By 2022, video consumption will make up 82 percent of all online traffic. And it’s easy to see that happening with how much time people now spend consuming video.
From viral videos and TV shows on platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Netflix, to ‘stories’ on Instagram and Snapchat, we have become accustomed to consuming things in audio visual form. And it’s no surprise. The longevity of film and television prove moving pictures with synchronized sound to be the most compelling medium for scores of people.
And now, as internet access and speeds increase at an exponential rate, and the friction between consumers and content reduces, there’s a desire to consume almost everything this way.
This represents both an opportunity and a challenge for businesses, brands and the content creators within them. As video production can involve scripting, on-camera or voiceover presenting, filming, animating and editing, it’s a difficult skill to master. Its output takes longer than other forms of media to create, and it can be much more costly than writing or podcasting.
So, how do you start producing video for your brand or business in a sustainable, scalable way? This is the question we’ll tackle in this article. From strategy to equipment, we’ll take a look at the best ways to scale video production and reach your target audience.
Take a good look at your content strategy
Let’s begin with the strategy. Your business may or may not already be producing content. If it is, it’s time to take a look at your content strategy. If not, it’s time to create one.
Content strategies are vital to ensuring what you’re creating is working towards a goal, allowing you to measure your return on investment (ROI). Without one, whether your content is successful or not, you’ll never really be able to truly prove whether what you produced added value and why.
ROI doesn’t necessarily need to be monetary. Your goal may be to create more engagement on your social media channels by populating your feed with video content, meaning you’re looking to measure the level of engagement (likes, comments etc) on each post. You might be trying to use content to increase referrals to your website. Or you may be using content to support your customer base using your product and reduce the load on your support team.
There’s a myriad of reasons and goals that could be behind your business’ decision to create video content. Whatever they are, it’s important to articulate them first and foremost in your strategy.
Next, map out how you plan to hit those goals.
If this is the first video content strategy you’re writing and you don’t quite know what you can expect from your output, make some assumptions and build in the capacity to test them and adjust your strategy once you have some learnings from your tests.
Use these questions as a guide to build out your strategy:
- Who’s the target audience?
- What’s the goal?
- Where are these videos going?
- When and how often will they be published?
- What is success?
Put some plans on the table as to what type of content you’ll be creating, who the target audience is and how you’ll serve them what they want, how you expect them to react and interact with your content, how frequent that content will be as well as a rough schedule, and loop back, articulating how this will help achieve the content’s stated goal/s.
Articulating this will provide the why behind what you’re working on, and help bring into focus the rest of your planning and creation process.
Once your video strategy is mapped out, it’s time to start making some decisions about what these videos are going to be.
Start thinking about a systemized approach right from the very beginning and have scalability in the back of your mind as you start creating videos.
The key to a thriving content strategy is consistency—and that’s just as true for video content. Whether you’ll be releasing things daily or monthly, it doesn’t necessarily matter. Different schedules will work for different audiences. However, each audience needs to know when and how often they can expect new content.
You’re not expected to know on day one exactly what your audience wants and how often. These are insights you will gain from your exploration, which is why the experimentation phase is important.
So, use your first batch of videos to test some different assumptions about your audience including what they’re looking for, and how often they want it. This is your opportunity to start mapping out what videos you think you’ll need to create and how much of a production they will be.
Obviously not every company is going to have the budget or scope to be able to afford a video team. And not every company will need one. Many don’t even hire video producers anymore, preferring to employ coordinators that come up with the strategy and hire freelancers to create the videos.
Think about production quality
Scaling video production is hard at the best of times, so it’s important to figure out how high of a production value is necessary for your content.
Start with what you think is going to be the ideal. Whether it involves filming, talent on camera, voiceovers, animation or more, note it down as your desired output, begin to plan for it and budget for it. But then, for your next video, plan to reduce or take away some of those elements that aren’t totally necessary. Repeat this process until you’re down to only the video elements that are absolutely necessary to deliver your content appropriately, and measure your audience’s response to it.
Did engagement or views decrease the more elements you took away or did it stay mostly the same? Analyse the data, and measure it up alongside how long each kind of video took to create. How much did it cost? How much value did they deliver in return?
By doing this with a test batch of videos you should come out the other end with some learnings about what kind of production quality your audience expects from your business or brand, what content resonates with them, how long they expect your videos to be, and how often they’re willing to engage with your brand in video form.
These insights will empower you to figure out how to scale the creation of these videos by building a system around getting these now validated formats of video produced on mass.
How to make video production efficient and reusable
The more videos you make, the more opportunities you’ll come across for improving efficiency. Here are the key things you can do to produce more videos in an efficient, reusable and scaleable way.
Repeat formats that work
If a format works, lock it in. If a topic area is really resonating with your audience, go to town on it.
According to VidIQ, it’s estimated that if a video on a particular subject resonates with your audience, creating around 7 more will help your channel dominate that subject as an authority.
As a brand producing video, constantly analyse what’s working to figure out what it is your audience is responding to.
Each time something doesn’t work go back to the drawing board. Each time something does work, add it as a pillar topic for your channel, and start the process again experimenting with another topic. Rinse and repeat, and you’ll discover the formats and topics you can reuse over and over again.
Go for manageable equipment
It’s tempting to assume that getting into video requires your brand to go out and spend lavishly on a whole bunch of shiny, expensive, high-end equipment. But, depending on your brand, this may not be necessary or even advisable.
This article is focused on scaling your video content. The higher the quality, the more hands on it is to produce, and the more specialized you need to be to produce it.
Brands and businesses targeting high end audiences will not be able to get away with low quality videos. But most other businesses and brands will be able to.
And by low quality, I don’t mean terrible quality videos and content. Rather that the footage doesn’t need to be in 4K, and the graphics don’t need to be exceedingly elaborate like a television production.
The idea is that you settle on a model that is a good fit with the resources you have, the audience you’re aiming to capture, and will be manageable and repeatable.
Use what you have: shooting video with smartphones
Sometimes you’ve got to use what’s available. A lot of brands and businesses use smartphones as their cameras for more casual, low budget videos, and it’s no wonder. Smartphones have come a long way, and the internet is full of video shot on them. This means people are used to that quality of video, which in most cases, is actually quite high.
Some simple tricks to make your smartphone footage look more professional would be to use a tripod with a simple smartphone adapter. Using one of these, or, if you’re game, a selfie stick, will ensure your videos are shot smoothly with minimal shaking.
The only other thing to consider, and again this depends on who your audience is and what you think they’ll be expecting of your content, is to use a better mic than what comes with your smartphone.
For the iPhone, at least, there are a number of add on microphones. You can even record the sound separately on a Zoom recorder or USB podcasting mic. No need to be too elaborate, but it’s just a simple way to lift the overall quality of your video.
Smartphones are something that pretty much everyone has in their pocket. And, if you’re looking to empower more people around your business or brand to be able to make video, building a system around using them will help you scale sustainably.
Make the most of reusable graphics and footage
If you’ve invested in getting something animated, be it an opener, some on-screen graphics, or you’ve bought some stock footage to help illustrate things in your video, make sure they’re things that will have value beyond just the first video.
Adobe Stock has a massive library of stock footage, photography and animated graphic templates compatible with Adobe programs. And Envato Elements has all of this, also available for Final Cut X, as well as royalty free audio to accompany your videos. This way you’re paying a monthly fee for what will usually be unlimited access to all the pre-made, pre-filmed assets you need.
Set brand guidelines for your videos
Try and make branding, tone and style decisions for your videos as early as possible. If you’re looking to make video something more than just you or your team can contribute to, then create a system around it.
Use or adapt your company’s brand guidelines, if you have them. Or create some yourself, and document them clearly for your videos. Make decisions articulating the tone of voice, and do’s and don’ts of video making for the brand, and then share these tools, as well as any assets or subscriptions you’ve signed up for, to scale the video making potential across other parts of your company.
Outsource the video production process
Setting style and brand guidelines for your video content will also enable you to easily hire freelancers to help with your content load.
If you want to scale video production, but you and your team simply don’t have the time to do it yourself, you can outsource the production process (or parts of it). You can either find a local production company to work with or hire a filmmaker through a platform like 99designs and get a professional to make high-quality videos for you.
Figure out which tasks you want to outsource—be it planning, shooting, editing or all of the above. Then all you have to do is pick the topics, write a brief and share your brand guidelines with whoever you’ve hired, and you’ve begun to scale your video production.
How you know you’ve successfully scaled?
If you’ve followed my advice you’ve determined the terms of success quite early on. So let’s revisit.
Do you know:
- Who the audience is?
- What the goal is?
- Where these videos are going?
- When and how often they will be published?
If so, then you’ve set yourself up for success quite well.
But the final question is one only you can answer: what is success and have you succeeded?
Whether you’re measuring monetary value, influence, engagement, these are things you need to define for your business first up, and keep looping back to check how you’ve progressed.
Scaling video production is rather easy to advise on. But there’s no one version of scaling that will work for every business.
Whether you need to be releasing ten videos a day or ten videos a year will be determined by what your ultimate hope is for your video strategy.
So, whichever way you scale, ensure it aligns with this goal, and you’ll give your strategy the best chance for success.
Scaling doesn’t necessarily mean bigger
Usually when we talk about ‘scaling’ we’re referring to creating a system that can increase output. That doesn’t necessarily mean we need to involve more people.
Whether the plan is to hire a swath of freelancers to increase your output tenfold, or whether you’re looking to produce the same amount of videos a year as a single video professional but want to it take a tenth of the time, the advice is the same.
It’s easy to assume more video, or ‘better video’ means the work will get harder. But that doesn’t have to be the case. It’s all about efficiency, and working smarter not harder.
As you determine video formats working or not working, take each as a learning that can inform your next video.
If you build an animated opener graphic for one video, that can be used once again in another. If you’re presenting on camera and your opening or closing script seems to resonate, lock it in and repeat it in each video. If a topic has worked for you, give it another go from a different angle. If shooting on an iPhone and shooting on a Red camera resulted in the same amount of views and engagement then save yourself the money and hassle and stick with the iPhone.
By constantly experimenting, analysing, and making conclusions about what works for your audience, you can build a video making system and workflow that becomes more efficient and easy to repeat over time.