Expert Tips and Best Practices for Engaging Video Content

  • Categories:

    Content Marketing, Social Media, Television and Video

  • Date:

    May 23, 2023

Expert Tips and Best Practices for Engaging Video Content

Content Marketing Social Media Television and Video

According to the 2022 edition of B2B Content Marketing, the Content Marketing Institute’s annual report, 78% of content marketers said their organization will invest/continue to invest in video in 2023, up from 69% the previous year. How can brands strategically and effectively leverage video marketing trends in 2023? To find out, I sat down with Justin Smith, Wray Ward motion and photography director, and Karen Bryant, Wray Ward social media director, to talk about video content best practices.

How do you know when to push the envelope with video marketing?

Bryant: Be flexible and willing to try new things. A lot of brands struggle with the idea of having fun on their social channels. That’s why we recommend starting with a strategy that establishes your goals and key messages as the base layer to building social media videos. Keep your goals in mind and be intentional, but remember that having a little fun will show the authentic and relatable side of your brand.

Smith: When a client or creative director brings a request to me, ideas start buzzing in my head. The trick is to strike a balance between a big, audacious concept and something that will get viewers to take action. Simply getting people to watch the video isn’t enough. We want to emotionally connect with viewers so they take the next step —- whether that’s clicking to purchase, connecting with an installer or signing up for additional information.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be disruptive. Test things. Push the limits. Our work with TOTO WASHLET bidet seats did that simply and effectively by using humor to bring the experience of using a bidet for the first time to the viewer.

How do you avoid the formula when creating video content that is necessary but not very exciting?

Smith: Product knowledge and how-to videos are good examples of this type of request. They are the bread and butter of many brands’ content programs, because they educate the target audience looking for more information before they make a purchase.

We recently worked with a client to create how-to videos. I started by thinking, how do we make these relatable and authentic for the audience?

First, we cast talent who is entertaining and funny, speaks to the general audience and brings personality to the videos. Second, we filmed the videos dynamically by pairing tight shots showing certain steps and wider shots with the talent on camera.

Should brands focus on vertical or horizontal formats for video content?

Smith: We future-proof our footage by factoring in a 9x16 frame (vertical/portrait orientation) in addition to the 16x9 frame (horizontal/landscape orientation), even if the client doesn’t ask for it. We shoot wider angles than we used to and use bigger camera sensors to accommodate these different crops.

Our recent work with VELUX Skylights is a good example. The TV spot, Dads and Lights, airs on HGTV, but we planned the shoot to capture footage that can easily crop vertically for use on social media. See how well this plan played out by watching the horizontal edit and comparing it to the vertical edit.

Bryant: I agree. Shooting wide enough to allow for cropping the video either way enables you to maximize the assets for a variety of channels. That said, vertical is my go-to even for in-feed posts on Instagram.

Where do you look for video inspiration?

Smith: I scour Vimeo. Their Ads and Commercials category is my go-to for seeing what other agency creatives are doing. I also look at techniques on TV shows in terms of how things are lit and trends in angles. I look at a lot of reels from other creatives.

Bryant: I’m active in social media manager chat groups, where ideas and experiences can be freely shared. And just being on social platforms as a user keeps me inspired by the wide variety of content being produced by professionals and amateurs. Also, it’s important to be an active cultural consumer. Read a newspaper, stay up on sports and watch the big cultural events (such as the recent coronation). These are the things that provide context for much of social media video content.

What are your go-to best practices for short-form videos?

Smith: You can still get a story across in a shorter video. We all have short attention spans now, so you need to get to the key message straight away or grab (your audience’s) attention with an intriguing visual that makes them want to see more.

Our recent ad spot for Clopay garage doors uses this inverted technique. The 1980s-inspired parachute tracksuit, combined with playful banter, makes you want to watch more. Plus, the characters are relatable: We’ve all experienced nosy, opinionated neighbors. Just as our oddball crew is stopped in their tracks at the end, so is the viewer.

With narrative videos, where you’ve captured an interview and footage, think of the video’s start the same way television shows start with cold opens. Use the first 15–20 seconds to focus the viewer’s attention with a sound bite that includes the key message you want them to take away. That doesn’t just happen. When you plan your interview, think through the purpose of the video and the ideal statement you’d like to capture. Then, craft your questions to drive the conversation to that gem of a sound bite. Very likely, that sound bite will also become the 20-second teaser your brand uses on social media.

Bryant: For social media videos, stay on top of the trends from cultural happenings, news events, audio memes and visual memes. Many short-form videos on social channels are more about inserting yourself into the conversation than about planning a finely executed shoot.

Why is audio so crucial to quality video content?

Smith: Audio adds a human connection and emotion, whether it’s a mix of ambient sounds, music or voices. That’s just one reason video marketing is so effective. Don’t skimp on audio. Having an audio tech who can focus on the recording during the shoot will prevent headaches in postproduction.

Bryant: Audio is much of what drives virality on TikTok and Instagram. Whether it’s a sound bite from a movie or TV show or something recorded by the average TikToker, you have to strike while the iron is hot. Trending audio has a two- to three-day window before it peaks. For that reason, we produce reels and TikToks closer to the times we select the audio. Then, we ask whether it fits with the brand and its audience. In the home products industry, the power of the before and after really lends itself to many of these sounds.

How do you ensure a livecast looks good without looking overproduced?

Smith: A livecast needs to be produced to ensure your on-camera talent looks good and the program hits on your key messages. Research the location and factor in the conditions: What natural light sources can you use? How are the acoustics? Will your camera be static or roaming? Use a lapel mic wired to your phone. Create a run-of-show and do a practice run-through.

A little planning won’t make it feel stilted. It will give your talent peace of mind, so they can bring authenticity to the production.

Bryant: Planning is essential since you don’t get a second chance on a livestream. Make sure each team member, whether they’re on camera or behind the scenes, knows their role. Do a practice run-through to identify any bugs in your plan. Make sure your on-screen talent has the key messages well in advance and use cue cards — not for verbatim reading — as visual reminders of key points to work into their performance.

Let us help you create authentic, attention-grabbing video for your brand. Let’s talk.

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