Video content is an excellent way of communicating with audiences through online and social platforms, and while a video dissemination plan that includes a marketing spend is important in getting your video in front of an audience, there are a few steps you can take to maximise the organic audience reach of your video.
The choices made at pre-production stage in terms of messaging, concept, video length, people featured in the video, etc. will help you get your video in front of audiences, without a big marketing spend budget.
This blog identifies 7 production tips for maximising the organic audience reach of your video.
Tip 1: Who is your video for?
Identify from the outset who you want to see your video. Who is your audience? What age are they? Where do they live? What are their interests? Do they already know about your business/idea or are you introducing yourself for the first time?
The better you know who your audience are the better equipped you are to produce a video that will interest them and hold their attention.
—Audience Focus: Limerick.ie
We worked with Limerick City and County Council to develop a campaign to promote their new user-friendly website Limerick.ie. A key part of the campaign was the campaign video. The target audience for this video was local people of all ages. To really connect with Limerick audiences we wanted to present their own city and county from a new perspective while also communicating about the website launch.
Tip 2: What do you want your video to say?
Once you know who you are talking to now you need to identify what you want to say. What is the key message to be communicated in the video? Are you launching a new brand or product? Are you asking viewers to donate to a charity? Do you want viewers to visit your website? Ideally, online videos for social and digital campaigns will have one clear message and one clear call to action. If people are confused by your video and bombarded with multiple messages they are less likely to engage with the content and share with friends.
—Message Focus: UL Bachelor of Arts campaign video
In 2016, the University of Limerick, in conjunction with Mary Immaculate College, launched a new BA programme that offered students a choice of 19 subjects. Piquant developed and ran a campaign to promote the new course to potential students and explain the procedure for choosing subjects. The key message in the campaign video was that students could now create a tailor-made BA programme by choosing the subjects they wanted to study. The concept, visuals and scripting all focussed on the key message of choice. The call to action was to ask viewers to visit the website where they could find out more.
To reach teenage audiences with this message we also created short versions of the video for Snapchat.
Tip 3: Concept
The concept is the central idea that ties your whole video together. It can be a visual approach, a style of interviewing, an approach to shots, lighting, music or editing. Once you know who you are trying to reach and what you want to say the next step is to nail down your concept. The more your audience connect with your video concept and messaging then the more likely they are to watch your video to the end, to hit the like button and to share it with their friends.
—Concept focus: Joe & Joe Go Fishing
A national charity, Novas tackles the plight of homelessness in Ireland. In this video, we wanted to reach a national audience and to build empathy and understanding of what it means to be homeless and ultimately to encourage people to support and donate to Novas. The concept we developed for this video was to capture the friendship, stories and humanity of two men, both called Joe, as they spend the day on a boat fishing. One of the men used to be homeless and went on to found the Novas charity, the other man is a long-term Novas resident.
Tip 4: How long is your video?
The different social media platforms accept videos of different lengths. For Instagram currently, your videos need to be 60 seconds or less. For Snapchat they need to be 10 seconds or less. Facebook and Twitter allow longer videos, as does YouTube. However, the length allowed by the social platforms is just one aspect to consider when deciding on the length of the video – the other is how long will people actually watch?
If you are trying to reach a new audience to sell a product then usually you want to keep your video short, however, if you have a loyal audience base and are bringing them news that is relevant to them then the video can be longer. If you have a very simple message and clear call to action then a short video might be exactly what you need, however, if you are answering questions and producing an explainer video then you’re going to need more time.
—Video Length Focus: Recycling List Ireland
In 2017 the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment released a new Recycling List, identifying what can be placed in the household recycling bin. We worked on a campaign to communicate this new list to as wide an audience as possible. The video element of the campaign included a wide range of video types, each targeting different audiences with different messaging and realised through different concepts while maintaining the Recycling List Ireland brand.
