For the past year and a half, video has been my world. It’s no secret that video is hot right now, both as an ad format and for content. It seems like every marketer is trying to capture the moment and shift resources from text-based content to video.
I read a great piece in Columbia Journalism Review a few months ago that smartly outlines some of the challenges in this, and I have a few lessons to share myself from some video projects I’ve worked on recently.
I majored in Communications/Journalism in college, so I’d worked with video a little bit in the past through a college TV station and during a news internship at 13-WHAM. But it’d been a while since I’d written scripts or edited film, and I had never done these things before with a focus on optimizing for social or mobile.
I learned a lot and thought some of those lessons were worth sharing. So here goes –
1. Work Backwards
Before jumping into any video project, “work backwards” from how you ultimately want the content to be presented. How you plan to use the content informs everything, from the permission you get from those appearing in the video, as well as your hosting solution, shots, graphics, and background music.
It’s pretty easy to re-package text-based content into new formats. If you find a new use for the content, it’s simple to change course along the way. But it’s much more time intensive to do this with video.
Laying this all out in a creative brief at the start of a project is a simple step one can take to ensure everything is done right at the beginning.
2. Preparation is Key
Video is sight, sound, and motion. It’s complex, which means there are a lot of details to get in place before you say “action!” Sometimes, practicing a script or prepping answers to questions can get lost in the mix. Don’t skip this step!
You’d be surprised. Even the most poised public speakers who talk with ease in front of large audiences or boardrooms can suddenly freeze in front of a camera.
It’s something about the pomp and circumstance of video. There’s all this equipment. There’s a crew of people listening. The only way to work around the stage fright is to build practice into your project plans.
3. Use Short Sentences and Simple Language in Scripts
Script writing is a lot different than writing blog posts, white papers, or press releases. Sentences need to be shorter. Filler words and complicated punctuation don’t translate well on screen, either.
It’s important to keep this in mind when writing scripts, especially when ghostwriting for others with distinctive writing voices that normally include these elements.
4. Pick a Lane: Authentic or High Production
I’m of the mindset that it’s better to have no video than poorly-executed video.
At the same time, I think we’re seeing more and more that quick, authentic, live video from brands can work really well at giving the company a human voice — especially on social
Again, I think the key is to work backwards from how the video will be used. Use that strategy to determine if it’ll be a high production piece or something that looks a little more “homemade.” (Just remember, authentic doesn’t mean sloppy. Homemade cupcakes still taste great!)
5. Use Epidemic Sound for Background Music
You know that feeling when you send over an Ebook over for review and the only commentary you get is about the stock photos?
Well, background music is the stock photo of video. It’s the first thing stakeholders react to, so you have to hit the right note, so to speak, with whatever you choose.
I like the music selection on Epidemic Sound the best. The site is easy to navigate, and no matter what your brand “sound” is, there’s probably something for you.
I’ll end this post with a potentially controversial tip: If you’re just getting started with content and have limited resources, I would focus efforts on one content format. Build your audience with one content offering before diversifying. If you’re great on camera, start with video. But I still think you can start with a blog or another content medium and build an audience that way. Then you have a community of people who are looking forward to your new, more complex, content offering (video series, podcast etc.) when you launch instead of launching it to crickets.
What advice do you have for people transitioning from text-based content to video? Let me know in the comments.