About KeithSpiro

Business strategist and community builder. Corporate and SMB leadership experience. Applies professional photojournalist background to deliver business results. Takes action for people and organizations that can make a difference.

Video is Now

Amanda Palmer sings with Keith Spiro

Why video? Why now? Because studies by Animoto, Google and Hubspot support the proposition that marketing is moving to video and visuals at an ever accelerating pace. Here are some baseline statistics:

4X as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. (Animoto, 2015)

Almost 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store. (Google, 2016)

53% of smartphone users feel more favorable towards companies whose mobile sites or apps provide instructional video content. (Google, 2015)

Some 45% of us watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week (HubSpot, 2016) and

An astounding 100 million hours of video are watched everyday on Facebook (techCrunch 2016).

82% of Twitter users watch video content on twitter  and 90% of Twitter video views are on mobile (Twitter 2015) Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics

So, the message is clear. We have moved into an age where people watch and listen rather than read and we tend to prefer to consume information in video sound bites.  More video is posted each day than can be consumed in any one lifetime!  Most people agree that a video of one minute or shorter duration is the generally preferred length of engagement.

How do you get to participate in this movement without investing a whole lot of money?

Today it is easier than ever to create your own video broadcast.  Streaming platforms are everywhere and the simplest one is Facebook Live streaming. Click a button or two and you’re off to the races. Want a more professional look? Take the time to plan out a script.  As so many of the early adopters will tell you – just “press start” and do it. You can bring in the professional teams later. Most consumers today look for authenticity over commercial polish.

But beware, 70%  say they dislike mobile ads and 81% of consumers have closed a browser or exited a website because of a pop-up ad. So don’t buy into some fancy proposal that uses interruption techniques to push something in front of potential customers.  As I have said many times before, there are new rules of sales and marketing at work today. Content is king but it needs to be content that is useful to the consumer and not click bait or disruptive if you want to make a positive impression.

Today, video accounts for more than 50% of all search online. Many customers would prefer to see a video of a product in action before they get into the buying mode or walk into a store. Is your business ready to inform and educate rather than sell and push?

Here’s how to get started with video if you are not already using it in business:

An easy first step is to reach out into the 1 billion daily users of Facebook and try Facebook Live. You can narrate a story, a product introduction or a client testimonial. Be aware that this happens in real time and goes live immediately. So start simple. Keep to a particular goal and stay on only long enough for a few friends to check in on what you’re up to. Then shut it off. It doesn’t matter if only a few people were there live. The power of streaming is that it will be there for others to come across or for Facebook algorithms to serve up to others.

There are many new tools to help integrate video into your business. Your basic smart phone today can record video that you can post as is or edit for later uploading to Twitter, Facebook or YouTube.

Here are just a few ways to introduce video to your customers:

Introduce a new product or a new employee.

Tell a story about the business or the culture and interview someone who is comfortable in front of a camera.

You can even create visual press releases and updates from senior management.

As you become more comfortable with the basics, you will want to consider things like lighting and backdrops. Here’s a great video from Wistia with tips on how to setup your own video studio for less than $100.  https://wistia.com/library/down-and-dirty-lighting-kit.

If you’re still shaking your head but game to try it, give me a shout.  I can put on my professional photographer hat and get you going faster than you think possible. Pay attention to the statistics – it is worth your investment of time and grappling with the learning curve.

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Hey, What you guys doing?

KSPcW_B&M_DSC9370_©KeithSpiroPhoto

Hey, what you guys doing? It’s a complex question asked in a simple way.

While it came from the mouth of a two-and-a-half-year-old as he toddled over to see what his big brother and big sister were doing, the significance of the question sheds light on a basic human need.

“What are you guys doing?” expresses the very human need to know. Whether it’s curiosity, fear of missing out, desire for inclusion, belonging to an established group or as an ice breaker into a new group, the question opens the door to joining in and building something together. Repeat the act more than once and you have the start of a community, the most successful of which take all of the previously mentioned elements into consideration.

From a business point of view, how do you take this basic human need and combine it elegantly with the myriad of social media tools out there to make a powerhouse team of cheerleaders and ambassadors for your business?  The answer is that you need to hire a community manager whose role it is to encourage a growing audience that self-selects by choosing to engage with your business. Use the full power of the internet and real time interaction to nurture and grow the active space with a leader and guide who knows the needs of the audience and matches the goals of the company to fulfill those needs.

