Sure, there are plenty of great guides on creating social video, but here are just a few things we’ve found work for us over the last 15+ years of making fun and shareable stuff for the Internet.
To make something truly shareable you have to offer the audience something worthy of their time. Something that either entertains, educates or elicits an emotional response. The first step is to understand their audience’s interests and motivations. What’s important to them? How do they talk? What are they sick of seeing / hearing? Getting to the heart of what makes your audience tick is key to creating content that is meaningful for them.
Here’s a quick checklist of questions that can be useful at the ideas stage:
The US diner chain ‘Denny’s’ totally understands their audience of meme hungry, mostly millennials and creates surreal content over on their Tumblr page, earning it cult status among their dedicated fanbase.
Never underestimate how smart your audience is.
In a world filed with ‘fake news’ and ‘Facetune’ brands need to work harder than ever to maintain their authenticity and luckily the Internet is filled with savvy and eagle eyed viewers who will quickly spot fakery, or sniff out a campaign that is less than credible. Then they’ll gleefully tell you all about how badly you failed…
For example, a brand with a history of misrepresenting and subjugating women is going to have a hard time convincing an audience that their newly formed body positivity campaign is coming from a 100% genuine place. It doesn’t mean they can’t overcome that, but they have to be able to back it up at a business level.
Our Bodyform video confronted a taboo, acknowledged the brand’s previous history of advertising and let go in a tongue in cheek way that resonated with women. At the heart of it was a truth, and because of the brand’s historic connection to women they were genuinely able to disrupt the conversation about feminine hygiene advertising in a way a lot of other brands wouldn’t have been able to.
Every couple of months a fresh batch of industry data gets wheeled out to tell us all that audiences aren’t engaging with video beyond a few seconds. Attention spans get blamed, millennials get shamed, and fingers point in every direction except towards the content. The bottom line is, if the video isn’t good enough it doesn’t matter if the video is 3 seconds or 3 minutes, it will not have an impact.
Social video, for us at least, is an opportunity to say something. It’s a way to create a meaningful connection with your audience, and it promises richer and more enduring relationships. As more brands pump poor quality video though the paid advertising system the audience becomes increasingly fatigued, attentions drift and it’s harder to cut through.
Our approach is to try and take each piece of video as it comes. There’s no set time limit, and there’s no scientific approach that can replace good old fashioned instinct.
Tell a story in the amount of time you need to tell it, and place it in an environment where it’s more likely to succeed. YouTube has been hammered by Facebook video in the last few years, as Facebook offer cheaper views and a seemingly infinite reach, but be open minded. We’ve seen astronomically high rates of engagement on our YouTube uploads vs our Facebook video in the last few years. As viewers tend to stick around longer, take in more brand messaging, and develop richer connections with the content.
Last year we created an immersive VR film for confused.com which was designed to be watched either as a fun 360 film on desktop or in a VR headset.
What we found, is that views of the video through the video specific ‘Jaunt VR’ app delivered huge retention numbers despite being almost 5 minutes long.
Over 90% of all viewers made it to the end of the film, which isn’t bad considering it’s a film about a drive down a road.
To conclude. Be awesome, tell the truth and put your creative at the heart of your content.