Video amusement: Instagram Hyperlapse

On August 26, Instagram debuted a new app for iOS devices called Hyperlapse.

Hyperlapse_from_Instagram_on_the_App_Store_on_iTunes

Hyperlapse is beautifully simple: record video with it and it will accelerate it between 6x and 12x, add motion stabilization, and publish it for you. You can use the Instagram platform or simply pull it off your mobile device for other purposes. I took this video of a portion of my commute to work at sunrise and fed it to Hyperlapse:

This video was shot using my iPad and a dashboard mount (hands-free for safety!) over the span of 15 minutes. The app did a wonderful job of smoothing out the many, many, MANY bumps in the road (because taxpayer dollars pay for the existence of roads, but not necessarily their quality) and then I added Matthew Ebel’s “Drive Away” in post-production.

For marketers, Hyperlapse offers some easy potential to take long snippets of video and then condense them down, from conferences to trade shows to events. It’s full motion video, as opposed to time-lapse (which will make its debut in iOS 8 natively), so if you need additional smoothness (in exchange for only 12x acceleration), Hyperlapse is a good choice. It’s absurdly simple to use, and I foresee some neat uses for it. For example, the Parrot and DJI drones can have iPhones attached to them (typically by a Joby mount), so imagine combining a drone’s flight abilities with a Hyperlapse video.

The only limitation I see right now is that Hyperlapse can’t import existing video – you have to shoot raw video with the app itself for it to process the video and apply its signature stabilization and acceleration. The price is right (free), so get it and see what you can do with it.

Click here to download in the Apple App Store.


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3 steps to diagnosing declining website traffic

I’ll let you in on a little secret. My website hasn’t been doing as well lately. In fact, performance of the site has been downright poor in the last 3 months compared to the past. Are the glory days over? Has my writing substantially declined in quality? I needed to find out what was going on.

The path to understanding your website traffic, good or ill, is straightforward: audience, acquisition, behavior.

The first step is to understand the audience. Which audience are you losing? I fired up Google Analytics and looked at the two most basic segments of audience, new and returning users. Briefly, if new users are declining, it typically means you have an acquisition problem. If returning users are declining, it typically means you have a content problem. If both are declining, you typically have a structural problem behind the scenes. New users have been substantially down:

Audience_Overview_-_Google_Analytics

But then, so have returning users:

Audience_Overview_-_Google_Analytics

Something’s amiss, and I suspect it’s structural. The next step is to look at acquisition. Where am I losing my traffic from?

All_Traffic_-_Google_Analytics

It would seem I’m losing my traffic from direct and organic search for returning users, which means people have lost bookmarks, forgot to type in my domain name as part of their daily reading, or don’t find me again through search.

Let’s check out new users now. Where am I losing them from?

All_Traffic_-_Google_Analytics

The same two culprits, but on a much larger scale. I lost half of my organic search traffic. Yikes! I think it’s safe to say we found the problem: search. Both new and returning users rely heavily on search to get to my website.

Knowing that there’s a search problem, the next question is: what kind of search problem. For that, we head to Google’s Webmaster Tools. I looked at the dashboard and it said I have 1,289 URLs indexed under the Sitemaps panel.

Full stop. I know there’s more content on the website than that. There are thousands of pages on this site. What gives?

I looked a little more closely. My sitemap wasn’t reporting most of the URLs on my site. It turns out that when I updated an SEO plugin, it munched my previous settings for sitemaps, and was only reporting 1 out of every 5 actual URLs. I resubmitted my sitemaps to Webmaster Tools, and you can see the difference:

Webmaster_Tools_-_Sitemaps_-_http___www_christopherspenn_com_

That’s a pretty substantial difference right there. 75% of my work wasn’t indexed by Google because it didn’t know about it. Now it does, and I’ll expect to see an increase in the number of pages crawled and indexed in search results in the near future, which should translate into bringing people back to my website.

When you face a situation where you’ve got declining traffic, follow the same framework. Which part of your audience is ailing? Where do they come from? What do they do? By following that structure, you’ll quickly identify what’s broken and the solution to fix it may leap out at you.


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The tactical advantage of new things

A very brief strategic thought about why you shouldn’t wait to try new things in the world of marketing. New things capture the attention of the early adopters but the laggards and the mainstream are slow to catch on. There are thousands of marketing managers out there waiting for the case study to come out, and when it does, they’ll flock to the not-so-new thing like lemmings, causing considerably more poor performance. The best time to exact incredible performance from something new is before the masses arrive.

For example, when LinkedIn Sponsored Updates first hit the marketing world, very few brands were trying it. As part of my work at SHIFT Communications, I jumped in with both feet (and corporate credit card), and got some astonishingly good results from it. Just a week later, so many more of the rest of the crowd was trying them out that performance was a full 20% lower. The space got crowded quickly.

Here’s one of the few guarantees of marketing: if you’re waiting for the case study of the industry leader, you are guaranteed not to be that industry leader. Jump in as resources and time permit, experiment, and constantly be ahead of the crowd, ahead of the competition. You don’t have to go all-in and put all your chips across the line on every new thing, but you do need to at least ante up.

Where do you go to find new things? Search the final frontier. Read lots of blogs. Read developer notes. Use developer sites. The new stuff is always happening in development first, and eventually finds its way to marketing.


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