Tag Archives: YouTube

Free soundtrack music on YouTube? Who knew?

Did you know that you can add copyright-cleared music to any video you upload to YouTube? I didn’t, until this week.

Super-intern and video blogger Alyssa Levenberg was assembling a video slideshow of photos submitted by members of our Class of 2018 proudly declaring their college choices by wearing Oswego gear when we hit a sticky wicket. The song she originally wanted to use wouldn’t clear YouTube copyright control (redacted rant about how we already pay for music licensing), yet when I went to figure out what options existed, YouTube offered a solution via its audio library.

Audio library? Full of music you can add for free? Have I been under a rock?

Perhaps, since the feature has been around a couple years. But the process of adding music is pretty easy. From your account’s Video Manager page, click on the arrow next to the Edit prompt by the thumbnail:

Screen shot 2014-05-21 at 1.32.57 PM

 

Click on Audio and your video will appear with a selection of top songs you can add. Or you can click the Top Tracks tab and get a variety of genres from ambient to alternative & punk, classical to country & folk, rock to reggae, among others.

Screen shot 2014-05-21 at 1.33.23 PM

With the video playing, click on the tracks (which include lengths, which is helpful) and see how they work with your visuals. That song doesn’t work? Click and try another. You can also search a database of what YouTube lists as 150,000+ tracks. Honestly, I thought a lot of the songs were good and catchy and flexible enough to work with many videos. You can also use the Position Audio feature to drop it in or out when you want it.

If you do a search, which you can even do by genre, you can scroll down and see all the songs offered, or even sort by songs that could fit your video’s length.

Screen shot 2014-05-21 at 1.59.44 PM

If I had one critique, it’s that the minimum audio level available (if you slide the bar that says Only Music all the way left it will give you a lower volume and change to Favor Original Audio) can still be a bit high if your video involves a person speaking and you want the words to be clear. Maybe YouTube will tweak this feature eventually, although if you mix the original audio higher maybe it could work better. You’ve probably never heard of most of the artists available, but good music is good music regardless of whether it’s a recognizable artist.

And honestly, for a free fix that provides compelling background music for videos, the added audio feature for YouTube basically hits the right notes.

 

 

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The king of social media content on campus? It’s not us.

Those of us who work in social media and web communication professionally like to think we know all the answers about creating content that works. And then somebody comes along and makes us look like pikers. Such was the case of Charles Trippy of We the Kings, who played at SUNY Oswego on Saturday night. In addition to playing a good set, all he did was create the most popular piece of content ever to come from our campus … by far.

Not only was it a great plug (even if it did contain the word “badass”) but it told an interesting story:

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 12.29.07 PM

As backstory, Charles’ father, better known as Chaz Trippy, played percussion in the Gregg Allman Band. So he posted: “This is the badass venue we are playing at (SUNY Oswego) my dad played here too in the ’80s!” It’s a big compliment to our Campus Center arena and a great historical note (the Gregg Allman Band did play at SUNY Oswego, albeit likely in the less impressive Laker Hall, in 1982).

If you’re squinting at the number of likes, do not adjust your set, it does indeed say more than 31,000 people liked it on Instagram (now nearly 32,000). If one of our posts gets 100+ likes, I consider that impressive. I don’t see us dethroning this feat worthy of a king.

The post also appeared on Twitter, where the figures also rang up high: 96 retweets and 504 favorites (updated: 98 and 523).

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 12.28.41 PM

We can learn lessons from this, of course. In terms of social media success, yes it helps that Trippy is a good-looking guy who plays in a popular band. But he wouldn’t have 404,316 Instagram followers and 464,000+ Twitter followers if he didn’t create interesting content. His use of media crosses over into YouTube with his popular Web series Internet Killed Television, which basically chronicles Trippy’s life on the road and at home, sometimes with appearances from his parents. And his Charles Trippy Family x Core channel, where the episodes air, has 1,469,912 followers.

