As online social networks continue growing with members and features, they will benefit video producers who create plans for their involvement online.
Being consistent with this plan will enable the building of rapport and more video distribution than ever. Think of it like organizing a video project: there’s Pre-production, Production and Post-production. Even still, new social offerings keep popping up like wildflowers in spring. Many websites include video distribution elements, such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. There are so many social sites to be a part of, that some basic organization is called for. Will joining three social networks be better for distribution, or will 10 be better? We’ll look at the benefits of forming a plan, and what tools are available to help organize your online social networks.
The Social Network Landscape
At 200 million users, MySpace has almost twice as many users as Facebook. Compare that to LinkedIn’s registered 30 million. While MySpace is the top social space in terms of numbers, the professional reservoir LinkedIn boasts an active community of video producers. These social networks are a great way to meet other people. You may find other video producers from your home town or even from across the globe. You’re also likely to find others with secondary interests, such as soapbox derby racing or gardening.
When it comes to joining networks, we at Videomaker often hear, “How much is too much?” Well, there are certainly hundreds of networks out there to join. We recommend joining no more than four to start. This number will be manageable as you add content to your network, find contacts and send out video. First, explore a social network that a friend has recommended. Chances are, it’s Facebook or MySpace. These two are great for connecting with friends you might already know. Next, join a specialized community like LinkedIn to connect with professionals. And finally, add a social bookmarking site to your arsenal. These websites allow you to keep track of videos you’ve watched, articles you’ve read and personal websites you’ve visited. StumbleUpon and Reddit are quite fun. They feature sharing options to let your friends see all the cool people and places you’ve found online.
How about taking your online social network and forming it into a real-live company? Online blogging network GigaOm reports that you can do just that if you live in Vermont. A recently-signed bill allows you and your friends to run a Limited Liability Company (LLC) without ever meeting in person. Already this bill has added value to having an organized social network.
To distribute video more effectively online, consistency is key. Before going on a social network bender, create a “media kit” with photos, videos and words to use across the social sphere. Making a folder on your computer’s desktop and labeling it “social network content” will create a home base. Fill it with actual media from your hard drive and links to your media online, like a photo or video. Type a brief description of your interests in a text editor, and save the file. Keeping a text document of commonly-used keywords saves time when you get to the Production step. Also, don’t forget to include links to the various sites of which you are a member. Most modern web browsers will allow you to save these shortcuts to your folder. Use online photo services like Picasa or Flickr to your advantage. Upload your chosen photos, so that you can organize and share them with more ease than you can from your desktop folder.
Now you’re ready to put that media kit into action. To get the most out of your social network experience, consider doing the following. Create a photo or icon for yourself, and use it across all your networks. This avatar is usually required, so using the same photo adds to your consistency.
Add a group of photos to your social network profile from your online photo-sharing site. Remember, you can add more over time. That text document of your interests and ambitions? Copy and paste it into the appropriate fields in your multiple online profiles. You may chose to write a blog post about your interests, too. All of this work adds up to a consistency that others around you will notice. For direct video distribution, try using TubeMogul to make posting content more efficient. If you want to send the same video to your MySpace and YouTube accounts, TubeMogul will do it.
Social Post Production
It may sound a bit redundant, but social networks are getting more social. Users of Facebook in particular are sending videos to each other as a means of simple video-communication, like a delayed video phone. This is new for Facebook, which has had limited video capabilities in the past, compared to YouTube. On the flip side, Facebook also offers “social ads” that you can send out like direct-mail marketing to potential clients. When sending out production stills (photos) of your latest creation, consider doing it on the same day each week or month. Ditto for video. Keeping organized while keeping up with the media you distribute can be daunting.
Some email companies like Yahoo! Mail and Windows Live Mail (previously Hotmail) will allow you to make a customized homepage where you can display multiple social networks on the same page. While this works OK, we recommend using NetVibes as an alternative. NetVibes is a great online tool that puts all of your networks in front of you.
A new standard service called Open ID can also alleviate headaches when signing into your networks (You can thank the JanRain company for development). Being much less intimidating than the Real ID Act, OpenID helps by putting all of your user accounts under one “umbrella” login. OpenID allows you to use one username and password for many different networks. Microsoft, AOL, BBC, Google and PayPal are a few of the big-hitters who will now accept your single OpenID. You can the use one social network account to log into your other accounts. This means you don’t have to enter duplicate information each time you want to start a new account. This then gives you less hassle when signing in to multiple accounts. Anything to help you spend less time at the computer and more time making video, right?!
Remember if you are creating a professional network, that you need to tone down some of the personal stuff. We have an associate who was shocked when a friend posted a rather embarrassing photo of her to her work-related Facebook site. Photos of you in compromising situations or even you with the dogs or kids, might not be good for business networking, you might want to leave that for your personal site. We’ve read reports of employers and clients looking prospective partners up on MySpace and Facebook to check out their profile before making a hiring or sales decision. (See sidebar below.)
If all this hubbub sounds a bit overblown, consider this: Even Cisco Systems (the maker of wireless internet devices) is launching social networking tools. Electronics giant LG has also shown off Blu-ray Disc players that incorporate YouTube connectivity. For we video producers, it seems like distributing video will only get easier.
Andrew Burke is an independent producer and has worked in video production on three continents.
Even though the ‘social web’ may seem like the wild, wild west, there are some general rules to abide by. First, choose your account name wisely. We recommend using part of your name, your business name or a favorite hobby. Stay away from using popular phrases or profanity. Also, when adding new friends or acquaintances, be sure to engage in a conversation with them. Digital “Thank You” notes are popular ways of acknowledging an associate while personal notes are far preferred for using with friends. And lastly, be sure to give credit where credit is due. Sharing videos is easy but it’s valuable to let people know whether you’ve made the video or you’re just passing it along. This can help avoid legal troubles or worse-stressed friendships!