Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Video and Social Media in Health Care Communications, A Conversation with @MarkRaganCEO

Social media is transforming the way companies communicate to its internal employees and to the public. Many organizations have changed their marketing and communications strategies and tactics by launching company Wikis and blogs, official Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, YouTube Channels, internal video contests, podcasts, and endless conversation channels. I spoke with Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications, at the Health Care Communicators Summit last month held June 8-9 at Kaiser Permanente's Sidney R. Garfield Health Care Innovation Center, about how social media is revolutionizing corporate communications and PR. The event featured speakers from The Health Care Blog, Kaiser Permanente, and social media strategists from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other prominent health care communicators.

@MarkRaganCEO described how employee communications have dramatically changed over the last several decades. Since his father started the Chicago-based PR firm in 1968, employee communications consisted of an employee publication, press releases and C-suite communication cascading down from the top executives to the employees. Social media has changed the rules, and opened up avenues of engagement that never existed before. Now corporate communications sits in the very center of influence within their company, creating conversations and communicating directly to employees and consumers, shareholders and stakeholders, through social media.

According to @MarkRaganCEO, there are no intermediaries, you can go directly to the source:
"What social media does is create a conversation and ideas flowing back and forth from the C-suite to front line employees, middle managers and then back again. The whole idea of social media is to remove the middle man, and get everyone to connect in this one huge knowledge-base. Through conversation, through sharing, through searching, meta-tagging – it's a wonderful tool, and 5-6 years from now everyone is going to be doing it."
Video occupies an important aspect in social media as @MarkRaganCEO said:
"People just don't read as much anymore, we see this in statistics all the time. So if you're good at shooting tight videos, if you're good at making those videos both informative and entertaining – and I do believe there's an expectation of entertainment in social media – then those videos are going to be cherished by employees."
He calls it "information snacking' – videos and bits of information here and there, short messages that communicate training, missions, change management – that's the way people like to consume information today.

But what about the companies that say it's too hard to get into social media, don't know how to get started, or don't have the resources to produce a video?
@MarkRaganCEO suggested that companies pick one thing, take your time and do it well. For example, start a company blog around an event or topic, write compelling content and people will get involved and join the conversation.

Do you need a broadcast quality video production or will a $200 pocket video camera do the trick for you? 
Flip, Kodak or any other pocket video camera and cell phone cameras provide an immediacy of your subject matter. With the evolution of the UGC-generation we've accepted a lower quality threshold. Things that are little rough around the edges are seen as more authentic. (Shameless plug) I was a featured speaker on a webinar hosted by Ragan Communications on best practices for using Flip Video cameras. Check out this post: How to Produce Flip Videos that Inform, Engage and Entertain Your Employees - Update from Ragan Communications Webinar, May 14, 2010. Ironically, I recorded this interview with @MarkRaganCEO on Kodak Zi8 with an external lavaliere microphone.

What about social media in health care communications? 
@MarkRaganCEO noted:
"Good social media is about people and content, and storytelling. And there are a few industries that have more and better stories to tell than health care. Think about what you're doing, you're talking about saving lives – you're talking about heroes on your nursing staff, you're talking about people trying to overcome disabilities and challenges – all of that makes for good storytelling, and good storytelling makes for good social media."
About Ragan Communications
Lawrence Ragan Communications, Inc. publishes corporate communications, public relations, and leadership development newsletters. The company provides the professional communicator and executives with timely, practical, and relevant information. It offers targeted newsletters in the areas of employee communication, organizational writing and editing, sales and marketing, media relations, and motivational management. In addition, it also produces several communications conferences, workshops, and senior-level forums in the United States. The company was founded in 1970 and is based in Chicago, Illinois.

Follow @MarkRaganCEO on Twitter
Ragan Communications | Facebook
Ragan Communications - Company Profile | LinkedIn
Check out YouTube - ragancommunications's Channel

Kaiser Permanente and Ragan Communications present:Health Care Communicators Summit (Link to Event Recording)

Read more about the event on the KPNewscenter: Leading Health Communicators to Share Best Practices, Practical Tips at Kaiser Permanente/Ragan Communications Summit

See this related post by Ted Eytan, MD, Kaiser Permanente physician and blogger: Still about listening: Health 2.0 DC and Ragan Health Care Communicators Summit

Monday, July 26, 2010

Welcome New Blog Sponsor, VidCompare!

