What to Do When Most People Watch Your Videos with No Sound

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I have a friend from college, the lovely Holly Westerfield, who has made a cottage industry of celebrating Wednesdays, which are so often dismissed and derided as Hump Day or some other such slander. She bakes cookies, pies, cakes, muffins, cupcakes... really anything that is baked and delicious... and shares them with the world to celebrate Happy Wednesdays, and I know that as a fellow lover of the March 4th holiday (the only day whose name is also a command!), I am quite sure she is thrilled today's Wednesday lands on the Star Wars holiday May the 4th (be with you). All this to say, while I haven't baked anything for you, I am happy to share a half-baked blog post with you. (ZING! Though that joke took a bit too much set up, didn't it? Sigh.)

Mobile video viewing presents a lot of challenges for videographers. Not only do most people not bother to turn their phones 90 degrees to match the aspect ratio (often because they have their screen orientation locked), they also often have the sound disabled. What's a videographer to do? Check out this example from Boston University:

Joe Chan, a videographer at Boston University, recently shared this with the excellent University Video Producers Facebook group, which you should join immediately.

Wanted to share an experiment we're doing where we're looking to make specific content for FB and Youtube - we found 80% of our audience was watching without sound, so we did a re-cut to share a single beat of the story that you could understand without sound (similar to Now This or other FB content you've seen around). Hope you enjoy!

Super smart, right? Not only does this video work even without the sound, but it also has an aspect ratio that works better for people who are watching it with their phones in the "upright" position. And it's shocking that such a large percentage of people were watching videos without sound... if there were ever any question as to whether or not mobile has completely taken over social media browsing, there's your answer.

Definitely something to consider for your video projects going forward. I have always known that platforms like Snapchat and Instagram require their own unique video edits, but it definitely makes sense that mobile-optimized videos for Facebook also require their own special edit too. Now if only we had endless time and staff to make bespoke edits for every social platform!  :)

Friday Five: Broken Hand Edition

After suffering through lingering pain in my right hand for nearly two weeks, I finally sucked it up and went to the hospital. A few x-rays later, broken fifth metacarpal confirmed. I now have a snazzy purple cast. Typing is difficult, and yet I soldier on. You're welcome.  :)

Now, onto the links!

1. Joshua Topolsky, co-founder of The Verge, writes about why media business fail... and how they can succeed. 

Your problem is that you make shit. A lot of shit. Cheap shit. And no one cares about you or your cheap shit. And an increasingly aware, connected, and mutable audience is onto your cheap shit. They don’t want your cheap shit. They want the good shit. And they will go to find it somewhere.

2. Kristen Taylor, former community editor for Serial podcast, writes about her strategies in engaging the community during Season 2.

What you’re always looking for with an audience are their universals — what connects them to each other, what unites them. Understanding why they are listening, or what they are listening for, is a good way to research their universals (I’d say their ‘globals’ like in programming, but fandoms work in universes).

3. Slate's Will Oremus on Facebook's transformation from social network to personalized portal.

The company has reinvented itself in two distinct ways. First, Facebook as a platform has been quietly evolving into something different than a social network—something less personal, but no less useful. Second, Facebook as a company has been furiously hedging its bets on the future of technology and social media, to the point that it is no longer properly described as merely a social network—no more than Alphabet (né Google) is properly described as a search website.

4. Gawker's Hamilton Nolen on the brutal struggles of adjunct professors.

Higher education is an industry with a two-tier employment system: the full time and tenured professors and the administrators with well-compensated, stable jobs, and the adjunct professors who have no guarantee of job stability and pay near poverty levels.

5. Jason Boucher on using Snapchat Geofilters at University of New Hampshire.

Still not sure what a geo-filter is exactly? Think of it as a digital sticker or a badge you can add to each snap you take with most only available is specific geolocations. It's also a form of marketing based on your locale or region where segmented audiences can be reached. Snapchat users are able to share your logo or event info without having any contact or interference from the sponsor.

Still reeling from Prince's untimely death, but as the proud owner of something like 30 of his CDs and records, I sure have been listening to some great music this past week and reminded of why I have long considered him my favorite artist.

He wrote this song when he was 21, he played every instrument on it, and it's better than anything I'll ever do in my life. Sigh...

Great Social Media Idea: Iconic Building Picture Listicle

Sometimes I feature high-brow ideas and elaborate campaigns/videos on this blog, and sometimes I feature (no less important, mind you!) workman-like ideas that provide high-engaging grist for the all-consuming content mill. Today is an idea of the latter variety.

