Bringing Business Inspiration & Marketing Motivation to Mill Valley

Every small business person that I know sings a similar song: “I’m overwhelmed!”

Furthermore, for most of us, whether you are an entrepreneur or founder of a small business, the “rules” seem to keep changing. These days, there’s more to having your own business than just figuring out how to make money. For example, motivation matters and the whole meaning of “marketing” has changed. And that’s just for openers…

That’s why I’m honored, delighted and (no exaggeration) super-excited to be bringing my beloved friend, the extraordinary business coach, author, and leader, Andrea J. Lee to the SF Bay Area for a one-day workshop called “The New Rules of Business and Social Media Success.” She and I will be co-presenting an uplifting, informative and highly interactive “Playshop” that will include everything from decision making and relationship building to creating online video and social media marketing. All of this will be live and in-person on Monday, January 25th from 10am – 5pm in Mill Valley. You can register here. And, I even created this special video invitation just for you 😉

 

Please let me know if you have any questions whatsoever.

I look forward to seeing you there!

[callout title=”The New Rules of Business and Social Media Success” button=”I Want to Learn More or Register” link=”https://www.combridges.com/event” buttoncolor=”blue” target=”_blank”]An Inspiring, Highly Interactive, Experiential Playshop: Monday, January 25th, 10am – 5pm, Mill Valley, CA, USA[/callout]

What Pooping Unicorns Won’t Tell You About Video Marketing

It’s a New Media, New Video World.

Video is a communications technology that is changing everything. I ought to know. I have been thinking, writing and speaking about the digital video revolution for decades, literally.
This blog post includes the following content, all of which is designed to give you a fresh perspective on how digital video is changing our world:
  1. A very successful viral video (with pooping unicorns) that I think is exemplary
  2. The link to the audio recording of my Commonwealth Club presentation on “Understanding Digital Video & The Future of Social Media”
  3. The SlideShare of that same presentation so you can click along as you listen
  4. The recording of a Blab video interview session that I did with Nick DeMartino, former head of the AFI Media Lab and Hollywood new media insider that provides additional insights and resources

1. What Pooping Unicorns WILL Teach You About Video Marketing

Stellar creativity, an approach that grabs your attention right from the start, and crisp, on-target writing (for example, “the stool for better stools”) make this marketing video a true stand out.
There’s no question that this video works amazing well. The close to 9 million views at the time of this writing, place it head and shoulders above almost every marketing video of a similar length in terms of performance and reach. And, it’s fun to watch, which is obviously a big part of why it’s working so well.


But the pooping unicorns video WON’T teach you about the ways that authenticity, human connection, relationship building are at the heart of video marketing. To me, that’s the important stuff; and you will find more about those kinds of things below.

2. Audio Recording “Understanding Digital Video & The Future of Social Media”

[testimonial author=”Gerald Harris, Chair of Science and Technology Forum for the Commonwealth Club”]”Jon, great job! I want to personally thank you for a brilliant, engaging and thoroughly informative presentation at the Commonwealth Club of California.”[/testimonial]
It was my sincere pleasure to speak at the prestigious Commonwealth Club of California in late October. People have asked me for the audio recording. Here’s the link with the slides below that. The Club controls the recording so the only way to listen is to click this link and listen on their site:

3. SlideShare of “Understanding Digital Video & The Future of Social Media”

If you’re in a hurry and just want an overview of what’s covered in my talk, or if you’d like to enhance your listening to the audio recording, here’s the exact slide deck that I used during the talk, via SlideShare:

4. My Video Interview: “Future of TV, Video Delivery & Digital Media” with Nick DeMartino

Nick DeMartino has been a video innovator for decades and we’ve shared information and a friendship that spans his whole career. It was a pleasure to spend more than an hour with him via a Blab.im video chat discussing, among other things, some of the trends that I illuminated in my Commonwealth Club talk. This interview includes lots of resources as well as insights. For your reference, most of the URLs discussed are in the YouTube description. Enjoy!


I’m confident that all of this information will tell you lots that the pooping unicorns could never express, no matter how creative they are 😉

I look forward to your feedback either directly via our contact form or via the social media links above.