Trippy did indeed document his time at SUNY Oswego with a video blog episode, featuring several students and calling the whole experience “pretty awesome.” He enjoyed playing on the same bill as two bands that inspired him growing up, Motion City Soundtrack and Say Anything. Calling the experience “a dream come true,” he offers advice: “Never let anyone ever tell you that your dreams are stupid.” As of Monday morning, or in about its first 24 hours, his video featuring our campus had some 264,000 plays … and climbing.

Plenty of bands are more famous and sell more records, but Charles is certainly a king of content. A lesson learned in retrospect is how anybody involved with the show, including us so-called professionals, could have better engaged him sooner on social media and tried to leverage his huge following to promote the concert. Advice going forward for people promoting shows at any campus, concert hall or cafe: See who’s coming to perform and try to connect with them in advance and in a meaningful way.

Sure, I don’t expect to create a piece of content with better reception that what Charles Trippy got, but he put a lot of Oswego love and interesting stories all over social media. I’ll take that royal treatment any time!

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Potential students have questions. Provide answers. Get creative.

A previous blog entry lamented the lame state of FAQ pages and other stale/outmoded non-helpful attempts to help future students. How do we get past that? We listen, we look for creative solutions and we work with our talented current students.

Screen shot 2014-02-10 at 10.16.55 AM

Our most notable effort is the Alyssa Answers Your Questions Q&As with student video blogger Alyssa Levenberg, part of her popular Alyssa Explains It All video blog series. The past two years, she has asked accepted students in our closed Class of 2017 and Class of 2018 Facebook groups to post questions she can answer in video form. The curious students — many of whom are still deciding between Oswego and other schools — have provided plenty of questions and this year (for the second time), Alyssa had so much that she developed a Part One and Part Two to accommodate all the answers.

These are not from-the-guidebook answers and this kind of project could worry any administrators who covet complete control of all communication channels. And while Alyssa gets questions on subjects students wouldn’t ask administrators in the first place, she handles them positively and constructively. She is an ambassador for Oswego (she’s interning with me this year) but I don’t stage manage her work … because, frankly, her video blogs wouldn’t be as successful if she didn’t have this kind of creative freedom. I may come back and say, “hey, maybe you can elaborate on this point for another video,” and sometimes we talk out potential video ideas, but once we sign off on a concept, she runs with it.

And if you’re considering Oswego, of course you would take Alyssa more seriously as a source than some old dude like me. Current students, I like to say, are what prospective students want to be because they can’t wait to get into college and live that life.

Screen shot 2014-02-10 at 10.13.54 AM

“What’s the best dorm to live in?” We heard this countless times, in various forms, in the Class of 2017 group but there is no one answer, because it depends on what you want and what you value. How to communicate this? Again, we decided to get creative and tap our talented students.

The resulting “Why live in ___________?” video series was a team effort. Alex, an awesome contact in Residence Life and Housing (whom we invited to be part of the 2017 group) saw the value and worked with colleagues to find students to “sell” why their hall was a great place to live. My graduate assistant videographer at the time, Kevin Graham, spent a lot of time on interviews and editing, and did a phenomenal job on the finished product.

While not everybody will sit through 13 videos, having the playlist on YouTube — and shared on social media and embedded on our site — means viewers can browse. Others may find individual videos via the power of YouTube (and its parent company, Google) for searches … it’s no coincidence we phrased the title as a question. But it works better than some administrator talking or impersonal virtual tour embedded in an app you have to download because it’s widely accessible and has current students pitching their homes.

We don’t use video for everything. Last year, when we would see multiple questions in our Facebook groups on a particular club or aspect of campus, our interns would blog on that subject and we’d post up the link. In short, we let our audience interest drive some of our creative process. If we value our potential students, we should keep them in mind as we create content. And if current students can serve as virtual ambassadors, entertainingly explaining what college is like, they can connect even better.

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Alyssa Explains It All, or on being social and open to ideas

Our student blogs have really stepped up in content concepts this year, evolving past “this is what I did last week” and into more purposeful and useful directions. Since I believe in sharing, I’ll post more info here on the various projects, but wanted to start with how a random tweet turned into an outstanding freshman video blog.