A key new element that can dramatically improve engagement is video with its power of hooking into the visual cues we humans have evolved to depend upon for our survival. Are you friend or foe? Is your message truth or fiction? We humans intuitively determine this in a flash of cognition taking into consideration body language and other visual clues in the interactions between two people. For my own professional dealings with far flung client locations, I often choose to meet in online video conferences where I can fully engage in that human face to face connection. I find it far superior to and much more satisfying than text messages and emojis. Those keyboard characters are cutesy but imprecise and can be manipulated. The eyes rarely lie.

As we engage broader audiences geographically and work with more widely dispersed teams, we run the risk of disrupting that all important personal connection. A globe traveling CEO I work with talked about the speed with which she could establish powerful connections in person over the long slow process of clarification needed in text messaging and emails.  In the end, trust never really gets established until you have the chance to meet face to face. And what I have been proposing is using the video tools available to build that trust and rapport faster and in real time.

Android and iPhone offer many ways to start at low or no cost. Here are some video conferencing tools you might want to check out: WebEx, Fuze, GotoMeeting,  Blue Jeans, Skype, Zoom, Face time, We Chat and What’s App.

Old fashioned TV style of “one, speaking to many” can be achieved by Periscope, live streaming and Facebook live. They are easily launched but not nearly as satisfying for interactive experiences but all of them feed the human craving for acceptance, certainty and comfort while removing the fear of the lurking, unseen stranger. I’ve been developing ways to create content, messaging and brand advertising opportunities on low budgets. Go video and experience the difference for yourself and your business and give me a shout if you want support on easily integrating video into your business communications tool bag.

 

Raspberry Harvest

3 raspberries
It’s the perfect childhood memory I didn’t have. Now living out in the country it’s raspberry picking season and the bramble scratches my skin as I work my way through raspberry canes that tangle as they always seem to do. No matter. The lure of ripe juicy raspberries just out of reach beckons and I push further getting ever more mired in the bramble
Despite the sharp tearing at my clothes and skin, here stand I in the midst of it all, selecting the ripe raspberries discarding the shriveled ones. Mother nature is amazing in providing raspberry look alike bugs and I’m occasionally startled when the raspberry I go to pick suddenly has moving parts. Yuck, I think as I make these now adult memories with the child within me still.
I give today a three raspberry rating – about all that might make it in the house if I don’t turn over the quart box soon enough. Here we go with raspberry mush all over my fingers and all over my face and only the sweetness of a second childhood’s shadow in the distance.

My first practice of Tai Chi

With soft meditative music in the background, nearly a dozen of us gather on the brick patio behind the Topsham Library for an introductory lesson in Tai Chi.
We focus on the three basic conditions: Mind, Breath and Posture.
We learn to transfer energy by gathering fresh energy from the sky and ground while breathing in and exchanging out the stale as we exhale.

shadow photo by Keith Spiro of Tai Chi on the patio

Tai Chi and Qugong have been prevalent in China for thousands of years. They are key to self-care in Chinese medicine and are used to increase vitality and inner peace. The practice of Tail Chi can also be a lovely way to loosen up your muscles and start the day.  The smooth fluid motions fit delightfully with the background music and being outside, we felt the light slightly cool breeze and bright Sunshine. The library’s new patio allowed a choice of sunshine or shade at that 9 o’clock start time.
Our guide, Robin Brooks, directed us to take in a full awareness of ourselves as we traced our own energy across our body along the energy channels. She has come back to Tai Chi after first practicing it many years earlier. While there are 108 movements, she now practices a form of easy Tai Chi. Actually, there is even teacher certification for it as Tai Chi Easy as taught by a fellow in Santa Barbara California. His method makes it immediately easy, beneficial and probably of growing value in rehab and long term care venues.
the new patio at Topsham Library photo by Keith SpiroFor all of us that morning, it was a fast and fun introduction to the practice of Tai Chi. With concentration, I really could feel the energy in my hands while holding a Tai Chi ball.  The fluidness of motion was easy on my barely awake body as I gently stretched muscles and tendons.
I found it quite pleasant to be gathered as a group going through the practice and motions while paying attention to my posture and energy.
Big thanks to the Topsham Library and Robin Brooks for giving us the opportunity to learn something new – while showing off the new space outside the library walls. Topsham library truly is a community center for everyone.

Dr. Chatbot or AI meets the Botniks

I recently read an article about the National Health Service in England beginning a collaboration with a digital media company to build a Chatbot that can interface with patients.

One of the biggest issues in the British Healthcare System is how long a patient waits to see a doctor and in parallel with that wait, how much of their time doctors spend diagnosing and dealing with relatively simple repetitive issues and basic information transfer.

