Many industry observers have noted that this development is good for social networks. And it is: By hosting the media experience, networks get to capture more audience attention and own the audience data that comes with it. But native video on Facebook and Twitter is also good for the brands and other publishers taking advantage of it.
The benefit of building up a network of YouTube subscribers has always been questionable. While YouTube has a strong social networking component, distribution and awareness are weak points. YouTube’s two big upsides are (1) the ability to embed its videos just about anywhere and (2) its advantages for search both within the YouTube ecosystem and on Google as a whole. But because YouTube videos are so easily shared, they’re also easily disassociated from the brand/publisher who uploads them. Native social videos change that equation.
Increased reach: Yes, native videos rank higher in the Facebook Newsfeed than YouTube embeds do. A number of recent studies have demonstrated this. Similarly, early results on Twitter’s native video offering show higher levels of engagement, which imply increased reach as well. More retweets for a video cause more people to see it.
Closer ties to publisher profile: If someone wants to share a video that’s posted to Facebook, they must do so through Facebook’s Share feature. That increases potential reach not just for the video itself, but for the profile as a whole, which is included in the Share as the source of the video. Even if the video update is embedded outside Facebook or Twitter, it’s still linked to the original publisher.
Of course, Facebook’s recent changes to discourage “overly promotional” brand posts have put a big dent in organic reach, and it’s unwise for a brand to put all its eggs in the Facebook basket. (For that matter, brands should always focus their content on owned platforms rather than off-domain social networks, where rules and reach can change without warning.) And certainly, brands have to consider Facebook’s Newsfeed filtering and content decay rate when weighing the platform’s pros and cons. With those caveats, consider these factors when sharing video:
When it comes to video sharing, there is no one correct answer; each approach has its advantages. So instead of placing one large bet (going all-in on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube), try to place a number of small bets. Leverage each platform’s unique strengths. While this tactic requires more effort, it also ensures that you maximize the value of the time invested in creating a quality video.
I used to be an avionics technician in the navy, so I like being out of the Apple ecosystem because it’s less friendly for that kind of tinkering. I also love being able to send text messages while I’m riding my bike to and from work.
I’m a huge Evernote user. I keep daily and weekly to-do lists for short- and medium-term tasks. I use Excel to track budgets and time. Every Monday, I take the projects I’m working on and drop them into Excel, and it auto-calculates how much money I’ve spent and the time remaining.
I am a huge fan of having a deep-dive onboarding session. I believe my role as account lead is to be the advocate for the client while pulling resources together, so I try to get myself to the point where I’m as knowledgeable as the internal employees through heavy immersion – lots and lots of reading.
I take handwritten notes on my Galaxy Note and store them in Evernote, where they’re converted to searchable text.
I run custom RSS feeds into Pocket with If This Then That – filtering for verticals like tech and health. I’m the poster child for self-selecting news. I tag articles I want to read in Pocket and they get uploaded to Evernote, where I read them later. On the side I’m a college professor at American University, which also forces me to stay on top of industry developments. I teach a graduate-level course on digital media for PR professionals: everything from paid advertising to video production to website production and more.
I am incredibly process-oriented. Again, with my military background, I like to have a process for everything, which is unusual in PR. I take notes constantly. I also drink about five cups of coffee a day. After 1:00 I switch to Red Bull and have two or three of those.
Having task windows open and staring at me as a constant reminder is pretty effective. Also, lots of caffeine.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which works in more than 450 U.S. airports to screen passengers and maintain safety, is an unlikely candidate for success on the teen-dominated photo-sharing network Instagram. But thanks to an unexpected approach, the TSA is able to leverage the platform to connect with an impressive number of followers.
Bob Burns, the TSA’s head of social media, explains that the agency has three key goals for social content:
So how does a government agency take an unsexy topic like airport security screenings and get people interested in learning more? After the TSA launched a blog to share travel tips and answer common questions like “Can I pack shaving razors in my carry-on luggage?”, the team found a breakout hit in its weekly posts recapping unusual items found in screenings. Inspired by the success of these posts, the TSA created an Instagram account unlike any other.