On Sept. 1, this tweet to @sunyoswego caught our attention:

A freshman willing to make videos on the college experience? Were we dreaming? After checking Alyssa’s video channel, we realized she had talent, panache and essentially everything you’d want in a video blogger.

After a meeting, we decided on a theme, Alyssa Explains It All, often on the transition to college, an area where she is eminently qualified. Each webisode focuses on a topic, conveying it with humor and honesty, and it appeals to new students as well as those looking at colleges. She does all the work herself. The shows so far:


Episode 1: Time Management


Episode 2: Making Decisions

I’m very happy with how she’s developing the shows, and she has been asking users for topics to explore and explain. But the series also shows one more example of the importance of being in and listening to social media channels. And the importance of remaining open to new ideas and fresh talent. Because who knows … your next great content contributor could be just one tweet away!

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our quest: a day for research tuned into social media.

When doing social media for any college or community, you have plenty of easier, shinier events to tackle … but how do you take something like student research and creativity and give it a big treatment via social media? With a little (or a lot) of help from your friends.

At SUNY Oswego, Quest is our annual celebration of research and creative activity, where classes are canceled for the day and hundreds of sessions (mostly student-run) showcase the academic core of our college. For some, it means a day off to party (and/or to do so the night before), but for our serious student scholars, it’s a day they work very hard toward. It’s not as easy to cover as, say, a hockey game, but it represents the lifeblood of learning. So giving it big social media coverage — even if some would say it’s not “sexy” — is worth doing.

For this, our first major Quest social media campaign, we had a lot of help from Gary Ritzenthaler’s journalism students. Some live-tweeted events they attended; others blogged summaries of sessions. They submitted blog entries via Posterous and many showed up on our well-trafficked Oswego Student Blogs with a special Quest section. The extra-credit work of these students complemented the always awesome live coverage from my student social media team. I also shot and assembled photo galleries for our human-computer interaction (mostly gaming-related) session, our artistic demonstrations and poster sessions for the Quest blog. The #quest12 tag far, far exceeded any of my expectations, and anyone following it saw a nice sampling of everything the day presents and represents.

Preparing for Quest, student social media team members shot and edited multiple videos previewing student presentations. A few of us took video from sessions which one of my students edited into a Scenes from Quest project.

Topsy tracked 168 hashtag mentions, 120 on Quest day itself, which doesn’t make it a trending topic … but it’s probably about 160 more tweets than we’ve had about Quest in past years. The four videos may not have gone viral (I do hate that phrase) but garnered more than 550 plays and counting. I saw them widely shared around Facebook and Twitter as well. So while not everyone would consider these knockout social media statistics, they do represent a nice starting point for an event that hasn’t had much of a social profile previously. Moreoever, it shows it is indeed possible to build a social audience for an academic event, a nice finding in itself.

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blizzard of #ozwhiteout.

The biggest event on campus (outside of graduation) is when Oswego hosts our archrivals Plattsburgh in men’s hockey. Oswego was ranked #1 in the country coming into the weekend; Plattsburgh #4. Posts on our Facebook page on the topic often earn more than 100 likes, comments on past contests and “Go Lakers!” cheers, so it’s a good time to promote a hashtag. With our usual constraints (zero budget, staffing of just me and any available interns), we picked up the banner of #ozwhiteout and ran with it.

Quick take (if you don’t want to read the whole Storify below): We were able to get the support of student TV station WTOP early, which was big. What worked best for our main Twitter outlet, @sunyoswego, was posting quality content — video, photos, score updates — others were likely to retweet. We drew a prediction from one of our most famous alums, ESPN’s Steve Levy, into the stream. And a quick raw video I hurriedly shot, edited and uploaded to our YouTube channel picked up hundreds of hits almost instantaneously. Oh, and Oswego won 3-0. Go Lakers!

  1. Promotion of the hashtag started early, as I reached out to WTOP Sports Editor Justin Andrews, who took my class last semester.
  2. Share
    @jandrews89 Ha! Also, I kind of favor #ozwhiteout cuz it’s shorter.

    Wed, Feb 15 2012 12:37:13
  3. Share
    @TimNekritz noted for this weekend. #ozwhiteout will be the official @wtop10 tag for the game.