And if you are ready for support with your video marketing, your social media strategy or your web presence, please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you and to answering any questions that you may have.
Thanks for reading and/or listening and/0r watching 😉

Having a Blast on Blab: Learnings from the Launch of My New Social Media Video Show

I’ve been doing social media since the beginning of social media and I’ve never had a more uplifting experience of community and connection than the one I’ve had getting to know the new video conversation platform called Blab (http://Blab.im).

I created this graphic to promote last Friday's Blab session and shared across all of my social media accounts.

I created this graphic to promote last Friday’s Blab session.

Getting Started with Blab

Last Friday, I did my first regular Blab show ([email protected]) and it was surprisingly easy to do and successful. Word spread by social media, and we had people join in late in the show who said that they had heard buzz that we were “killing it” and that they should check it out. Unexpected delight. 😉

We had about 280 viewers who watched live at sometime during the 90 minutes we were on, a pretty steady audience of 60 or so more during the webcast; and, as of this writing, this program has now had over 308 viewers counting the Replay on Blab.im. And, as you will see below, I’ve also posted the recording to YouTube and thus the exposure continues to grow.

Those are just some of the reasons I’m excited.

Spontaneous Community

Part of the reason for this success was that I was honored to have author/speaker Joel Comm (“Twitter 3.0” and other books) as my featured guest. It was Joel who first told me about Blab… Well, actually I got the info from a post of his on Facebook. Joel has become kind of Blab Ambassador. If there’s a Blab “star,” Joel would be on the short list of “nominees.”

Then, to my surprise, as the Blab progressed (may I remind you that this was a live session), I was delighted to have blogging business veteran Darren Rowse join us (see image below). Darren is better known as Pro Blogger and has been a social media marketing thought leader for years. Others who just “happened by” included social media strategist Carlos Gil and digital marketing expert Pam Brossman who both offered some really useful insights and tips (a taste of which are included below). That’s the kind of spontaneous community “happening” it was and which the Blab platform fascilitated.

A Truly Transparent Company

Another guest that contributed a lot to my first Blab show was Brittnay Metz who is a Blab spokesperson and I guess you could say evangelist. For example, she’s the one who sends out emails to the Blab members, but she also spends a fair about of time on Blab itself participating, answering questions, taking feature requests, and generally monitoring and supporting the user base.

Brittnay told us, for example, that the company was really committed to staying at only 30 employees. She also talked about the fact that Blab’s engineers are going to be developing very sophisticated video analytics.

Positive Impressions of An Emerging New Video Technology

Both from what Brittnay said and from my own experience, it’s clear that Blab is making sure that their software really works. I’ve experimented with lots of video conversation platforms, and especially considering this is an early “beta,” Blab seems extremely stable. But Blab’s biggest strength is ease of use which, of course, is a very big deal.

All you need is a Twitter account and you’re in with full participation priviledges. Blab is also totally free as they grow their user base and there are no plans for a “premium” version on the horizon. In some ways, I think Blab may be the example of the “Instagram business model.” (Instagram was acquired by Facebook for $1Billion.) I imagine that Blab is going to be acquired by a much larger company at some point, but when I asked Brittnay about this possibility, her response was a quite grounded. She said, “What makes you think we want to sell?” I left it at that.

blab-screen-labels-v2
Minor Limitations, Major Advantages

The only significant limitations of Blab’s video implementation that I’ve found so far are that it does not work in the Mac Safari browser (because of the video format that Safari uses) andthere’s a mobile app for iOS, but not yet for Android. The best web browser for Blab is Chrome and the desktop version is more full-featured (as shown above).

Some of the features that I like most are the fact that it’s a conversation environment with four interactive video windows. It’s easy for people to come and go. The host has the ability to accept or reject “visitors” at his or her discretion, and most hosts are quite welcoming. We had people coming and going all through our program.

Powerful Twitter Integration

Blab derives its external social media power through its integration with Twitter. And that’s a big part of what makes Blab powerful as an audience or relationship-building tool. Blab engages users via Twitter with the build-in “Tell a Bird” feature that’s to the left of the video windows (on the desktop version). It’s not only a good way to share what you’re doing, but it actually demonstrates a kind of freedom to interact that is not possible on Facebook because on Twitter “friend requests” are not required in order to interact.

Chat, Recordings & More

Blab stays highly interactive as well with a very lively chat stream that runs along the right side of the four video windows.

