Satisfying the Content Addiction

As entrepreneurs, we spend a lot of time connecting with people on social media. However, if we’re not constantly sharing content with our audience, our accounts can become boring pretty fast.

In the race to gain an audience, social media streams are crowded and competitive. Social media generates a staggering 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. An incredible 5.3 trillion display ads are shown online each year. This relentless stream of content makes it harder than ever for your message to cut through the noise and get noticed.

While there’s no secret formula to creating content that gets shared, it isn’t random selection. The fact is people are visual creatures. This is part of the Law of Visual Hierarchy. Movement is more visually prominent than still images. And images are more prominent than text.

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Remember awhile back when marketers realized that they needed more than text in their Facebook posts? They turned to images but even photos aren’t enough anymore. Now you need to add video and animations. Check out any of the top brands on social media and you’ll find they use all types of visual content, including videos, photos, animations, gifs, infographics and memes to tell their story.

So where do you start? There are several rules of thumb we follow in creating social content.


For years, a video or photo shoot was seen as a one off. It might be for a commercial, a print ad, a corporate video, maybe content for a new web site… but that’s it. Time would pass and the next time a request came up, a new shoot would be planned. It was an ineffective and expensive process.

Done correctly, shooting all your brand content at the same time makes sense… and saves time and money. A photo shoot piggy-backing off of a video shoot doubles your content and provides all the imagery that you need. You need a plan to execute such a shoot correctly. Our process is to shoot video first and then let the photographer come in to shoot. You’ll need continuous lighting and the same setups to make save time and get as much footage as possible. Think of it in three steps:

  1. Plan out the shoot and create a shot list for video and photography each

  2. Capture your shots using the same location and lighting setup for both video and photography

  3. Move to the next setup and repeat


No one wants to spend time and resources creating new content only to have it fade in popularity and visibility over time. Experienced marketers know that repurposing high-performing content into other areas helps extend its lifespan. And by leveraging your content in multiple ways, you can reach a wider audience in a more interesting and persuasive manner.

Video and photo content provide great opportunities at repurposing. Videos can be pre-rolls or smaller, targeted videos by “lifting” an existing section. Interview sound bites are a great example of bite-size videos. Photos can be used as a collage, slideshow, or background for quotes and infographics.

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Remember, the content you create is not a one-off… it’s a potential steady stream of posts to your social media accounts. With a little creativity and planning, the ways you can leverage your content is limited only by your imagination.


Studies reveal that marketers have just 10 seconds to grab an audience and call them to action. After those 10 seconds, engagement drops off dramatically. Our goldfish-like attention span wanes and we continue to scroll down or click away. The key is to provide quick bite size chunks of eye candy that convey the brand and vital information.

Length will depend on which platform your audience is viewing. Brand marketers should consider customizing video length for each platform. Bite size content is the trend so staying under one minute is preferable. Facebook’s auto-playback feature makes 30- to 45-second videos optimal, while Instagram and Twitter have demand for “micro-videos” that are 15 seconds or less.

The number of images should be considered as well. Twitter allows four photos in a post while on Instagram you can add up to ten. Facebook mobile has a 30-photo limit while the creator of a Facebook album can add a maximum of 1,000 photos. Again, less is more.

The Colorado Department of Transportation wanted to communicate the dangers of drunk driving and importance of using breathalyzers in an ‘outside the box’ way… at a Beer Yoga class. Besides shooting photos, three short videos were created for different social platforms… at 15-seconds, 30-seconds and one-minute in length. Each was short but succinct in messaging. Beyond the colorful visuals, notice that captions are included throughout the video. Captions actually let viewers know what the video is about, giving them a reason to tap and turn on the sound and listen.


People connect with people, not brands. To connect with your audience, show your brand’s personal side… it’s story. Posts about company employees, their lifestyle, and the culture all connect your customers with your brand.

If you’ve got news, share it. Behind the scenes moments, show it. If your company helps the community, make it known. Remember, video and photos can tell a story better than any text. The old adage of “a picture being worth a thousand words” is a cliché because it’s true.

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National Geographic has over 350 million followers due to their success with social media storytelling.

User generated content (UGC) is another way to tell your brand story. When you share UGC, you're not only engaging with your audience, but you are making them feel seen and appreciated. Best of all, consumers find UGC more trustworthy. That’s because it’s created by people who just love your brand. These opinions are seen as unbiased and genuine.


Creating the perfect social media aesthetic for your brand’s feed is challenging. But coming up with the vibe or feeling your brand projects is crucial if you want to grow your audience.

Think of it in terms of walking into a store… The open layout, clean lines and crisp white surfaces of an Apple store give a very different feeling than walking into a bold blue and yellow, yet less grandiose, Best Buy. They have some similar products, but their overall vibes are totally different.

This same rule applies to your brand’s social media accounts. The style of the videos and photos you curate within your feed say a lot about the overall personality of your business.

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Starbucks does a great job in their brand consistency with clean design that translates across all of their social media, especially on Pinterest.

Additionally, you don’t want the appearance of your social media accounts to be drastically different than all of the branded materials you already have out in the world, such as your website, logo, and marketing collateral. Corporate identity guidelines can help in this area. If you’re in the process of re-branding go through your videos and photos and delete the ones that no longer fit your brand image.


Some things make so much sense, you can’t understand why you didn’t think of it sooner. Social platforms are meant to be about shared experiences. Video and photography communicate more in sight and feeling than words alone. That’s why people can’t get enough of it on social networks. If you’re trying to break through the clutter on social media, use visual content to take your accounts to the next level.

How Much Does a TV Commercial Cost

I can not tell you how many times I’m asked that question either casually with friends or more often from prospective clients and my answer is usually a very tongue and check, “Well, you can probably find somebody on Craigslist for about $300 or you can go to an ad agency, staff A-List talent and make a Super Bowl Ad for $20,000,000. Right now you are coming in somewhere in that range.” I'm seeing clients demand for video increasing but they don't always understand what they are purchasing as a creative buyer. 

There used to be a rule of thumb that a video cost $1000 for every finished minute. We always thought that was pretty funny because a :30 spot should then cost $500. That's nonsense! The fact is, the content duration has very little to do with price. Production value is where the overall price of production is determined. 

So let’s look at a few pieces and production workflows that can help educate a buyer in the market for content on how far money goes on video content and who to reach out to. I’m basing this off of what I see in the San Francisco Bay Area’s market where the demand for video production is around Branded Content for the web as well as commercials.

Let’s assume a media buyer was looking for a video selling a Ford Mustang as we take a look at these three tiers of video production:

The Videographer

Budgets $500 — $5000

Typical work : Event Coverage, start-up videos, corporate interviews, how-to-pieces

Typically this is a lone solider who wears a lot of hats. New and clever names are emerging to describe this type of video maker such as Preditor (Producer/Editor) or Shreditor (Shoot/Editor). Like the previous names suggest they are often a one-man-band where they shoot and edit. We are seeing more and more competition in this space. The only barrier for entry in to the industry of video production is to have access to a camera and a computer. Some people like the control of doing all parts of a production and as their workload increases they get better cameras and computers but stick with this workflow because it works for them.


The Production Company

Budgets $3000 to $250,000

Typical Work : branded content, local commercials, internal videos, corporate pieces, university outreach, local broadcast spots, ad agencies

In this tier of production you are going to get a group of collaborators who start to specialize in different aspects of production who have likely built a book of regular clients. There will often be a director or producer who has the relationship with the client as they carry a project through from start to finish. In a small to mid-sized production company you’ll see people wearing multiple hats but when the workload increases individuals stick to their strength and delegate the responsibilities. Oftentimes a production company has many relationships with outside vendors and specialists such as: talent agencies, gaffers/grip houses and special equipment operators who they might collaborate with. Most production company's have a physical location with a couple editing bays and serve as a post-house and many of their employees are editors. A majority of production houses will also have a studio space for filming. We are seeing some higher-end production companies representing a roster of talent with whom they may pull from to pitch toward clients on upcoming projects.


The Ad Agency

Budgets $50,000 — Unlimited?

I lightheartedly began the article about the Super Bowl commercial being astronomically expensive. Well, I wasn’t joking. I’ve worked on one before and let me tell you, they have very, very big budgets. The ad agency is the right direction for many established brands that need to focus on campaigns across different platforms of advertising where video (commercials) is just one of those channels. What a client should expect from an ad agency is a polished campaign and wide reaching placement of advertisements. Oftentimes an ad agency wins big accounts because of their creative track record, think Don Draper pitching copy in Mad Men.

While an agency might have an in-house video production team for smaller jobs they often outsource the bigger jobs to a production company. As budgets increase one should expect the look and feel of a Hollywood film. There will often be concept and narrative to a piece. The crew that shows up to shoot a high end commercial is going to be very departmentalized - much like when you sit through the credits of a feature film and you read job titles like "Script Supervisor" and "Best Boy" and wonder what all of those people do on a project.

Drones on the Move for Hollywood Productions

Hollywood has waited patiently for the Federal Aviation Administration to grant exemptions for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for film and video productions. The wait is over. After several years of wrangling, the FAA made it official, allowing six firms to go ahead and fly drones - the first time private companies legally can do so in the U.S. With Hollywood leading the way, the decision has huge implications for a broad range of industries. 

Hollywood's exemption is the first granted to multiple companies and the first to open an entire industry for commercial drone use. This being Hollywood, expect plenty of publicity and statements from industry insiders. Neil Fried, MPAA senior vice president, is already on record in support of drones, saying that drones are "an innovative and safer option for filming. The new tool for storytellers will allow for creative and exciting aerial shots, and it's the latest in a myriad of new technologies being used by our industry to further enhance the viewer experience."

Previously, many filmmakers had taken to shooting with drones in foreign countries to get the shots they wanted, notably the James Bond pic, Skyfall, in Turkey. With the FAA allowing Hollywood productions the legal exemption to fly drones, there also comes a long list of strict safety and compliance rules, aiming for safety and noninterference with commercial aviation. Federal authorities such as the National Park Service won't take these rules lightly and have already made it clear drones would be allowed to fill the air like a swarm of bees. One Danish tourist learned the hard way and got stung with a $3200 fine for failing to comply with government rules.

Despite the slow implementation, progress is being made - but it will continue to be slow going. With forty other requests for exemptions pending, there's quite a backlog the FAA needs to get through. Expect to see draft rules for integrating drones into national airspace by the beginning of 2015.

Five Tips for Using Drones on Your Production

When CNN commissions a study on using drones to capture news footage you know unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have hit the mainstream. Today, more and more cameras are taking to the sky for sports coverage, reality TV and even real estate listings.  

It used to be that stunning panoramic shots were limited by the length of a crane or the locations a helicopter could safely fly. Not anymore. Now a filmmaker can put a GoPro on a drone and get shots that only existed in their imagined storyboards.

As you venture out into the wild blue yonder, here's a few tips to make the best of the experience.

  1. Get The Entry Level Model. It's easy to get ahead of yourself and get the elephant gun when all you really needed was the water pistol. The DJI Phantom is an ideal entry level purchase. It won't get your camera in the air but at $399 it's a great way to get comfortable before you take the big leap and put all your precious equipment in the sky. Think of it as a training course that gets you valued flying experience.
  2. Watch Before You Fly. Read the manual thoroughly, then search the web for instructional videos. You'll find everything from how to charge your batteries to how to install prop guards. DSLRPros has some great videos on how to get up and flying but there are many other people out there who have taken the time to create tutorials.
  3. Practice, Practice, Practice. Once you've read up on everything, get get out and fly as much as you can. It can take anywhere from 10-20 hours to get comfortable so don't get discouraged. And don't worry about the video you're getting. Work on getting the drone in the air. Practice hovering. Practice landing. Once you get comfortable, then you can start pushing the envelope.
  4. Use Prop Guards. Face it, you're going to crash. Everyone does. You’re landings will not be gentle. You'll run into things. It will tip over while the props are active. Save yourself the money and the headaches and install your prop guards. Sometimes they get in the way of your shot, but it’s better to use them and risk ruining a few shots then to damage the drone.
  5. Use Common Sense. Take it slow and be safe. These things can get out of control very easily and should be kept away from people. And because of their ability to fly hundreds of feet in the air, be aware of other aircraft in the area. It's a serious problem if you come too close to manned aircraft. You can visit the Academy of Model Aeronautics for more information. They have valuable resources about government regulations. 

Follow these tips and get that camera up in the air. You'll be amazed by the beautiful footage you'll capture.