Instagram’s Video Launch, Vine Sharing Tanks On Twitter
Instagram’s Video Launch, Vine Sharing Tanks On Twitter

#InstagramVideo has been eating into the number of people sharing videos on Twitter’s Vine, according to data from data analytics tool Topsy.com.

On 20 June Facebook unveiled #InstagramVideo and it appears that it’s launch led nearly immediately to a drop of over 40 per cent in the number of videos shared on Vine. If this is anything to go by then it looks that the public has taken to Instagram’s 15 second video format with filters over Vine’s 6 seconds offering.

Over 5 million videos were uploaded to Instagram in the first 24 hours, confirming what we all knew, that video is what people want to see and share, especially on mobile devices.

This has created the opportunity for private sector companies, NGOs and public sector groups to engage with their audiences using short and to the point video. But what are the differences between these two channels?

Insight gathered tells us that:

  • Instagram has over 130 monthly million users, while Vine has 13 million.
  • Vine videos can be a maximum of 6-seconds long, while Instagram gives you 15-seconds. We should also note that in The Gulf and Middle Eastern Countries the video application of choice is Keek, which allows 36-second video updates.
  • Instagram allows filters to be used, Vine doesn’t, or at least it doesn’t yet, but I suspect that they will offer this facility soon as Twitter already offers filters on pictures upload to the network.
  • Instagram videos are locked into Facebook. VentureBeat’s John Koetsier‎ (@johnkoetsier‎) points out that, ‘you can view the video within the Instagram app [on your mobile], or — if you have the URL — on the Instagram website. You can also view the video in Facebook, but nowhere else.’ Yes, if you share an #InstagramVideo on Twitter, it won’t auto-play as Twitter removed Instagram use of Twitter Cards, so Instagram video will not render in Tweets.
  • Vine will auto play video in Tweets, and you can also embed Vine videos on websites.
  • Facebook could move to embed video advertising before or after your clips. But then, so could Twitter. As a brand, you should consider the implication of this.

Social media has given PR and communications professionals with an arsenal of tools with which to better engage with their respective audience. The rise of video, confirms PRs are brand journalists, enabling organisations to:

  • Share behind the scene information.
  • Encourage brand ambassadors to share content.
  • Share short stamens from decision-makers.
  • Encourage your community to reply to announcements.

From my perspective I see Vine as a tool for real time news for companies and brands. A video platform with which you can reach influencers on Twitter. Instagram meanwhile has positioned itself as a channel for the long-term conversation with consumers on Facebook. Bot has it’s strengths, but it is up to PRs to know which is the right tool for the occasion.

Video is taking over from the written word. Gaining knowledge on video and how it influencers is a skill that PRs are going to have to gain, and fast. Just look at how @GeneralElectric have taken to Vine.

Just this week I was at Aljazeera in Doha presenting to a number of their PRs the value and ways in which video can add value to conversations. Their answer to me? Er, we already use Keek.

Introducing Video on Instagram from Instagram on Vimeo.

Evening Standard 2013 Budget Leak
Evening Standard 2013 Budget Leak

The London Evening Standard came under fire today for breaking the strict embargo placed on the 2013 Budget, as the newspaper published details of the Budget on Twitter before George Osborne took to the dispatch box.

The Standard shared a picture of it’s front page that detailed the 2013 Budget on Twitpic, an image that was picked up by MPs in the House of Commons and Journalists that were covering the 2013 Budget.

While the image was quickly deleted from the social network, the damage was done. Research from Topsy.com (select cached Page) reveals that over 2,000 viewed the image. It also got retweeted by Sky’s Adam Boulton (@adamboultonsky), The New York Times Sarah Lyall (@SarahLyall) and other influential journalists and bloggers.

The paper’s Political Editor Joe Murphy (@JoeMurphyLondon) was forced to issue an apology on Twitter even though it was certainly not him who shared that image. Editor Sarah Sands meanwhile issued the following statement, ‘An investigation is immediately underway into how this front page was made public and the individual who Tweeted the page has been suspended while this takes place. We have immediately reviewed our procedures. We are devastated that an embargo was breached and offer our heartfelt apologies.’

For some reason Osborne’s advisors chose today, when all eyes would be on him, to unveil his Twitter account. An odd choice of day given the Chancellor’s unpopularity in the polls and how the public share their views online. A very bad call in my opinion.