After you host a Blab session, you get both an mp4 video file and an mp3 audio file of the recording. These files are available for you to download and can be posted anywhere (for example, on YouTube, SoundCloud, or wherever). The video recording doesn’t have the screen names nor the chat stream. You can see the difference between this version and the embed code version that’s also provide via embeds that I’ve included below.

Compared to Google Hangouts, in the production sense, Blab is less robust. For example, at this time (although Brittnay told us that this is coming at some future time), Blab lacks screen sharing. Likewise, the spiffy lower-third ID’s that are part of Hangouts are not on Blab, but you do automatically get labeled during the live sessions with your name and Blab ID (for example, mine is @joncombridges).

As a work around for the absence of lower-thirds, people have gotten into using apps like ManyCam and CamTwist Studio (Mac only) in order to put graphics into their video frame. In fact, Joel was doing was doing just that all during our program.

I also think it’s worth noting that, in some ways, Blab’s ID feature is substantially better than the lower-third Hangouts feature because it’s interactive. For example, if you like what someone is saying, you can simply click on that ID to follow them on Blab. There is also a link to their Twitter profile so you can follow or list them there as well. The Blab ID also let’s you address them directly in the live chat stream. You also can click on the lower right of any video image to give the speaker “props.” So, what Blab may lack in snazzy production features, it more than makes up for with ease of use and authentically interactive tools that enable real people to have real conversations, in real time.

What About Lead Capture?

One of the questions that I asked Joel and the others during my first Blab Show was about lead capture, or lack of those kinds of features in Blab. For example, I use Google Hangouts within the WebinarJam “envelope” in order to do lead capture when I do webinars because I want to be able follow up with the people who attend my programs via email. What I’m learning is that Blab is something completely different.

What Blab delivers, possibly “in spades,” is a completely new way to get exposure. And what’s really important is that that increased exposure is delivered via video so people can really get a sense of you and your expertise or value.

I’m finding that I’m making new friends with my fundamental practice of “Leading with Value” and that’s the most dynamic and perhaps the most important part of Blab. Blab really is about relationship building and making authentic connections. People are doing this on Blab in a way I haven’t seen before on any social media network. I really think it’s worth checking out.

A Video-Powered Way to Increase Your Visibility

As someone said during the program, the Blab experience is very much analogous to being at a party and meeting people. So in that sense, for marketers, Blab is  like a new form of the classic free intro call.

One other important dimension of delivering expanded visibility is, as Carlos recommended and I’m demonstrating below, via YouTube. In the future, I’m also going to upload the audio to SoundCloud. In addition, there are people who are using Blab to record podcasts by taking the recording and distributing it via iTunes and so forth. Bottom line, Blab is a new way to get the word out.

That having been said, I watched a Blab the other day that featured Michael Stelzner from Social Media Examiner and he talked about specifically getting enrollments for some of their conferences via Blab. Thus, Blab can be used as an on-ramp both to build your visibility and also, in at least some cases, to make specific offers that then people move down your engagement funnel.

I’m recommending Blab because I’m finding it to be a great way to meet and connect with people. There’s no doubt that in only a little over a week, I’ve made new friends; and, equally important, I’m definitely having fun. Blab is so engaging that it’s literally becoming an addictive kind of social media experience for some people and in that way it’s a great social media environment to be swimming in.

I’m really delighted to have the opportunity to keep this kind of energy going, and I hope to see you (literally via Blab video) next [email protected] (PT).

Useful Resources:

For the Convenience of Comparison
Please Find Below Two Versions of This Same Program, My First “[email protected]” Blab Program. The first is the embed provided by Blab and the second via upload to YouTube—are provided below for comparison.

Blab Embed:

YouTube Embed:

Why Being a Small Business Mentor Trumps Internet Marketing Consulting

More Personally Yours

As a small business owner, it’s fascinating to watch my business morph over time. I am always finding new ways to be of service. I genuinely love helping people and businesses to be more successful on their own terms.
Quote-New-Media-New-Marketing-more-humanRecently, the nature of my services have being changing. New offers for helping small businesses with their website, marketing and social media presence have included the 1-to-1 Get It Done Squarespace websites and the New Media New Marketing Playground group mentoring program. Both are collaborative processes where I work with people directly and respond to their specific needs in a customized way.

