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Social media is perhaps one of the trickiest platforms for video, but also one of the most lucrative when done right. The opinions and interests of your invisible audience fluctuate constantly. There is an expectation for your content to feel natural, organic, personable. Competitors and social news outlets drive rapid change in trending topics.

Get it wrong and your content will fall flat. Not only that, but your followers will lose interest and unfollow with little-to-no hesitation. Get it right, however, and you’re in for a publicity storm that has the potential to send sales through the roof.

This blog is a guide on how to increase views on your social media videos, with little to no budget and no reliance on partner networks. It’s also a write up of our own internal social media video campaign. We hope this information will be useful for small to medium businesses who want to increase organic reach off of their own backs (and interesting for larger businesses all the same).

How do you think of social media videos that will engage your audience?

To put our ability to the test, we decided to run our own campaign as a bit of a case study. On March 17th 2020, we published a video titled “Testing Londoners’ on their knowledge of Irish slang”. This video was nothing fancy. It was a simple, presenter-led vox pop video filmed over the course of 1 day and edited in an equal time frame. The type of video that would cost you less than £5,000 at the time of writing this article.

How did our social media video perform?

Over the course of a few days, without spending a penny on advertising, this post racked up over 26,000 views, with over 4000 engagements, 100 shares and over 12,000 meaningful views of the video itself. To many of you who work for large, consumer-facing brands, this will probably sound pretty measly. However, Vox Pops International is a B2B video production agency that doesn’t sell to or interact with a consumer audience on social media. When contrasted with our followers, the stats sound a bit more impressive:

  • Post views vs audience size: c.9500%
  • Significant video views vs audience size: c.4500%
  • Post engagement vs audience size: c.1500%
  • Shares vs audience size: c. 37%

When you translate it into these terms, the number of people who shared our post was over one-third of the number of followers that our page has in total. The post itself was seen by a group 950* larger than size of our audience. Not bad for our first attempt at something like this!

So exactly how did we achieve this?

When planning for our social media video campaign, there were a few key things we considered in order to make our content fit for purpose. Some things we got right, some things we had to change along the way. This is an honest account with a few key takeaways that we hope you can apply to your next project.

1. Jump on the trends

The keen-eyed among you might have already noticed that we published this video on St. Patricks Day. Planning content around certain topics or days that you can pre-empt to be trending online is a great way to give yourself an advantage. People will be actively scrolling through content that features the day’s hashtags. Adding these hashtags to your post allows your content to escape the bounds of your own audience and be shown to anyone.

There is a caveat here though. Don’t think you can get away with posting ‘Happy St. Patrick’s Day’ and a simple little gif/img and expect anyone outside of your audience to find it engaging. Instead, you need to…

2. Think of an angle that you know people will be on-board with

What type of content are you most likely to share on social media? Not from your own camera roll but something created and posted by a third party. The likelihood is it’s something funny, political, cute, endearing, personal or inspiring. It’s definitely not a plain and simple sales message or a meaningless ‘Happy Christmas’ post.

Sharing something on your personal social media page isn’t a thoughtless process, it is a personal broadcast. You are telling all of your followers, your friends and family, and probably all of your old classmates who you haven’t spoken to in years “Look at this. I find it funny”, or “I agree with what this politician has to say”.

We all know the feeling of dismay after telling a joke that no one laughed at. Social media is no different. Your content should tell a story or create an emotional response that your audience will want to pass on to their audience. Before they do that, they need to expect that their audience will have a similar (or contrasting) emotional reaction. No one will re-tell a joke that they didn’t find funny themselves.

But how can you know what type of content or messaging your audience will buy into?…

3. Research your audience

Of course, this is a great opportunity for us to say that we think you should use video research to build up a better emotional understanding of your consumers. If you have the budget and you’re interested, video is a great tool to gain a visual and personal insight into what your audience is actually like.

However, not everyone has a research budget, and not every project warrants this kind of spend. There are plenty of other ways you can build a clear picture of your audience and the types of video content that will work best.

In all honesty, this section is a bit rich considering some mistakes we had to overcome in our project (which you can read about in the next section). But hopefully our mistakes can guide you here.

If you have a business account set up for your page, study your audience insights to find out about your audience demographic and trends. Make use of any existing data or understanding surrounding your customers. Once you know who your audience is, find out what type of content this group is likely to engage with. There are plenty of resources available online such as this infographic that can guide you through the planning stages.

