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.

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?

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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Video Rant Reveals the Surprising ROI of Leading with Values

I’m turning a corner in my business. I’ve realized that my values are the more important than my (so called) value proposition. And the real eye opener for me was the way that my business coach explained that this approach can actually open up new revenues. Values = $$? Really?

This blog post explains the fortuitous way that I experienced this strategy directly, and how you can use it as an inspiration for your own online marketing communications…

Values Trump Values Proposition

Why Our Values ARE Our Value

The foundation for this story is the way that I’m discovering that my core values of ease, fun and authenticity have become even more important than our company’s skills and talents with Internet marketing strategy, website design, video production, social media marketing, SEO and the rest. 

Radical, eh?

Sometimes this kind of branding/positioning is as simple as adding a line about these values to an email of introduction (and, yes, just last week a prospective client made a point of telling me that she appreciated the fact that these values were included in my email. There was an added element of rapport created even before we spoke on the phone).

This values-based approach really gets juicy when it’s applied to a new breed of video that I’m calling a “rant.” Rant videos are further explained and illustrated below.

Another unexpected result of this awakening for me is that my long-established axiom of “Leading with Value” (Key Concept #8 in my book) is causing me to choose to position myself and my company’s work more clearly around our own core values.

How Audacious Authenticity Can Attract New Revenues

“When you reveal your passion for being of service through your business in the boldest, most transparent and vulnerable way possible—for example, in a series of online video rants about things you care most about—this does more now for opening up revenue flow than almost anything else, particularly if other things have failed and you find yourself extremely stuck. Video is THE medium that carries genuine emotion the very best, online. Use video to allow money to find you, as a reflection of the full expression of your heart.” — Andrea J. Lee, WealthyThoughtLeader.com

The video above is my latest experience with both real time marketing and the art of the video rant.

My friend and client, veteran executive coach and management consultant, Nancy Monson and I were having a marketing consulting session. The day before I had been on a group coaching call with Andrea J. Lee where she had said what’s quoted above about the power of the video rant to both reveal passion and open revenue flows. As I directed Nancy to speak her truth about why most executive coaching doesn’t produce the desired results, she lit up. Recognizing that we were getting to the heart of her values and her commitment to make a meaningful difference, I said, “Let’s capture this, so we don’t have to write it down.” At first she thought I was going to make an audio note. But, after a slight hesitation, she agreed to let me record this video with my iPhone.

The video rant above is the result. I salute Nancy for her courage to swing out in this way and I’m pleased with how her knowledge and commitment to results have been made visible.

The Zen of the Real Time Rant

rant quote“The art and science of marketing is now about focusing on real-time connections and social exchanges.” 
Vocus blog post

It’s widely recognized that because of the explosion of social media and mobile communications, real time communications are the leading edge of what I call New Marketing. What better way to leverage these trends along side the New Marketing requirements for authenticity and engagement than with a video that is spoken with passion, from the heart? (And, it’s easy to see why formal production values are not required.)

More to come. I look forward to your feedback; and by all means, if you like what you’ve read and seen here, please share in every way possible (links below). Thank you! 🙂

PS. If you are interested in bringing more of your authentic passion and core values to your online marketing, please contact us. We’d love to help.

Authenticity Rant Video #2: Why “Live Your Own Life” Makes Marketing Matter

Who among us has never done something because someone else told them they should, even when all along their own gut intuition was telling them to do something different (which, of course, would have been “the right thing”)?

Live Your Own LifeHow many of us do the same kind of “giving ourselves away” with Internet marketing, for example, by thinking that social media marketing, blogging, content marketing or video is something we really “should” be doing, despite that fact that we really don’t have any passion for it?

Unfortunately, we’ve all done some version of this; and this kind of behavior, usually both personally as well as professionally.

That’s the subject of my new Authenticity Rant video (#2) that I recorded this morning via Google Hangouts On-Air with my colleague, Peter Klein. We used Peter’s incantation, “Live Your Own Life,” as our theme; and I connect the dots between that and the best kinds of “sparks” I know that can light the “fire” (that I think is necessary) for the success of your Internet and social media marketing.

Yes, there’s more to successful marketing than formulas or even strategy. And, “living your own life” with regard to your marketing communications is not necessarily easy; but in my experience, it’s worth every ounce of effort that you put into it.

I’d love to hear your thought on this video and these ideas. Thanks!

