‘It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it’ might be from a 1939 song, but for the social media marketer it certainly rings true. In my previous role with the University of Cambridge my aim was to improve not only what we were doing, but how we were doing it.

With video a dominant content form across social media, let me explain what I did to engage audiences in the University’s video content and share three tips about how to capture attention with video marketing…

1. The thumbnail

Facebook is looking for content that audiences find compelling, and videos that interest the audience enough that they click and stay watching are organically promoted by the algorithm.  Therefore, use the thumbnail as an opportunity to tease people about the content or to direct a call to action.

Thumbnails can also help to brand specific series’ of content. For example, when I produced a special series for LGBT History Month, I selected quotes from the students I interviewed and created simple thumbnails featuring the quote as white text on a black background. These quotes acted as hooks into the films, which proved to be our among our top films for audience retention on Facebook.

Want to get some more inspiration in this area? Both the University of Glasgow and BBC 1 use thumbnails on Facebook to entice their audience into watching content.

2. Authenticity

Avoid video content that is over-produced and scripted. Such content will appear to savvy audiences as an advertisement that they can ignore rather than a story they are motivated to hear. At this year’s graduations at the University of Cambridge, I sought to create something that was genuine and which the University’s audiences would connect with.

The resulting video followed a student throughout the day and in as candid an environment as possible – interviewing her literally as she was doing her hair in the morning. This film really succeeded in creating emotional responses among our audiences on YouTube and Facebook.

One brand that is doing a great job of this is Ecosia. In this Facebook video they simply filmed a student facing the camera and talking about his passion for their product – no studio, no gimmicks – just a simple, passionate piece to camera.

3. Timeliness

Content on social media needs to be fresh, so timeliness is key. When a bee swarm appeared in one of the streets by the University, we had filmed, edited and published a video of the event to Facebook within two hours, where it was widely shared and commented on by our students. This was also the case with our graduation video content – our deadline was to have all of our content published within a week of the graduations otherwise it’s relevancy would have declined.

Here at OST, we recently released a video explaining Instagram’s new video platform, IGTV, to coincide with the launch of the service. When we cross-posted this onto Facebook it reached a wide audience organically, as Facebook pushed it into our fans’ news-feeds as fresh and timely content.

For inspiration on timely content, take a look at the ‘Between the Scenes’ series on the Daily Show’s YouTube. Not only is it timely as they need to run content with consideration of their live TV schedule, but it also gives social media followers something extra from the brand that they cannot get from watching the show on TV.

Want to know more on how to engage with video content? Find out from me at the Youth Marketing Conference on October 16 where I will be leading a peer discussion on Instagram and video.

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