of these new tools and how they might impact the Enterprise.

Make no mistake here – allowing users to livestream with nothing more than a phone they’re carrying anyway is a major game changer. It’s by no means a replacement for a proper setup for anything serious, but the ability to deliver live content even at the relatively low-level of a phone is still an amazing opportunity for users of every kind. The question is, how does this new tool get adopted in large organizations, and what might be some of the concerns facing business owners and IT teams?

There’s no question Periscope, Meerkat and the few other options out there will find quick adoption among smaller companies, and small groups within larger organizations. Enterprise-level adoption, however, almost always demands a deep look into the impact of a new tool and the overall value to the organization. The first concern I think most companies will have is security – can the tool be brought in without increasing the risk of hackers using it to break into systems? With these apps, I believe it’s too early to tell how this might impact other systems which tells me it’ll be some time before widespread adoption.

The second concern is the development of a strategy and a set of use cases to help the organization fit livestreaming apps into their overall business. Why do you want on-the-fly live events? What are they meant to accomplish? Who do you want delivering these events? For large organizations, both internal and external communications can be tightly controlled, and the entire purpose of these apps is to spread the opportunities around to as many people as you can. Adding them to the company’s arsenal requires an ability to surrender control which can be a hard sell to company leadership. It also means developing policies & procedures for using the tools, and that can delay deployment while the necessary documents are created.

A third issue is impact of the technology on existing IT systems & resources. Is some sort of central administration needed? Who will provide user support? With budgets and personnel already stretched farther than advisable, smart IT leadership will ask these questions before committing to including these tools.

It’s hard to wait on interesting and powerful technology, but most large enterprise organizations take their time about adoption until it can be worked into their overall business strategies. Interestingly, the Mayo Clinic is one organization that has begun to experiment with Periscope. I find it notable because health care is one of the most highly regulated industries and providers can be very wary of how they share. I will say that I know some people at Mayo and they’ve been very forward-looking in their adoption of new communication tools, and it’s good to see them taking advantage of Periscope.

Overall I expect these tools will join other social outlets used by large organizations, but probably in a very controlled and limited way. It doesn’t mean employees aren’t already leveraging them, but I’d be surprised to see any major adoption in the near future.

The Conversation About Enterprise Streaming Video

May 12, 2014 Leave a comment

social_imageThis is purely observational and not based on any formal study, but the nature of the conversation around online video appears to me tilted heavily towards the entertainment side of the equation. The discussions and tweets I see focus heavily on the consumer market – distribution deals for entertainment content, Netflix’s subscriber base, monetizing your original content, etc. I’m heading to Streaming Media East tomorrow, and much of the content at the online streaming conference is focused on these same subjects.

For those of us in the enterprise, the discussions have been more muted. Service providers like Kaltura, Brightcove, Wowza and others are filling the need by at least discussing their own products, but the conversation around video within the enterprise seems much lower key. I have some ideas as to why this is the case.

First, the entertainment and large-scale providers of content are in effect a well-defined industry. Even if Netflix is mostly an aggregator of others’ content and HBO is mostly a standalone distributor of their own, the two are largely playing in the same space. They contract for original content or purchase rights to films and sell their services on to consumers. There are analysts dedicated to these spaces and language for describing the ins & outs of the entertainment business. While the method for delivering the content has changed, the essentials of the business have not and there’s a pre-existing discussion that has added a streaming component to it. Their businesses are now heavily dependent on CDNs, bandwidth, buffering and all the other concerns of the streaming universe, hence the online conversations around those subjects reference them frequently.

Second, the financial implications of the entertainment side of the streaming video universe are enormous. YouTube channels alone are big business with broad impact on the industry’s bottom line. And again, the big players make their money off delivering their content to users in a connected world, so inevitably there will be a lot of talk around the moves they make and their effect on the streaming business.

In contrast, the average corporate or organizational video production effort is a lot lower key. Generally we don’t serve the primary function of our companies. We enhance marketing, communication and outreach efforts, but if your organization is making the bulk of its money off streaming you’re probably already in the mix of the larger conversations. In essence the management of enterprise video is a niche effort. We all know this instinctively, and for me personally I’m used to it – you can’t spend years managing a corporate archives without quickly learning your place within the organization.

There’s room for a lot more discussion on the use and techniques of video for the enterprise. I hope I’m helping to fill that niche by blogging and tweeting on video in the corporation. But I think there’s a lot more room for discussion on it, and I’d love to hear from others focused on the corporate space and how we can help our organizations make the most of online video.