New Video: Authenticity Rant #1, KISS Meets the Meaning Behind Your Brand Messaging

Image via @gapingvoid. Messaage via @briansolis

Image via @gapingvoid. Messaage via @briansolis

Ease. Fun. Authenticity. These three words summarize what I’m about and what differentiates the most important dimensions of how we serve our clients.

Our new focus on these values is a quantum shift for the ComBridges brand. It makes saying “We are a web design company” seem pedestrian. Even my clarity about being “an Internet marketing strategist” pales in comparison to this more meaningful description of what lights me up and what I think makes the biggest difference when I work with people (and their organizations). 

Thus, the video embedded below is  a walking-my-talk-style expression of this commitment to focus on the qualities that are most meaningful to me. At the same time, this short video also includes a strong recommendation that you bring the human qualities of your brand to the forefront of your marketing communications. And, finally, thanks to my partner-in-crime on this Google Hangouts video, Peter Klein, we also underscore why, in today’s media-cluttered world, you need to do this kind of positioning as simply as possible. Not bad for only four minutes, right? 😉

I’ll blog more about this trend toward the human dimensions of marketing communications in the near future; but for now, one addition link that I found valuable recently is Bryan Kramer’s post on Social Media Today, There Is No More B2B or B2C: There Is Only Human to Human (H2H)

If you don’t know, KISS is means Keep it Simple Stupid.  😉 As always, I’d love to hear your feedback and appreciate any sharing or commenting you feel moved to do. Thanks!

An Online Video Project That Makes a Difference by Addressing the Crisis in Our Family Courts

There are online video projects… and then there are online video projects that pull at your heart strings because they are so important that they take your work to a more meaningful level. As our new client, Kathleen Russell and I have been saying, “We are not just selling widgets.” 😉

Becca screen grab

Rebecca, a survivor of Family Court abuse and corruption.

ComBridges’ recent last minute video shoot, quick turn around video edit, and posting to YouTube project, reflected in the three video clips embedded below, (for Kathleen Russell Consulting, KRC, a social advocate and political PR firm and her non-profit Center for Judicial Excellence, CJE) was just that kind of project. 

The video shoot followed Friday night, January 10th’s premiere of a revealing new documentary called “Divorce Corp.” The title kind of tells you what it’s about. I’ll add that as bad as our healthcare system is, the mercenary way that lawyers and courts have turned divorce into a $50 Billion business makes the healthcare system look, well, almost healthy (but not quite.) 😉 (HuffPo review here)

KRC’s tag line is “Telling Stories, Moving Mountains.” In this case, the story is the shocking corruption and dysfunctionality in the US Family Courts, an almost entirely “untold story” that really NEEDS to be told. The tragic fact is that the lives of children and their families are being absolutely ruined by a Family Court system that (sad but true) has absolutely no independent oversight. I find this to be shocking and hard to believe, but it is clearly true.

I won’t try to tell that whole story here. Hopefully, the three video clips below will inspire you to want to learn and do more. And there’s more information here on the CJE website.

However, I must say as a video professional, this is the kind of project that I LOVE. Video is not just a technology. It’s a communication platform. “Eye candy” is like sugar. No nutritional value. But when we use online video to tell important stories that really do need to be told, then we get an opportunity to make a real difference. I am very grateful for that.

For me at least, this kind of work is what having my own business is all about. Many thanks to Kathleen Russell and the Center for Judicial Excellence for the opportunity to be of service! And BRAVO to the three courageous people shown below. I know that it takes remarkable courage and commitment to speak up and speak out.

Please share and spread the word if you are so moved. Thanks.

UPDATE: A directly-related international news story is breaking here via Australian TV. Savannah Todd is yet another survivor of the US Family Court abuse, although her mother may end up in one of our prisons for protecting her daughter from another example of family court legal-style evil. 🙁

The Heart of Online Marketing: My Google Hangout (Video) with Jay Baer

Internet marketing and social media are discussed by Jay Baer in our first "Talk Walker" video interview via Google Hangouts On-Air

Yes, online marketing does have a heart. It’s the people.

In particular, it’s the people who contribute real value by what they do and who understand that what works, more than any particular technique in our New Marketing environment, is authenticity.

In fact, Jay Baer’s new book, Youtility says this quite well in it’s sub-title, “Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype.”

I’ve been following Jay for a long time via his blog, Convince and Convert, and his many other content marketing initiatives (please see this YouTube video’s description for more links). Jay is also one of the most sought after keynote speakers on the subjects of Internet marketing and social media, author of two books, the leader of a successful consulting company, and much more. We are honored to have him as our guest. Thanks again, Jay.

