'We want a viral video.' How often has this been the starting place of a creative meeting with a new client? In the era of fast paced media and social impressions 'going viral' is the catch phrase of success. But viral-ness is like winning the lottery, with no guarantee that you will be the winner.
The problem is not viral video as a goal, the problem is ignoring the other important steps to making an awesome video. Our goal as a creative agency is to enable our clients to speak a clear, powerful message about their product/service/organization, and if occasionally that message gains viral attention, that is awesome.
Define your target viewer/customer.
You're not making the video for yourself. You can certainly create it in a way that you would enjoy but you have to think about your viewer first. How old are they? What types of things do they enjoy? What other videos would they find popular?
Targeting millennials? They really like craft and boutique style products. Do you set the tone with humor and make a spoof, or a serious message with visual impact that demonstrates just how cool your widget is? Once this is identified, get the sign-off from the client.
Define your goals/message.
We're not making this video for you. Did I already mention that? With knowledge of your target you now define what your goals are. Is it: to sell a widget; to inform; to communicate your brand identity? What is the timeline? In general you will have multiple goals. List them in priority of most important to least. Make sure you put 'We want this video to go viral' at the bottom (it's ok to desire that kind of attention). Once this is identified, get the sign-off from the client.
Define your success metric.
What does success look like? If you've done this before it is easier to determine. If not, think about things like: number of hits/views, sales of product, feedback from the community. Be specific with this metric: "We want to get more views than our previous video (10k)" and "We want to drive __% of sales from our website via our social media page." vs. "I want customers to better recognize our product/company". This is the time to put numbers to your message and also requires follow up [see Step 7]
Choose your display medium.
Different mediums reach different targets... differently. Everyone is on Facebook BUT it definitely skews more towards young to middle-aged women in affluent households. Twitter, on the other hand favors younger users, and Snapchat even younger. And video works much differently between different platforms. Facebook in-stream video allows a potential viewer to scroll past your video in their Newsfeed. That means you have to catch their attention in less than 5 seconds! Along with that you may want to consider that users on Facebook won't have sound on your video so you need to provide sub-titles to engage them. All platforms are different, researching them means you can better craft your message and decide where would be best to distribute. Once this is identified, get the sign-off from the client (see the trend yet?). (data from Pew Research Center)
This may be one of the more important steps. Now that you've defined your goals, your target audience and considered how to reach them, it is time to begin the creative process for a successful video campaign. In the initial stages everyone's opinion matters. The first creative meeting(s) should include your creative director/videographer, their team, and any important decision makers on the client side. Sit down in a comfortable place and brainstorm. There are many philosophies on how to hold a brainstorming session, and I'm going to write a follow-up post outlining one method I like.
Let the creative director/team drive.
Awesome video campaigns don't usually come from a place of comfort. This may be the first time you're doing something different/weird/awkward/awesome. It may feel uncomfortable at times. That is good! It means you're trying something different. You should be doing everything you can to execute on the creative idea to your target audience on the mediums you have chosen!
Wash, Rinse, Repeat.
Successful video marketing cannot be a one-time effort. Your message needs to be developed and nurtured. Once you've run your first video campaign, assess! Wash/Rinse: Do a post-mortem of the whole process. Did you meet your success metric? Why or why not? What worked? What didn't? Does the creative team see is as success? Why? Does the client see it as a success? Why? Now take that knowledge and let's get started on another project and go back to Step 1.
An important note
You may have noticed at every step I recommend to 'get the sign-off from the client'. Whether you are the client or the creative, make sure to get approval at every stage. Consider it necessary to developing not only an awesome video but a successful process. It will also make conversations easier and less personal when handling issues in the project: "Since the second client script review was delayed from the approved timeline, we had to push delivery by two weeks" instead of saying "You didn't get us the review on time so we can't deliver on time."
Is this similar to your process? What would you do differently? Let us know in the comments below!