With artificial intelligence and a chat bot that can take care of doing the routine and mundane tasks of a first-line general practitioner, the physician is freed up to concentrate on the more challenging medical issues her patients face.  Welcome Dr. Chatbot.

a version of a Dr. Chatbot circa 2012

a version of a Dr./Chatbot circa 2012.

Here are a few of issues this quasi medical newcomer must address:

  1. Human like – Studies have shown a higher utilization rate of the tools when there is a more human-centric response. Terminals at a human’s height are most effective. Think of the banking industry deployment of digital assistants in branch.
  2. User Experience – combining big data synthesis and human comfort to hone in quickly on the real problem underlying how the patient presents.
  3. Compliance – it is a well known fact that clinical trials have a high, 50% or higher, fail rate because of failure to “follow as directed.”  This leads to the need for human interaction and a true human intervener to ask the questions listen to your concerns and yes, touch your hand to improve compliance.

The Hawthorne effect is a well documented phenomenon of improved results because the subject knows they are being watched. There is a new startup company called Hawthorne Effect looking to do just that. They are providing  human interveners with the hopes of providing better and more accurate results in clinical trials.

The premise is a sound one in that trusted human professionals go out to patients who are in need of real time real personal interaction  and focused follow up. The patient  may need a reason to see the trial through completion or to “take as directed” the actions or medications to improve efficacy as well as accuracy.

The potential for widespread health breakthroughs with the Dr. Chatbot concept comes from the underlying technologies of machine learning and artificial intelligence.  Newer studies are showing that there are predictors of disease that show up statistically before any one human doctor is likely to reach the diagnosis. The ability to provide an alert to a physician and do the high end mathematical permutations that lead to better and earlier interventions holds tremendous potential. But it will be the user/patient experience that determines compliance. I hope the tech people creating these machine driven interfaces pay particular attention to the human experience (or user experience -as the new discipline is called). Jeff Pulver has called for a move away from the term Chatbot to the more hip, creative and human like Botnik.

Indeed, we need to think of them as Jeff does, ““Botniks are creative, artistic, & rebellious just like the Beatniks” The time is right. There is a shift in thinking from what might work to how elegantly we can begin to deploy the tools. We have entered an era of intense focus on AI, machine learning and robotics and the best winners in this emerging category will be those that enhance the human experience.

Full disclosure: I am a cheerleader for and investor in Hawthorne Effect. I am betting that the human creative can direct the machine and not the other way around.

Busting Stereotypes – Bankers & Bikers

B&M monthly column by Keith Spiro

Also known as Being seen, Being heard and Being found – for all the right reasons.

Bankers & bikers bring certain images to mind. Some are not flattering and others are not exciting. What do you think of when you see that leather jacket with colors on the back?

Bikers, or more correctly ‘motorcycle enthusiasts’ come from many walks of life. What members of United Bikers of Maine share is the love of the open road, all drivers educated in safe road etiquette, and the protection of motorcyclists rights. Educate not legislate is one of their themes. They aren’t looking for a lot of attention but they would like to increase their membership among the younger riders who are not affiliated but could benefit from the experience of seasoned riders who care beyond just themselves.

UBM is a motorcyclist rights organization celebrating many years of providing camaraderie, education and events across the State of Maine; a group with whom you can go out and ride while raising funds for community non-profit organizations.  This past month a few folks from UBM’s Sagadahoc County chapter got together and in less than an afternoon raised nearly $1,000 for Maine Children’s Cancer Program. They’ve done similar things for local food banks. They help kids and families and the less abled.  They are not alone. There are chapters across the State of Maine – one for each County. This is home and they aim to make things better for their neighbors as well as their fellow riders.

Down the other end of the rail line, down Boston way, Eastern Bank just celebrated its 200th anniversary with a big kickoff party. Keith Spiro Photo Eastern Bank Join us for GoodThey are the oldest and largest mutual bank in the country. Banking and the movement of money has seen tremendous change. There’s a whole new generation of wage earners that may have never stepped into a bank except perhaps online. Eastern, like UBM would like to draw from that younger more diverse universe of potential customers who could benefit from associating with a group of seasoned bankers who care beyond just themselves.  You see, mutual banks are owned by their depositors.  They don’t have Wall Street shareholders looking over their shoulders for big ROI. They can call their own shots and this bank has been doing that for years through the Eastern Foundation. They take actions that other types of financial institutions might not want to or be encouraged to take.

When the CEO of Eastern bank walked into that kickoff event wearing way cool shades and a leather jacket, he gave off the air of someone you pay attention to and don’t mess around with.  From those two stereotypes of bankers and bikers, he announced “Join us for Good” a program already reflected in their actions as a bank operating within the communities they serve. At a time when community stakes have never been higher, this bank, like those bikers, simply let the world know the actions they were taking and then followed through. Check out just how many groups Eastern Foundation helps with funding. In 2016 they gave $7 million across 1600 non-profits. On average, they donate 10% of net profit annually to community non-profit organizations. Look at the demographics. CEO Bob Rivers noted both in his report. Smart move.  If you want to appeal to younger people, you need to show with actions and not words, where your heart is.  Time, attention and focused actions speak louder than words.

So, about busting those stereotypes! You and your organization can do the following:

Understand how others perceive your organization (rightly or wrongly)

Know that people develop those attitudes based on unchallenged perceptions

Take action that yields visible results – a motivated team can do wonders in short periods of time

Learn what your community cares about and if you are community centric, do those good deeds and make a bit of noise about it. It’s OK. As the motorcycle community says, “loud pipes do indeed save lives (on the road).  There are lots of distractions, alternate facts and shiny objects out there that can put you at risk. Take action and invite others to pay attention for all the right reasons.

Fly the Friendly Skies – Big Wind Day

Big Wind Day.  #231wind  No, this is not about an airline and the problems they run into with a long history of customer satisfaction issues and overbooking.

The post came about after seeing this meme passed along this morning from friend Lennox Chase.

” Don’t get mad. Don’t get even. Do better. Much better. Rise above.”

stunning first day end broadcast

So, yes, let’s talk Big Wind and a big mountain, affectionately called The Rock Pile. Let’s also talk about the world’s worst weather. The strongest gust of wind ever recorded in a manned weather Observatory. April 12, 1934. Today is the 83rd anniversary of the 231 mile per hour gust of wind recorded at the top of the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire. Sure, another record was set more recently but it was an unmanned location in a typhoon. Sorry Australia, I am talking about everyday conditions. Snow and other stuff – every month. No other location of human activity has seen a recorded speed such as this.

So instead of angry airline meme’s, I prefer to focus on a fun event taking place on Mount Washington today where friends John Donovan and Dan Szczesny are completing their week of volunteerism at the Mount Washington Observatory.  They have been attending to basic human needs by providing food, housecleaning, companionship and other services for the brave men and women who staff this station 365 days a year including those days and nights in the long cold dead of a New Hampshire winter.

john with 231wind cake

John takes the cake

On this, the 83rd anniversary of the Big Wind, Dan and John cooked up a big wind Day celebration. Cake to support the efforts of the people manning the station.

cisse hot cocoa New Heights TWM sign

Dan’s selfie with Cisse

 

 

Perhaps served with the hot cocoa from my favorite fair trade cocoa company, Cisse.

After all, it must be nice to kick back with a good cup of hot cocoa when the outside temperature is below zero and the wind is at the higher end of the charts. Hence, we have found another community of all good people doing good things for others.

 

Dan has published several books including NH 2017 non fiction Literary Award winner, the Nepal Chronicles about his wedding in Nepal and The Adventures of Buffalo and Tough Cookie – hiking, with his foster child, now teenager, New Hampshire’s 48 peaks with a view. Atop the Rock Pile, he is creating an interesting year for his book in progress to be published by Hobblebush in June 2018. Indeed it is part of his 365 days of mischief and adventure on the mountain.

My role as cheerleader and Community Builder is to help them with some amplification of the messages. Adding value where I can because what Dan and John are doing is a lot more beneficial and enjoyable than much of the other stuff we read about online these days.

Want to fly the friendly Skies? Take a look at their video atop the mountain.  Having your feet lifted off the ground by wind forces in excess of 100 miles an hour with temperatures considerably below freezing is the real test of power.

You can help make a difference:

John Donovan is raising funds for the Observatory. You can add to his fund drive supporting the work of the Mount Washington Observatory here; Seek the Peak 2017.

Dan is modest about his need for funds but spending time and travel driving to and from the Mount Washington area isn’t without its expenses.  I convinced him to put a PayPal site so we could all help him out by buying a tank or two of gas and provide some spending money for his research. I like his writing style and I would encourage you to send him $30 to help pay for a tank of gas or two that it takes to get him up there!

Now that you’ve found you way to #231wind day, take a look at these two people making a difference in the lives of others.  And now, when you go online and see all that big hot air out there take a moment to make a donation to things that provide comfort and make a difference.

Please share this post because this is a BIG WIND that matters