Twitter is a news channel, one that because of today’s real-time digital age can inflict greater damage. And while embargo’s have been a traditional tool in the armoury of PRs, in today’s digital world it is a public relations professional job to maintain total control of the story, especially a story which contains market sensitive information. Twitter and digital are hard to control. Conditions on the sharing of content online must have been secured.

It’s been a bad day for HM Treasury’s PR team, but a worse one for the Evening Standard.

Twitter is changing public relations. It’s making media outlets more competitive. As some on Twitter have said, The Standard’s story was just ‘too hot off the press’. Don’t take it for granted!

HMV tweets with retweet data
HMV tweets with retweet data

The social media team at HMV today gave Deloitte, who’d been appointed to deal with the administration of the company, a lesson in crisis management when they live tweeted their own sacking.

At just past 13.25 HMV’s official and verified Twitter account sent out the following tweet: “We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired! Exciting!! #hmvXFactorFiring“. This tweet went viral with over 1,300 retweets in 30 minutes.

This tweet was followed by 7 others, which told the world what was happening behind closed doors.

The social media team’s other tweets included posts such as: “There are over 60 of us being fired at once! Mass execution, of loyal employees who love the brand. #hmvXFactorFiring” and, “Sorry we’ve been quiet for so long. Under contract, we’ve been unable to say a word, or -more importantly – tell the truth #hmvXFactorFiring.”

The best tweet, and one that highlights the generational gap that exists between old-time marketeers and the new digital and connected world came a few minutes later with this comment, “Just overheard our Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks) ask “How do I shut down Twitter?#hmvXFactorFiring.” It is this tweet, which was retweeted over 200 times. that highlights the failures of traditional marketeers that work for brands such as HMV and who still don’t understand social and digital channels.

Given the company’s failure to adapt to the digital economy it was perhaps unsurprising that HMV didn’t take control of their social media channels before announcing the redundancies. Even the Deloitte and their PRs failed to understand the power of people and influencers on social networks.

If you find yourself in a position where you have to announce bad news, here are a few tips:

  • Be transparent in what you announce. Don’t spin, your audience will find out
  • Keep your communications team alongside you
  • Listen to your audience and gauge their sentiment
  • Make sure that social networks are owned by your public relations team
  • Engage where you legally can, and don’t delete tweets!

I say don’t delete Tweets, because copies are kept in the cache of many online services, such as Google or Topsy. Here is a link to Topsy Advanced Search, where you can find copies of @HMVtweets posts detailing the firing of staff. You’ll also see  data on the number of retweets that each tweet secured.

Other bloggers that have picked up the HMV story include:

Twitter Cards
Twitter Cards – Julio Romo: Google AuthorRank, What PRs Need To Know

Earlier this year Twitter rolled out Twitter Cards, a unique feature that would allow partner websites to present their content on Twitter in a more engaging way.

The service was initially designed to help media organisations preview in their Expanded Tweets content, images and video that they had just published on their websites.

Initially developed for journalists and publishers, this opt-in feature allows sites that offer ‘great content and those that drive active discussion and activity on Twitter‘ to potentially secure increased click-throughs from to their websites their tweets.

For Twitter, the aim was simple, to further position the network as a primary source for real-time news, content and comment.

I have been testing Twitter Cards Expanded Tweets for a few months now, to see if the feature could be used by companies and brands. And if so, if Expanded Tweets could help content creators secure increased engagement from the communities they have around them.

For brands to make the most out of the Expanded Tweets feature they are going to have to seriously look at the content that they create and publish on their websites. Get the tone and voice wrong and you will see no change in the level of interaction – reinforce negative perceptions. Adapt your brand style and how you communicate online and Expanded Tweets could help how your content is seen and shared by influencers on Twitter. To put it in simple terms, brands are going to have to learn how to become publishers.

Here are a few tips to guide you how to use twitter cards for blogging and content marketing.

What is Twitter Cards?

Simply put, Twitter Cards is a facility that enables you to present the content you publish on your website in a more engaging way on Twitter.  The feature will:

  1. Give you control of how your content is displayed on Twitter
  2. Help drive more traffic to your site
  3. Increase the number of people following your company on Twitter through content attribution.