If there's one truth in online content, it's that (despite what they may say) people never, ever seem to get tired of clicking lists. And while they can definitely be overdone, you should never feel hesitant to put one together when you need some fun "snackable" content for your social channels. Because never forget - your continuing mission should always be to post things that your followers actually want to see in their feeds. (Side note: Props to all the nerds who caught the TNG reference.)

Which brings me to this fun listicle from Cal Berkeley, highlighting 11 Times the Campanile Looked Flawless.

I mean... featuring 11 lovely photos of the most iconic building on your campus and putting them together with some sassy headlines on a Medium post? Pretty much guaranteed to generate great engagement, which of course this Cal post did. (Addendum to that FB link - I really like how they posted this in the evening. Seems like the perfect time for light-hearted content like this, when people are relaxing at home and checking Facebook more for fun than for news.)

This is a perfect idea to steal when you are having one of those days where you can't think of anything to post!

Great Social Media Idea: A Tasty Video from Webster

Did everyone survive the Game of Thrones premiere? Yes? Glad to hear it! Unless you're Ramsay Bolton, in which case... isn't it time you went along your merry way? Never thought someone could make me miss Joffrey. 

ANYWAY... it's Monday, which means I've got a tasty video for you, courtesy of the clever folks at Webster University:

Modeled after the ridiculously popular Buzzfeed Tasty videos, this quick and fun video blew up Webster's Facebook page with lots of views and shares.

Copying a well-known style can be a bit of a dicey situation - you face the dual risk of possibly feeling trite or of doing a poorly executed imitation - but when done with confidence and aplomb it, as it was in Webster's case, it can lead to really great success.

I particularly love the creative use of all the props, from (what I assume is) dollhouse furniture to coffee beans. And the reveal of the diploma? A perfect ending. Easy, breezy, beautiful #hesm content.

Great job, Webster! And thanks to Jen Starkey for sending this in to me... four months ago. (Whoops!) 

Friday Five: Purple Edition

Can't believe Prince has died. I've probably spent more time listening to his music than anyone else. Seeing him in 2004 was the best concert I've ever been to. He's been my go-to karaoke artist for years. First we lost David Bowie, and now Prince. 2016 sucks.

But these links don't suck, so let's get on with the show.

1. Big Changes for LinkedIn University Pages

Remember a few years ago when LinkedIn was trying to target teenagers and created university-specific pages that actually had some really great statistics and information? Well, those are going away. Karine Joly has all the details at College Web Editor.

2. Snapchat Explained

Are you still, like me, trying to understand what Snapchat is all about and why it's so popular with the kids these days? I thought this conversation with their VP of Content was really interesting.

3. Pinterest Goes Public

Speaking of social media sites that confound me a bit... Pinterest is preparing to go public, and is updating and improving its platform in advance of that. Though to be honest, I've gotten to know Pinterest quite a bit better now that I'm planning a wedding... so much so that we actually had to "ban" Emily from Pinterest for a week because it was keeping her up at night. 

4. Takeovers!

Is there still a place in higher ed social media for takeovers (i.e. having a student or alumni or someone else "take over" a social media platform for a day.)? I say yes, and Eric Stoller provides some great examples at Inside Higher Ed.

5. Blocking AdBlockers? You're Blocking Traffic

Digital publishing and the future of news is something near and dear to my heart, and the war raging over the use of adblockers is something I have done a lot of soul-searching about. But here's a new twist - sites that have blocked visitors using adblockers have seen a dramatic drop in traffic. Maybe not surprising, but that means people who use adblockers are more likely to just click away than to "white list" a site or temporarily disable the adblocker to see the content.


No surprises here in today's music selection... of course it's going to be a jam from the Purple One. There's hardly any of his music readily available online (unless you subscribe to Tidal), but I came across this amazing gem of Prince singing the joyously infectious "Starfish and Coffee" with the Muppets. Amazing.

Great Social Media Idea: "Butler Is" Board

A few weeks ago, I wrote about why I think placemaking is a powerful concept to utilize when doing social media work. You should read it! If you want to, that is. It's OK if you don't. My feelings will only be a little bit hurt.

So as an outspoken fan of participatory public art projects, I am naturally a very easy mark for this great video from Butler University that was sent to me via the "submit idea" box. (Hint, hint.)

Isn't that lovely? I like the simplicity of the "Butler Is" prompt, there is some really nice film making in the video, and I thought it was a neat idea to do sit-down interviews with some of the students who appeared in the video writing on the board... it makes the project as a whole feel a bit more significant.

End-of-year is a great time to do a project like this... get some plywood and chalkboard paint and make some magic happen.

Kudos to the Butler students who made this project happen, and thank you to the wonderful person who sent it in to me!