Biz Tips: Hit Record, and make it real

Biz Tips: Hit Record, and make it real


Hit Record, and make it real

When you’ve traveled to all 50 states in 100 days, what do you do to follow up? In Chris Strub’s case, do it almost all again. His treks weren’t haphazard but in support of more than 100 nonprofits such as the Salvation Army.

Along the way on those trips and others, he takes to video to “tell stories on the internet on stages around the world.”

Twitter is one of his video venues, which naturally led to a conversation with marketer Madalyn Sklar, herself a proponent of taking advantage of video for storytelling on Twitter and other social media.

Increased use of video is an offshoot of Twitter’s expanding from a maximum of 140 to 280 characters. The increased capacity is noticeable, but without feared traffic congestion. This is backed up by social media management experts at AgoraPulse.

“We tested 280 characters versus 140 characters on Twitter,” said one of the experts. “We used five different accounts to see which character count was better for impressions and engagement.

“We found that 280 characters did in fact get more impressions, but almost similar engagement,” he said, citing these conclusions:

  • Consider posting tweets that are marketing in nature that use the 280-character maximum, but there is no need to do it on every tweet.
  • Leverage the extra characters when using replies for customer service with no need to abbreviate every other word.
  • Be creative with the 280 characters. Social media should be fun after all.

As the results verified, 280 characters lets you express yourself in complete thoughts without having to resort to social media Morse Code, which makes those new to the media wonder — and afraid to ask — what you’re talking about.

“Many people seemed to think upping the character count to 280 was disastrous for Twitter, but I think it’s worked out quite well,” Strub said. “Using 280 gives people an opportunity to complete a thought. I think it’s actually improved our discourse.

“Going from 140 to 280 was a big jump, but the more substantive changes for Twitter have been removing the rules that GIFs, images and video count against the character count,” he said. “Anything that brings more logical thought to the discourse helps.”

While others have dreamed about Twitter enabling an edit button, that would be Strub’s worst nightmare.

“No edit buttons, please!” he pleaded. “I’ve retweeted waaaayyyy too many things over the last decade for people to go back with an eraser and a magic marker now. It’s simple: Just read before you reply.”

Sklar is an admitted convert to the 280 upgrade.

“I was initially against the switch from 140 to 280 characters, thinking Twitter would become cluttered,” she said. “And it didn’t. I quickly liked having the extra characters. It was a good move after all.”

The change has given Sklar more flexibility for using text and visuals in her social media exchanges.

“I use a variety when in Twitter conversations,” she said. “I like being visual, so you’ll mostly see images in my tweets. I love GIFs and use those regularly, too — plus video every chance I get. Video really says a lot.”

Strub also resists the same old same old.

“When I engage in conversations on Twitter, I always try to invoke a variety of multimedia as much as possible,” he said. “I’m a big fan of using video to reply, but it’s situationally dependent. For example, during a Twitter chat, video can be too time consuming.

“GIFs are no longer a niche,” Strub said. “They are part of our international lexicon and a critical part of the Twitter ecosystem. Often times, you can say exactly what you want to say with a GIF. Brands should be embracing GIF culture ASAP.”

Do it yourself

Rather than rely on a visual reference library, those on social media can create their own GIFs.

“Doing that — either as an individual or brand — is a hugely undervalued aspect of a successful, engagement-based strategy,” Strub said. “You can even make your own GIPHY channel. Andrew and Pete and Tim Lewis are two great examples.”

Sklar has found a mobile solution for her visuals.

“I love GIFs and have created my own using an iPhone app called VSCO,” she said. “It’s easy to do, and I know there are other ways to do this.”

A Hootsuite article also addresses GIFs.

“There is a way to use GIFs on Twitter without having a GIPHY-approved channel,” Strub said. “Keep them saved to your camera roll.

“I have a personal GIPHY account, and I’m working on ways to get an approved brand account,” he said. “They might end up being separate things.”

Native Twitter videos can be up to 140 seconds long, which makes it easier to do video replies.

“I love native Twitter video and have been on a mission since last summer, encouraging people to create video replies to their tweets,” Sklar said. “I came up with #VideoReplyDay. Use the Twitter mobile app for replies. It’s super easy to do.”

Amid the social noise, videos still make an impression.

“I have received video replies, and they always stand out,” Strub said. “I asked, via Twitter Video, Brand24‘s Top 100 Digital Marketers for their best advice. Several, like Mike Allton, replied via video.”

The next step would be if more companies replied using video.

“We’d all agree that we are all more likely to do business with brands that engage with us on Twitter,” Strub said. “I went to Which Wich sandwiches for three straight days because they retweeted me. What if a brand replied via video? That’s next level.

“Ultimately, smart brands are moving in the direction of actually valuing commentary they receive via social media, especially Twitter,” he said. “Wendy’s has become the envy of all brands — not just burger chains — because of their fearlessness.”

Injecting personality can be a big help for businesses.

“Brands must embrace idea of being more conversational on social media,” Strub said. “Clever, timely video replies are a natural extension of video-first strategies brands are implementing across channels.”

He singled out The Weather Channel’s Jennifer Watson as a video experimenter.

“I am more likely to fall in love with a business that takes the time to reply to my tweet,” Sklar said. “Have any replied with a video? No, and that is surprising.

“If you want to stand out, use videos in your customer service,” she said. “You’ll thank me.”

Despite that enticement, taking to video for most is a bold step.

“Live video still feels like a potential growth area for Twitter,” Strub said. “Periscope feels like an awkward friend of Twitter these days. It’s there, but it’s certainly been moved off of the company’s focus. I’ve ‘Scoped 365 times, but not nearly as much lately.”

Making progress

Sklar also sees encouraging signs for video while there is much left to do.

“I watch when tech expert Kara Swisher goes live on Twitter,” Sklar said. “Not too many people are using this feature and are missing out. I do create live videos and am working to do this more regularly.”

While he follows many people on Twitter, Strub feels closest to those he has met in person.

“This includes places like Social Media Marketing Worlds 18 and 19,” he said. “Connections like Stephanie Liu and Bella Vasta have become best friends. What do they have in common? They’re on video constantly.

“Tweeters who use not just pictures but video feel like they’re around you at all times,” Strub said. “This is a huge step in building the ‘know, like and trust’ factor. Remember that video isn’t exclusive to Twitter. It’s purposefully cross-channel.”

For Strub, no connection is truly complete without the in-person touch.

“I always make an effort to meet up with people I’ve connected with on social media,” he said. “Without fail, it’s awesome, and I recommend that everyone else does it, too.”

Strub noted that he and Sklar will both be available at the next Social Media Marketing World where they will speak.

“Even if you don’t attend, try to meet, collaborate and get acquainted with the people you connect with on Twitter,” he said. “Video can be an incredibly powerful tool to bring that connection one step closer to real life.”

Sklar and Strub continued their conversation — appropriately, on video — on Facebook Live.

About The Author

Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services and worked in public affairs for the Air Force and federal government. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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