When the Novelty of Livestream Video Wears Off

Right now people are wowed by the ability to livestream video as they go, most notably in the form of Periscope and Meerkat. But what will happen after the novelty wears off?

Perhaps the trend was predictable. Cameras on smartphones, more bandwidth and mass market adoption of social networking have combined to bring the widespread consumption of rich media. Now these technological advancements have wrought large-scale adoption of live streaming video on the go.

There will be some talented livecasters who garner significant, engaged followings. We can also expect some incredible use cases, such as great and terrible news events livestreamed by citizen journalists. Other niche uses include collaboration amongst friends and workforces discussing the evolution of now. There will be the celebrities who stoke their legions of stalkers, er, fans. Finally, others will share important moments like marriage proposals.

For every interesting livestreamed video created, we can expect thousands of bad ones. In my opinion, society’s tolerance of the Instagramization of live video feeds will be much lower than photos. We’re going to be looking at a lot of really bad content creation live.

Boring Content Won’t Succeed

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The average person’s filter of quality information and entertainment is contextual at best, and frankly just piss poor most of the time. That’s before you even factor in video creation skills.

Congratulations, Joe, you’re at the zoo. By the way, every time you pan down you’re showing me the guacamole stains on your shirt. And that your fly is open. Oh, by the way, no one above the age of eight really likes the Mediterranean Donkey.

Maybe you do like Mediterranean Donkeys, and I just made an ass out of myself with this post. But I think we will grow weary of everyone’s interpretation of awesomeness in the moment, just like we have gotten tired of feet photos at the pool. Or as we have grown weary of the average social media tips blog (or article if you prefer).

Perhaps the most compelling reason is that we’ve scene this game before with webcams. You didn’t hear much about webcam streaming after the public got tired of someone showing us their world in a room over and over again. Why?

Because it’s really hard watching someone doing nothing most of the time. Some webcams are interesting in the moment, for example the Cherry Blossom Watch webcam at the Tidal Basin. But invariably, most of them are just downright boring. In fact, even the good ones become boring in a matter of minutes.

Just like 99% of Periscope and Meerkat videos are boring, too. In a time of TLDR (too long did not read), we will soon see TBDW (too boring, did not watch).

Perhaps the novelty wore off for me a little sooner than others. What do you think?

Featured image via Techcrunch. Donkey image by Helen ST.

When the Last Pillars Fall

Two distinct news stories last week indicate that two of the last pillars of traditional journalism are caving to the new media era. The first was the firing of Jill Abramson at the NY Times over her opposition to native advertising (hat tip: Scott Monty). The second was a leaked Reuters memo from Americas editor Dayan Candappa directing journalists to write all of the news service’s stories to be no more than 500 words in length with the exception of exclusives.

In both cases, traditional notions of quality are at stake. Driving the two changes — one a firing, the second an editorial shift — is the need to remain competitive in a dynamically shifting media world.

In the case of Reuters, an old argument about short copy and quality seemed to be at play in Candappa’s words. Spending inordinate amounts of time writing longer repetitive stories isn’t helping the wire service.

Yet, how much competition does the wire service experience? Certainly, it faces fewer and weaker traditional competitors.

No, its current competition is the TMZs and Huffington Posts of the world who publish a quick blog story or publish a racist Donald Sterling audiotape. An old school rendering of these new media first stories doesn’t help Reuters, which for all intents and purposes is a cut and paste service for many news organizations that don’t have national or topic specific reporters.

Still no one likes to see an editor tell reporters to invest less time and copy in their stories. One cannot help but think that quality will suffer. Perhaps this is just another indicator of TL; DR syndrome caused in part by the move towards visual media discussed here last week.

What is more disturbing is the move to oust Abramson at the New York Times. Several issues joined together to cause her ouster, including her rightful complaint about unequal wages, and what will surely trigger some strong debates, her bossiness. But a core issue remained Abramson’s editorial integrity and an unwillingness to completely compromise the boundary between stories and advertisements.

Almost every publication offers a form of digital native advertising today, including the NY Times. Some publications hold tighter control over their properties, even insisting that their staff produce all sponsored content. Yet they still write and release bought stories denoted by a cute moniker and a different boundary color.

Now we know that everyone is for sale, even the NY Times.

As Power Weakens, New Properties Develop

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No one really knows what the disintegration of traditional media quality really means. POLITICO, Mashable, AllThingsD (sold to the WSJ), the Huffington Post, and The Verge and many other new properties have arisen already.

As traditional properties continue weakening in quality — both from lesser reporting methods and untrustworthy sponsored content — we will see more niche upstarts and strong corporate content providers. There will be less trust for media brands and more disruption.

How many people really trust Forbes and all of its blogs and sponsored content properties as much as they did five years ago? I know I don’t! Let’s not even discuss the tabloid mess called CNN.

Media upstarts will come faster and faster now. There is little to hold them back as more mastheads succumb to untraditional methods of monetizing online content. Upstart mastheads will not only displace the old, but the new will eat the new. Every new Internet technology offers another opportunity for a media disruptor to change the rules.

I look at Buzzfeed as an example of a weak new media brand. It’s a gimmick. How long until their formula is replicated? How long until another brand offers righteous silliness in a more mobile and/or engaging format? It’s inevitable.

With each new year we see another series of brands that provide news or entertainment content in a better fashion. In the end, those that don’t evolve story quality will find themselves in a weakened position. Gimicks and poor quality can only last so long.

What do you think?

Featured image by Yersinua pestis.

The Quality Boom

Strong professional writers, photographers and videographers should be thrilled. Content and social network noise increasingly impact online success, making quality an increasingly necessary component to succeed. That means experienced professional producers will be in demand.

Consider the rise of new markets for quality stories. Cont3nt.com has built a place for content creators to submit their stories. Note the word stories. While photos are the baseline, journalists are looking for the comprehensive package of photo/video AND story.

The demand for better photos is a direct result of mobile snapshots (and the smartphones that people view them on), but the zeitgeist is creating a market for higher quality images. Anyone (including Chicago Sun-Times journalists) can shoot a photo on an iPhone, but most smartphone photos look flat at best.

The same could be said for video. Vine may be the home of six second shorts shot on your phone, but high quality pieces win the day.

One complaint I hear frequently when talking to my more senior colleagues is that many young communications professionals display poor writing skills. Finding quality writers to succeed in the content marketing era is difficult.

The demand for quality writing is one of the primary reasons Erin Feldman became my first hire at Tenacity5. I learned to value quality writing from team members at Livingston Communications and Zoetica. People who work well on a timely basis are more important than yet another account executive.

I believe that demand for quality content will make hiring writers and designers a higher priority than account staff for agencies and consultancies. Regardless of story type — video, photo, written or a combination — we will live and die by quality.

Hybrid Weavers

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Notice the focus on complete stories at Cont3nt.com. I don’t think companies, journalists or content creators are looking for brilliant work in a singular tactic anymore.

Sure you can create the epic photo that is shared across the world, but invariably a story accompanies the image. You can write the most beautiful prose and publish it, but if there are no visuals or video the story will have a limited audience.

Even video requires a story, a screenplay. That usually requires the videographer to write a basic story before shooting.

Content publishers — media companies and corporations alike — realize the need to produce complete stories with multiple types of media assets. Agencies and consultants that can’t provide comprehensive storytelling will need to build networks and teams of diverse producers to fulfill client needs. The same can be said for media companies.

Hybrid content needs drove me to sign up for not one, but three professional photography training classes via National Geographic and Nikon. While most folks are nice to me and compliment my photography, I need the basic fundamentals to transcend from the periodic brilliant shot to consistantly decent photography. I can use these photos in my own work (as I frequently do with blog posts)

It’s all part of providing comprehensive content. Online communities prefer quality hybrid content.

How are you serving this need?

Photos taken last night in Alexandria, VA.

Instagram Video Highlights YouTube Weaknesses

YouTube may have the most to lose from Facebook’s response to Vine, 15 second format videos on Instagram.

Normally, I don’t blog about the day-to-day battle between socnets. The evolution is tiresome, and is best covered by trade pubs/blogs with reporter teams. However, in this case there are several macro trends in play that have not been well discussed.

The following issues spell trouble for YouTube (and Google as a whole):
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The Content Quality Problem Here and There

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Image by kopper.

More brands and people continue filling the channels with their blogs, infographics, white paper, etc. As a result, we’re experiencing a deluge of content, most of it suffering from over-messaged, self-important corporate sales talk, or worse, shoddy workmanship.

There’s no better example of this issue than our own marketing space where the effort to produce consistent content creates an ever increasing level of drivel. In fact, there’s so much “me, too” content, getting beyond a headline skim requires some real shake-up in the social media marketplace or a dramatic post.

When readers find themselves inundated with ever increasing quantities of the same, creators find themselves producing content with diminishing value. The situation devolves to the point where content becomes spam.

We all know what happens to spam. It doesn’t get read, it’s unsubscribed from, deleted, and relegated to the annals of digital indexing somewhere deep in Google.
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Google Author Rank and the Have Nots

Image by Mukumbura

Image by Mukumbura

The rush to become officially integrated into the Google Author Rank system or has begun. It’s unfortunate, because Google Authorship forces weighted search rankings that favor popularity and SEO skills over substance.

If content creators want to optimize our chances of being read, what choice do we have but to implement the system? Our search results depend on it.

There have been many blogs about how to implement Google’s Author Rank system, but this isn’t one of them.

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