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Finding Your Inner Martin Scorsese: How To Master Short-Form Videos In Short Order

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by John Ferin, Content Strategy and Development Lead at ddm marketing + communications

So you’ve been assigned to create a short-form video for your company. Maybe you even have a ring light, a tripod, dedicated studio space, or a quality microphone. Now what?

Anyone who can hit the “record” and “stop” buttons on an iPhone can make a video. But the goal should not simply be to make a video, to complete the assignment, to check a box. It’s essential to first think critically about the purpose of your video, its intended audience, as well as a few basic “do’s and dont’s” of production. Following these best practices can save you a lot of time and energy later ― and make your video stand out from a crowded pack.

Many organizations are using short-form video to promote their brand. Recent research shows that short-form video now claims to have the highest return on investment rate compared to all other social media marketing strategies. Consumers prefer watching to learn over reading to learn.

Anywhere from a few seconds to no more than a couple minutes long, short-form videos are easy to make and custom-made for an audience with a short attention span. Although these videos might ultimately live alongside others on Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat or YouTube, they can be just as effective on your organization’s website or app. Wherever customers or clients engage with your organization, a good short video leaves them with more information about what your brand is offering, inspired to engage with your product or service and make a purchase.

These three tips will serve you and your video endeavors well:

1. Choose a format.

Most short-form videos fall into the following four styles. Choose the one that best suits your purpose:

  • Product and service introduction: a great way to highlight a new offering, or demonstrate a specific product or service feature.
  • Tutorials/how-to’s: wildly popular, these step-by-step videos are among the most searched-for online and are a simple way to explain a complicated product or service
  • Teasers: used to pique interest and anticipation for products, events and offers that are exclusive to your audience
  • Q&A/Interviews: put a name and human face to your brand while engaging your audience with insightful information and answers to common questions

2. Choose your words (carefully).

Once you’ve chosen a format, you must decide what to say in your allotted time. Plan to spend some quality time crafting your video script and storyboard. The simpler the idea, the better. Remember, this is not the vehicle for waxing poetic on all the intricacies of your business. Keep your content focused on a singular, main message with two or three support points.

Lead with a hook. The beginning of the video should grab the viewer’s attention and keep them watching. Along the way, keep your message concise while remaining authentic and affable. Being funny or fake, while sometimes tempting, can cause you to lose your audience quickly.

Lastly, always make time for a call to action. What do you want the viewer to do after hearing your message? Visit your website, call for an appointment, buy your book? Without the call to action, your message ― and your potential customers ― will tumble into the bottomless pit of “good to know.”

3. Find your inner Scorsese.

Making a video that looks and sounds professional requires a little expertise ― but only a little. Don’t worry about making a masterpiece; rather focus on avoiding the common mistakes that plague other first-time videographers:

  • Shoot your film vertically (9:16 aspect ratio) rather than horizontally.
  • Natural lighting is preferred. Shoot by windows, outside, or use a bright lamp to eliminate shadows.
  • Keep background sounds to a minimum. Try to record in a quiet space, or plug a lavalier microphone into your phone.
  • Use a simple, solid colored background. Keep the focus on the speaker(s), product(s), and the main subject at hand.

Avoid overloading the video with unnecessary graphics, on-screen text, or obtrusive music unless it helps tell your story or augments the message (but keep in mind: some text might be necessary to get your message across, as some users prefer to scroll through their social media feeds with their device on mute). Give these easy-to-use editing tools a try: AnimotoAdobe Spark VideoPromo.

Lastly, choose the social media platforms that are right for your brand and message. Use audience demographics to guide your way. With practice, the process of planning, shooting and editing videos will get faster. Their quality will improve, and so should your return on investment.

 

John Ferin leads the content strategy and development team at ddm marketing + communications, providing direction and creative oversight on the planning, projecting, and monitoring of all content creation efforts. John has more than two decades experience as Creative Director and Copywriter in both agency and corporate settings.