Square Video – maximising your Social Media real estate

Square Video

Have you seen our SQUARE video advert and need a quote? Email us now. Need more facts and figures? Then read on!

Square video (1:1) – it’s all about ratios

As someone who has been involved in video production for over 30-years, I’ve had it pretty easy when it comes to creating a universally-accepted ratio for video content. Since the early 90s, after the European Union launched something called, “The 16:9 Action Plan”, that’s pretty much all we’ve been creating.

By 2010 the old (and almost square video) 4:3 picture ratio was dead.

As with many things in life, TV content and technology and the way we chose to consume it, are constantly changing. Today we are more likely to view video content on our phone, tablet or desktop computer than a traditional TV set. More importantly, it is usually consumed within an application, a website or social media platform – and not necessarily (in fact, rarely) played full-screen. Video content has become a feature within something else – most usually a social media platform.

In these surroundings the shape of the picture is less restricted. Most professional video editing software will let you create quadrilateral (four sided) images of any ratio – and in this article where going to discover the growing importance and value of 1:1 Square video.

Don’t be a square – use Square Video

The inspiration behind this article is the growing number of requests we are getting to create Square Video. It’s easy to understand why we’re seeing this increase because our clients see Square Video everywhere on social media. It’s hard not to notice it. We’ve also made a conscious decision to create all our own promotional content as Square Video.

The big attraction of Square Video is that it occupies a far greater amount of real estate on social media platforms – especially on mobile devices. Compared to video created at 16:9 widescreen ratio, Square Video takes up nearly 80% more screen space. If you’re trying to attract attention, or you are paying to promote a video on social media, this is a real and valuable advantage.

There’s been lots of discussion about the use of Square Video on the Internet and one of the most worthy and interesting articles is a report published by Buffer.com (see here).

In this report, Buffer invested $1,500 in promoting a variety of videos on the key social media platforms – produced in a variety of different picture ratios and layouts – and measured their effectiveness and return on investment.

Their findings are pretty conclusive. In essence, if you want to increase the visibility of your video – create it as a Square Video.

Now some of this research acknowledges that Square Video’s efficiency and footprint is impacted by the device it’s being watched on. On a laptop, video shown in a social media feed occupies a much smaller area, regardless of its aspect ratio.

Square Video in laptop social media feed – it’s big, but could be bigger!

This footprint size is very different on a mobile device – and this is the most common way we are accessing the Internet and social media platforms. The latest stats show that more than half the website traffic worldwide (around 53%) is generated through mobile phones. In parts of Asia and Africa it’s more like 60%. You can read more into these statistics on Source Statista

Square Video on a mobile phone – takes up almost the entire screen!

Social Media for Square Video

We all understand the value of social media in promoting brands, services and products – or indeed influencing an audience to react in a certain way. But many businesses base their entire marketing strategy on social media engagement. The number of users on the most widely used platforms are quite staggering.

Statistic published by https://social-media.co.uk/list-popular-social-networking-websites

A jaw-dropping 92% of Facebook users access the platform on their mobile phone. If we wind back to the increase in real estate Square Video offers over 16:9 video (nearly 80% more visible) you can understand why most serious users of social media video are creating video this way.

Buffer’s research shows that Square Video outperformed 16:9 video on all social media platforms. This was measured in relation to views, engagements (shares, likes and comments) and completions (when the entire video was watched). Some of their test videos achieved up to 35% more views and up to 100% increases in engagement.

Is 16:9 video really dead?

You might be thinking, “Have I wasted my money on a 16:9 video?”. No, definitely not!

There’s still plenty of capacity and screen time left for traditionally formatted video – and many situations where Square Video is just not suitable. For instance, if you’ve created content for full screen display. In this situation the shape of Square Video will mean it will have a much smaller footprint when shown on a 16:9 display.

This is also true of video embeds on your website viewed on a laptop. Laptop screens are almost all 16:9 and Square Video just cannot fill them.

What it does mean though is that next time you commission a video you will need to have a conversation with your production company about how their ideas will translate to the small screen and social media feeds. Ideally, you’ll get content that will work for both.

There’s also a great opportunity in re-purposing 16:9 films you’ve had produced in the past. The most basic way to do this is to zoom into the 16:9 video – making sure that the best possible framing is maintained by digitally panning and following the action.