Every day, Burns receives a list of notable items confiscated by agents at TSA checkpoints, and requests photos of a few of the highlights. The most bizarre finds appear on Instagram, where they have no trouble generating conversation. “I could just post a regular picture of a pocketknife — we find those all day long, every day — and it’s not going to get much of a reaction,” Burns explains. “But if I post a picture of a sword or a nine-inch-long knife with brass-knuckle handles, that’s more likely to get more discussion going…”
Alongside the lipstick stun guns and replica grenades, the TSA continues to share tips and information about traveling with cats, pies, pills and more. All the while, the agency’s audience is growing rapidly. Since Adweek published its interview with Burns on March 3, the number of Instagram followers has increased from 235,000 to 252,000 and counting. Each photo posted to the account averages several thousand “likes.” The fact that Burns runs the program almost entirely on his own makes these levels of reach and engagement especially impressive.
Twitter was never meant to be a traffic-driving platform. The network was created as a tool for on-site conversation, and its timeline isn’t built to drive link clicks. The unfiltered stream forces every update to compete for attention in the brief time before new tweets appear.
Still, Twitter does offer value to brand publishers, helping promote awareness and loyalty. If you want to gauge if your Twitter is succeeding, pay attention to follower engagement, not click-through rates.
Brand publishers may find IFTTT useful for making simple archives of published content — for example, automatically uploading your tweeted photos to Dropbox or dropping any tweets with a specific hashtag mention into a Google spreadsheet. IFTTT can also help you track industry news. For example, some recipes can create personalized email digests of news stories or Twitter activity related to specific subjects or keywords.
As an aside: IFTTT also includes a number of automated publishing recipes — for instance, instantly sharing every blog post on Facebook or uploading every Instagram photos as a native Twitter photo. But as tempting as this might sound, we don’t recommend automated publishing for brand channels. In addition to increasing the risk of accidental posts, it undercuts the personal touch and channel-by-channel attention that helps content stand out from the crowd.
However, native advertising doesn’t always need to be quite so spectacular. Content recommendation engines offer much of the benefits of native advertising on a smaller scale.
You’ve likely seen content recommendation engines at work with links to “related content” alongside articles on CNN.com or The Huffington Post. Through services like Outbrain or Taboola, brands can surface their content according to detailed targeting criteria throughout an established network of online partners. If someone is reading an article that’s similar to the content you publish, there’s a good chance they’ll be interested in your content, too. Content recommendation engines are a uniquely agile way to reach those readers on the sites they’re already browsing.
When promoting content through a content recommendation engine, you pay only when readers interact with your content (e.g. by clicking a headline), and you can easily scale your budget. Content recommendation engines also offer targeting capabilities so that links to your content appear only in certain geographic regions or alongside content about similar topics.
If you’re running a campaign with a bigger budget on a longer timeframe, consider scaling up to a direct partnership with a specific publication. Working directly with a publisher allows your content to make a bigger splash and gives you more control over how your content appears. However, this type of native advertising is also more expensive, and works best if you have up to three months to invest in A/B testing to find out which headlines and placements are most effective.
For more information about our team and approach, or to learn how we can help your organization with digital strategy, development and measurement, please visit the PNConnect site.
Chris Thilk in Chicago wrote this month’s Feature about native video. Anthony LaFauce in Washington, D.C., created our Guide to content recommendation engines and took the On Workflow hot seat. Stephanie Pham and Mark Avera in Atlanta and Mary Gaulke in Sarasota contributed stories and insights for the Social Networking Stats, Noteworthy News, and Advertising Trends sections. Randy Ksar in San Francisco provided the recommendation for IFTTT, and Mary Gaulke shared the Case Study on the TSA and Instagram.
This month’s cover and welcome images are used courtesy of NASA. Filter Forge uploaded the On Workflow background to Flickr and Yuichi Kosio uploaded the Case Study background, some rights reserved. Some backgrounds courtesy of subtlepatterns.com.
Thanks to Jennifer Laker, Jeff Stieler, Mike Pretty, and Pete Schiebel from the Platforms team for providing design and development support, and to Mary Gaulke, Tom Harris and Chris Thilk for editorial oversight and proofing.