PS – A few people you may want to check out on Twitter who are also active on the subject include:

Image courtesy of emptyglass / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

53% of all Traffic is Video! Now What?

November 12, 2013 Leave a comment

There’s some buzz going around, especially on Twitter, that video now makes up over 50% of all traffic on the web. Here’s one story from the Hollywood Reporter:

Video Accounts for 53 Percent of Internet Traffic

Broadly speaking I think this is a Good Thing as video continues to play a larger role in people’s lives and online experiences. But the underlying question for producers remains Now What? What do we as the creators of content, particularly in the enterprise space, do with that information? More importantly, what do we do about it?

It’s wonderful if you’re Netflix or YouTube – you’ve got a large share of a growing market and as long as you continue to make key content acquisitions you’re likely to remain in good shape for the near term. But as I’ve written regarding Cisco’s predictions on the impact of video, more data is not necessarily more important data. From the enterprise perspective, you still need to direct resources and effort towards what drives the organization’s bottom line. You are facing more competition from many more sources, and it can make getting heard a lot harder.

Fortunately, the goals of the enterprise are often a lot narrower than reaching billions of potential viewers. I’ve mentioned before that you want the right viewers – those in a position to make a purchase, offer a donation or any of the other reasons your organization is in business. The additional competition means you will have to work harder to develop a message that resonates with your audience, and keeping that audience central in your production process is more critical than ever.

The “Now What?” question is answered by reviewing every production carefully in light of the greater challenges to attracting viewers. Have I made my point clearly enough? Are the first 10 seconds of the video deeply engaging so I keep viewers attention? Are my calls to action clear and obvious? Am I sharing the video in the places where my key decision makers can be found? Have I enabled social tools around the piece to allow conversations to happen? Is anyone monitoring and interacting with those social spaces?

You should ask these questions in any event, but they become a lot more important as the level of noise increases. We all want to make great video, and this kind of strategic thinking is a big part of it. We can create award-winning pieces, but if our key constituents don’t see them, it’s impossible to see them as successful efforts.

Attention Spans Waning, or Too Many Choices?

August 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Rebecca Greenfield over at the Atlantic reports the following story:

The Internet’s Attention Span for Video Is Quickly Shrinking

The bulk of the piece is focused on MixBit, a new app offering in the works by the gentlemen who originally developed YouTube. Given that success it’s fair to assume that they have something here, but I think there are two problems with the piece – the headline and the implications of the MixBit app.

The headline I think is misleading at best. Yes, a year and a half is a lifetime in the internet age, but a drop of two minutes attention span on average could mean almost anything. Are producers shortening their videos and therefore the average piece is now down to five minutes instead of seven? Is there more video in the aggregate and more people watching, therefore there’s an impact on the averages even if people are still watching plenty of video? What, in fact, do they mean by “watching video?” If I sit down to a Netflix session with a 45 minute episode of Dr. Who, I’m there for the duration; if I’m goofing around and catch some viral thing that bores me after 30 seconds, I’m gone no matter how long it lasts.

I’m not specifically questioning the methodologies of the ComScore report – I don’t generally care to dig into those and I wouldn’t understand much of it if I did. The question of attention span may matter, but the big question I always ask of pronouncements and trends like these is “What does it mean to me?” Averages matter, but the corporate or enterprise video producer cannot and should not be driven by trends and statistics. You have a story to tell, and audiences to reach – keep focused on that and let the length run to whatever you need to tell the story best. No, you’re not going to reach your targets with a 30 minute homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey. You probably also can’t reach them with a 6 second Vine and get them to purchase your products. Make your best editorial decisions when you shoot and edit a piece, and don’t worry too much about the length, as trends are trends and only provide general information.

The second issue revolves around what turns out to be the bulk of the article, which makes the headline doubly misleading – it should have been titled “YouTube Founders Build Another Video App”. In the end I think MixBit is just another editing tool – in Ms. Greenfield’s words, “MixBit goes even further with its social tools by allowing people to create hour-long videos by splicing together up to 256 of those 16-second clips” [emphasis in the original]. While I grant you the 16-second base clip of MixBit is longer than both Vine and Instagram Video, I’m not entirely certain what makes this app especially revolutionary. Yes, you can make longer clips out of existing video pieces, but why would a serious production team leverage this tool to make long video pieces? If the audience grows outrageously, yes I guess it’s one more outlet, but the competition with existing tools is frankly too great for me to consider this a particularly helpful addition.

