What is social video???

So I have been thinking what makes video social? Yes….what makes our video content connect with audiences in a social, fluid environment. Well, it is my opinion that it comes down to technology and content. Seriously, there has to be relevant content that relates to an audience in a way that makes them have the desire to share. Then, once they want to share…it has to be supported by technology that does not prohibit the ability to share.

Recently I have been harping on Flash Video and how it marginalizes certain audiences…and this is all about technology. If I have a device and a friend shares a video with me, I click to watch and cannot view the content because the technology does not support Flash…then the video is not social.

So when I think about the technology aspect of social video, it can be broken into two arenas: enabling the ability to share the video and enabling the ability to search and find the video. But before we get to technology…let’s try to talk about characteristics of social video. So let’s think through this a bit…ways we can make our video content social.


  • The video message has to be compelling.
  • The video message has to have an action item.
  • The video appeals to our emotions.
  • The video message makes us want to share.


  • The video has to be hosted and compressed so that it plays fluidly in majority of online environments.
  • The video player that displays the video is using the latest technology to meet your target audience’s devices needs. If it is HTML5, Flash, Quicktime, or what ever…it needs to be able to reach the largest section of audiences to consume the video content.
  • The video content has to be associated with searchable terms. We know what it means to make our webpages rich with searchable words…but now our video has to SEO rich. So whereever it is hosted, it must support searchable tags and video descriptions.
  • The video content must have a permalink to link directly to that video. You do want people to share your video, so it must have a link to post on social sites and email for reference.
  • The video content must have rich embed options. You want the masses have the ability to embed your video into your blogs, websites, and other online media outlets.
  • The video content needs to have the ability to have a title that is associated with the video. Places like YouTube and Vimeo provide that option to make the content searchable.

Let me give you two examples:

1) IT-oLogy Open House:

I worked on a project a few months ago with the sole purpose of telling the story of a new brand at an open-house. IT-oLogy was formerly the Consortium for Enterprise Systems Management. They were launching their new brand at the open house for their new building. So we produced a video that had all their partners and supporting agencies describing IT-oLogy in their own terms. We made the video fun, goofy, yet appealing to the 250 plus people that would attend.

When I showed up to make it play on their new big screen, the people were still installing the technology that supported video playback. So…we uploaded it to YouTube in full 1080p and played it on a big 50 foot screen from YouTube. They had the bandwidth to support the higher quality and it played well. When we uploaded it to YouTube…we made sure we named it properly, gave a rich description, and implemented logical tags. When people left, they wanted to go find the video. Why…because it was cool plus most of the people in the room knew the people in the video and wanted to share with their co-workers. They were able to embed in their blogs, email the YouTube link to their friends, share it on social outlets. A quality message maximizing technology to enable sharing.

2) My Class at Clemson

I was putting together a presentation about finding your passion. I found this great video called “Where good ideas come from.” I wanted to share it with my class during my afternoon session. I like to use my business Facebook page as a place to save cool links that I might want to comeback to later. So I posted the YouTube link to my Facebook page with a description of it’s intended purpose. So when I got to class, I pulled up the video from my Facebook page and played it for the class and they loved it. Afterwards, I noticed that a conversation started happening on Facebook under the link I posted.

The conversation was around entrepreneurship and where great ideas come from. People from the academic world, business world, entrepreneurs, etc. were commenting and discussion the underlying theme behind the video. At the same time, before I could email the link to my students, one of them posted the link to their Facebook page thanking me for sharing in class. That means that they were able to do a Google search for the video, find it, grab the link from the video, and share with her friends. Steven Johnson was the speaker in this video and a group called RSA Animate produced the visuals. These people not only inspired me to share with my friends, students, and colleagues….but they also inspired and enabled others to share. The content was engaging and inspiring and the technology was seamless to enable the ability to share.

What are your thoughts? How are you using video socially?

Stepping into the audiences’ mind…Audience-Centric

I was hanging out on Twitter the other day chatting with a few friends, and the conversation kept towards audience. Well, trying to fully get into the mind(s) of the audience(s), to fully understand their view-point. Why do we do this as communicators, so we  can clearly communicate our message. I do this mainly because I cannot produce any piece of creative for a “client” until I fully understand the audience.

I look at the communication relationship with the audience like ballroom dancing. You know, you will have people watching your every move, so you have to be in complete rhythm  with your dancing partner. You have to know the next steps, the next twist, the next move and you have to do this completely anticipating your partners movements. In-order to do so…it takes practice, communication, and trust. To eloquently dance across the floor with complete fluid movement, you have to know the person you are dancing with…it is a relationship.

When I create a presentation, a video, a graphic, or any piece of creative…I have to know my audience. I have to completely feel that I am seeing their respective view-point. This has to be done in-order to create a message that is effective and efficient. I have to know what makes them tick, what makes them look away, what engages, and what distracts. It is more than demographics and hard numbers, it is the subjective pieces of information the defines the passion behind their inner being.