    Wed, Feb 15 2012 12:39:52
  4. Once WTOP was on board, and with the @sunyoswego account putting out regular content — often retweeted — the hashtag was up and running.
  5. Share
    The campus is abuzz over tomorrow night’s #ozwhiteout game between Oswego, #1 in the nation, and Plattsburgh, #4 nationally. Go Lakers!

    Thu, Feb 16 2012 11:10:35
  6. Share
    RT @sunyoswego: The campus is abuzz over tomorrow night’s #ozwhiteout game between Oswego, #1 in the nation, and Plattsburgh, #4 nationally. Go Lakers!

    Thu, Feb 16 2012 11:14:14
  7. Share
    First of all thank you @TimNekritz for letting/creating the official #ozwhiteout hash tag. Now T minus 20 hours till game time.

    Thu, Feb 16 2012 23:37:44
  8. Share
    It’s the final countdown! #1 @sunyoswego Lakers vs. #4 Plattsburg Cardinals! Puck drops tonight at 7pm #whiteoutweekend #ozwhiteout #getsome

    Thu, Feb 16 2012 23:46:04
  9. Then a fan asked for a prediction from ESPN’s Steve Levy, one of our most famous alumni.
  10. Share
    @espnSteveLevy can we get your prediction for the big Oswego v. Plattsburgh #whiteout game tongiht? #golakers

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 12:54:49
  11. Steve responded, full of Laker pride.
  12. Share
    Either 9-0 or 4-2, OZ wins either way RT @TheBillReese: can we get your prediction for Oswego/Plattsburgh #whiteout game tongiht? #golakers”

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 14:20:34
  13. Of course we’re going to share it, adding a hashtag to pull it into the conversation.
  14. Share
    🙂 RT @espnSteveLevy: Either 9-0 or 4-2, OZ wins either way RT @TheBillReese: can we get prediction for Oswego/Plattsburgh game? #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 14:30:16
  15. Yet more alums chime in, including one with an interesting story.
  16. Share
    RT @wtop10: Watch the #ozwhiteout game on WTOP10 tonight! Go Lakers!

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 14:40:12
  17. Share
    I will be listening to the game while working on an ambulance in Rochester tonight…LET’S GO OZ!!! #ozwhiteout @sunyoswego

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 15:00:45
  18. Thanks to a tip from prominent alum/Laker fan Lou Borrelli, I received word the line for admission (slated to start at 4; it went a bit early) was hitting critical mass, even tho doors weren’t slated to open until 5:45. I walked the line and took a quick raw video, which I quickly ran through iMovie (for a title) and posted to our YouTube page.
  19. Share
    Walking the Line for #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 16:08:44
  20. Which we then posted (and saw many folks share).
  21. Share
    Quick video look at students lined up for the #ozwhiteout game … this line will get much longer! youtu.be/j2AiD4vpjow

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 16:14:50
  22. Even Mother Nature wanted in on the action …
  23. Share
    Just started snowing.. maybe it really will be an #ozwhiteout ??

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 16:15:48
  24. Share
    Off to Oswego for the white out hockey game and see my brother @jandrews89 #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 16:27:14
  25. Fans even provided their own photos on the tag … the line is getting really long at this point.
  26. Share

    Happy whiteout 2012! #ozwhiteout http://instagr.am/p/HH3ep7Azi6/

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 17:07:00
  27. And I received a photo contribution from a dean! Dean Fritz Messere of the School of Communication, Media and the Arts, to be exact.
  28. Share

    http://yfrog.com/kiiasaqj Dean Messere sent along this photo of the first students in line for the #ozwhiteout.

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 17:12:30
  29. Share
    Go LAKERS!! #ozwhiteout 2012

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 17:35:26
  30. Share
    At the whiteout game? Come say hi at camera two next to the @espnstevelevy pressbox! #ozwhiteout #puckflattsburg

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 18:05:07
  31. Share
    White out game! Let’s go #oswego #ozwhiteout with my favorites @ericasuzan24 #Sam

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 18:16:29
  32. Share
    Oh, just #1 and #4 in the country, Oswego vs. Plattsburgh, sold out. NBD. #ozwhiteout (@ Campus Center Arena) 4sq.com/yUKlep

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 18:21:50
  33. Share
    10 mins til puck drop. This is sure to be a great one! #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 18:51:21
  34. During the game, we provided scoring updates, sometimes reposted by official media! And fans contributed their perspectives.
  35. Share
    First goal of that game is a slap shot by Oswego’s #28 Jesse McConney from #21 Tyler Leimbrock! Way to go Lakers! #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 19:14:13
  36. Share
    I believe we are already in funkytown #ozwhiteout #JustSayin

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 19:15:27
  37. Share
    RT @sunyoswego: Slap shot by Jon Whitelaw! 2-0 Oswego. #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 19:30:38
  38. Share
    Lakers still lead 2-0 after 2 but will start the 3rd at a 5-on-3 disadvantage. #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 20:20:21
  39. Share
    This is uncomfortable. RT @sunyoswego: Lakers still lead 2-0 after 2 but will start the 3rd at a 5-on-3 disadvantage. #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 20:24:24
  40. New media professor Gary Ritzenthaler chipped in his view … literally.
  41. Share

    Nice view! RT @gritz99: Seats right on the ice for #ozwhiteout game! Go Lakers! http://yfrog.com/esd9ladj

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 20:30:19
  42. Share
    Chris Ayotte’s one timer puts Oswego up 3-0 over Plattsburgh! 12:00 to go! #ozwhiteout #LetsGoLakers

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 20:43:43
  43. Share
    Power play goal by Chris Ayotte! 3-0 Oswego! #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 20:43:58
  44. Share
    We’re okay. Puck just flew over us! #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 20:54:52
  45. And, at last, tales of victory rang throughout the land.
  46. Share

    Victory! #ozwhiteout http://yfrog.com/h0do5ecj

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 21:14:10
  47. Share
    Oswego hangs on for the 3-0 win! Lakers are your SUNYAC regular-season champs! #ozwhiteout

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 21:09:30
  48. Share
    RT @sunyoswego: Oswego hangs on for the 3-0 win! Lakers are your SUNYAC regular-season champs! #ozwhiteout

    Sat, Feb 18 2012 06:57:27

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social media for a very special birthday.

[Charles Wainwright photo]

We celebrated a very special birthday last week to mark the Oct. 4 birthday of our institution’s founder, Edward Austin Sheldon, in the middle of our sesquicentennial celebration.

How does one celebrate such a momentous milestone? With a large group picture where hundreds of people detail the year of our founding, 1861. With free food. And cupcakes. And, of course, social media.

I posted several photos live via our official accounts through Instagram onto Twitter. We have many, many more followers on Twitter than Instagram at this point, but each photo filtered onto Twitter makes more of our connections aware of this service and our presence on it, as we picked up some new Instagram followers. Our posts drew a lot of retweets as well, which garnered an appreciable amount of new Twitter followers.

In addition, viewing our Twitpics gives a quick look at major components of the celebration …

You could say the reaction was pretty good on Facebook when we posted up the main 1861 photo. At least that seems a reasonable assumption with 121 Likes, 26 comments and 31 shares. That people started tagging themselves and their friends greatly extended the image’s shelf life. This is what I mean by quality content with high sharability.

I also borrowed our office’s small video camera and took snippets as the event came together. I then went into iMovie and spliced together a quick take video. [View video]

Last and not least, we had the opportunity to deliver some happiness to one of our students who missed out on getting a free T-shirt. This thread, which also is my first attempt to use Storify, shows how that took place.

