What’s Your Story?

There’s an old saying: “If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is there to hear it, does it really make a sound?” Now consider this, if a brand is creating stories that don’t connect with an audience, are those even really considered stories? If you think you’re making an impact, but no one is listening it might be time to rethink your approach.

To dive deeper, consider these three things when you’re starting to move down the storytelling path: Audience, Style, Tone.

The Basics

  • Who is your audience?  This one is the most important. Think about your audience as human beings. Sounds silly, but sometimes we forget this basic fundamental fact! Who are they? What are their ambitions—personally and professionally? What makes them mad, what makes them sad, what gives them joy? What kind of devices do they use, and how do they consume information? Once you’re able to get answers to  these and many of these questions, it’ll be easier to personify your audience.

We produced the video below for VisitTampaBay with a very specific audience in mind. It’s intended for meeting planners from all over the globe to watch and feel compelled to book their next event in … well… just watch the video!

  • What is the style? Is it techy, is it softer or edgy? The event planners in the video above skewed more professional, modern and edgy. Identifying your style will add authenticity and make your story feel more genuine.
  • What is the tone? Is it upbeat, or more serious? As for our example above, we definitely went for a more upbeat tempo that creates energy and excitement. A feeling that if I don’t book here, I might be missing out. And, no one likes FOMO! The tone should be linked to a specific emotion you want your audience to feel.

Now you’ve got the essentials. But what’s video storytelling without visuals?

Visualize to Humanize

Visuals coupled with a great story is like candy for the brain. You’re grabbing a viewer on multiple levels: visually, intellectually and emotionally. That’s what video does and our brains crave that kind of sweet engagement.

There can be bland storytelling. But, there are NO bland stories. For example, business communication doesn’t just have to be bullet points, simple statements, or rhetorical rants. A dose of the human element, emotion, and branded thinking can result in a memorable message. Big brands shouldn’t steal the spotlight every time. Stories are everywhere it is about how you tell them and to whom.

Take for example this video we did for Wexford Financial Strategies, a smaller firm of financial advisors. The story is about what they do but more importantly, it is about how they do it and the feeling it gives.

The video is not an advertisement, it is a story. The audience is taken on a journey and they don’t feel “marketed” to, they’re being entertained and can connect. Saddle that with great visuals and you’re on the path to happy storytelling. Understand your audience. Cater to their style and like Mom always said, mind your tone. Don’t be the tree that falls down with no one around to hear it.

HAPPY STORYTELLING!

_____________________________________________________________

About the Author: Roshni Hannon
Contact: roshni@madbearproductions.com

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes… she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.

Size Matters

Size matters.
Now that we have your attention. Let’s clarify. We are talking about video. More specifically, the best video shapes and sizes for different platforms.
Let’s start out with the basics. The three most common sizes are: Widescreen (16:9), Square (1:1), and Vertical (9:16). Yes. Vertical. Vertical Video is no longer the black sheep. Indeed there was a time when shooting vertical video was frowned upon. But as viewing patterns have shifted, so have the recommendations. Most people consume video on their smartphones. And how do most of us hold our phones? Yep. Vertically. So, don’t fear it!
Now, it’s important to note that most social platforms today will allow you to upload these three common video sizes, however, that does not mean that all of these work best on that specific platform. In this list, we’ll share what seems to be the standard for each platform, as well as what we recommend so that you’ll be able to get the most exposure with your video. We’ve provided examples from recent work we produced for our client Hu-manity.co. 

1. Facebook

Video Posts

  • Standard: Widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio)
  • Recommended: Square (1:1 aspect ratio)

You’re likely going to see the widescreen size the most on Facebook simply because it is the most common for shooting video. It is also going to look the best in full-screen on your desktop. But how often do we really watch a Facebook videos full-screen on desktop?

While widescreen may be the standard, it ends taking up a very small amount of real estate in the narrow Facebook Newsfeed. Similarly, if you’re browsing Facebook on your phone, it is not even going to take up half of the screen.

By contrast, the vertical format looks great on the Facebook mobile app, allowing for an almost full-screen experience when watching on your phone. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look the best on desktop. Facebook adds bars to the left and right of the vertical video and crops it down to a square when showing it on desktop.

For these reasons, we recommend meeting in the middle and going with the square size. Square videos on Facebook look great on both desktop and mobile. They take up a lot of real estate in your friends’ Newsfeed, and brings more attention to your video.

         

This is a recent Facebook video our Team produced for Hu-manity.co 

2. Twitter

  • Standard: Widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio)
  • Recommended: Square (1:1 aspect ratio)

Twitter’s video post sizes are very similar to that of Facebook. The only difference being that previews in the Twitter Feed of vertical video are cropped down to a square, even on mobile. Again, while you’ll see a lot of users uploading widescreen, the square format will get you more attention by covering more space.

3. Instagram

Instagram has slowly transitioned into being 3 content platforms in one, all of which support video. Let’s look at the recommended video size for all three.

Instagram Feed

  • Standard: Square  (1:1 aspect ratio)
  • Recommended: Square (1:1 aspect ratio)

Your normal Instagram posts, which show up on your profile grid and in your follower’s Insta-feed, have long been standardized as the square due to Instagram’s ability to edit and crop your content within the app. Video content has been no different.

Since Instagram has always been mobile-first experience, uploading widescreen videos is not going to make for the most enjoyable viewing experience. Unlike on YouTube, Facebook you can’t even rotate your phone to watch videos in fullscreen on Instagram.

Vertical videos look great in the Instagram feed, and we’d be very inclined to recommend you utilize this size on the regular… except for one thing. You have to remember your profile grid – vertical videos are always going to be cropped into a square within your grid and may not end up looking how you want.

This is why we ultimately have to recommend sticking with the classic 1:1 square video on Instagram.

Instagram Stories

  • Recommended: Vertical (9:16 aspect ratio)

In this vertical experience, you may as well use up the full screen by recording and uploading truly vertical video.

IGTV

  • Recommended: Vertical  (9:16 aspect ratio)

IGTV launched in 2018 as the vertical video platform. Though Instagram has since allowed you to upload non-vertical videos also, we still recommend the 9:16 vertical format since the platform was built with mobile users in mind.

4. YouTube

  • Standard: Widescreen  (16:9 aspect ratio)
  • Recommended: Widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio)
  • *Also Recommended: Vertical (9:16 aspect ratio)

While you can upload just about any video size on YouTube, your video will always appear in a widescreen 16:9 video player on desktop. And videos that don’t match this aspect ratio will have black bars on the top and bottom, left and right. Research shows YouTube users are much more likely to click that “expand to full-screen” button on desktop. And for that reason, we generally recommend that you keep to this standard.

With that all being said, YouTube has recently allowed for vertical videos to appear in a vertical experience on mobile. There is some cropping that goes on in the initial preview, but ultimately it looks pretty good. The reason we also recommend uploading vertical-sized videos on YouTube is because, more and more, users are watching directly on their phones. YouTube Creators who suspect that most of their content is watched on a mobile device may want to consider making this transition to provide their viewers with a more enjoyable watching experience. But otherwise, the widescreen video size does just fine for the time being.

We hope this has been helpful. We know it’s a lot to digest. Reach out to us if you have any questions about your size… errr… you know what we mean.

_____________________________________________________________

About the Author: Roshni Hannon
Contact: roshni@madbearproductions.com

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes… she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.

How long should my video be?

Look to the left. Now to the right. Are you alone? No one has to know the answer to this question. This is a moment of truth. How many times in a day do you check your smartphone? How many times while you’re reading this blog do you think you’ll have a quick glance at your email inbox.

News flash: attention spans are shrinking!

That much we know. But, before making any determination on length you have to consider your audience. Where do they live?

Your answer impacts which platform you should use to share the video. The answer really is don’t just create one video at a fixed length. In this multi-channel world, it is very ambitious and bold to ask a lone video (regardless of length) to do everything. To maximize performance, vary the length of the same concept. What you put on Instagram will not be the same content you share during a live event.

With all that said you’ve got to learn to crawl before you walk. In essence, in order to break the rules you have to learn them first.  So here are the basics when it comes to length.

Go Shorty…

Remember when we mentioned those short attention spans? Let’s get back to that. To cater to viewers’ fleeting attention advertisers now film snackable, six-second versions of their 15- or 30-second ads.

Six seconds?! Yes. This is a very viable length right now. But remember, the video does not have to do everything… it just needs to get the attention you desire and cause the viewer to want more.

The overwhelming majority of videos we create are less than two minutes in length. Our team embraces the shrinking attention spans and shifting audience expectations, and we are always advising our clients on how to adjust their content to match.

We find that when it comes to product videos, some demos, and explainer videos, the shorter and more succinct the better.

1. Explainer Videos

In essence, an explainer video is one which provides an overview of a problem and demonstrates how your product or service provides a solution.

As these are generally quite top-of-funnel, meaning you are likely engaging your audience for the first time to get their attention and get them wanting more,  it’s best to keep them concise.

Recommended Length: 60 seconds or less

We produced a high-level infographic to explain what Hu-manity.co stands for.       
A deep and sophisticated philosophy does not have to be difficult to demonstrate with video.

2. Product Videos/ Sizzle Videos

If you think of the explainer video as the “what.” Then your product/ sizzle video is the “why.” These videos let your viewers experience your product or solution.

And at this stage, it’s okay to go a little longer. At this point, you’ll have piqued their interest!

Recommended Length: One to two minutes 

A product video doesn’t have to be something tangible. It can be a concept or an event. We produced Visit Tampa Bay’s Sales/Sizzle video as a tool for them to attract more meetings and large scale conventions to the area.

3. Webinars

Webinars are great opportunities to delve deep into subjects of interest to your audience.

With webinars, you also have a lot of flexibility on video length. It all depends on what you’re presenting and how you want to present it.

Recommended Length: 15 minutes plus Q&A

                               Our crew assisting with Bayer’s CTEPH webinar. 

4. Social Videos

What better way to connect with your audience than through their favorite social channels?

The rising popularity of IGTV is the world’s way of recognizing people are watching less TV and consuming more digital content. Instagram TV allows creators to upload high quality, long-form videos. It allows users to create channels where they can upload videos between 15 seconds and 10 minutes long.

IGTV is in fact the exception and not the norm (for now). In general, short and sweet videos are perfect for engaging with your audience on social.

And while it’s important to keep tweaking your video approach as social needs are always changing, here’s what’s working well right now.

Instagram stories can be longer, but they go away. And remember money talks. If you put money behind your push on Instagram and Facebook the rules are different. Posts can be longer. So below are for those of you going it without the added push.

Recommended Lengths:

  • Instagram: 15-30 seconds
  • Twitter: 15-60 seconds
  • LinkedIn: 15 seconds-tw0 minutes
  • Facebook: 15 seconds-two minutes

Video Pitches

Are you pitching a reporter or maybe you’re producing a sales pitch?

If you think six seconds is short, consider that your email pitch may be competing against 799 other email pitches.

As professionals who have lived on the other side of the pitch, we recommend keeping pitches short and sweet.

You can check out more on video-pitching here.

Recommended Length: 30-45 seconds

Long-form Content isn’t Dead

Now with all that said, we are NOT swearing off long-form content. It comes down to your goal and many times the platform. Webinars, certain event videos (like our example below) and many product demos can be 3 minutes and more. The bigger questions are: How well do you know your audience and can you meet them there?

We created a longer-form video for Habitat for Humanity based on what we knew about the audience and the circumstances under which they would be watching. 

In a nutshell, even though short content performs well, consumers also seem to have an appetite for in-depth educational content.

Remember, time is money. But don’t sell your story short.  Hit reply and tell us if you think this article was helpful.

______________________________________________________________

About the Author: Roshni Hannon
Contact: roshni@madbearproductions.com

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes… she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.

 

Video Trends for 2018

As we move full speed ahead into 2018, the world of video marketing is not slowing down. In fact, with one more year of technological innovation and creativity behind the camera, the world is in for more captivating content in the year ahead. From virtual reality and 360 and everything in between, marketers are getting immersive and uber creative with their content.

VR/360 VIDEO MARKETING

Virtual reality and 360 video  really started to gain traction in 2017 with more and more industries recognizing the power of an immersive experience for consumers. In 2018 look for this trend to continue it’s skyrocketing ways. Industries like Education will be spending more on Virtual technology. Travel & Tourism are going to be investing more in 360 and VR, allowing travelers to explore locations before booking vacations.

Between 360 and VR, 360 may have a bit of an edge. Like our videos below, with 360 degree video content, the consumer can control their perspective with a VR headset *or simply with a computer or smartphone screen’s browser control.

 

 

Branded Content

The concept of Branded Content isn’t new. But you are going to see A LOT more of it in the year ahead. Customers generally don’t like to be told, “do this” or “buy this”. They like to make decisions for themselves, and of course, they like to be entertained and told stories. Branded content first and foremost entertains and informs. When done well, branded content hits customers emotionally through humor, passion, drama, and/or intrigue. Branded video content works so well because it doesn’t sell the product, it sells the “concept.” It focuses on the story on the story and the execution of that story instead of the product. Adknowledge wanted to raise awareness about its product at an event without being “selly.” So we created an experience. You can watch it below.

 

Live Streaming

Live streaming will continue its explosive rise in popularity. You could make the argument that  dominated 2017; about 80 percent of consumers would rather watch a live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82 percent would prefer live video to written social media updates. According to Yahoo’s “Tune In To The Live Video Opportunity”  report (albeit from 2016 it’s very relevant), online viewers are drawn to the feeling of excitement, immediacy and connection live streaming offers. The expansion of live streaming to all sectors of business is inevitable and 2018 will see live streaming becoming more commonplace in businesses’ social media marketing campaigns.

The Importance of Video in 2018

In 2018, consumers won’t just want to watch. They’re ready to jump through the screen. It will be fascinating to see where the creative minds in marketing take video in 2018 with the unprecedented combination of new technology and the rapid consumer acceptance of new trends.

If you want 2018 to be the year that your product takes off, you and your team will need to set yourselves apart from the masses of competing products with a new and compelling video marketing strategy that makes your customers want to buy and keeps their attention engaged. While you’re planning your marketing engagement strategy for the year, consider including one or more of these trends into your video creation that are sure to take off in 2018.

_________________________________________________________________________

About the Author: Roshni Hannon
Contact: roshni@madbearproductions.com

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes… she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.

 

The Gift of Video. It’s the Gift That Keeps on Giving.

Some of the best stories and memories are created during the holidays. So it’s only fitting that our Team of Storytellers take a moment to reflect on all the ways in which life has been particularly kind to us. We love giving the gift of video.

It is 100% the gift that keeps on giving. Read on… and you might just agree!

Video Boosts Conversions and Sales

First things first. We love using videos to help businesses make some serious money. And who isn’t thankful for that? Research shows that nearly 75% of users who watched an explainer-video about a product ended up buying it. Not only that, but video shows great ROI,  video builds trust, it’s mobile friendly and it’s engaging. So what are you waiting for!  In the video below Mad Bear’s CEO, Glenn Zimmerman, tells us exactly how thankful video can make all of us.

Immersive Experiences

If you’ve experienced virtual reality and/or 360 video then you already know why we are thankful for them. Virtual reality and 360 technology have changed the meaning of experiential.  It’s not just about travel anymore. Virtual reality and 360 video can and have become the tickets to success for businesses and education. Let’s face it. It’s all about the experience and it doesn’t get much better than an immersive one. You can experience our recent VR project with Busch Gardens of Tampa Bay and Visit Tampa Bay. It was recently picked up by VeeR, a Global Virtual Reality platform, and the video earned the most views for the month of October on the entire platform.

Interactivity and Connection

We’re thankful for the emotional and interactive nature of video. It’s not just about consumption. Think about it more often than not, you’re conferencing, FaceTime-ing, or reacting in real-time to a live video feed. We are all so much more connected. Any time you’re able to make a connection that’s a great thing. These trends then amount to converting viewers from passive consumers, to active participants. Videos prompt people to take action.

Emotion

Video has the power to engage and delight viewers like no other medium. It can put a smile on your face, or a tear in your eye. We are thankful for the ability to touch emotions in our viewers. People remember what they feel. Our Team takes pride in that. We know that an emotional response to a video makes you memorable. And when you’re memorable you’re successful. See and just like that- now you are thankful too. We recently produced a longer-form video for Habitat for Humanity that strikes a range of emotions. Check it out below.

Anticipation

What is better than the thrill of the unknown? Video has progressed so far in such a short amount of time. It’s changing at every step of the production process. At Mad Bear Productions we’re thankful for the idea and promise of what might come next as it’s an opportunity to better tell YOUR story. From our Team to yours, have a very safe and happy Holiday season!

_________________________________________________________________________

About the Author: Roshni Hannon
Contact: roshni@madbearproductions.com

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes… she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.


The Power of the Preview

They can be the source of angst, excitement, irritation or joy. In no more than two minutes, previews have the ability to make us feel an array of emotions. Video marketers  can learn a lot from a preview.

We are going to use the “Game of Thrones” as an example because our Team at Mad Bear is a big fan. The season trailers are fantastic. Sometimes – as is often the case with movie trailers- the preview is sometimes much better than the show/movie itself.  What do you mean we have to wait a year???

There is big money invested in network television and movies. Much of the success of series or a film, hinges on the handful of 1 to 2- minute movie trailers that promote them. Whenever an industry pours millions into making brief video snapshots as entertaining and persuasive as possible, we’re interested, and we think you should be too.

With that said, here are 3 things we can all learn from previews and trailers.

Make them Feel Something! Maybe its excitement, longing, sadness, desire, camaraderie – what ever it is that drives your point home — make it happen in your video. Figure out how to break down your brand narrative into a mini-story. Are you saving the world by saving customers’ time or money? Are you skyrocketing end-users to career-stardom because of how good they’ll look after buying from you? Or do you want them to feel a thrill so great that they’ll have to go and experience it for themselves? (like in the video below) Our Behind the Scenes Virtual Reality shoot gives viewers just enough of a taste of what they could go and experience for themselves to encourage them to try this new technology. Regardless if they’ve never tried VR before or if they are comfortable in a 360 world, they will be inclined to explore.

Hook ’em! Good trailers don’t open with a whimper—they start with a growl. Suspense-filled music, fog, a curious piece of dialog to spark curiosity. Do the same with your marketing videos, and do it fast. Because unlike a movie theater, marketing videos do NOT have a captive audience. If  your goal is to increase membership to an organization, think about your audience and the type of pace that appeals to them. For the the video below, our Team created a quick sizzle reel for the American Marketing Association of Tampa Bay. So we went with fast-paced and energizing.

Create Anticipation! The goal is to have viewers take action after they watch your video. A trailer hasn’t done its job if you don’t want to actually see the movie afterward. Your marketing video should similarly leave out the best part while hinting at the grand finale. Our goal in the video below was to remind families to sign up for camp and if your daughter has never been to a Girl Scout camp… the video implies “she is missing out”. You could even take it a step further and instead of waiting for your viewer to hopefully buy from you later on, capitalize with a CTA or lead form within the video itself. Any viewer who has made it that far is clearly qualified and interested and it’s time to move them forward in the epic drama of their customer journey!

Marketing lessons are everywhere. Video trailers are all about giving the audience a brief introduction to the ‘product.’ They rely on being short, relevant and engaging. And they combine voice, movement, sound and design to create an audio-visual experience which, if executed correctly, leave the viewer absolutely needing to find out more. Sounds familiar, huh?

_________________________________________________________________________

About the Author: Roshni Hannon
Contact: roshni@madbearproductions.com

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes… she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.

In Video We Trust for Sales

As a salesperson, no matter how long your sales cycle, one of the most important things that you need to build with your buyer is trust. You could argue that getting a deal done without trust is next to impossible. If someone doesn’t trust that you have their best intentions in mind, that you can help them solve their challenges, and that you are an expert in your field, they will not buy from you. Period.

As buyers become more sophisticated and well-researched, maintaining trust throughout your sales funnel is more important than ever. Spammy tactics can kill your credibility and it is nearly impossible to recover from that first impression. The bottom line here is this: modern buyers have higher expectations of the customer experience – they want salespeople to focus on adding value and being helpful.

Leveraging video in your sales process is a game-changing way to build trust, establish authenticity, and strengthen relationships with your buyers and prospects.

Like any relationship you have to start slow.  With a prospect, as opposed to a repeat customer, perhaps you start with social. Maybe connecting on LinkedIn, liking some content and commenting on things. And then your next step, rather than sending an email, imagine the impression a personalized video would make? It would be memorable. And that’s what you want.

Experienced buyers can smell insincerity from their inbox. That’s why our Team often recommends using real employees and no script in order to build that trust.

We call this process “back scripting” because you are really editing back to a script. When done right, you will have multiple ways of creating the “script” however with real, sincere and genuine reactions vs. canned and robotic communications.

You may be thinking: “My buyers are old-school – sending them videos will freak them out or make them feel uncomfortable. This medium won’t resonate with them.” Trust us – if you focus on being thoughtful, adding value and going the extra mile to personalize your content, the responses will be overwhelmingly positive no matter who your buyer is.

Have questions on anything we’ve shared above? Please share in the comments – we’d love to hear your feedback.

_________________________________________________________________________

About the Author: Roshni Hannon
Contact: roshni@madbearproductions.com

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes… she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.

IMG_9991