In the links below you will see a short (25”) video advert introducing the Recycling List that was released and promoted on all the social media channels, and then a longer (5’14”) explainer video that answers questions and delivers factual information about the how and why of plastics recycling from an Irish perspective.
Tip 5: What about sound and captions?
One of the joys of video is that you can combine so many storytelling techniques in one format. You’ve got live action, animation and graphics combined with interviews, voice over, music and sound effects. When all these elements work together well you’ve got a compelling video. However many online videos, especially viewed on phones, are watched with the sound off.
One way to deal with the sound off situation is to focus on delivering the key information through visuals and graphics to communicate your message. But what if the key information is being delivered by a voice over artist or by an interviewee? Then viewers are going to miss out on this information. The answer, of course, is subtitles or captions.
Captions can be burned into your video at edit stage, which means that no matter where or how your video is viewed the captions will always be there. This is good news for the viewers watching on Instagram with the sound off. The downside of captions though is that they tend not to look great and so can distract from the visual element of your video.
What we usually advise in Piquant is create an srt captions file which can be uploaded separately to the video file on the platforms of YouTube and Facebook. When uploading the .srt file to YouTube you can embed code (yt:cc=on) in the tags which will force the captions to come on automatically. On Facebook, captions will automatically come on if viewers are watching with the sound off on their device.
By considering sound and captions at the pre-production stage you can make the right choices to increase the organic audience reach of your video.
—Sound Focus: LIT Undergraduate Campaign Video 2017/18
In this video, we created for the LIT Undergraduate Student Campaign the combination of vox pops and voice over meant that the .srt files were a very important part in the video dissemination.
Tip 6: Who is in your video?
The more people share your video then the wider the organic reach is going to be. One way to increase the reach and share potential of your video is to feature a social influencer or online personality who’s presence in the video will generate views and interest. It is important to connect with an influencer or personality who is relevant to your video. Unless you are producing a video for a charitable event then you will either need to pay the influencer to be involved or else work out a mutually beneficial collaboration. When featuring an influencer or online personality it is really important to agree in advance what is required from all parties.
Another approach to increasing the share potential and organic reach of your video is to feature other organisations. Your video can be an excellent opportunity to connect with different online and real-life communities, businesses and individuals. For example, you could involve the local football team, record vox pops at a community centre, film in a local coffee shop and so on. By featuring these connections in your video you are increasing your share potential across the social platforms.
—People Focus: Limerick 2020
As part of the Limerick City and County Council bid for European Capital of Culture 2020, we produced a series of videos capturing the energies and concepts of the bid process. The key message of this video was to communicate ‘multiplicities’; that Limerick is many things to many people. To capture the sense of multiplicities we filmed in many communities and locations around the city and country from dance groups to hospitals, to sports clubs and housing estates. The people and communities featured in the video shared the video and helped disseminate this video and message to as wide an audience as possible.
Tip 7: Thumbnail Images
The thumbnail image is the resting image that people see as a clickable play icon for your video in their social feeds. To encourage viewers to click and play your video it’s important to choose a strong thumbnail image that is representative of your video. When you’re uploading to Facebook, Instagram and YouTube you will be offered a choice of automatically selected images to choose for your thumbnail. Facebook and YouTube also offer the option of uploading your own thumbnail image, which we recommend you do.
By uploading your own image you can make sure that the image is sharp, that it is a strong image and that it is representative of the video content and messaging. One thing to be aware of when considering thumbnail images is that if you plan to promote your video on Facebook as a video advert, the thumbnail image needs to be less than 20% text. Facebook are very strict on this so it is worth using the image checker available on their site before uploading a thumbnail to your video.
—Thumbnail Focus: Troy Studios Video Series
We produced a series of short videos for the film studio, Troy. Each video focussed on someone working at Troy Studios and showcased what was involved in being part of an international film production team. The thumbnail we created for each of these videos was a documentary portrait that clearly identified who the video is about and gave an idea of what they work at. You can see from the below thumbnail that this video is about a costume trainee