Thanks for all the free food! @sunyoswego http://t.co/XLJJZ3MF
yuhhboiii
October 4, 2011
@yuhhboiii Bon appetit!
sunyoswego
October 4, 2011
@sunyoswego any way to still get a t-shirt?! I didn’t get one 😦
yuhhboiii
October 4, 2011
@yuhhboiii Uh oh. We saw some boxes headed in the direction of the alumni office, but don’t know if they had shirts in them. : /
sunyoswego
October 4, 2011
This was actually an incorrect assumption on my part. I later learned Auxiliary Services, which runs our bookstores and other entities, had them. So I put a quick request into the person in charge of Auxiliary Services, who came through. (Thank you, Mike!)
@sunyoswego Mail me one!
yuhhboiii
October 4, 2011
@yuhhboiii We’ll check and get back to you! : )
sunyoswego
October 4, 2011
@yuhhboiii We have something for you! What do you want us to do with it? http://t.co/k53HvL0X
sunyoswego
October 4, 2011
@sunyoswego name the place and time!
yuhhboiii
October 4, 2011
I sent him a DM of the time and place, lest others descend upon our office to claim the shirt. And, after the hectic day, failed to realize our @sunyoswego account wasn’t following him back yet, i.e. couldn’t receive his DM. D’oh! We worked it out.
@yuhhboiii This is waiting for you! http://t.co/Tn7tECji
sunyoswego
October 5, 2011
RT @sunyoswego: Here is how our giant 1861 photo came out. Thanks to all who made it happen! http://t.co/jQB6PUmj
yuhhboiii
October 5, 2011

Was it all a bit more work? Sure. But hey, you only get once chance to celebrate your founder’s birthday during your 150th anniversary … so we may as well find as many ways to tell the story as possible!

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1 page speaks volumes on how web has evolved.

Last week I finished working on a new landing page for our Admissions Video, and it made me realize how far we have come — which I mean globally as well as locally.

Here was the old site in our old design, hosted by vendor, created several years ago:

And here’s the new one, presented (via YouTube embed) on our site:

First and most obvious, the new one represents our cleaner, sparser redesign which makes content more user-friendly. Did you notice anything else? Like that visitors no longer have to download/use RealPlayer or QuickTime to view the video?

I really think this transition reflects larger web trends over the past few years.

  • Better sharability. YouTube was not the commonly trafficked site back then, and its cloud-based platform that can be easily embedded is (overused phrase ahead) a real game-changer. Paying for outside hosting of static web video is less necessary also because of …
  • Improved metrics availability. One of the reasons I’m told we went with this vendor was the ability to track number of visitors, plays, etc. Which we easily can now do on our own site via Google Analytics as well as YouTube’s own metrics. We could also set up funnel reports to see how many people go from this video to fulfill other tasks … which, since this video is currently a conversion tool, will be increasingly interesting come next admission cycle.
  • Increased in-house web knowledge. I had only minor involvement in (and less knowledge of) the web when Admissions set up the previous system. We had limited awareness of what other options may have existed and certainly did not have access to the awesome collective resource of Twitter #highered folks. I love that Admissions will come to us now for web solutions that we can provide at no or marginal cost with greater functionality. I think (or hope) colleagues at other colleges have similar experiences.

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a video i love and why: what we learned from responses.

About a week and a half ago, I posted a blog challenge called A Video I Love and Why — choosing the Vancouver 2010 With Glowing Hearts video — and asked others to also post web video they enjoyed and why they did. The results were awesome — and, I think, showed some trends on what we like in video on the web.

  • Andrew Careaga stepped up almost immediately with Battle of the Album Covers. It’s a very creative, if a tad gory, animated story of various classic album covers creating mayhem — and a treat for music lovers.
  • Georgy Cohen suggested The Fully Sick Rapper, part of Christiaan Van Vuuren’s series on his months in tuberculosis quarantine. To try to maintain his sanity, he created videos of himself rapping — and improved his editing skills in the process.
  • Denise Graveline offered a classic Will It Blend? entry from Blendtec’s series of putting various objects through its blender. I found the joyfully cheesy video sufficiently interesting to use it in my media copywriting class.
  • The inimitable Todd Sanders served up Bill Genereux’s YouTube in Classrooms, a plea for educators to use YouTube in their lessons instead of banning access and creativity.
  • Michael Klein volunteered this TEDx video by Derek Sivers using the classic Guy Starts Dance Party YouTube video to make a point about leadership and movements.
  • Lori Packer shared the Red River College’s The Holiday Card, a mix of The Office type satire and screwball comedy, featuring an endearingly self-effacing performance by its president, Jeff Zabudsky.
  • JD Ross checked in with The Machine Is Us/ing Us, a powerful look at how Web 2.0 is not a concept or technology, but the sum total of ourselves.
  • Joe Bonner supplied A Life on Facebook, a current sensation imagining how our lives unfold publicly that is also a classic boy-meets-girl tale.