While I applaud every new opportunity to bring video to the viewers, it’s important to keep your team’s eyes on the prize. In the end, especially for the enterprise video team, these micro-video tools should be used sparingly and as a supplement to the larger efforts of the group. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype around new features and distribution channels, and that’s what makes it all the more critical to focus your attention on the goals of the organization. A new editing tool like MixBit may be great for the general user, but if you’ve spent thousands of dollars on equipment and editing suites, what benefit does this add? Yes, Instagram now lets you upload your own videos (as opposed to shooting within the app) – does this actually mean you’ll reach more of your target customers there? Make sure you answer those questions properly no matter what the trends say.

Enterprise Collaboration with Video

February 15, 2013 Leave a comment

One of my past Streaming Media East co-panelists David Boyll posted this to twitter the other day (and feel free to follow @dboyll if you’re interested in enterprise video, marketing and the SF Giants):

Inside Baseball: Using Video for Enterprise Knowledge and Collaboration Portals

Brightcove is one of the big players in the enterprise video delivery systems universe and they’ve got a pretty good handle on the streaming needs and issues facing businesses. On the whole I’m with them about the power of video within organizations and the value it can bring to help the organization share information. In my archives days we used to refer to this kind of hidden knowledge as institutional memory – it’s in the back of the collective brain of the company and the new collaboration tools can help surface it to everyone. Collaboration and knowledge management can do enormous things to shorten the amount of time it takes to get the information an employee needs to do their job. Connecting people across the enterprise regardless of time and distance means long searches can be accomplished in minutes or hours instead of days. Video of course can support those efforts by capturing information visually and disseminating it across boundaries.

My major concern with the argument is not really an issue for Brightcove as much as it is with the organizations themselves. There are institutional and individual pyschologies involved in sharing information that can often get in the way of spreading the knowledge. Individuals are sometimes unwilling to share their hard-earned expertise, perhaps from fear that they become redundant. While I think the younger generations are more comfortable with sharing (perhaps too much so sometimes) there’s still a resistance among many employees to collaborate.

Institutionally there remain barriers, largely I think due to the issues companies have with both security concerns and the use of social communications within the work environment. For the former, there are worries about the information getting spread out too far, both internally and of course outside the company. For the latter issue I think many companies still see social tools within the company as “Facebook for the Enterprise” – a place where employees go to waste time and post silly pictures. While there are good reasons to be concerned about wide sharing, and there is some wasted time (though I think there’s some value in that for employees’ mental health, but that’s another subject) by and large these tools can dramatically increase efficiency, improve collaboration and build community among dispersed employees.

The power of video is clear, and as Brightcove noted in the article it can serve as a tremendous tool for sharing valuable information throughout the enterprise. That said, I think the first critical step for an organization before deciding on a tool or medium for sharing is to commit to it wholeheartedly and encourage the collaboration fully. Perhaps your first collaborative video should be getting the senior leadership to step up and endorse collaboration.

Video Length

November 15, 2012 Leave a comment

I posted a while back about a company running a very lengthy video on Facebook, arguing that 11 minutes was just too long for that space.  Turns out I was sort of wrong, at least according to some research done by Unruly Media and reported here at reelSEO:

What’s the Ideal Length for a YouTube Marketing Video? A look into Video Duration vs. Social Sharing

The average length of the top 10 marketing pieces on YouTube is a whopping 4 minutes, 11 seconds. Let me say that again – the most watched marketing pieces were over 4 minutes long. I made the argument that 30 seconds is about all users will give – how is it that these very long videos are drawing viewers by the millions? The research indicated that the best, most popular ads developed an emotional connection to the user. By engaging their emotions users developed a closer connection to the brand and kept them watching long past what one might have expected.

I don’t take this to mean that the emotions brought up have to be tear-jerking sadness or angst, because if it did the fundraising piece I mentioned should have fit that bill.  Clearly there’s more to it – the emotions can run from sadness or other downer emotions, or they can be energetic and vibrant. What I think distinguishes the successful emotion-driven long pieces and the unsuccessful remains a question of understanding your audience and applying the emotions in a way designed to draw the right attention. The 9 minute shoe commercial they reference hits the right notes for their audience – loud cars and music, screeching tires and explosions.

So again, I seem to be partially correct that longer videos will not work for the average audience – UNLESS – you have put a lot of thought into how you will develop and sustain people’s interests over the lengthier video. As the article points out, 30 seconds really isn’t a lot of time to tell a full story, so if you need longer go ahead and do it. The key is to keep your viewers engaged for as long as necessary – the first thirty seconds, the last 30 and as many minutes in between that you need have to maintain the emotional level needed to make sure they stay with you.

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