Video Activist Handbook - Chapter 15
Talk to Strangers #
If you want your video to reach a larger audience than your circle of friends and your mum, you need to learn a few social media tricks.
Who are you?
Pick one username, design and avatar for all your channels. Stick to the same colours, tagline and hashtags to make it easy for your followers to find you. A clear visual identity is key to building a cross-platform distribution strategy.
Where do you want to be seen?
There are so many social media sites around that it's hard to resist the temptation to sign up to dozens of them. Try to focus your time and energy on the ones that are right for your project.
Blog about your video #
Even the best produced video needs some introduction or comment so people can react to it and ultimately share the link.
How to embed
It is now really easy to embed videos from any video platform directly to your blog. Under each video player you'll find a "share" button including an "embed" option. Simply copy the code displayed and paste it in your blog post in the "source" section. If it doesn't work, you can still directly share the URL in the post.
Don't forget to add relevant tags and links to your other social media accounts to invite people to subscribe to your feeds.
Use social media #
Embedding or Uploading?
Nothing prevents you from doing both, but if you want to develop a coherent distribution strategy it's better to embed (paste the video URL link on your FB post).
We advise against uploading on Facebook, where FB is hosting your video. One of a number of reasons is that its search engine is, for now, still primitive compared to youtube's. It's a good idea though to create a video library on your FB profile or FB project page where people can easily find your films.
Facebook is not only one page
You can of course post your video link on your own profile, but you can also do it on your friends' profiles (though be careful not to spam people), and on any relevant groups. Then you can use your friend's name in the comments under the video which send them a notification, guaranteeing traffic to your post and video. Comments are the place to engage your audience and call them to take action: "If you like this video please donate / visit / subscribe...".
If Facebook is the most obvious place to tell your friends and family about your video, the micro-blogging platform Twitter is definitely the easiest one to tell the whole world instantly.
But you need to make it possible for your audience to find your video. Simply tweeting the title and the link of your video won't really help, as only your followers will see this video appear on their feed.
Make each letter count
As anyone who uses twitter is aware. it's quite hard to transmit all the information needed in the 140 characters limit imposed for each tweet. Don't worry: it gets worse! You have to leave space for the hashtags and mentions...
A mention is a tweet which contain the username of a user, beginning by "@" (example: typing @visionOntv in the body of your message will send us a notification that someone is mentioning us). It is a simple but powerful tool allowing you to talk to your followers or total strangers, inviting them to engage in a conversation...or to click on a video link.
A retweet, or RT, is a re-posting of a message by other twitterers, making it available to their own followers. Remember to leave at least 8 characters spare in your tweet so people can RT easily. There is no shame in re-tweeting yourself from various twitter accounts you might have or to ask people to retweet you. Unless it's part of a conversation, remember not to post a batch of tweets in a row otherwise your followers might lose interest or think you're spamming.
Like youtube, Twitter uses keywords to filter messages. They begin with a "#", the hash symbol from where the hashtag gets its name. They contain no spaces or punctuation.
The immense value of the hashtag is the capacity to create instant communities and conversations around a common interest or event. This is especially useful if you don't have a good number of followers yet on your Twitter account, who will retweet and help with promoting your video.
Choosing the right hashtag
It might be scarey at first, but after a few tweets you'll know quickly which one works best for your video. The first step is to use Twitter's search engine to see how people with similar media have formatted their tweets.
If available, use the official or more popular hashtag relevant to the video. When the choice is not obvious, ask yourself which keyword your audience would search to find your videos.
If you still can't find the right one, invent one and announce it to your followers so they can start using it as well and make it popular for you. You can have more than one hashtag but remember the space limitation in each tweet, so make it short and make sure there is no confusion with existing hashtags. Finally, once you have found a hastag which works for you, stick to it so that users interested in the subject can continue the conversation and keep driving traffic to your video.
TwitVid - A youtube for Twitter
You can also choose to upload to the video-host Twitvid (soon to be renamed Telly) or to share your video URL on their directory where people can comment and retweet. This catalogue is now also listing videos updating through Youtube or Vimeo.
The life of a video after upload #
Comment is free
You'll need to do a thorough follow-up to make sure your video links don't disappear in the abyss of social media activity feeds. This means the active monitoring of conversations, replying to all comments or posting video responses.
If you really care about understanding and optimising your video distribution and building an audience you will have to look under the hood. This means checking the statistics and data for each of your video and see which strategy works best on each platform.
For example, youtube, through its "analytics" menu, offers numerous tools to help you understand how your video performed.
Getting noticed on youtube #
60 hours of video get uploaded to youtube every minute, or nearly 10 years' worth a day. It can feel very lonely to have a small video account, lost in the millions. But if you are posting to google's monopolistic monster, there are a few things you can do to make your film more visible:
1. Short is better than long. when online viewing, most people switch off after 3 minutes.
2. Post to an active account on youtube with lots of subscribers. If you haven't got one of these already, you can post to a friendly account, or you have to do the hard grind of nurturing and building your own account.
3. Look at similar accounts to yours. How are they promoting themselves with text and pictures? Subscribe to their subscribers. Some will follow you back.
4. Reply to each new subscriber with a personalised, friendly message.
5. When you upload your video, follow the recommendations in chapter 12 for title/description/tags.
6. Choose the best, most "eye-candy" thumbnail image. This will appear in search engines as well as on youtube.
6. After you've uploaded, promote with social media in the ways advised here above, but you can also do the following:
7. Make video responses to other popular and relevant films. Some responses have to be moderated through by the account owner, but others simply appear, depending on how the account is configured.
8. Include a link or preview of your video in all your emails.