This Year’s Annual Report

Why can’t annual reports be cool? Or at least interesting enough to actually read, watch, etc?

That’s what my library tries to do with ours, anyway. For the last two years, our annual report has been video-only. This year, we improved upon that a bit, and did three things:

Here’s our 2011 annual report, for those interested.

Why do this?

We have to create some type of annual report each year. And honestly … people mostly DON’T look at these. Sure, you can mail them to everyone. Print them out and place them in strategic locations in the library. Send them to parter organizations in your community.

But read them? Maybe some people will give it a cursory glance … and them toss it into the trash, like a greeting card.

With our video? There’s enough eye candy there for people to watch, and maybe learn something more about their library, and what their tax dollars are actually going to.

That’s the idea, anyway!

 

Five Tips to Reshape your Social Media Plan in 2013


[This is an article I wrote for my book, Face2Face – I thought it would make a great post here, too – enjoy! DLK]

Social media has been around for over ten years. My guess is that by now, your organization is probably involved in some way with social media. Maybe you have created a Twitter or Facebook account. Maybe you even have some friends and fans on those accounts, and you share things with them when you have time.

Let’s rework this in 2013. Social media is now mainstream, and your customers are using it to connect. They connect easily to each other, and since the tool is the same, they’ll find it easy to connect to your organization, too… if you make a few easy-to-do adjustments in your approach to business-facing social media.

Here are five simple adjustments you can make to kick-start your organization’s social media efforts in 2013:

1. Focus on Conversations

First off, let’s focus on conversations. Many organizations and businesses have been using social media status updates as a broadcasting tool. They send out notices of events, sales, or coupons. Possibly, they have used social media as an easy outlet to send out press releases and important corporate announcements.

My new book - Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer ConnectionsGuess what? If your organization focuses primarily on sending out corporate communications, your customers will tune out your organization and unfriend you in a heartbeat. In 2013, instead of using social media as a one-way broadcast tool, work on starting and continuing conversations with your customers.

This will require your organization to do three important things: 1. Listen before you speak. Set up some listening tools (Google alerts and Twitter search alerts are good places to start) to see what your customers are saying about you; 2. Respond, using colloquial, conversational language. This will feel weird if you’re used to more formal marketing-speak. Make it feel like you’re talking to a work colleague at the water cooler – do this, and people will start talking to you. And 3 – figure out what types of conversations YOU want to start. Do some brainstorming on the conversations your organization needs to hear in 2013, and start those conversations.

2. Focus on the Visual

For the most part, many businesses and organizations have been posting text-heavy status updates in their social media accounts. That makes sense in text-based Twitter, but not so much in Facebook. In fact, Facebook best practices show that when you do one simple thing – add a photo or a video to your post – engagement increases by 100% or more.

So get those cameras out of your pockets (yes, that iPhone or Android smartphone makes a great point-and-shoot camera), and start taking photos around the office, the warehouse, or the store. Maybe think about the three most important things that your customers should know about your organization, take photos of that, then share those photos with customers.

3. Focus on Video

That smartphone I just mentioned in #2 is also HD quality video recorder, and we can put it to good use! There’s a reason YouTube is so popular right now – people love watching short videos. Studies show that people engage more with video posts than with text-only posts.

Here’s my guess – most likely, you haven’t made many videos for your organization. If you have created some videos, it probably resembled a TV commercial. That’s not what your customers want to watch. Instead, get to the point immediately – YouTube suggests that the first 15 seconds are critical to connect with viewers. So don’t waste those seconds with titles, fade-ins, and credits.

Just start sharing your main points. Then post that video to two places – YouTube and Facebook. Use YouTube to share in most places, and use the Facebook upload to share with your Facebook page fans. Facebook’s algorithm favors videos uploaded to Facebook, so those will get seen more than a shared YouTube video.

4. Focus on Next Steps

Many times organizations post information to their social media accounts, but don’t include anything for customers to do. They don’t include a next step. Let’s change that in 2013. Make sure that everything you do includes some type of “ask.” That ask can be as simple as asking customers to “friend or fan” a Facebook Page, or the ask might be to click a link that takes them to a new product or a buy-it-now page.

More people will click if you actually ask them to click. Because of this, make sure to provide customers with some next steps, and actually invite them to take that next step. Do that, and your organization will be one step closer to continued engagement with customers.

5. Focus on your Customers!

Finally, most businesses and organizations, believe it or not, don’t actually focus on their customers! Instead, they focus on their stuff, on their showroom floor, or on their sales staff. In 2013, let’s focus on our customers. Engage them in conversation. Ask them if they like what they’re seeing. Ask them to take next steps, and invite them into your organization.

Follow these five simple reshaping steps, and you will be well on your way to having a great 2013 with social media, and with some really engaged customers, too.

pic by Tintin44

Stability Fix in Youtube

Here’s a cool new feature I just discovered in Youtube. I posted a short, really bouncy video (bouncy because I walk sorta bouncy). The video’s nothing fancy – really just me, playing with my new iPhone 5.

Youtube noticed the bounciness of the video, and automatically offered to “fix it.” And it did an ok job, too! Now the video looks really smooth (odd, since I’m talking about how bouncy I walk in the video), and there are some weird jerks as the automatic setting either gets a bit confused or is “catching up” to me. So be warned – your mileage may vary!

Below is a screenshot of what it looks like mid-fix. You basically get a split screen to see if the video looks better, and a Yes or No button for saving the video.

Simple stuff, but sorta cool and potentially handy, too. Check it out!

Youtube Stabilization

Creating Community & Driving Engagement #BEABloggers

bea bloggersThis was my panel session. I shared the panel with three fabulous people:

We each submitted questions beforehand. Here’s what I submitted (along with my answers). I focused on video and podcasting. This is what I planned to share – what was actually shared was just a little bit of this (panels tend to take on a life of their own once started, which is cool):

10 video questions

1. what equipment do you need to start making video?

  • you probably already have some type of video recorder: smartphone, digital camera, camcorder, webcam.
  • smartphone for audio recording too
  • any basic digital camera with video recording will work great for starters, or your iphone.
  • Nothing fancy until you are ready for it!

2. what software should I use to edit videos?

  • Your computer comes with great software – Windows Movie Maker or iMovie.
  • Or get Adobe Premier Express or Apple’s Final Cut Pro – $100-300 or so.

3. what type of content should be in my video?

  • Thinking author here…
  • promotional video about your new book. Duh. Maybe a series of them!
  • short video about writing process
  • short video about a fun plot twist or character development
  • just a “I’m touching base with my readers” video
  • what are you excited about? Share that.

4. How about podcasting – what’s that, and how is it different from video?

  • Podcasting – audio; video = video. Some people call videos video podcasts.
  • podcasting goes on your iphone, in itunes. Video, not so much.

5. Where should I store my videos or podcasts?

  • Videos – Youtube.
  • Podcasts are harder. Start out with a free tool like Soundcloud. Then you can up that to Libsyn or Blubrry – monthly charge.
  • Videos – might also think about Viddy or Socialcam.

6. What do I do with my videos and podcasts once I upload them?

  • Never just keep them at Youtube! Well, unless you’re Justin Beiber or something.
  • Put them on your blog.
  • Social media – Twitter and Facebook.
  • LinkedIn? Tumblr? Wherever your followers are.

7. How can I make my videos more social? How do I engage viewers or listeners?

  • ASK. Ask for comments. Ask questions. Look at the camera.
  • example – ebooksforlibraries! We asked for petitionn signers. We got em.
  • Youtube – include annotations that point to subscribe, Like, Favorite. Other videos.
  • Make commenting easy – have them on your blog.
  • Ask for specifics – i.e., here are my top 5 – what are yours?

8. Do videos need to be scripted out? I’m not an actor!

  • Depends. Are you good at winging it or talking? Then probably not.
  • scripted Karl out for ebooksforlibraries
  • If you’re like me, you need at least an outline to keep you on track.
  • Edit out the ums and ahs. It’s video/audio, after all.
  • No, you’re not an actor. Just be you. People WANT to hear from you – they buy your books, don’t they?

9. How long should my videos and podcasts be?

  • Videos – under 3 minutes. The shorter the better!
  • Podcasts – can be longer. Think drive time or exercise time length.
  • If you’re interesting, they can be longer. You’ll see dropoff rates in Youtube analytics…

10. OK – I’m making videos and podcasts. How do I take them to the next step?

  • Video – lighting, mics, cameras. Upgrade when you hit a wall (and have the money)
  • Podcasts – mics.
  • Both – content. Make it better! Include your audience! Ze Frank is a great example of including audience in his video series.

Playing with the ProJive XLR iPhone Cable

I just bought the ProJive XLR mic cable for my iPhone. What’s it do? It’s an XLR to headphone jack cable adapter, and it’s made to plug a normal XLR microphone into an iPhone.

This lets me use my better-quality microphones (well, better than the built-in iPhone mic, anyway) for recording. It works with any audio app (like the voice recorder) or with video apps, too.

So – check out the video above, and listen to the sound. Not bad for an iPhone video, huh? Also listen for the unmistakable cell phone interference – that “beep beep beep” noise that you sometimes hear when a cell phone is close to some speakers. I’ll have to experiment more – if that interference happens a lot, the cable isn’t going to be all that helpful.

But we’ll see. Until then, I can now get quality audio in my iPhone videos effortlessly. Sweet!