I'm pleased to welcome VidCompare as my first official blog sponsor. For those who read this blog from the website, you may have noticed the VidCompare widget in the right sidebar above the RSS feeds. VidCompare is a free interactive online comparison engine for business decision makers looking for an Online Video Platform (OVP) Provider. VidCompare was launched in September 2009 by Kris Drey and Alex Polonsky, to offer "unbiased, and vendor-neutral tools like user reviews, side-by-side comparisons, and detailed provider information." Both Drey and Polonsky had worked for CNET Networks and spent years building comparison engines for and I interviewed Drey for the official launch of VidCompare about why he launched VidCompare, how the site will work and what’s the overall goal of VidCompare.

According to Drey:
"The idea came to me to build VidCompare when I was thinking about creative lead gen options. Today, the majority of people looking for online video solutions do so via Google, which I think is a broken model. Entering a search term (usually "video hosting" or "video streaming") and getting an abundance of semi-related results accompanied by paid results usually leads to blind clicking, driving uneducated people to websites who typically bounce within 30 seconds turning only a page or so. Then it occurred to me, this space needs a comparison engine-like service to help educate buyers prior to sending them to providers sites."
With over 80 online video platforms on the market tracked by VidCompare, (a number that's grown from 58 since VidCompare's launch), it can be confusing to decide what platform is the best choice for you, and launching an online video portal can be challenging when you don't know what you need to power your video. You may have existing assets and infrastructure, databases, tracking methods, proprietary builds, or you may be starting from scratch. Most companies don't have in-house creative or technical teams, and are faced with the question of build vs. buy vs. free online video solutions.

According to The Forrester Wave™: US Online Video Platforms, Q4 2009, an evaluation of six leading online video platform vendors,
"71% of the US online audience watches video on the Internet, and the number of streams consumed should more than double by 2013", so whether you're a large media publisher or a small retailer, every organization needs a video strategy and online video platforms power video for an organization."
OVPs are becoming more focused on a wide array of capabilities from content management, encoding, advertising, syndication and monetization. But for the customer who may be new to online video it can be confusing to decide what components they need and what’s the added value that OVPs bring. As the market further expands and more choices become available, education will be key for online media consumers to make strategic buying decisions. VidCompare can help with the necessary tools to search, compare and make an educated purchase.

VidCompare offers a variety of resources from Free Whitepapers, a Free Newsletter, the VidCompare Blog which shares both video production tips and industry analysis, Online Video GlossaryVideo Platform Press ReleasesOnline Video User Reviews and Consultation through a partnership with Eventure 360, a leading Internet technology consultancy, to provide customers additional guidance in comparing Online Video Platform (OVP) provider.

Read more about the features available VidCompare in my interview with founder Kris Drey or watch his recent interview with Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen on Also, see Drey's guest post on Reel SEO - Online Video Hosting - Advice for Online Video Hosting Platform Shoppers and a related post on this blog, Online Video Platform Summit: Defining Online Video Platforms.

For more information:
Info (at)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Clicker - The Internet TV Guide to What’s On Online

I caught up with Jim Lanzone, founder and CEO of Clicker, the "TV Guide for the web", at Streaming Media East 2010, to talk about how Clicker got started cataloging what's on online, how the website works, what actually is Clicker's revenue model and, what are his general thoughts on the online video and Internet television space. Lanzone was previously CEO of, where he and most of his team came from and he founded Clicker in January 2009. The Los Angeles-based was in stealth mode until it's official launched at NewTeeVee Live in November 2009, as the programming guide for this new era of television. Clicker catalogs all broadcast programming online, along with TV-quality Web originals and contains more than 650,000 episodes, from over 10,000 shows, from over 2,000 networks, 30,000 movies, and 80,000 music videos from 20,000 artists.

In an introductory post on the Clicker blog, Lanzone described Clicker as:
"a hybrid of many other kinds of information and entertainment sites: one part directory, one part search engine, one part Wiki, one part entertainment guide, and one part DVR. At the heart of it all is a massive structured database, created by a team of people from search, media, data and content management backgrounds."

