Content in the Cloud: Video Production’s Collaborative Future

Unless you’ve been spending all of your time on a deserted island, you’re probably aware of the meteoric rise in online video as a marketing tool over the last several years. YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, and Instagram are some of the fastest growing platforms online, and 72% of B2C marketers utilize online video in their strategies. One of the driving forces behind video’s popularity to both consumers and marketers is the technology that has made it so accessible to the masses. Organizations and individuals can produce high-quality video quickly and at much lower cost than they could just a few years ago. And now, thanks to the cloud, video production will continue to become more accessible and more efficient.

Video’s “Cloudy” Future

The cloud has taken over the way we work. More and more software is based in the cloud. Services like Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox have made it possible to work and collaborate remotely. We can access our work from anytime, from any place.

But cloud video tools have been slow to come to market for video content creators. The size of the files that video creators work with, as well as the required security measures, make it difficult to work with video in the cloud. But we are seeing tides begin to shift. There is a market for cloud video services, and a few organizations are beginning to sit up and take notice. These companies are attempting to make storage available (and cheap) for video content creators, and provide them with cloud-based systems in which to manage video files for easy collaboration.

At the recent IBC trade show in Amsterdam, cloud video was on full display. The companies working with the cloud hope to unlock new opportunities for video production studios. In the future, teams won’t need to all be shipped off and locked into a single location. Studios will be able to conduct remote work with far greater efficiency. And these start-ups are directly taking on Adobe Creative Cloud. With Adobe, users have to pay perpetual license fees, but these alternative cloud services allow users to turn their subscriptions on and off as-needed, offering budget-friendly alternatives that will be attractive to small studios, agencies, and freelancers.

One of the biggest goals for cloud video is to allow content creators to be able to edit video as its being shot (similarly to the way we can edit text in the cloud as soon as we create it). While we still have a long way to go to make this possible, in 2013 Verizon and JVC put their cloud video capabilities on display at the National Association of Broadcasters convention. They did it through utilizing a high-speed cell modem connected to an HD video camera. Their application is being marketed as a solution for news media, but the possibilities for all video content creators are endless.

What’s Available Now?

Though we have a long way to go before cloud video technology is something content creators can lean on for 100% of production, there are some cloud-based options available in the marketplace.

Cloud video services that are currently available to users:

  • Hosting – Users can store videos in one location to be accessed by multiple users simultaneously, like on YouTube. Hosting is not the same thing as cloud video storage, however. YouTube alters your videos to suit its player, often at the expense of video quality. You should always store and archive your videos in Dropbox or Google Drive.
  • Editing – Cloud video editing options are still limited in terms of functionality, and aren’t always practical for professional content creators. It’s important to understand your needs before choosing a cloud-based editing option. For example WeVideo allows both quick edits and timeline edits. The quick edits give the software the control, while timeline edits are user controlled. But their upload capabilities are limited to 500 MB, and many editing features (opacity, for example) are not available. Ubuntu is working on free software called Novacut that can be used by both professionals and hobbyists that will allow for real-time collaboration across platforms, but it has yet to be released.
  • Post Production – Cloud-based post production can change the video content landscape forever. Even the smallest agencies and studios will be able to collaborate globally. The cloud video post-production space is not currently full of contenders. Aframe is one option that provides high-quality post production work, though it does not provide 100% cloud-based collaboration. Users comment through a dashboard rather than directly editing the content in the cloud. However, it does work with most all editing software which makes up for some of its own editing limitations.
  • Social Video – Social video it typically aimed at consumers rather than brands, but as we know, many brands are tearing it up with social video. These platforms allow for quick-and-dirty editing for their short form videos with platforms like Vine, Viddy, Socialcam, and Vyclone.
  • Transcoding – You can’t just pop and video up online and assume it will play on all devices and operating systems. You must be sure that the code is converted for all of these platforms. Hosting sites like YouTube will do the work for you, but if you’re doing your own hosting and distribution, you’ll have to do the legwork yourself. Cloud video transcoding services like, Zencoder, and Amazon Web Services’ new Elastic Transcoder are some options. It’s important to note that cloud-based transcoding services are not perfect. They have limited capabilities and some are still in beta phases. So always use caution.

Cloud Video: A World of Limitless Possibilities

Cloud video applications are still very new and in many cases, very theoretical. But we are moving in the right direction. Video shot from anywhere in the globe can be edited and uploaded to a brand’s website within a matter of hours. As technology continues to improve, it’s likely that the only limitations for cloud-based video will be a marketer’s bandwidth and creativity.

Where do you think cloud video is headed in the future? What features would you like to see? Let us know in the comments.