And it is content and the attribution of it that is central to what Expanded Tweets is. Facebook Open Graph already enables how content is displayed and shared by individuals, while Google’s own Author Rank, which I wrote in this earlier blog post, confirms how people and what they share has become central to how reputations are built and authority is gained online.

Today, PRs have to remember that to help establish your brand and the thought-leaders within it you have to think about people, the content and the knowledge that is there to be shared online.

How do I activate Twitter Cards for my website?

There are three quite simple things you will have to do:

  1. Read Twitter Cards documentation and add the appropriate markup to your website – typically just 3 lines of HTML
  2. Test the markup using Twitter Cards Preview tool, and
  3. Once you have added the markup to your website, fill out this Twitter Cards application form and include a link to a representative page containing markup. Note that your submission will be rejected automatically if you have incomplete or broken markup.
Twitter Cards HTML Code for Twitter Summary Card

Once you have submitted your email application you will have to wait for an email from Twitter confirming that your request to be included in Twitter Cards has hopefully been approved.  Following the activation and depending on the type of content you publish on your site, tweets will be shown in three different forms:

  • Summary: The default card, which includes the title of your story, description of the post, thumbnail image used on the article, and Twitter account attribution
  • Photo: A Tweet sized photo card showing image posted on your site
  • Player: A Tweet sized video/audio/media player card displaying content that can be clicked and played

Twitter Cards will attribute both the author of a post by mentioning their Twitter handle and the Twitter account of the site that carries the content.

Why has Twitter launched this service?

A lot of people are turning to Twitter for real-time news. Today though news comes not just from traditional media outlets, but from bloggers and influencers online. As I have mentioned before, many news outlets are no longer battling to be the first for breaking news. Instead they are focusing at verifying and curating the content that people are capturing and sharing around the globe.

Today, everybody has a community around them and Twitter is aiming to be the hardwire that connects us.

I am a PR within an organisation that traditionally just publishes press releases on our website, can I use Twitter Cards?

Yes, you can. But don’t expect to improve the level of engagement between your audience and your brand if the content that you share has no personality.

The challenge that you are going to have to overcome is that of developing a tone and personality that your brand is going to have to use online and in real-time. Think of your team as a newsroom. You might have to:

  • Adapt the structure of your website
  • Increase the amount of content that you share on your site,
  • Increase the frequency of the content
  • Attribute individuals to content – CEO, CIO and other internal thought-leaders, which will require you to develop their own online personalities. Google search results is pushing people with authority to the top of rankings. Twitter is looking to do the same.

Get it right and over time you could see increase engagement between your audience and your brand.

As a consultant I have spent time reviewing the communications departments of clients, restructuring and training teams to ensure that they are more flexible and their content is more in tune with what their audience wants.  Through PR and social media consultancy I help companies and brands capture the ground and enter the conversation – teaching how to listen and engage. The aim is to help get their audiences talking and carrying their messages off-line.

Twitter Cards is just one tool that can help brands increase engagement. One tool that can maximise conversations and discussions.

Paddy Power Ryder Cup Sky Tweets
Paddy Power Ryder Cup Sky Tweets Planes

Irish bookmaker Paddy Power posted the worlds first ‘sky tweets’ in a guerrilla campaign designed to share messages of support to #TeamEurope golfers who were competing in the 2012 Ryder Cup at the Medina Country Club in Illinois.

The bookmaker hired 5 stunt planes to fly at 10,000ft above the course to tweet up to 60 specially selected messages some in support of the European golfers, while others just taunting their American counterparts.

Some of the tweets, which were visible from more than 20 miles away, included ‘Spirit of Seve’, ‘Rory’s Gonna Getcha’ and ‘Mrs Dufner is Hot’ in reference to the wife of US player Jason Dufner.  Tiger Woods didn’t get away with tweets asking ‘Seen Tiger?’

The cheeky campaign was led by Paddy Power’s own twitter handle (@PaddyPower) and asked followers to use the not-official #GoEurope hashtag.

And who was behind this campaign?  Well, the London-based Taylor Herring PR agency of course [I stand corrected, in fact the concept was ‘invented, managed and delivered by CURB with support from PR agency Taylor Herring.  Thanks to Anthony for the correction! 🙂 ].  Hat tip’s all round for a campaign that used creativity and social media.

Have a look here at Rory McIlroy’s reaction to the tweets in the Sky: