Category Archives: Tools

7 Tips For Video Screencasting and Online Interviews

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This past year I started doing videos and ended up recording over 40 of them. The majority of them were with Lauren Orsini as part of a series on Pinterest. There were also interviews, standalone videos and videos to supplement blog posts. This post outlines some of what I have learned. I hope you find it helpful.

Prepare for difficulties (or go with Google)

If you are recording interviews over the Internet, understand that you may lose all or some part of a recording. You are relying on the quality of of the Internet connection for all participants as well as the processing power of your computer. With so many factors, you should prepare that you will occasionally lose recordings. If you are looking for the easiest solution possible, consider Google Hangouts. By doing the recording in the cloud, you are losing some degree of control, but you are also “outsourcing” most of the hassle to Google. When I do my next interview, I will likely use Hangouts just for the ease of use.

Break up your online interview recordings into smaller chunks

I found particuarly when recording via Skype on Windows, that the audio frequently got out of synch or was lost altogether. I tried and paid for three different software programs to record on Skype and found all of them had issues. The shorter the recording the better the quality. If you have a Mac, I found that eCamm software worked the best for Skype interviews (see the tools I used at the end).

Edit down your content and then edit again

If you have a two seconds of dead air, just edit it out. People don’t mind jumps in video, and you are more likely to keep people engaged. When recording conversation (assuming you have permission as the editor) edit out some of the content. I am not saying to remove the personality in your videos, but if you end up running long on a point or repeating yourself, just edit it down.

Just be who you are

If you try to get all geared up to be on video, it comes through as over the top and fake. If you are excited and knowledgable about the subject, you just need to convey that information like you were talking to a friend.

Protect your computer resources when editing or recording video

When you are editing video, close all the other programs that you might have open (especially browers). Video editing software takes tremedous resources, and you will get done faster if you just have your editing software open. If you get bored while a video is rendering, pull out your phone for entertainment so you keep computer resources focused on video. If you are doing an interview, try to keep your notes in “small-footprint” text editing program. If you need to have browser windows open, keep them to a minimum.

It helps to be first to cover a topic.

Some of my more popular videos were essentially tours on online services I liked. The demand for video is high, but so is the amount of video being created. In order to stand out, show people how a new product works via screencasts. If it is a product that you think is good, other people will be interested and search out videos about that product. My RebelMouse walkthrough video was one of the first to give an overview of the product and ended up being one of my most popular videos.

Recommended Basic Video Tools

ecamm Call Recorder

This is what I ended up using to record most of the Pin The News series. I only had it fail to record once, and that might have been user error on my part. If you want to record a Skype interview on a Mac, this is the one to go with. It costs $19.95.
http://www.ecamm.com/mac/callrecorder/

Snagit

Snagit is my go-to software for doing static screen captures, and I also used it for screen casting. I found that if I recorded more than 5 mintues the audio would degrade, so I kept the videos short. Snagit claims that recent updates have eliminated this issue, but I would do some test before you try to record a full video.

Sony Vegas Pro

I started my video editing using this software. While it worked for me, it was likely more options then I needed so the learning curve was pretty steep.

iMovie

When I switched to a Mac, I really appreciated the intuitiveness of iMovie. Like most editing programs, it is resource intense. It also is light on features, but if video isn’t your primary venue for creating content, this software is likely enough to get the job done.
Have you created videos? If you have any tips, please feel free to share them in the comments.

Complete guide to the image sizes you need to create new social network accounts.

I saw this infographic at just the right time. I had been tasked by a client with putting together all the requirements for creating accounts on a variety of social networks. LunaMetrics put together a graphic that shows all the different images sizes you need to create accounts and post to a variety of social networks.

Included are:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest

Have a look:

Designed by Lunametrics

Thanks to Ben A. Smith for tweeting about this.

Shared Count Results

Simple, but extremely useful tool to check social shares from your site and the competition.

My blogging has been less frequent of late due to increased client work as well as a number of projects that relate to Pinterest. But I wanted to take the time to briefly share a simple tool that I have found extremely useful in doing research on social sharing.

This tool is Shared Count. While there are dozens of tools that will track social shares across your web pages (many paid), I love Shared Count for its simplicity. This tool doesn’t require a login, doesn’t have a fancy design and doesn’t cost anything , yet it can quickly provide you with basic social share information for any url that you enter.

1. You enter a url on the Shared Count site.

2. It returns the number of social actions that have taken place on that page by querying  the APIs or publicly available data of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Digg, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Delicious and StumbleUpon.

Here is an example of the results you will get:

See it in action

I put together this Shared Count “report” that tracks the social shares of the three Pinterest infographics I created. Have a look.

http://sharedcount.com/dashboard.php?urls=,http://llsocial.com/2012/05/pinterest-guide-to-images-infograph/,http://llsocial.com/2012/06/pinterest-food-infograph/,http://llsocial.com/2012/05/private-board-alternatives-to-pinterest-infograph/

Since the Shared Count results are entirely public you can share the results as easy as sharing a link. If you want to capture the information for reports, you can export your results to CSV file.

They same mechanism for sharing reports applies to saving. Just copy the Shared Count url after you have added all the pages you want analytics for. You can save it as text and just copy it into the browser when you want to have a look, or you can just drag it to your bookmarks section in the browser and click on it whenever you want to see the shares for the pages you have added.

Uses

Quick Social Analytics

For a number of reasons, you might not want to put a share count with each social button on your site. In those cases, you still may want to see for yourself how many repins/pins, likes or tweets any page is getting. Shared Count makes it simple to do.

Competitive Intelligence

You see a web page or site showing up on a social network frequently (say you see the same pin showing up over and over). You want to understand what type of social activity is causing this page to be popular. In less than 3o seconds you can use Shared Count to understand what type of social shares any page is getting.

Prioritizing Social Share Buttons

If you are thinking about writing a new blog post or even launching a new website, you can use the tool to understand the type of social sharing that already existing content is getting.

Social share information can influence what social share buttons you decide to include on your own site, the order of them and even what type of blog posts you choose to do.

Quirks To Know

Pinterest and Twitter in particular return results that are very specific to the url entered. Having the “www” or trailing “/” in the url can return different results. Facebook and LinkedIn seem to cover all the variations, but the other social sharing service can turn different results based on these variables.

I have found the best format to capture Pinterest pins/repins to your main url is this format:

http://yourwebsite.com/

If it is a individual page you are looking for, you need to see how it is shared in Pinterest and just copy that format. Or type in all the variations and see which one is being shared.

I hope you find Shared Count useful.

 

 

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Create compelling images for Pinterest or your blog in less than a minute.

I have been preaching the need for including compelling images in blog posts for a while now.

They are essential to Pinterest, and with Facebook’s recent changes you likely should stop sharing your own links and instead upload an image and then post the link in the body of the update (you get more screen space this way and more engagement). In either case, images matter.

But most of us have limited time. It can be hard enough to finish a blog post,  and then you have to find or perhaps create a compelling image to go with it.

Recite This is a tool that takes any text you can come up with and turns it into a great looking image. I have included some of the different image styles in this post.

I have tried other services that are similar. I even paid for Share As Image Pro. But the templates that Recite This is using are some of the best I have seen, and they even let you download a fairly large version of what you create.

Right now the service is entirely free, and you don’t even have to create an account. I think Recite This will quickly get popular, and you will start to see these style of images more frequently. So some of the newness may wear off, but for now you should consider trying out the service and making some quick, shareable images to go with your blog posts or to even just share.

Thanks to Kelly Lieberman for mentioning this cool service.

RebelMouse

RebelMouse may have figured out how to turn your social content into a useable blog.

With so many of us sharing links and pictures on social media, many companies have tried to figure out how to turn those shares into a usable, useful blog. The problem has always been that companies who attempted to do this (thinking of Twylah) have never seemed to figure out a way to let individuals customize the content in a meaningful way.

RebelMouse seems to accomplish this with a Pinterest like look, the ability to customize the position of effortless social shares AND the ability to manually add blog posts and pictures.

Here is my quick six minute video review that will walk you through the key features.

 

Since I post the video a couple hours ago, I learned that RebelMouse is going to start adding customized subpages that will be linked to in the top navigation. Having a way to sort content into categories is a needed step and could make RebelMouse a real player in the “digital home” and/or blog space.

RebelMouse is in beta, but you can sign-up with your Facebook or Twitter account to be added to their list. It took four days for me to get an invitation after connecting my Twitter account. You can see my RebelMouse page as an example here.