One Golden Rule and Three Commandments for Creating Successful Social Video Content


As COO of AboutFace Media, I get to tackle all sorts of interesting projects. One of my favorites is speaking at conferences and hosting workshops across the country addressing the topic of Video Content Development. Once you’ve chosen your communication tools, it’s the content that truly makes it all come together. It’s an ongoing commitment, but when executed well, pays big dividends and is well worth the time and effort.

It’s no secret that the current state of social video is rapidly changing with every new app launched, channel streamed, or V-log posted. With over 72 hours of video content being uploaded every minute the days of creating a video, posting it on YouTube and assuming people will find it are a thing of the past. Some recent statistics make that crystal clear:

According to YouTube*

  • Over 4 billion videos are viewed every day, which represents a 50% increase since 2010.
  • That 72 hours per minute of uploaded video we just talked about represents a 37% increase over the last 6 months alone.
  • YouTube is the most shared content on Facebook with 30MM views per month.

According to SundaySky**

  • Online video consumption continues to surge, and has most recently outpaced TV consumption.
  • The average text email open rate is 11 to 22 percent, but when you add ‘video’ to the subject line of marketing related emails, open rates rise up to 30 percent.
  • Viewers spend 2.5x more time watching personally relevant short-form videos.

The importance of social video is clear. So, how do you go about creating content that engages your audience in such a fast-paced, shifting and, lets face it, cluttered environment? From experience gained over several years in the trenches I have developed one Golden Rule and Three Commandments to follow when developing a video content strategy. Why Three Commandments as opposed to Ten? SAS: Short Attention Span. It’s a fact of life we have to face. We live in a SAS world. No one has time for Ten Commandments anymore…

The Golden Rule:

It’s not what we want. It’s what our audience wants.

This concept is a complete 180 from what we are used to with traditional marketing. As a marketer, you naturally start from the standpoint of what you want to say and share about your company, brand or initiative. That was fine in the days of broadcast, where you were dealing with a captive audience that was pretty much forced to sit through whatever it was you wanted to put in front of them. In the days of online media, it is way too easy to simply click and move on. It’s imperative that you step back and think about what your audience would like to hear – what’s important to them, not you. How will you put what you want to say through the filter of what they want to hear?

Now, on to the Three Commandments.

Commandment #1: Clearly define thy Marketing Objectives in advance.

Never, ever skip this step. No matter what crushing deadline you face. I guarantee you that every time you bypass this, it will come back to haunt you. It is the cornerstone of creating successful content. Trust me, this comes from years of experience, both good and bad. Make sure you are clear as to what you want to accomplish before you start creating any content. Be as specific as possible so you have a goal that is measureable. And this doesn’t mean just you. All stakeholders need to be on board as well, or you could be dealing with the “How come we spent money on this?” scenario down the road.

Commandment #2: Know thy Target Audience(s).

The beauty of online content is you can tailor it to very specific audiences, but you can’t do that if you don’t know whom you want to reach. Remember that the content needs to appeal to them specifically if you hope to engage with them. Think about those stats – 2.5X more likely to view if it is personally relevant. You may find you have multiple audiences that require multiple content approaches. One size does not necessarily fit all in this new world.

Commandment #3: Don’t let the “Killer Idea” destroy all that is good.

Video is the new shiny object. Everyone wants in and everyone thinks they have the idea for the next viral sensation. Maybe yes, maybe no. Once again, take the time to assess that “killer idea”. Go back to the previous Commandments: Will it help you achieve your defined objective? Will is appeal to your target audience? If it doesn’t pass both tests, it’s not a killer idea. It’s an idea that needs to be killed.

Just like the original Ten Commandments – write it down. It doesn’t have to be a stone tablet – an official recap doc will do just fine. Capture your decisions re: Marketing Objectives and Target Audiences in writing. It will prove an invaluable guide as you get to the fun part of the process, crafting content ideas. As I mentioned, this is the time to get all stakeholders input. It paves the way for a smoother development process if all involved feel their voices were heard. And, if you have it in writing, you can accomplish two things:

  • Measure your success. Did the video content you developed accomplish what you had hoped for? Was the content the correct fit? How do the results shape future development concepts?
  • Avoid revisionist history. Nothing stops second-guessing in its tracks like a recap document that everyone agreed in the beginning.

So before you tackle your next video content project, give the Golden Rule and Three Commandments a try. If you take the time to follow these steps, you might find it a bit easier to successfully navigate the crowded Funny Cats, Gangnam Style, Justin Bieber world of YouTube.

*YouTube Statistics:

**SundaySky Statistics:


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