Mentor vs. Consultant

While good listening and personalized responses have always been a crucial part of the value that I offer, at least to some degree, recently, I find myself calling myself a mentor more than a consultant. Yes, of course, I’m still offering strategic guidance and helping clients to connect the dots amongst the myriad of marketing choices and technologies available. But somehow, as we sort out the priorities, the “know it all” quality of a consultant no longer seems appropriate. It sounds too top-down vs the kinds of collaboration that are happening more often these days.
Part of it also is probably that I am attracting and connecting with smaller businesses who are not so much looking for high level guidance (for example, connecting their marketing with their sales efforts as a larger organization might do) but rather they simply need help, want hand-holding, and to be shown by an expert how to do the things that they want and need to do.

Facing the Challenge of Overwhelm

The biggest challenge for small businesses these days seems to be overwhelm. This is what I have been calling The Grand Canyon Gap between People and Technology since 1990. Now, with social media and the realization of The Video Web, there’s even more information and more kinds of marketing communication technologies consider.
The good news is that New Media and New Marketing are increasingly less about technology and more about human connection. I still emphasize that it’s the communication, not the technology that’s most important; but these days, even more, I am emphasizing the human dimensions within the communication that are necessary to make them more engaging.

Viva La Humanistic Marketing Revolution

My joy is not just helping to sort things out and chunk things down so that moving forward is managable, but I’m also quite consistently pointing to my humanistic values of ease, fun and authenticity as the foundation of an approach to online marketing that is enjoyable as well as effective. I call this The Humanistic Marketing Revolution.
My passion for this approach is also encouraging me to continue to work on more educational programs, like the webinar that I did in December which will soon be available for sale, and the courses that I am currently developing which are about the value and importance of leading with humanistic values. More on these insights and these courses very soon.
Meanwhile, I am thoroughly enjoying these new collaborative ways to support small businesses to grow while they develop the capacity to actually enjoy and embrace social media and the New Media environment.
It really is a Playground for me and I’m open to more playmates. The more the merrier, really! This is especially true when we all are keeping our hearts open and having even more fun. How many “consultants” can say that?

New Talk Walker Video: Why Play & Storytelling Are New Marketing’s Leading Edge

Let the Good Times Roll!

Play and storytelling are not generally thought of as important pieces—let alone as crucial components—of social media and internet marketing; but they are (and this fact is becoming clearer and clearer).

I’m not just talking about these things. I’m doing them. That’s why my group mentoring program is called The New Media New Marketing PLAYGROUND. Because Like Knows Like, my emerging series of videos is called “Talk Walkers.” This reflects the importance of authenticity in being attractive via the Web, and FYI, I’m also planning to take these interviews into the world of podcasting. More on that in a future post.

New “Talk Walker” Video Below

Meanwhile, recently, I’ve been delighted to get to know David Drake of NarrativeCoaching.com. He’s a real big picture thinker. I like that 😉 And, I hope you agree that the insights he shares about the ironic process of taking an attitude of play more seriously, and in particular, about why storytelling is not only the leading edge of content marketing but it is also important for the process of connecting to your authentic voice (or brand).

Whether you are a solopreneur, an entrepreneur, or a larger company, basing all of your marketing communications on a profound foundation of “why” you are doing what your doing has to go beyond a simply intellectual process. Please watch this video. We will explain:

My first Talk Walker interview was with author, speaker, authentic social media marketing guru extraordinaire, Jay Baer.

In case you missed that one, here it is “one more time”:

Wonderful Revelations on the Way of Play & the Path to Community & Collaboration

Finding Freedom

I think we’ve all felt the frustration of feeling overwhelmed by all of the Internet marketing and social media marketing options the online communications revolution has laid at our feet. Of course, what we would prefer to feel is the exhilerating thrill of our natural and authentic enthusiasm for what we are doing, the freedom of full self-expression without self-judgement, and a palpable connection to the value we are delivering.

Your Social Media Journey Can Be Easy & FunI know this feeling personally which is why it has been so exciting for me to have my new online mentoring community, The New Media New Marketing Playground come together so easily and to have such a wonderful group of heart-oriented people become part of this virtual Playground.

Learning from My New Tribe

What has been particularly encouraging is not only the quality of the people who have joined the Playground, but the opportunity to get actual feedback on WHY they joined.