This takes time and research. Many times (to begin the dance), I just get out an ole piece of paper and draw a simple triangle…a perfect triangle. You know, a triangle that has equal lengths on all three sides thus creating equal angles. At each point I write three different words: Audience, Purpose, and Delivery. In the center of the triangle, I write Context. I do this each time I begin a project. I define the audience(s), the purpose behind the project, and the method(s) the message will be delivered.  From this, I write a mission statement that yields context. By defining the purpose and delivery of each piece of communication, it takes us closer to understanding the audience and how/why we are communicating the message.

Each piece of communication is delivered on some platform whether via print, web, video, email, radio, etc. But this is the theatre for our performance. Our audience(s) are sitting in the seats. The goal is to engage the audience with the piece of communication. We want them to dance with us! We want them to forget their peripheral vision and interact with the message.

Before we can dance with our audience, engage them with the message, we must know them! We must be able to look through their eyes, hear with their ears, feel their tendencies, and understand their pre-dispositions.

Communicating our story: What is our brand message?

How many freaking hats to do we wear? As entrepreneurs, business people, business owners, marketing professionals, whatever it may be…we wear so many freaking hats. With all of these social media technologies sprouting up faster than the hair on my face…we are constantly trying to figure out how we use them, for which audiences, and which brand.

Yep…these hats we wear…they are our brands. Really, think of all the brands we represent under our own umbrella? At any point in time, we are involved in at-least three to five different things where we have to take off one hat and put on another. Currently, I juggle four different hats…the company I am own (Bobby Rettew, LLC), the class I teach (Business Writing at Clemson), my personal life (home life, family, marriage, etc.), and the collegiate networking event I have developed (NetworkBash at Clemson). Each of these hats support the overall brand of Bobby Rettew. But each one of these hats, these brands are like subsidiaries of a bigger company umbrella.

Why is this important…as more and more communication tools emerge and social media technologies help us communicate…we have define & develop each brand so that we know how to communicate while we are wearing each particular hat (brand). You have to define the brand before you can figure out how to communicate the brand. So step back and think, what is the mission statement of each brand. Define it…when you put on that particular hat for that brand, what is your mission statement. Now the mission statement for that brand is more than just the mission statement of the company itself, but how you represent that company.

Example, let’s take Bobby Rettew, LLC for a second…it is one of the hats that I wear. Let’s write the mission statement for this brand:

1) Bobby Rettew, LLC is a messaging company that uses new media and social media to produce and distribute the message online.
2) Bobby Rettew is the principle owner of Bobby Rettew, LLC as a storyteller, message creator, new media producer, videographer, and non-linear editor while also handling all marketing and public relations.

So when I put on the Bobby Rettew, LLC hat…I am constantly trying to find new ways to market and spread the word about our services while servicing the clients that we represent.

Now….how the hell do we deal with all the ways we communicate for each brand…each hat we wear. I have to keep things separate to try to manage. For starters, I have separate email addresses for each brand, each hat that I wear. But hold on…there are so many freaking different ways to communicate..and so many hats…and so many audiences.

Well…each hat that you wear, each brand you represent has specific audiences and specific ways to communicate to those audiences. Using LinkedIn might make sense to communicate as I wear my personal brand but might not work while wearing my Business Writing at Clemson brand. We have to define each method of communication for each brand and how we use each method.

While I am wearing the personal Bobby Rettew brand, I use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blog, email, video, and Face-To-Face. But each one has different communities, different ways we interact, and different ways we use that technology. BUT EACH IS DIFFERENT…and they are only ways we communicate.

OK…step back for one second because not all of these work for all communities! Not all of these work for all of your brands! Really…if Twitter is not appropriate…THEN DO NOT USE IT!

So, how do you figure this out? Get out a piece of paper and draw a triangle. Label each point with Purpose, Audience, and Delivery. Then above the triangle, write the word Context. The context is the brand you are trying to communicate. Identify the audience and the purpose of the brand…then list all the delivery methods (Twitter, Facebook, Face-To-Face, Video, Email, etc.) that would work to meet the audiences needs. Choose one, two, three, or all of the above.

Why am I writing this….because there is a lot of hype about social media technologies and they are growing not only in numbers but also market engagement. As these social media technologies grow, more groups are engaging from both an audience perspective and from and marketer perspective. Throw this in the bag of tricks with all the other tools that we as practitioners use to execute our strategies. It is becoming more and more important to identify why and how we use each tool to meet the audiences needs.

So many marketing professionals are starting to blend the strategies of one communication strategy to the next. Each communication strategy is not a one size fits all. This is evident in the increase spam we receive in email, less engaging Twitter followers, a Fan Page invite for every cause that has some sense of life, and blog after blog after blog entry that has no purpose other than just increasing the digital footprint.

Hello friends…did you know that print still works, television advertising is still affective, Face-To-Face is alive an breathing, and word-of-mouth is the most powerful of all. Each of these is a technology…each with an inherent purpose. So here is the real reason why I am writing this…we (including me) need to sit back and identify why and how we are using each of these technologies to meet the needs of the audience and the purpose of the brand. There is a fine line in capitalizing in a new technology when it is only a technology.

I am writing this to myself, to remind myself that I am a practitioner that represents the best interest of my clients and their brands. How are we helping our clients wear their hats, their brands, and communicate their message. If the hat fits and the megaphone is working….then lets communicate the brand. What hats are you wearing and how are you communicate those brands? I am not a brand strategist…I am just a professional communicator.