This 20-minute video interview was conducted via Google Hangouts On Air (the fastest way I know to conduct this kind of online video interaction), and this is the first in our new series of “Talk Walker” videos that will shine our light on people who are bringing real heart, authentic contribution and real value to the Internet marketing arena. Jay is the perfect place to start.

We look forward to your feedback. And if you like, please share, Like on Facebook and YouTube, and all that other good stuff. 🙂 Thanks! 

Facebook Marketing Meets Google Hangouts: How to Expand Your Video Audience

Our live Google Hangouts On Air webcast as it appeared live via our Facebook Page

Our live Google Hangouts On Air webcast as it appeared live via our Facebook Page

Sometimes I learn best by just going for it and trying new things. In this case, not only did I learn a new capability with Facebook Pages, but I also learned a new way to expand a video’s reach. In the hope that this trick is useful to you, I’ll explain how and what I did.

The day before our last 3 Geeky Amigos Takes on Facebook Marketing live webcast via Google Hangouts On Air (please find this video embedded below), I happened to see a local Internet marketing “guru” pitching the ability to create a “simulcast” of a live video Google Hangout via a Facebook Page. Sadly, this dude and his presumably “JV partners” were pitching their ability to create this functionality like it was a breakthrough so that you would buy their app for building Facebook pages with video embeds. 

I liked the idea, but I suspected it wasn’t that hard to do. Given that my pals and I do 3 Geeky Amigos as kind of informal R&D sharing event… as well as because it’s fun for us to learn and share how to use tech stuff like Google Hangouts On Air (and this IS a great platform for producing and recording live video conversations because they instantly publish to YouTube)… about a half-hour before the semi-regular (Tuesdays at 3pm PT) start time of our webcast, I started trying to figure out how to do this kind of “simulcast.” 

As someone who does know how to create custom, interactive Facebook Pages for clients, I use an online app called GroSocial. So I wasn’t starting from scratch. However, I checked with my contact at GroSocial and he hadn’t heard of anyone doing this before; and he encouraged me by saying, “cool idea!” 

Bottom line, Google Hangouts On Air provides an iFrame embed code so that you can post your live video “event” inside any web page. GroSocial has an iFrame module so that you can embed any iFrame inside a Facebook Page. Once I aligned those pieces in my mind, linking them together was a piece of cake.

Thus, voila! In just a few minutes, our webcast was live on Google+, YouTube and Facebook all at the same time (and of course it lives on via YouTube and anywhere else that we choose to place this embed code and could have been live simultaneously on any number of webpages. Thank you, Google.) In other words, it could have been live on our website as well. All I would have needed to do is to create a blog post or new page and use that same embed code. Pretty cool, eh?

I explain and show more via the recording of this webcast below. Enjoy and let me know if I can help you to expand your video, social media, or any other form of Internet marketing reach… anytime, anywhere.

What is certainly clear is that what I started calling “The Video Web” years ago is really gaining fresh momentum. 🙂

Webinar Video: Internet Marketing Success in 4 Easy “Booster Rockets”

Webinar via YouTube: Internet marketing... success

Last week, we recorded a live webinar as part of the re-launch of New Marketing University (NewMarU.com). I entitled it, “The 4 Booster Rockets of Internet Marketing Success” and we covered four key areas that are high leverage for any small business that wants to expand the effectiveness of its online marketing, including why these strategies are important and an overview of how we approach them.

The good news, if you are just passing by, is that I felt that this webinar was such a valuable introduction to how ComBridges approaches these kinds of innovations in Internet marketing as well as a taste of the kinds of useful information that will be available more and more via NewMarU.com, I decided to post this recording free and open to all on YouTube with no email registration required. In fact, this 45-minute video webinar is embedded below on this page so you can just click and enjoy it right now. 😉

In case you want to know what’s covered without watching anything, we discuss the following four strategic Internet marketing tactics:

  • Lead capture and lead nurturing along with the need to design a sales funnel process
  • Truly interactive Facebook Pages that go “beyond the Like”
  • Authentic engagement and what makes video content marketing more effective
  • Cost effective small business mobile apps to reach the rapidly increasing number of website visitors using smartphones and other mobile devices

All this and more in only about 40 minutes plus Q&A. Please check it out and comment, here or on YouTube. And if you want more, click on the “YouTube” logo to subscribe to our YouTube channel or register at NewMarU.com. Thanks! We look forward to hearing from YOU.