Three key insights have quickly emerged:

  1. People like the idea of fun and play. It has a real appeal, especially in a marketing world where overwhelm is so much more common.
  2. People trust the space I’ve created with this offering. More than one of the members has shared with me that it feels like a “safe space to play” and that’s what they need.
  3. My recommendations of social media and new media tools and strategies are highly valued.

Wow! I’m gratified and honored. No kidding.

Listening & Leveraging Social Proof

These learnings have been like revelations for me. So valuable! For example, in the video clip below, author, speaker, entrepreneur, and Playground Member, Susan Falter explains (slightly edited):

You are the master of ease and a guy who is a lot of fun and highly creative. I love your approach to things. This really is “a playground.” …It’s a no pressure environment. That’s fun, and that’s what I want.

Suzanne also underscored to me the value to her of the kinds of practical information that I share (in the Playground, via our enewsletter and via social media). How could I not appreciate and value this acknowledgement of my knowledge and expertise? 🙂

You are like a Google of internet marketing. I feel like I can type on your forehead “why create videos” and up will come like fifteen different resources and I’ve never heard of any of them. …It’s very helpful to people like me who really want to know what the best, easiest way is. It’s like instead of trying fifteen different apps you’re going to tell me which one to use. That’s really, really valuable.

Please watch the video above for Suzanne’s complete comments, and please click below if you’d like to receive our occasional enews or become a Member of The Playground. As a special “thank you for reading” if you become a member between now and the end of tomorrow (Sept 17th), enter the Code “wonder” at check out and receive 20% off your Playground Membership.
Please click here to subscribe to our “It’s a Wonderful Web” enewsletter.
Click here to learn more or become a Member of The New Media New Marketing Playground.

Announcing a New Way to Have Fun & Get Better at Online Marketing

New Media New Marketing PlaygroundIt has been a dream of mine to offer an on-going education and mentoring program, at an affordable price, and to use that to create an online virtual community (or tribe). This dream is now being realized with The New Media New Marketing Playground.

And, because of the very special pricing that I am offering for the first ten people who sign up—and there are only a limited number of slots left—this program is clearly going to get off the ground in September (early sign-ups will get special free programs and early access during August, as well as special pricing). I don’t want you to miss out on these savings and this opportunity. Please click here for more details.

More than ever, I am basing my coaching/consulting/mentoring on my values of ease, fun and authenticity. Thus, I know that if you join us, you will learn how to do marketing with more ease, my enthusiasm will help us all have more fun, and I will support you to connect with your own authentic voice in order to attract and build relationships with your ideal clients via the Web.

So, if you think it would support your online efforts to have a place where someone very knowledgeable, who you trust (you trust me, right?) is available to answer your questions about online marketing technologies and strategies, as well as to share with you what’s new, what’s working, and what mistakes to avoid… and to have this program be very affordable so you can make progress in your business step-by-step and feel good about it, I would love to make myself available to support you via The Playground.

Please click here to explore this offer.

I hope to see you there!

(and, of course, if you know someone who might be interested, please share this page with them; OR if you just want to help me share the love please click one of the abundant share links on this page. Thanks!)

Are You Missing the Boat on Online Video Advertising?

[A Quick Catch Up on Online Video’s Reinvention of Advertising]
As most of my readers know, I’ve been an “evangelist” for the digital video revolution, especially as it applies to the democratization of media, for many years. By now, the explosion and importance of online video via YouTube and other hosting platforms (from Wistia and Vimeo to Brightcove and Ooyala, among others) should be obvious to everyone. What is not so apparent to many people is the opportunity to use online video advertising as a highly-targeted attraction engine.

The game changer over the past few years has been the move to online, streaming video for virtually every kind of communication and entertainment. Advancements in video technology mean huge benefits for society as the power of video is now in everyone’s hands—quite literally due to smart phones, on both the video creation and video consumption side of things. These advancements combined with mobile video’s remarkable reach means even bigger benefits for advertisers. 

In fact, the shift from desktop online video advertising to mobile advertising has been nothing short of astonishing. To give you a sense of how big this shift is, consider this: In the fourth quarter of 2013, the number of ads showing on tablets was almost tripled from the previous quarter, according to a FreeWheel TV report in USA Today. Plus, that leap in growth was ten times (10x!) faster than the consumption of video ads on desktops.

Bottom line, this is just the beginning. Mobile is still in its infancy. The original iPad was just introduced four years ago.