Lanzone said that when Clicker began cataloging Internet television, no data existed. So they had to create it by plugging in their technology into every website with premium video, and then pull down and normalize all the data structures (title, description, air date, duration, actors, etc.) and automate it thereafter. Clicker's database is then able to track the videos as they disappear online or when free content moves behind paywalls.

Clicker does not do an unstructured crawl of the web or search through voice recognition, as Lanzone explained:
"It's metadata driven. Where it doesn't exist, we'll create it. So we'll actually construct a feed for a website that puts in our data structure, and that's something we actually give to websites for free just so that we're able to get it and they're able to construct a feed for it. Other sites have feeds already constructed. But we want to keep things organized.
We think to do TV Guide of the web the right way is, it's got to be comprehensive, it's got to cover everything that you'd want to watch on your 10-foot experience big screen TV, it's got to structured and organized in a way your can easily navigate and not just search for, and it has to be unbiased."
Lanzone clarified that unbiased means, that Clicker is not competing with the sites they are sending traffic to, Clicker doesn't host the videos, but they are sending you directly to the destination sites, like, to watch the video. Lanzone said Clicker’s revenue model is based on lead generation rather than advertising and that they get paid through the unbiased referrals to paid partner sites.
"We're TV Guide, not TV. We just want to send you to the site to watch it. So we don't have the videos, so we don't have video ads and videos that we don't have."
Clicker recently announced that it now catalogs all live broadcast programming, and has also built "People Pages" that catalogs available videos of more than 75,000 actors, writers, producers and directors. So if you're a Zach GalifianakisTina Fey, or Felicia Day fan, you'll find it easier to see every program they've been in (that’s available to watch online), from starring roles to cameos, as well as related people. Also, at the recent Google I/O conference, Clicker launched, a HTML5 interface of the website optimized for the "50-inch/10-foot viewing experience".

Lanzone commented on the current state of online video and Internet TV, with an analogy that we're in the brack (or brackish) water period between the old world of cable and the coming world of online television. He noted that there are a lot of in between solutions right now, with many different OTT solutions, boxes along with TV manufacturers, cable companies, online portals all fighting to control your experience and that the future will become more dispersed and more fragmented in terms of content providers, while destination sites, like the iPad app will grow stronger as they consolidate the viewing experience and disintermediate (cut out the middleman) the market.

In a recent study, Clicker revealed that what's online doesn't always stay online, and the free broadcast content is only available online for a limited time. With their structured database they were able to track ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and The CW videos from the 2009-10 broadcast TV season, and found 90% of TV shows became available online, 50% of episodes came online within a day of their original air date, and 60% of episodes went offline within three weeks of their original air date. 

Clicker has raised $21 million in funding since September 2009, from venture capitalists including Benchmark and Redpoint, and in a short time has branded itself as the complete programming guide for Internet television. As the market matures over the next few years, Clicker plans to be a key player in the space.

Update 7/23/2010: Clicker Launches New Social and Mobile Apps
Today, Clicker announced the launch two new brand new social and mobile apps in the form of Clicker Social, which allows you to discover, share, rate, discuss, and check-in to shows on Clicker, Facebook and Twitter and other third party partner sites. A new Clicker Check-in button can be embedded on websites and video players to help spread the word on what (and where) people are watching online. Leading online video platform providers Brightcove, Ooyala and thePlatform along with many technology sites and content partners, including PBS, Koldcast TV, Revision3, The Onion, TechCrunchTV, VatorTV, are integrating the Clicker Check-in button into their video players,  extending the feature to thousands of publishers. Clicker Mobile introduces a brand new mobile experience on the Android and iPhone (coming soon) for users to connect with Clicker anywhere.