Use this information

Crucially, make sure you fully consider this information. It’s all too easy as a marketer to fall into the false belief that your idea is so groundbreaking, so engaging, that everyone will want to share no matter who they are. Adhering to audience conventions might seem constraining, limiting, even. But in such a volatile landscape, it should guide you more than anything. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and think about your idea from their perspective. Don’t make the same mistake we did…

In terms of our social media video on St. Patrick’s Day, we started by looking at what content had worked well for our audience in the past. The video with the most views on our YouTube channel was a video from 2015 titled ‘USA – opinions on the British‘. We then investigated similar, high-performing content that was more recent. We discovered that presenter-led videos seemed a common convention for this style of content so decided to go with that. However, we did forget to consider a few key things…

4. Don’t be afraid to adapt your idea

We had to change our idea in two different ways throughout our St. Patrick’s Day campaign. One was unavoidable. The other, we could have planned for sooner and avoided a last-minute re-think.

COVID-19

Starting with the unavoidable, when we ideated and filmed this video, we were pre-lockdown. Celebrations were planned to go ahead and street interviews as a service seemed practical. By the time St. Patrick’s Day arrived, however, it was a different story. Parades had been cancelled and a different atmosphere had set in, with people restrained to the safety of their homes.

Rather than pulling the plug, we carefully considered our campaign and made a few key changes to our messaging. We chose to gently acknowledge the situation in the copy, encouraging everyone to ‘keep our spirits up and make each other smile through these difficult times.’ Whilst this might seem a subtle change, it was important to ensure we acknowledged the feelings and emotions of our audience at the time. Had we not made this change, our message would have risked seeming insensitive and contradictory to what people would want to engage with.

Our Audience

The second thing we failed to fully consider until fairly last minute was our audience. We were misled by the success of our previous content without considering who it was we were trying to engage.

We had planned a video that would investigate British people’s understanding of Irish slang. The comedy value to this video is watching British people try to decipher words that they don’t understand, gently poking fun. To have the audience in on that joke, they also needed to understand what these words meant. Otherwise, the audience isn’t in on the poking, the joke is at their expense. We are a Surrey based company and whilst we operate internationally, our audience is predominantly English. In other words, we had conceived of a great social media video – for somebody else’s audience.

This almost caused us to pull the entire campaign for fear of it falling flat. However, luckily, we realised our mistakes in time to make a few last-minute changes. Firstly, we changed our presenter in favour of an Irish presenter. This, we feel, made all the difference.

An Irish presenter could hold the understanding of the slang for the viewer. Engagement value was created by the interaction of this presenter, who was in-the-know, and the British public who weren’t. This seems so obvious in hindsight, perhaps if we had done our research better it would have been.

This just goes to show, however, that when you are creating ideas, the best way forwards isn’t always immediately clear. Do your research in the first instance and hopefully you won’t end up in these situations. If, however, things do need to change – change them!

5. Get the ball rolling

Finally, whatever you can do to set the snowball in motion will be time well spent. Many brands and agencies out there will have large networks of affiliates and media partners. If this is you, getting things off the ground probably involves a pre-emptive press release campaign with your partners. However, this isn’t a luxury afforded to the majority of small to medium businesses.

We are a small B2B agency with no social media or press partners to lean on. This case study goes to show that it can be done entirely off of your own back. So how did we achieve this?

In short, we focussed our efforts entirely on other Facebook groups that we felt had an obvious connection to the video content. Groups for Irish people living in London, groups posting Irish based humour, Irish community groups, pages about stereotypical Britishness. We messaged these groups in advance of the campaign and post-launch, letting them know we had content that they might be interested in (importantly, we didn’t directly ask them to share – no one likes this type of approach). 95% of people ignored us, but 5% replied and shared our content. They shared the post to an audience that was highly relevant, who in-turn did more sharing.

In general, we feel that this project was a great success. It was definitely fun to put the skills of the team to the test on an internal project, creating content for our own channel. Everyone was pleased, but not surprised to confirm that the vox pops team know what we are doing when it comes to creating content for social media.

If you’ve got a social media video project on the horizon and would like to talk to one of our producers, please do get in touch. We can create content for budgets of all sizes and would love to see how we can help. Also, feel free to check out the list of client case studies for social media videos below:

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