Multiple Types of Video Content and Placements

Vine growth statsOne of the more fascinating aspects of online video advertising is the wide variety of video types that advertisers are starting to use. The traditional broadcast video advertisement, which is served up in 30-second segments and interrupts consumers’ viewing to blatantly peddle a product or service (in a format that is frequently skipped via DVRs), is not what is working in the same ways any longer. In fact, the exact opposite is what is thriving online. YouTube, for example, is full of informative, how-to videos that are less “commercial” and more informative. This approach connects with my marketing philosophy of attracting and engaging, rather than straight sales pitches.

The way video and entertainment is consumed has also driven the adoption of new types of videos that are working in other ways. Skyword reports that a Mobile Marketing Association study showed that video ads of 15 seconds or less and non-skippable were viewed in their entirety 92 percent of the time. If the ads are skippable, only 9 percent were completed. Whether the ad is virtually embedded within an informative clip that “leads with value”( as I like to say), or is delivered in an non-skippable format, these advertising options, again, are just the beginning of a new world that, in my considered opinion, any serious online marketer needs to consider.

In addition, the shorter video formats are getting more popular on stand-alone social video platforms. Between Instagram video and Vine (just to name two), the public is getting more and more accustomed to digesting their video in shorter formats. Few people who are not active on social media realize the reach of these platforms. Some even call Vine “the fastest growing app in the world.”

More Bandwidth Means Higher Quality Video

Another advancement that has made online video an ever increasing opportunity to be considered as part of your advertising budget is the increased broadband data access speeds that consumers are now able to afford. With faster speeds comes better quality video. With mobile comes any where, any time access. Without the distractions of constant buffering, viewers are able to watch longer videos, and companies are willing to invest in better production quality. For example, a large company like LifeLock invested wisely to produce higher quality online exclusive, more informative videos for its target audience to let them know how they can protect themselves and their identity online.

Jacking into Untapped Potential

In many instances, little difference in quality exists between what you would see on television and what is being shown on the Web. And, frequently what’s online is more interesting, more personal, and certainly more highly targeted than what’s on TV. And, in terms of variety, the Internet offers so much more. But perhaps even more significant is online video’s interface options.

According to streamingmedia.com, interactivity is the main function that makes online video consumption different from television. However, many advertisers are still missing the boat on this opportunity. Right now, 85 percent of online video advertisements are simply the same content that could have also run on traditional television, where the audience simply sits back and takes it in. By allowing the consumer to get more involved in the ad or the original content, and by being able to place advertising videos (whether ads or informative content marketing clips) in MUCH more relevant contexts, viewers naturally become more involved and connected to the product or service, and thus, more willing to make a purchase.

The Future of Online Video

The Globe and Mail claims that big things are on the horizon for online video advertising in 2014. Smaller companies that had been hesitant to hop on board will see the light and start spending on the medium. And, speaking of spending, I don’t think there is any doubt that this will be the year that more companies start shifting their advertising dollars from traditional television to social media and online video. Another shift will be that online video production will become more of a specialty for agencies. With the differences between traditional and online video becoming more apparent, through the inclusion of interactivity and highly-targeted contexts, for example, more production companies and marketing agencies will specialize in online video production and distribution (yes, as ComBridges has been doing for some time).

Obviously, the ComBridges team is here to help if you are interested; but more importantly, I wonder whether it will be you or your competition that will take the lead by leveraging the amazing power of online video and online video advertising.

I’ve seen again and again that it’s those market leaders who stick their necks out to engage with these leading edge trends that grab a significant competitive advantage, especially over time. “A word to the wise” should be sufficient. Yes?

My New Favorite iPad Video App: Adobe Voice

Riding the Wave

The major trend in social media marketing that I call “The Visual Web” is becoming increasingly important. Fortunately, I’ve found a new iPad app that makes creating animated videos both FUN and EASY. I like that. 😉

If you still haven’t jumped into creating your own videos and visuals, I’ve got one quickie example for you below, and perhaps this quote from a true, social media marketing thought leader will also inspire you?

“From a trend standpoint, the trend towards visuals in inescapable... Everything that people are paying attention to now fundamentally has pictures or video.” — Jay Baer’s video blog post, Why Visuals Are the Most Important Element of Content Marketing

create quick easy videos on iPad with adobe voiceiPad as New Easier Authoring Platform

For me, being able to create on the iPad, without a mouse or trackpad, sitting in my easy chair is more fun and relaxing than sitting in front of a computer, even a light laptop. As an innovator, I also notice the creative juice that flows through the Apple’s iPad eco-system. The fact is that this app as well as others that I use regularly—like Paper from Fiftythree.com—are iPad-only apps… and, by the way, they are also both totally free.

Quick, Easy Animated Videos with Adobe’s New Voice App

Last weekend, I heard about Adobe’s new free iPad app called Voice. It uses your voice as a sound track. You record the audio one scene at a time. Lots of templates, clip art and royalty free photos are included. I found it to be a positive experience and intend to put it to further use.

Below is my first test video created with Adobe Voice in about 20 minutes. Not bad for my first time out.

One lesson that I learned in the process is that next time I will keep all of the individual scene audio snippets shorter. It would also be nice for the app to enable you to post your videos to YouTube and other video hosting services. Right now, you can share a link, post to social media, or use an HTML embed code as I have done below; but I’d have to re-record it with a screen capture program in order to post it to my YouTube Channel.

Otherwise, I liked the user experience a lot and once I really get the hang of this production time will be even faster. Overall, using Voice was fun and I think it’s a great new option for communicating on The Visual Web.

Learn How Compelling Visual Content Can Increase Your Social Media Marketing ROI

In a blog post over two years ago (see Social Media Goes Visual: Why Pinterest is More Than You Think), I started calling the next frontier of social media marketing, “The Visual Web. This morning, I extended this conversation with a Google Hangout interview with Ekaterina Walter, the author of “The Power of Visual Storytelling.” Here’s that 30 minute conversation:

Fundamentally, humans are predominantly visual creatures, and according to a study from National Formosa University in Taiwan, this is reflected in our computer environments—especially in this age of social media!

Bottom line, you may produce the most compelling written content for your business blog and social media marketing efforts, but if you don’t have the right visual content to make it more engaging, you may never see decent conversion rates.

Here are some basic tips (with more to come) as to how to effectively use visual content to engage readers and get a better ROI:

Vary Your Media

To effectively promote content in social media, mix up what kind of visual content you’re using.

  • Photos. Whether you’re using your own photographs, stock photography or a digital vector, you’re going to need a relevant image(s) to go along with your content. Case in point: Marketing blogger Jeff Bullas reports that articles with images get 94 percent more views, and on Facebook, photos get 84 percent more click-throughs than their counterpart text-based posts, according to Kissmetrics. Failing to add a photo can mean a major loss of conversion. Also, let’s face it—the article just looks nicer with an image or two.
  • Video. Integrating video into your social media campaign not only grabs people’s attention, but it helps you stand out as an authority in your field. To create customized video about your area of expertise, use a marketing service like ComBridges or just shoot and upload via YouTube, or use Google Hangouts On-Air as I have done above. If you simply need royalty-free stock video, try a site like Shutterstock.
  • Animated GIFs. Sites like Buzzfeed, Distractify and Tumblr use animated GIFs frequently. These sites get shares into the tens of thousands and views into the millions. With the widespread use of broadband, these kinds of images are far more high-tech and user-friendly than they used to be. They’re a great way to market pop culture events or tutorials without requiring the user to watch a video. If you’re trying to get a quick point across, use a GIF.
  • Infographics. Your target audience may not want to read a wall of text. Instead, offer them quick and easily accessible information (with credible sources) in the form of a visually engaging infographic. In fact, infographics have become so popular in recent years, you can search for just about any topic you’re interested in followed by the word “infographic,” and chances are, there is one available.

And all of this is just the beginning. In future posts, I’ll write more about things like Instagram, Pinterest, SlideShare and more. Please subscribe via the links above to be notified.

Keep Color Psychology in Mind

Because “The Visual Web” is all about graphics and images, color is key. Color sets off certain signals in your brain, even if you’re not aware of it. For example, the color red is exciting and stimulating, while blue is considered calming and trustworthy. Take a look at different business logos and advertisements as you’re driving down the street. Note what kind of an emotional appeal they have for you. Use this same type of approach in your social media efforts. Depending on the emotional response you want to convey, choose your imagery and colors within the content carefully. Visual.ly has a great infographic on the psychology of color that can help you make good color choices for your social content.

More to come! I look forward to your feedback and your shares. 😉

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