A wide variety of videos emerged, but some commonalities prevailed.

Substance over style. Most videos people chose were made on fairly low or no budgets. They tended to be simple stories where the appeal was the storyline itself, not anything glitzy or glossy. The same theme came up over and over in responses that you don’t need a lot of money to make a great video. But one thing you do need is …

Talk about the passion. Passion emerged as a common driving factor. Zabudsky is passionate enough about his college leadership, he’s willing to look a bit silly to promote it. Van Vuuren developed a new passion in quarantine and decided to share it. I’m sure the guys at Blendtec want these videos to sell blenders (and they have), but I love their infectious glee over seeing what kinds of crazy things their blender can pulverize. If you do a video — or anything — with passion, it is going to shine through.

Web video is an art form unto itself. If you see a traditional promotional video on YouTube, doesn’t it look out of place? Web video demands good pacing and evocative storytelling. For the highly overrated That’s Why I Chose Yale video, what didn’t work for me (and many others) was that the setup was a couple minutes long, which is longer than most web videos, period. YouTube in Classrooms may be run 10 minutes, but it hooked me right away, and its pacing and content kept me riveted. And Sivers’ TEDx talk is a YouTube video within a video, showing the form itself as something to study.

If you still want to post a response, you’re welcome to do so. Many thanks to those who responded to build this meme. It was fun, sure, but I think we also gained more insight into what goes into great video!

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the virality myth: why ‘going viral’ isn’t a strategy.

If you work in the communication field, someone may have approached you with a line resembling: Let’s make a video that goes viral! A nice thought, but making a video for the sole purpose of it going viral is as flawed a strategy as buying lottery tickets as a retirement plan.

Any video you make should serve a purpose first and foremost: To showcase a strength, entice prospective customers (or students), raise awareness on an issue, etc. To deploy a more simple breakdown I learned in a public speaking class, presentations (and I’d include video) should try to do one or more of the following: 1) inform, 2) persuade or 3) entertain. That’s where you start.

Making a video for the sole purpose of hoping it will go viral is mere folly. Viral videos are quite often accidental hits, double rainbows or kids after dentists or a dying professor’s extra-resonant lecture. Sure, the Old Spice campaign went viral, but that’s because it represented a breakthrough in terms of superior creativity, near-real-time interaction and remarkable talent on both sides of the camera.

I’ve heard the let’s make something viral pitch a couple times, and my first question is why they think the concept would go viral. One more flash mob or lipdub is just following the herd, and if you can’t provide an amazing new wrinkle, will you stand out from the pack? A clever idea is nice, but thousands of clever videos hit the ether every day. Remember that the latest YouTube statistic is that 24 hours of video are uploaded every minute! Have you truly made something that can cut through that clutter?

It’s totally cool to make and use videos in your communication efforts, but to borrow my favorite maxim from #stamats09: Think goals first, then tools. Does the video serve a purpose to some key audience (in highered: prospective students, current students, faculty/staff, alumni)? Does it inform? Could it persuade? Will it entertain? These are all good reasons to make a video, or a series of videos. When I work with my student videographers, these are our general parameters. It helps that they are members of the target audience and know what others their age may find interesting.

It’s funny that our video with the fastest rise in immediate hits was anything but non-stop excitement — the footage of a wind-turbine installation mentioned in this post. We saw the video as a sidebar to a story, a visualization of a neat green product. But it had news value and picked up hits, links and retweets from a lot of environmentally minded folks. A recipe for success? Not exactly. But here’s something to remember: There is no absolute recipe to success, any set of ingredients that guarantee anything on the web going viral. Period.

So if you’re heading out the door, camera in hand, to make that viral video, also swing by the convenience store and pick up a lottery ticket. Who knows, maybe your chances of the latter jackpot could be even better?

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