In today's press release Jim Lanzone said:
"Since day one our mission has been to help people discover what's available to watch, where to watch it, and what's worth watching in the new world of Internet television. Clicker Social now gives our users the tools to assist each other in the discovery process -- all centered around our uniquely comprehensive, unbiased, and structured guide to online programming -- while Clicker Mobile gives them the ability to connect with Clicker, and each other, from anywhere."
See the related blog posts:
Hello! It’s Clicker, We’re on Your Phone – Clicker Blog
How to Get Started with Clicker Social – Clicker Blog
See the press release here: Connects Internet TV Viewers Online and On-the-Go With New Social Features and Mobile Apps - Yahoo! Finance

About Clicker
Clicker is the ultimate guide to Internet television. As massive amounts of programming move online, consumers are entering a world of infinite choices, all on-demand. Great! Finding the show you want to watch? Painful. Thousands of episodes from thousands of shows are housed on thousands of different sites, mixed amongst billions of random videos. Clicker culls all broadcast programming, and TV-quality Web originals, from these silos and delivers them in one seamless, organized experience so you can easily find, save, share and even contribute content for any show or episode online.
Clicker | Facebook
Clicker (clicker) on Twitter
Clicker's them song:

About Jim Lanzone
Jim has spent the past 13 years in the Internet industry, starting as co-founder of a startup called eTour and most recently serving as CEO of search engine In between he had adventures with such colorful characters as Mahir "I Kiss You" Cagri and a butler named Jeeves. After leaving Ask in 2008, Jim took a position as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Redpoint Ventures, the investors behind companies like MySpace, Tivo and Netflix, and got the bug to start a company again. He called a few of his former Ask compadres, added some new ones, and got to work building Clicker. Jim grew up in San Carlos, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley. He likes to brag that he went to the same high school as Barry Bonds and Tom Brady, and by all accounts it appears to be true. Jim holds a BA from UCLA and a JD/MBA from Emory University.
Jim Lanzone (jlanzone) on Twitter

Additional interviews with Jim Lanzone on
Also, Jim Lanzone spoke on the Streaming Media East panel, Video Search: Finding Content in a Thousand-Channel Universe, moderated by Andy Plesser. You can watch that video here or in my post, Beet.TV Gets to The Root of the Media Revolution.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Business Video Market Continues to Grow Despite Recession

At Streaming Media East 2010, I spoke with Steve Vonder Haar, Research Director and Founder, Interactive Media Strategies to talk about the state of online video, growth trends and forecasts for the future, and the great evolution in the overall marketplace over the last years he has attended the Streaming Media conferences. Interactive Media Strategies is a research and consulting firm that focuses primarily on video for business communications.

Vonder Haar outlined the massive changes he's seen over the last several years in how companies are deploying video technology. Today, many companies already use video to make employee training and All Hands meetings more engaging. Historically, it's been large companies deploying on-premise solutions that were managed internally by IT departments. The focus was mainly on infrastructure and not the interactive experience. Content delivery networks enabled reliable playback of video, and became more affordable over time.

But with the rise of hosted video solutions, small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) found it even easier to deploy video applications, through the robust and scalable SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) offerings of online video platform providers. This has helped fuel the growth of online video communications — with a trend toward moving from internal communications behind the corporate firewall to outward bound audiences.

Vonder Haar cited data from a related article he wrote, Business Video Market Expands, Unfazed by Recession, to comment on the continued expansion of online video business communications. He noted that the so-called “Great Recession” put a crimp in online video spending, which in 2008 was $460 million.
"Despite the dampening effects of recessionary pressures on technology investment for the past 18 months, spending on business video equipment and services expanded at a 15 percent rate in 2009, reaching $531 million for the year. The market totals are highlighted in our new Interactive Media Strategies report that measures the size of corporate spending on technologies that enable the development, management and distribution of online video for business communications applications."
But online video spending is now back on track in terms of pre-Recession growth rates exceeding 20 percent on an annual basis, as Vonder Haar explained:
"A rebound in growth rates to pre-2009 levels appears to be already in the works. Based on results from a survey of more than 1,000 corporate executives and on-going anecdotal evidence collected in on-going interviews with industry vendors and corporate end-users familiar with the enterprise video market, Interactive Media Strategies projects that growth rates for online video technologies in the corporate sector will rebound in 2010. This year, the market for online business video tools and services will reach $657 million — an increase of 24 percent over 2009 spending levels."
Vonder Haar suggested that the opportunity for SMBs to join the video revolution has never been greater. The emergence of hosted solutions has opened the door to a wider range of companies to deploy online video not only for internal communications, but for external communications and marketing as well. That, he said, is going to drive significant growth over the long haul.

