How 4 of Twitter’s Video Tools Can Help Agencies Boost Public Engagement

Twitter has unveiled a number of video features that dramatically expand user reach, heralding a welcome opportunity for federal agencies. Four of these new functions — Media Studio, Periscope Producer, Snappy TV, and Twitter Q&A — have exciting features that promise to bring audience engagement to a new level.

Twitter Moves to Compete in Video

Creating video functions that are attractive to users appear to be an ongoing challenge for the social media company as it fights to stay relevant in the face of lagging key metrics. Facebook boasted 100 million hours of video consumed daily in the beginning of the year — far outranking Twitter — and Facebook Live rolled out to all users in April. Snapchat is even more impressive with 10 billion videos a day on the platform reported in the same month.

In the face of these competitor challenges, Twitter, which already had video capacity in a limited form, recently expanded users’ video upload capacity from 30 to 140 seconds. They also rolled out a slew of new video features in the form of existing product upgrades (Media Studio), competitor acquisitions (Periscope Producer and Snappy TV), and apps based on favorite user functions (Twitter Q&A).

  • Media Studio, created to replace, consolidates several new and existing media tools. Assets such as videos, GIFs, and images can be uploaded into one comprehensive library with the ability to add metadata, a description, and preferred thumbnails. Access can be granted for additional users, making it even easier for teams to share (a critical component in the collaborative federal world). Media Studio also offers the ability to schedule tweets, a feature previously only available in third-party applications such as Hootsuite or TweetDeck. Two major downsides to Media Studio: YouTube videos are still not supported and there are no editing capabilities.
  • Periscope Producer was launched by Twitter in October 2016. As a direct competitor to Facebook Live, it takes high definition video streaming from desktops and other external sources (such as professional cameras) and provides additional features that the Periscope community has long been demanding. Periscope Producer places a blue flame next to the names of SuperFans (users who have engaged with the content the most), and not only allows the creation of groups, but also the ability to broadcast privately to those groups. Multiple users can also be in multiple groups; the content is only pushed to users in a specific group. For privacy sake, users are always notified that they’ve been added to a particular group. These features combine to create a more nuanced ability to target audiences more specifically and track the most effective content. Periscope Producer is in beta right now, but you can apply for the feature here.
  • SnappyTV was acquired by Twitter in June 2014, but has only re-emerged recently. The live-streaming service offers the ability to edit live segments (either during or after an event) into smaller soundbites, photos, GIFs, and Vines. These clips can then be posted directly to Twitter. The service also comes with audience insights that shows peak engagement. In this example, a Snap (not to be confused with Snapchat) was taken from the end of an hour-long broadcast of a Twitter Town Hall with President Obama. An added benefit of SnappyTV is that segments appear in Media Studio after the broadcast. SnappyTV is also in beta, but is being slowly rolled out to all Twitter users.
  • Twitter chats have long been used for Q&A sessions, but only recently has Twitter rolled out a specific Q&A app. Currently still in beta, the app was released to high-profile accounts in January. The app lets accounts respond to questions with short video segments. It also projects the original question on the screen as the account is responding, a function that is much more interactive and user-friendly. What sets the app apart from Twitter chats is the limitation: only one account responds to questions. This makes the feature more of a Reddit-style “Ask Me Anything” than a freewheeling discussion. Users can also replay and tweak segments before posting it live, giving them more control over quality.

As Twitter reworks its features for the more visual and highly engaging video medium, federal agencies have a chance to create increasingly engaging, responsive and approachable content. Now that it is being integrated so fully into the communication platforms like Twitter, video is no longer on the wish list of potential communication tools, but is a must-have for agencies who want to increase outreach.

Julia Jackson is a Program Specialist at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), National Institutes of Health (NIH).

All references to specific brands and/or companies are used only for illustrative purposes and do not imply endorsement by the U.S. federal government or any federal government agency.

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