URL Optimization: SEO Best Practice Quick Guide

We spend a lot of time talking about changes that Google makes to its algorithm and how those changes affect SEO best practices. But there are some SEO tactics that have weathered every algorithmic storm over the last several years. One of those best practices is URL optimization.

The page URL is what appears in the address bar of your browser when you navigate to a website. For example, You want your URL to be mostly words, not numbers. It should be short, concise, and include keywords, because it helps search engines understand what that specific page is about. For example, Google would not know how to classify But it would know how to classify

Remove Unnecessary Words (But Keep The Reader in Mind)

Before you publish a blog post, check out your URL. In WordPress, you’ll see it highlighted in yellow under the Title field for your post. Remove words that don’t add any value like “for,” “the,” “and,” etc. Don’t remove them if it means the words left behind won’t make a coherent thought.

Let’s say the title of your blog post is, “How To Optimize Your Title Tags For SEO.” You’d leave “to” in that title because you want Google and your readers to know that they’re landing on a “how to” guide. But you don’t really need “your,” and you could make a case for removing “for,” as well. You want your URLs to be concise, but they should also make sense and they should never appear to be spammy or automated.

Always separate words, don’t jam everything together into an unreadable mish-mash. And when separating words, use dashes only, not underscores. Parameters and special characters like “?” and “%” should never be used, as they can confuse search engine spiders.

Check For Keywords

Your URL should include your main focus keyword for the post. Both searchers and search engines use titles and URLs to tell them what a page is about. Therefore your main keyword should always be included in your URL. If you haven’t used the keyword in the URL, it probably means you haven’t used it in the title of your post, since most CRMs pull the URL directly from your page title.

Remember, Google reads from left to right, and puts more emphasis on the words it sees first. Your keywords should appear at the beginning of the URL whenever possible.

Use Plugins For URL Optimization

If you use WordPress, consider using an SEO plugin like Yoast to help you with URL optimization. It will check the length of your URL, the structure of your URL, and tell you if you’ve forgotten to include keywords.

Yoast is a full-service SEO plugin so in addition to checking URL optimization, it will check your content for keyword inclusion, give you a snippet preview, optimize your titles, and will automatically generate XML sitemaps.

We’ve been able to abandon a lot of old-fashioned SEO techniques over the years, but URL optimization is still a very important piece of the on-page SEO puzzle. Take a little time to review your URLs before you upload a new page or post, and you can always “cheat” by using a plugin to double check your work.

Twitter’s ‘Buy’ Button and the Argument for Social Commerce

Did you see it? In the last two years or so, a radical paradigm shift has swept through social media and indeed, the internet at large. A sea change of business strategy brought on by the oldest force in the world. Gravity? No, we’re talking about money.

Social platforms have, over the past few years, been pressured to adopt revenue generation policies that have radically reworked their business strategies. Facebook was perhaps the first in this new generation of monetization, but Twitter is not far behind. And Twitter just introduced a new feature that could upset the balance between the old adversaries (Facebook is testing a similar feature).

Twitter’s “buy button” introduces purchases directly within the Twitter app or website. This upends the traditional role of social media working in an informational capacity, like a TV or radio ad. And this was always a problem with social media, because the real return on a social media investment was so difficult to define. After all, you can’t withdraw brand awareness from a bank.

As Facebook and Twitter do, so does the rest of the social sphere. Brand managers and social marketers should expect similar monetization efforts from most social networks to emerge over the coming months and years. It’s important to position your brand in such a way that you’re able to take advantage of the rise of social commerce and most benefit from it when it finally becomes the norm.

Social Media Commerce

Third-party solutions have existed for some time. Instagram, as of yet, does not offer any support for social commerce. But one company,, promises to bring a form of that to the photographer’s social network by combining the social aspects with traditional email marketing. By closely monitoring your account, it catches when you like a photo, and sends you an email featuring the products that appeared in that photo. Not exactly a one-stop shop, but easy, and the email feature allows customers to easily store things they’re interested in for further consideration at a later time.

Perhaps the network best-suited to this commercialization is a relative newcomer to the field: Pinterest, home of cute crocheted pillows, costumes for your cats, and designer bedrooms. Indeed, with its christmas-list-meets-scrapbooking format, one wonders if it was specifically designed with e-commerce in mind. It almost looks like a catalogue already, and people often create specific “things I want” pinboards, so the transition to in-app purchases would be a small one.

The irresistible march of capital has finally enforced its will on the social media ecosystem. The last time this happened, it was called the “dot-com bubble,” and it didn’t exactly end well for the businesses involved. But, despite a perhaps rocky start for many companies, this growth seems sustainable and even, we daresay, mature compared to the Wild West days of the early internet. It seems that social commerce is indeed here to stay, the question is: will you be first on the train, or last?

Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles and Chicago. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas.

Google Plus: The Walking Dead? Or The Party Crasher Who Just Won’t Leave?

In case you missed it, Vic Gundotra is resigning from Google. Who is Vic Gundotra and why should you care? Well, he is the (now outgoing) senior vice president of social, and he is (was) the brains behind Google Plus.

His resignation caused TechCrunch to declare Google Plus the new walking dead, a declaration that Google flatly denied. And most search gurus agree that it’s not time for such declarations. But while the network has not quite achieved zombie status, it does appear to be hanging on for dear life.

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Uber and Lyft Finally Come to Pittsburgh (Hallelujah!)

If you’ve ever tried to take a cab in the city of Pittsburgh, you know that the entire process is usually a nightmare. Every ‘Burgher has one or ten horror stories about unreliable cabs and shady jitney drivers.  And we’ve all had the awkward and embarrassing experience of exposing our out-of-town friends and family to our less than reliable cab service.

But recently, something changed.

Enter Uber and Lyft.

If you’ve never heard of Uber, don’t call it a taxi, or even a rideshare. They prefer, instead, to be known as a “personal driver” service. Lyft, on the other hand is just fine with rideshare, considering they currently rule the peer-to-peer rideshare market in the US.

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Viewer Behavior: Does Device Determine How Users Consume YouTube Content?

We all know that mobile devices have changed the way we consume content online.  With over half the US population owning smartphones, and almost as many using tablets, mobile is rapidly overtaking laptops and desktops. The team at Pixability, an online data and tech company, was interested in seeing how this trend affects YouTube viewer behavior, and put together some interesting numbers.

According to their findings (which do not include methodology or sample size, so the reliability may be questionable), individuals are spending more time watching video on smartphones, tablets, streaming TV set boxes, and game consoles than on desktop computers. However, they report that the majority of YouTube views still come from desktop devices.

YouTube’s own statistics show that 40% of total watch time is coming from mobile devices, but when broken down by topic or geography, the number shifts, many times to above 50%.

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Nonprofit Video Marketing Case Study: The British Red Cross

Nonprofits often struggle when it comes to harnessing the power of video marketing. But recently, The British Red Cross launched a campaign targeted at teenagers. The purpose of their nonprofit video marketing campaign was to combat self-harm by British youth. When the Red Cross discovered that the number of British young people harming themselves had increased by 40% in ten years, they realized they had an epidemic on their hands. So they took their campaign to YouTube.

Their aim was to create a video resource that would teach teenagers life-saving skills and help them build the confidence to use those skills if necessary. They wanted to move Red-Cross first aid into the modern era. And it worked. The campaign won several awards, generated 7.5 million views and over 50,000 comments. 90% of individuals surveyed after watching the videos stated they felt more confident in their ability to help.

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Spam User Registration in WordPress: How To Reduce Unwanted Signups

If your website runs on WordPress, you’ve probably experienced the conundrum of unwanted spam user registrations. Typically, these registrations are entered on a subscriber-level only, but excessive registrations can overload your inbox, and can lead to real problems with your website.

Spam users can have a negative effect on a site in several ways:

  • Hacking – Spammers can exploit vulnerabilities in your site for illicit purposes.
  • Decreased Performance – If your site carries too many registered users, it increases the size of your database and can slow down your website.
  • Unsolicited Content – Spam users can and often do post unsolicited links to other spam websites that can get you penalized or worse, banned, from search engines.

There are many plugins and techniques that site owners can employ to limit WordPress spam user registration. Today we will discuss a few of those options.

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YouTube TrueView Updates: What Video Marketers Need to Know

On April 15, Google will finally roll out updates to its YouTube TrueView video advertising platform.  After that date the “in-search” option will be eliminated, and advertisers will have two options to choose from: “in-stream” and “in-display.”

The updates will not affect current campaigns until May 15, but all new campaigns set to begin on or after April 15 will fall under the new platform. However, Google will allow users to manually update their settings if they wish to update in-process campaigns before May.

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Successful Viral Marketing: Are You Prepared For The Spotlight?

There are millions of pieces of content uploaded to the internet every single day. And there are millions of people hoping that those videos, blog posts, infographics, and articles go viral, generating instant buzz and overnight celebrity status. But only a few content creators are able to achieve a true viral campaign. Successful viral marketing can be a boon for brands, but only if your business is prepared to handle sudden spikes in traffic and a flood of telephone calls. You must plan in advance to be able to capitalize on a successful viral marketing campaign.

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