Better still is to use a process called, ‘Letterboxing’. This basically means positioning the 16:9 video within a Square Video frame. The unoccupied part of the frame can then be used to include subtitles, branding or any other graphical element that will help you to capture the audience’s attention. Interestingly, Buffer’s research shows that Letterboxed content was sometimes even more effective than Square Video.

Or you could even just leave this space blank, creating separation between your media and the other content in a social media feed. (see below on how we can help you re-purpose your existing 16:9 video content)

Creative considerations

It’s universally accepted that attention spans are getting shorter. Some time ago YouTube suggested that social media videos should be no longer that 90-seconds – but even that’s too long for an Instagram video advert (limited to 60-seconds).

That shouldn’t be a barrier to video being able to achieve what you want it to do in a social media feed – and that’s simply to get your target audience to engage with it. This could be as simple as liking, sharing or commenting on it – but equally it could mean clicking through to purchase.

This ‘Past Touch-Point’ path is obviously critical in measuring the success of any social media campaign – but at the very least you need to tell the viewer what you want them to do next – what is referred to as a ‘Call to Action’. This could be as simple as a graphic saying, “click here for further information”.

Another very important consideration is that when video content appears in a social media feed it is mute. If it wasn’t it would get very annoying! This means you’ve either got to have exceptionally engaging images to attract the viewer in, or captions and graphics telling them why they should. This is probably one of the main reasons why Letterboxed Square Video works so well as there’s plenty of uncluttered space to show it.

This muting feature can be used to your advantage though – especially when the video content includes people talking to camera. Whilst these should always be subtitled, people are generally lazy and will feel compelled to click on the un-mute button rather than read. The secret here is to make sure their first spoken words are compelling.

Get going with Square Video

Whereas quadrilateral video is the norm now, who can guess where video shapes and ratios will head in the future? I’m sure that any shape, or indeed any dimension, is possible. Video that wraps around is already here with flexible screens. As throughout the history of technology, much of this will be driven by the devices and platforms we use. But for now, Square Video is really where you want to be.

We are more than happy to talk to new and existing customers on how we can help them increase their social media feed real estate. Or, if you have existing video and want to see if this is suitable for adapting to the Square Video format, please get in touch. It might be a lot cheaper than you think!

Kevin Cook
kevin@video-artisan.com
+44 (0) 20 3602 3356

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Filming Customer Referrals

Filming customer referrals title

Winning new business by Filming Customer Referrals

Filming customer referrals creates powerful marketing tools for your business or organisation.  No, it’s not a fad – it’s a fact!  We all buy from people – so there’s nothing better than hearing other people share their stories about their experience with your organisation.  All successful organisations now concentrate on perfecting their customer experience.  By filming customer referrals you can share the experience repeatedly with new and potential customers.

Tips and Tricks of filming customer referrals

Like all marketing activities, you must know the “who, what, where, when and why” answers.  Who are your customers?  What do they want or need? Where are they?  When are they looking to purchase your products/services?  Why should they choose you?

These Five W’s questions form the basic approach to journalistic storytelling.  They also constitute a formula for capturing the complete story on your customer’s experience.  Armed with these questions you have a ready-made script to start filming customer referrals.

Choosing your customers

You will already have a good collection of satisfied customers.  Some will be particularly special and exactly what you want to attract more of.  These existing customers are your best advocates in attracting new “ideal” customers.  Whilst each will have their own customer experience story, a powerful connection to new customers will be found within their answers to the Five W’s questions.

You are not looking for the best on-screen performers or most photogenic people when filming customer referrals.  What you are looking for are real people who can tell their story in a believable, natural, and engaging way.  The secret here is to get them relaxed and comfortable in front on camera.  This is one of the things we pride ourselves on here at Video Artisan.  We make the experience fun, interesting and educational for all involved.

The important extras when filming customer referrals

The interview itself obviously forms the main narrative when filming customer referrals but additional footage is needed to tell the complete story.  Referred to as ‘B-Roll’ or ‘Cutaways’, these shots are used to illustrate the customer’s story.  They help the film flow and to enable editors to cut the customers answers to deliver the most concise marketing message.

-Roll when filming customer referrals
The role of B-Roll when filming customer referrals

Quite often the interviews will have many edits within each answer.  Without B-Roll to cover these joins you would end up with jump cuts and loss of continuity.  Done correctly, the end result will be a fluid and logical.  And, most importantly, they help deliver a compelling case for new customers to engage with your business.

Case Study -Kainos Evolve

We have recently been filming customer referrals for Kainos – focussed on the successful implementation of their paperless healthcare system, Evolve.  The customer in this instance was Ashford & St Peters Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.  The customer story is all about how the Evolve system, combined with Apple hardware, helps this NHS Trust to save millions of pounds and to deliver a safer and more efficient health service to their local community.

Your next step

If you are thinking about how you could start filming customer referrals, please get in touch with us today for a free consultation.  Call Video Artisan on 020 3602 3356 or email kevin@video-artisan.com now.  See our Freelance page for details on filming and editing rates.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Advertising Videos for all

Advertising Videos

Creating Advertising Videos

Make no mistake, we create advertising videos. Despite all the clever and creative ways we like to describe what we do, 99% of the time we’re creating advertising videos.  They’re videos, and they’re advertising something.

Some like to talk up our craft (and there’s nothing wrong in that) and call these “advertising films”. However, in almost every instance the intended outlet for the content we create for our clients is being distributed online.  That’s usually through YouTube of other social media platforms – and these are video channels.  So yes, we create advertising videos! Sometimes, however, we’re doing a whole lot more than that.

CAT Publications Advertising Videos

We’ve created many advertising videos for CAT Publications over the years.  These are mainly in the form of event documentaries covering either their M&IT Awards or their M&IT Agency Challenge events.  Whilst these videos are supposed to inform and entertain, their true purpose is to act as advertising videos for future events.  In fact, we’ve just completed the 2017 M&IT Agency Challenge video which is already being pumped out to encourage participation at next year’s event.

Where this assignment differs from others is that Video Artisan are not just there to make an event documentary.  We are very much part of the team building experience and provide delegates with a video challenge of their own.  Each team at the M&IT Agency Challenge has to shoot a short film within an hour (edited by us) – the judging of which goes towards points and prizes at a gala dinner.

Many forms of advertising videos

There are of course many forms of advertising videos.  Some are just straight promotional films that directly sell the product or service.  Others get the advertising message across in the form of educational content – or maybe purely entertainment content.  Whichever platform you choose, you should never lose sight of the aim to advertise.  Google Dictionary describes this as, “to describe or draw attention to (a product, service, or event) in a public medium in order to promote sales”.

This is why we generally describe Video Artisan as a, ‘Promotional video production company’.

Planning your advertising videos?

If you’re starting to think about how you can introduce advertising videos into your marketing mix, give us a call.  We like to think we can help any organisation to achieve their video goals – regardless of budgets and the complexity of the task.  The key to making this successful is to start to talk to your video production company at an early stage so they can advise on the most efficient and cost effective approach. If you’re at that stage now – call Kevin Cook on 020 3602 3356 or email kevin@video-artisan.com.

Advertising Videos Interivews
Shooting interviews for Advertising Videos
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Video Training

Bespoke Video Training

The continued rise in demand for online video has seen us providing bespoke media and video training packages to all manner of clientele. In the past month, this has included basic one-to-one coaching to local businesses though to specialist aviation industry training as far away as Brunei!

Though online video has been with us for some years, organisations are now really starting to understand how video can drive their business forward. And, for many, buying in video training and doing it themselves is the most logical way to achieve this.

CAT Video Training

A great example of how a Video Artisan bespoke video training package can help a business grow is our relationship with CAT Publications (Conference And Travel Publications). CAT have been creating print, online, educational and research content for the international events industry since 1987. Their editorial expertise and industry knowledge has helped them maintain their position as the most trusted resource for anything “events industry” related.

CAT are not shy about harnessing the power of video though. We have produced many films for them in the past five years – with numerous event documentaries on their M&IT Awards, Agency Challenge and Masterclasses. However, the next logical step for them was to start repackaging their extensive editorial output into a video format. The long-term aim is to create a vibrant online video channel of up to the minute news content and comment on the events industry across several their publications.

Video Training at CAT
Everyone enjoying the video training at CAT

Having already experimented outsourcing the the video element of this with their Intellectual Capitals product, they soon realised the most cost-effective and time-efficient approach would be to invest in the skills of their existing editorial team. They obviously didn’t need any guidance in journalism – but a well-structured video training and support package would enable them shoot, edit and produce compelling content, in-house. This would mean they could get their video content out faster and build even greater engagement with their audience.

More than just Video Training

Apart from the video training element of this service, Video Artisan also helped CAT with their investment in the kit needed for their in-house productions. This included specifying a lightweight camera system suitable for roving reporters, video editing software and all the video accessories needed to create professional looking videos (see notes below on the kit).

The initial training was spread over two days – starting with the principles of creating video interviews, developing a house-style and basic camera craft and sound recording techniques. Practical filming assignments were then followed with guidance on how to package up footage and other media assets using Edius editing software. The final steps included outputting settings and how to share content on social media platforms and achieve the best possible search engine visibility.

This is very much an ongoing relationship with CAT. The initial support package means we are going to be very instrumental in helping them to create their first two or three real pieces of video content. By then they should be well on their way to achieving their goals. However, as their video channel develops, there will be further involvement from Video Artisan that will see CAT evolve into the leading resource of video news and feature content for the events industry.

Your video training needs

Our main strength at Video Artisan is our ability to shape and develop video training services for any application or size of organisation. Through our extensive industry contacts and partners we can offer complete media training solutions – covering technical, creative and on-screen performance coaching to broadcast standards. If you’re thinking of creating your video content in-house, please get in touch for more details on our bespoke video training services. Email kevin@video-artisan.com or call 020 3602 3356.

NOTES: Video Artisan specified the JVC GY-HM170 compact 4K camera, E-Image EG03A2 tripod and accessories – sold as a bundle through ProAV . Additional filming kit included RODE NTG1 shotgun and Filmmaker Kit radio mic system. This configuration was chosen because its ability to easily shoot in either automatic, semi and manual modes – enabling their journalists to concentrate on the story but giving them the ability to develop their manual camera control skills over time.

Edius Pro 8 editing software was chosen for its ease of use and ability to incorporate source material in a range of formats. This is also the main editing system used by Video Artisan and therefore enabled easy remote support to CAT on future projects.

Video training with Edius
Video training with Edius
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M&IT Awards 2017

Awards Event Documentary production

Yet another Awards Event Documentary

This is the third time we’ve been commissioned to create an awards event documentary for CAT Publications.  It was very special this time though as it was their 30th Annual Awards.  That’s some achievement.  It was also another great reason to create an awards event documentary to remember it by.

This is an amazing event, attended by more than 1,300 key people from the top organisations in the meetings and events industry.  Its purpose is to celebrate and reward the very best across a wide range of categories.  This includes hotels and conference venues, agencies, airlines and banqueting providers.  Like all the best awards nights, the winners are not revealed until the awards night itself to an ever-so excited audience.

Awards Event Documentary A&O

The purpose of this Awards Event Documentary isn’t purely for prosperity though.  CAT use these films as a part of their marketing activities for the following year’s event.  In fact, the film is one of their most powerful tools in sharing the atmosphere and scale of the event.  For anyone who has not attended the awards before, this short awards event documentary will give them a pretty good idea of what to expect.

Furthermore, the film plays an important role in attracting entries in future awards.  As the only awards scheme in the events industry which is voted on by the end user, they are extremely highly valued.  The film therefore had to show the impact that winning an award has on the recipient’s business.  Likewise, the film had to impress the value of brand association for future sponsors.

Production process

The narrative for this awards event documentary was pretty much set in stone.  Shooting was therefore straight forward, with three camera crews recording the general atmosphere shots.  We also had two fixed cameras covering the main presentations.  The main host was TV’s Eamonn Holmes – and along with various guest speakers, provided the main structure to the edit.  In addition, winners were pulled backstage after their presentation to be interviewed by another camera team to captures their elation.  Whilst this was an extremely quick turn round it also gave us the opportunity to ask them their views on the event in general.

The backstage interviews, along with the winner’s stage presentation, were also cut into individual short clips.  These were then sold to the winners post-event for them to use within their own marketing to promote their success.  This enabled CAT to recoup some of their investment in the creating the documentary. (see example here)

Editing the main Awards Event Documentary was made easier by the excellent neon drumming performance by Spark!  They were spectacular on the night and provided us with a dramatic up-beat soundtrack to cut to.

Video Artisan and CAT Publications

This is just one event we work on for CAT Publications each year.  Other events include their series of masterclasses for the events industry – and also the ever-popular Agency Challenge events at which we provide video team-building challenges for the delegates.  There’s another one of these coming up in July.

More information

If you are organising an awards event, or any other corporate event that really would benefit from being made into a short documentary, then give us a call.  You might be surprised at how a little investment in a video film could take your event to the next level.  Call Kevin on 020 3602 3356 or email kevin@video-artisan.comFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail