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Obstacles

Life’s path is littered with obstacles. They might small, easily navigated or huge barriers threatening to bar the way.

It would be a strange life without the odd obstacle or obstruction in the way. Given their inevitability how should you respond to them?

1. Obstacles can be opportunities.  Don’t just see the barrier as block to your progress. In order to get beyond the obstruction you may need to learn a new skill. You may need to seek help from others or collaborate with them in order to progress. A whole host of opportunities might well open up for you that wouldn’t be there if it were not for the obstacle.

2. Going the long way round might be the right way.  If you have ever watched the cross country part of three day eventing  you will have noticed that sometimes the horse and rider can take a direct route or an indirect route at a fence. The direct route is inevitably riskier. Each rider has to weigh up the risk against the potential reward. The riskier route might be quicker but only if the horse gets over cleanly. The alternative will get them to the same point on the course but take slightly longer. Sometimes in life going the long way round is the right thing to do. It will take longer but you’ll still reach your destination.

3. Learn how to meet obstacles and get over or around them. I think it’s about having the right kind of mindset. If you believe everything should be plain sailing and easy then you are going to be thrown completely off course when you do meet an obstacle.  If, on the other hand, you prepare to face whatever barrier is thrown in your way you are more likely to conquer whatever is in your path.
4. There are enough jumps to get over in life without building your own.
I really don’t think I need to elaborate on this, do I?

 5. An obstacle might be telling you you are on the wrong track. Perseverance and determination are admirable qualities. We all need to persevere, to soldier on, to grit our teeth and determine to succeed. But not at any cost. Sometimes we need stop and ask ourselves if we are indeed on the right path.  Are the constant obstacles there because I am following the wrong path?  Difficult question to answer I know but stopping and asking yourself if this is the right route is wise and ultimately rewarding.

Right I’m off to find a way over my latest obstacle.
@makingvideowork

Five Thoughts on Systems

A system is merely a framework to make something or somebody work better.
I think the appeal of a system, any system, is the offer of something that will lead to success but with little input from us. You follow the system rules and hey presto there you go, success. If only.
As anyone who has tried to follow a recipe from a cookbook will know success is not guaranteed. You follow the steps, you measure carefully but somehow yours doesn’t even remotely resemble the glossy picture in the book. I am not against any particular system or method but here are my five thoughts on the subject.
1. Systems should not be ends in themselves. Personally I love Miracle Morning. It has brought so much into my life, but a few weeks ago I realised that it was becoming more important to me than the goals it was designed to help me achieve. Ticking off another day done was the achievement. Sticking to the system should not be the goal, the goal should be beyond the system. Where it is designed to take you.
2. Systems are nothing without commitment. You can’t make anything work unless you are committed. No technique, no rule, no system will achieve anything unless you put in the hard work and commitment. People buy into systems because they want to succeed but they want to succeed without the hard work that usually accompanies it.
3. Systems are best when you use them to evaluate failure. Surely we follow a method to be successful? I am reading Matthew Syed’s book Black Box Thinking. It is a really good read especially when he talks about evaluating failure. Failure is the gateway to success. It seems to me systems work best when they enable you to assess where things went wrong. The safety of the aviation industry is based on the systematic evaluation of the, thankfully, few failures.
4. There is no golden key system, seriously there isn’t. There are methods that work for some people and not for others. It is easy to get sucked in with the sales patter that tells you, “follow this and you will earn thousands and be the person you want to be.”  am sure there are people who have used a system and made it work for them but that does not mean it is foolproof.
5. Find what suits you.  I have found a method or a system that works for me that doesn’t mean it will work for you. We are all individuals and it make take some trial and error to find something that suits you and your aspirations.
However you choose to move into your future, whatever method or system you choose to get you there, it can only work if you put in the hard yards and are committed for the long term.

Five Key Questions for Monday

The keys to a good story are Who, What, Where, When, Why and How.

So what questions should you be asking of yourself this week.  It’s Monday morning and no doubt you will be either looking at a list you made last night or at a blank piece of paper trying to figure out what you want to achieve today and the week ahead.

Let me suggest fie things to ask that are a little beyond the to do list.

1. Who? This can be answered in so many ways from the prosaic I am Gordon O’Neill to the metaphysical I am a child of my time. Actually I am not sure I am but you get my drift. Spending a few moments thinking about who you are is not a bad thing. You are probably many different things and maybe not even the person you want to be. Getting to “who” you are means ditching a few misconceptions about who others think you. You probably won’t arrive at a definite answer but you might have a clearer idea.

2. What?  When someone asks you what you what you do they asking for your occupation or your trade. That’s OK except people often judge you on what you do. I am a film maker but it is not the only thing I do. What I do is more than my occupation but it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that is all you are. It’s not you do so much more.

3. Where? We all occupy a physical space and there is nothing wrong with asking if you are in the right space. That could be where you live or work or play. Sometimes we are where we are because of habit and sometimes we need to shake ourselves out of a habit or commit to a change of space.

4. Why? Why are you doing what you are currently doing?  A questioning nature is not a fault. To blindly go along without any questions is the real fault.

5. How?  I make lists, all kind of lists. I write down my daily, weekly and yearly goals. What I have learnt recently is that I need to write detailed steps of how I am going to achieve those goals. What’s more I review them every day and revise them often. If I want to achieve something I need a plan, a how, I am going to achieve it.

Have a good week and remember these same questions are equally as important to video production.

Long life milk? No, long life video!

A lot of effort goes into making a video.

Even the simplest format requires thought, editing and refining.

In looking at various reports, a high percentage of engagement on social platforms takes place within hours of posting and tapers off shortly after. Here’s a breakdown.

• Twitter content has a half-life of 2.8 hours [via Bitly].

• Facebook posts receive 75%t of total engagement within five hours [via Wisemetrics].

• Pinterest Pins acquire 40% of total clicks within the first day of publication, and 70 percent by the end of day two [via Piqora].

Good video can have a life beyond the initial rush of viewers, likes and subscribers.

Providing the content is still relevant and not out of date, a video can still attract viewers and engagement and add value to your business for years to come.

Data shows that a video will receive 10% of total shares within two days,

50% of shares within the first three weeks,

66% in the first three months.

The remaining 34% is ongoing as more web users discover the video in search, on social, and via email.

Videos can and do date and it would be advisable to remove it or archive it to a playlist of older videos on YouTube. You may want to add to the description that some of the information contained in the video is out of date.

A video is for life, not just for the short term.

So here are four things you should be doing to keep your video content working for you.

  1.  Regularly review your video content on your YouTube Channel and website.

2. Are there videos you can re-use or freshen up?

3. Are there any videos that should be archived or removed? (Particularly on your website)

4. If older videos are still attracting viewers, look through the analytics and      see what you can learn about how your content is performing.

 

Let’s talk how together we can create great video content and how you can make the most of the content you already have.

email: gordon@makingvideowork.com or call 07973 567824

 

Business and video lessons from Ed Sheeran 

 

Recently I listened to Ed Sheeran on Desert Island Discs. He is a wonderfully talented singer song writer and performer.

How Ed started

He left home at 16 to come to London and try to make it as a musician. He did the gig circuit sometimes doing 3-4 spots a night. But nothing happened. Dismissed by record companies because in their words “no one wants to listen to a young white ginger kid rapping.”

How Ed prospered

Things changed for him after a trip to Los Angeles. On his return to London he stopped gigging at singer song writer nights but instead went to grime and rap nights.

His reasoning was simple. As a singer/song writer at those writer nights he just didn’t stand out. He looked and sounded like everybody else. At grime and rap night people remembered Ed Sheeran, the white ginger singer/songwriter.  He stood out.

After a lot of hard work, the rest is history.

What I’ve learned from Ed

Clients often come to me and say, “I want a video like this one or that one.” I will often ask them to show me videos they like as it gives me an insight into the kind of style they are after.  Be inspired by others but use the inspiration to go beyond your comfort zone and create something different.

Create video content that stands out from the crowd and reflects you, your brand and your message.

Ed went out of his comfort zone to stand out from the crowd and get noticed. Within two months he had a record contract.

How can this help your business video work better for you? 

To simply try and repeat what someone else has done is not going to make you stand out. Be inspired, pay homage in style but try to carve your own niche.

Let’s talk how together we can create great video content for you and your business.

Click here to contact me today.

Making the most of video on Facebook

When you begin to plan your next video it is important to bear in mind where you intend to host your production. You will probably want to distribute it across a number of social platforms. For most people this means uploading to YouTube and then posting links to the video on different platforms but is this the best strategy?

Facebook has become an increasingly influential for video views, shares and engagement. In late 2015 it was 8 billion views a day. It is clear if you are going to use Facebook for distributing  your video you need a strategy before you start to film. So here are five pointers for more effective Facebook video.

1.Shorter is better.  The average length for a Facebook video is around 80 seconds and the first 10-15 seconds are probably crucial in engaging your audience.

2. Get your message up front. People scroll through their newsfeed so you only have a few seconds to capture their attention. No lengthy intro screens, just something to grab their attention. Research has shown the importance of the first few seconds of your Facebook video.

3. It pains me to say this but, as far as Facebook video is concerned, silence is golden. Up to 90% of Facebook users watch without sound. So subtitles are important, but make sure they work well for mobile. Look for visually arresting images. Don’t dispense with sound altogether and still work to have a hight quality soundtrack as this sets the context of any video.

4. Upload natively to Facebook. Uploading your video directly to Facebook rather than lining to a YouTube video has been proven to get better reach and better engagement. Facebook publishes their own guidelines for uploading video to their site.

5. Call to action. As true for Facebook as it is for any video site.  Tell your users what you want them to do after this video: Like? Share? Comment? Click through to a landing page?

Three reasons I hate using Instagram for video and three reason I’ve come to love it

Let’s be honest, you have a lot of apps on your phone you never really use. Instagram was, until recently, one of those. It was there but largely ignored. I posted the occasional photo and at least three people liked it. Three people! Very occasionally up to ten people liked a photo and they were definitely not family. I definitely never posted video to Instagram.

All that has changed.

To explain, here are three reasons why I don’t like it and three reasons why I have come to love it.

Three reasons why I didn’t like Instagram for video.

1. Square format. Which is great for photos but as a video format I, and many other video professionals, hate it. Every time we see a video shot in portrait mode a little something dies within any self respecting video pro. You can of course get round this and shrink your wonderful widescreen video to fit but then it is so small you can hardly see it.

2. You can only post from your phone. Instagram has resisted the calls to allow people to post to it from programmes such a Hootsuite and Buffer. The only way to post is via your phone. Which means anything created outside of your phone has to be transferred and then downloaded. Not exactly the end of the world but it adds a few more steps to the creative process.

3. Video is only a minute long. Not so long ago it was only fifteen seconds so a minute is great improvement. So anything over that and it requires re-editing to post to the app.

Three reasons you should use Instagram for video.

1.  Hashtags. These have been a feature of social media for ages. Some research indicates that posts with appropriate hashtags do better than those without. Hashtags give you visibility and utilising the popular hashtags gives you an opportunity to feature in Instagram’s ‘top posts’ feature.  From my own experience I have been able to target different audiences using different content simply by using specific hashtags. I have been able to get video views and likes well beyond my, admittedly, quite small bunch of followers.

2. Promotion. Instagram for business allows you to promote your content through the app and through Facebook. So for a small financial outlay you can boost your content and gain more viewers and likes. As your views increase through paid promotion so will your organic views. Views bring more views. Faced with a choice between a video with 100 views and one with 1,000 which one are you going to choose? Which one will you see as more popular and thus worth watching? 

 

This is a video I shot for my Five Thoughts For Thursday Blog. Using the appropriate hashtags, promotion through my own social media channels and some paid promotion through Instagram and Facebook (totally $14!) the video was viewed by almost 9,000 people. It also saw a 30% increase in my followers.

3. Creative problem solving. Back to the limitations of Instagram, the square format and the one minute restriction. If Instagram is going to be a part of your digital mix then you need to bear this in mind in production process. Factor it in to your pre and post production work. It’s much easier to create content to fit the platform if you have thought about it in advance. See the one minute limitation as a creative opportunity. I can even live with the square format, just.

Explore Instagram. Use it for videos. I think you will be surprised.

You can follow me on Instagram for videos and photos, making_video_work

Gordon O’Neill

Five things to consider before putting your video on social media

Choose Wisely or it may cost you

Once upon a time there were only two platforms for video. VHS tape and DVD. Very quickly, it was just DVD. Then along came online video, for years dominated by YouTube. Now there are a host of different platforms where you can not only host your video but share and promote your video.

 

Which is great, right? Well yes it is, but it does mean you need to give a bit more thought to any video production you create or commission.

 

Here are my top five tips for effective video production.

 

1. What do you want to say? It seems rather obvious but it i is a really important question. Simply getting the video made is not the goal. Content is king. Video is it’s own medium. It is not simply a moving picture version of your other communication collateral.

 

2. Think about how you want to say it? Video is a visual medium, the way you say something fundamentally has to be visual first, reinforced with words, graphics and music.
3. Understand your platform. Different platforms serve video to their users in subtle but different ways. The optimal time for a Facebook video is 81 seconds. For YouTube it is 870 seconds. Instagram is currently a minute. There are also technical considerations to keep in mind. The majority of Facebook videos are watched with no sound, Instagram is a square format as opposed to widescreen. Snapchat is a vertical medium. Not all video is equal.

 

4. Choose your platform(s). In the past, videos were made and plastered wherever you could! No longer. Each platform may well serve a different purpose for you. Don’t think one solution will work everywhere. It won’t. As the entombed knight says in Indiana Jones and the last crusade “Choose Wisely”.

 

5. Shoot appropriately. If you are going to place your videos on a number of different platforms it is really important to bear this in mind when you come to shoot. There is an old film production saying “shoot for the edit’. Make sure you capture the right kind and right number of shots that you know will work across the platforms. It will save time, energy and money in the long run. Blindly shooting and then trying to shoehorn footage to fit different platforms is a thankless and costly task.

 

If you want to chat about any aspects of video production then please do get in touch. Happy to talk on the phone, Skype or FaceTime or visit you and talk about how we can make video work for you.

Five Mistakes Businesses Make With Video

As a full service video production company, we make video that works for you.

But looking around at the videos being used to promote businesses right now, we see the same mistakes occurring time and time again.

Whether you use our services or not, here are the top five common mistakes you need to avoid when producing a promotional video:

“Yeah, a video – it’s just like a moving brochure, innit?”

Well, in a word, NO. A video is nothing like a moving brochure, and should indeed be so much more. Yes, we know you’ve spent a lot of money on print media, but this is different, and in many ways better. Let’s see it for what it is – a promotional video, not a video copy of your brochure. As Marshall Mcluhan put it; “The medium is the message” and this message is video, not paper.

“Strategy? What strategy?”

OK, strategy is an overused word, but if you’re going to spend time and money on a video then you need to make sure it matches everything else and is a part of an overall plan. You’ve probably coordinated your website, brochure, sales collateral and marketing materials, so you need to ensure that your video fits in with this plan too.

A good video production company will spend time with you, making sure that your video is a part of the marketing mix, not a standalone piece of film.

“Oh, John has a camera”

John is lovely. OK, so some see him as ‘that weird guy in accounts who wears sandals and goes to music festivals all the time’, but he’s got a a HUGE video camera, and he can do the job, right?

WRONG! Yes, we know you want to save money, and we know he probably thinks he can do the job well, but a well thought out and effective corporate video isn’t quite the same as some grainy film of Muse at Glastonbury, and it’s your corporate image that’s going to suffer.

Having a video produced doesn’t have to cost the earth, and a good video production company will help you find ways to cut down costs that don’t mean risking a final shot of someone asleep in a tent with marker pen all over their face getting in there by accident.

“We don’t need a script – we’re a zany, ad-libbing kind of crowd”

Which is fine, until you get in front of a camera. Unless you’re a professional and do this all the time, you WON’T be able to wing it in front of the camera. You’ll look stilted, you’ll grasp for words, and you’ll look unprofessional. All the reasons NOT to work without a script.

Let your corporate video production company help you to develop a natural sounding script that will showcase you and your business at it’s best.

“Video? Nah, not for us mate”

Why not? We’ve yet to find a company that wouldn’t benefit from some sort of video to help enhance their promotion and marketing. Whether it be for customer testimonials, case studies, business overviews or explaining services, a video works in a way that written text or websites can’t, and is ideal to add in to your marketing mix.

Don’t assume it’s not for you without investigating it properly – look into it, find out if your competitors are using it, think about what it could do for you, and you might find it could be a good fit for your company.

If you’d like to talk more about how video could help your marketing, why not drop us a line at gordon@makingvideowork.com

@gordon4video

 

Five Tips for better Video Production

Too often video production is done on a whim. You know you’ve heard everyone talk about how important it is to have video on your website or adding it to your marketing mix so you decide to do a video.

The problem then is that it is done on the run, with inadequate thought and equipment. “Quality” is the key word here, not necessarily expense. Surely we all know that quality and cost have an strange relationship. Cost does not guarantee quality and quality does not always cost the earth.

So here are five key signposts on the road to a good production.

1.Brief

What is it you are trying to say and who are you trying to reach?  Don’t settle for having it all in your head. Write down your ideas. Refine them. Hone them. Know what it is you are looking to achieve and how you think you can achieve it. Doesn’t mean it is set in stone or that it cannot evolve but a brief, a structure from which to work is vital.

2.Script

How are we going to communicate our message? Is going to be serious, funny, instructional?  Do not be tempted into thinking we’ll just use what we already have written. A video is not a moving brochure it is a different medium and the script should reflect this.

3.Talent

Make the most of experienced and talented people.  Having all the gear is not an indicator of talent, having Word on your computer does not make you a best selling author. Look for a good portfolio of work.  Trust a producer who can get you the right voiceover and on camera talent. What’s his name from accounts probably isn’t the right choice. (If you are what’s his name from accounts and you are truly talented then leave accounts)

4. Sound

More videos are ruined by bad sound than anything else. Get someone who knows how to get good sound and how to enhance it in post production.

5. Remember, it’s a visual medium

Cameras are great. They do enable you to just point and shoot but please don’t choose someone who just points and shoots.  Choose an artisan who wants to create great production for you.