About Steve Vonder Haar
Steve Vonder Haar is Research Director and Founder of Interactive Media Strategies and is responsible for the firm’s coverage of the enterprise Web Communications sector. Major topics and key areas of focus include online multimedia, Web Conferencing and rich-media conferencing. He is a frequent speaker and moderator of industry conferences and events, and has participated in more than 50 webcasts and web seminars on behalf of clients of the firm since founding the company in 2002.

Contact Steve at or (817) 860-5121
For more information, visit

Also, visit their two newest Channels produced in conjunction with TMC at the links below.
Online Video Platform Solutions Channel
Video Content Management Systems Channel

Sunday, July 11, 2010

VMIX Delivers Next-Generation Online Video Analytics

I caught up with Bill Curci, VP of Marketing at VMIX, at Streaming Media East 2010 to talk about the new video analytics and reporting suite available for VMIX customers. VMIX provides a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform with end-to-end support for online media management and delivery with customers in the media, entertainment, enterprise and non-profit sectors. The new suite of tools, which are now standard with the company’s online video platform, introduces real-time analytics and customizable reports that can be shared and embedded on any website. According to VMIX, the new features were designed to give online video publishers and their partners up-to-date, visual statistics that show how their videos are performing on their websites.

VMIX says that their approach to analytics, which they call 3D Analytics, offers the deepest data on views and reporting in the industry, and gives them the edge over other online video platforms. VMIX allows publishers to view aggregate data for multiple VMIX accounts, to track and respond to trends across multiple aspects of their business in a single view. Other platforms only show trends in a single account over time.

VMIX also allows publishers to filter data to make it more the reports more personal. For VMIX, it's not just about pretty graphs to impress stakeholders – it's about creating real value with tools to take analytics into reporting. Curci explained that their personal 3D analytics suite helps publishers make decisions on a predictive basis – to track what's working and what's not working and make changes to a campaign based on the performance of the specific video(s).

The specific features of the Analytics and Reporting suite include the ability to:

  • Track and compare multiple metrics over time in a single graphic or data-table view
  • Build highly focused, personalized reports that can be exported and embedded to display dynamic, up-to-the-minute data
  • Create custom reporting dashboards on company intranets or any website, allowing stakeholders and partners to see up-to-date video analytics on any website, allowing stakeholders and partners to see  video analytics
VMIX had been gearing up for the release of its analytics and reporting suite and April and debuted the technology at Akamai's booth at NAB 2010. VMIX had been working with Akamai for over two years and announced that it had adopted the Akamai HD Network, for delivery of both live and on-demand video to a broad range of devices. VMIX also incorporates Amazon S3 cloud-based storage for a segment of their infrastructure.

VMIX was founded in 2005 is based in San Diego, California. The company is privately-owned and has  received $23.5 million to date. In the November 2009 Forrester Research Wave™ report: US Online Video Platforms, Q4 2009, that evaluated six of the leading online video platform vendors VMIX was recognized as a "Strong Performer"with its comprehensive offerings.
According to the report, "VMIX’s comprehensive package targets high-volume publishers with all-inclusive services, such as human moderation review for user-generated content, customized integration, training classes, and full technical support for all customers. Additionally, the platform has an internal syndication library of video content that it offers to customers to enhance their own existing video libraries. Given its focus on volume publishers, we believe that expanding the platform’s distribution and monetization capabilities will take the company to the next level."
In more recent news, VMIX named Patrick Burns as the company’s President and CEO, replacing Mike Glickenhaus who has been President and CEO since 2008. See Jim O'Neill's article, VMIX names Patrick Burns CEO, as online video platform plans for growth - FierceOnlineVideo, for a candid conversation with Burns just two weeks into the job and how he plans to take the company to the next level in an ever-changing space.

VMIX has also been focusing on mobile development with iPad and HTML5-compatible video apps. Last month, VMIX released an open source iPad app and just last week, VMIX released an open source Mobile Video SDK for the Apple iPad and iPhone and also announced plans to support Google Android-based devices within the next month.

About VMIX
VMIX Media Inc., ( is a leading provider of online video and media management solutions. The company is the trusted partner of news, entertainment and enterprise companies including NASA, ESPN, Raycom Media, Penguin Books, The McClatchy Company, Toyota-Scion, ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, and Post Newsweek Television Stations.
VMIX (VMIX) on Twitter
VMIX | Facebook