Stylist “Around The Corner” Case Study.
Over the past few months we have been commissioned by The Smalls to create a series of online films for Stylist Magazine. Made specifically for Facebook, the films explore hidden gems that are ‘around the corner’ from the main tourist attractions over a number of different cities.
We here at Maker talk a lot of big talk about creating high-quality, shareable, digital content. But how do we actually do it? What processes are involved? What are the stages? In this case study we invite you to see behind the scenes at Maker HQ, as we share what we have learned as this project has grown and developed into the beautiful butterfly it has become.
1. KNOW THY PLATFORM
As these videos were for Facebook, chances are most people will be watching them on their phones. To give viewers a sense of immediacy and “being in’ the places we were showcasing, we used P.O.V and steady-cam- style shots, giving the audience the feel of walking through the places we were show-casing and placing them at the forefront of the experience.
2. READ THE COMMENTS (especially the negative ones)
We all know that the Internet is essentially one big, icy bucket of hate (with mitigating cat memes thrown in on the side,) so the idea of reading the bad comments on your work can be daunting. However, ignoring the fact that social media is a conversation between you and your audience is missing out on getting instant feedback on what works and what doesn’t work within your film. Read all the comments good and bad! We advise that you do have some kind of soft animal to hand so you can cry into its fur, as Jen from Rotheram decimates your finest work.
3. OWN YOUR MISTAKES.
This follows on from reading negative comments. Learning from your less successful endeavors allows you to evolve. Ignoring them and pushing them to one side will mean nothing changes about the way you work. Acknowledging and then analyzing what you have done wrong, and what could have been better is essential for improving. Unless you are literally any politician.
4.BUILD YOUR AUDIENCE
We successively built up our audience video by video, by reading the comments and reacting to them, going from 11k views for our first video to 104k views for our most recent. For example in one video some people thought we’d missed out on some of the best places in a city, so for the next we researched extra hard, going down the normal routes but also scouring local people’s Instagrams to see where the best new places were, so that we didn’t miss a trick. Does that sound creepy? That’s because it is. Welcome to the fully integrated future.
5. ANALYZE WHAT WORKS
Looking at what has been most popular with our audience has also been key, what was better about a particular piece of video? Were the titles clearer? Did the locations fit better with the demographic? Or was it just that we happened to film on a sunny day? Figuring out things like this has also helped us to improve as we go along. As our commissioners The Smalls put it, ‘We’ve learned different things with each video and Brighton in particular had great reach, which is really what let us to commission a further four episodes with this success in mind’
The beauty of social media is that it’s not T.V and if something isn’t perfect, you can always go back and change it. For example the views for our Manchester film doubled after it was re-released with a more easy-to-understand title.
Same piece of content presented two ways:
7. DON’T SELL, RECOMMEND. An easy part of this project was that there was no big-sell. As we were working for a publisher none of the places/brands/restaurants featured were paying and we could use genuine recommendations. On this basis we already had our audience’s trust. However this is a philosophy we would extend to our work with all brands and agencies; the more you are a trusted curator/ recommender, the more credible your brand is. People are wise to our slimy ad-man tricks now and don’t buy the lies!
8. DON’T TALK CRAP. If there’s nothing interesting to say, don’t say it. This is something we mainly learned to our detriment at parties. This comes down to an economy of words and content-length, but also on a micro level with the length of shots within a piece of film. Making videos too long, having lingering shots of irrelevant things and extra information that is superfluous, just doesn’t cut it on social media. People don’t have time for your bullshit, they have cat memes to watch and strangers to troll, so get to the point quickly and concisely.
9. EVOLVE A FORMAT. The fact that these videos were part of a series meant that we could evolve as we went along, and where possible this is how we recommend brands get their social content right. One-off pieces of content don’t build audiences on social media, formats do. (And for all those novelty Welsh rap fans out there; guns don’t kill people rappers do.) Audiences get to know what to expect from a format and look out for the next installment. Video series really seems to be the way the tide is going for editorial content, as The Smalls chip in, “Today’s publishing model is rapidly evolving, and most publishers either are, or should be, producing video as a way to share information and tell stories. Particularly on Facebook, videos have become the modern-day bitesize article, and each view or reaction helps grow audiences and in turn brings traffic to their page.”
10 ENGAGE. Again, one we learned whilst socially failing at parties. Don’t talk at, talk with; create engaging content that would interest a human being. You are in conversation with your audience and they are in conversation with you and the rest of your viewers, the best thing that can start happening is this:
The audience gets the palpable sense that they are part of a conversation, and they join in; they are involved, they are engaged. Et voila!
So there you have it; better content gets better results, and this is found through a process of trial and error. If your agency or brand is looking to get better results from its online video content we run workshops with rather irresistible biscuit selections should you be interested.