Making Your Video Work – Part One

If you you are thinking of utilising video in 2018 I want to share my PostIt note method for planning your video. Having a clear idea about your video will make filming so much easier and more effective.  So grab a handful of PostIt notes (other sticky piece of paper are available), a spare section of wall and follow these instructions.

Write AUDIENCE on your first PostIt note and stick it on the wall.

Ask yourself. Who do I want to reach?

Attempting to reach as wide an audience as possible will lead to a muddled and unfocused production. At this stage you might identify several distinct audiences. Write them all down. Stick them up and step back  Who is my priority? Put a big tick next to your priority audience. Take the others down and put them somewhere safe.

Write down STYLE on another note and stick it on the wall.

Different stories for different folks. Your primary audience will dictate the style of your message. This is not easy but here is an exercise to help you. On three separate notes write DAILY MIRROR, THE INDEPENDENT, THE TIMES. Put them on the wall and step back. Broadly speaking which newspaper would your audience read. I am not talking about political affiliations here but general style.

Daily Mirror – short snappy sentences.

Independent – considered but with an arty edge. Remember their amazing front pages.

The TImes – weighty and serious. Long sentences.

Try and pick one for general style. It’s not fixed at this point but it will help formulate your message.

Write MESSAGE on a note.

Write down a maximum of three things you want to say. Write each down on a separate note. Stick them up. Stand back, look at them and rate them in order, One being the most important and three the least.  More videos are ruined by a surplus of information than a lack. I am not saying you can’t have multiple messages but for now let’s focus on ONE message. Think Bob Geldorf at Live Aid. He could have said a lot of things but he didn’t. He banged the table and said give us your money. if you decide you can get rid of two of your messages, take them off and put them somewhere safe, you can always return to them in another video.

So now you should have a clear idea of your audience and a broad understanding of the style and message you want convey.  Next time I will use the same method to put the actual content of your video together into some kind of script and storyboard.

At Making Video Work I offer services that go beyond production. Services such as transcription, subtitles, SEO, strategy, promotion and research. 

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: or call 07973 567824

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 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.


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.


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.


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. 

Things videographers are fed up of hearing

1, Can you photoshop me?  Other versions include, cab you make me look 20 years younger, 20 pounds lighter, like Robert Redford, like Nicole Kidman.
2. Will it be on the telly? If filming in a public place scores of people behind the subject waving, inanely smiling and/or on their phone
3. I’ll just wing it. Never works! Quickly followed by.
4. I’ll get it right eventually. Maybe I should have written a few things down. I’ll just write a few quick notes. Can you hold those notes so I can read them? Does this look like I’m reading this?
5. Can I just take this call?
6. That’s a nice bit of kit.

Viral or Niche, where is your audience?

Once again my eyes have been assaulted by claims that this, that and the other has become a viral hit on the internet.

On closer investigation I discovered they didn’t really go viral. At best they were shared a good number of times but not really viral. Viral suggests reaching an audience way beyond your intended one. Let’s face it having millions of people viewing your video, post or photograph must be brilliant but in reality what does it achieve?  A million YouTube views. All that means is one million people clicked play. They may have clicked off after 3 seconds, got distracted and just not paid any real attention to the content anyway.

I am not saying numbers are unimportant but that they might not be as important as we think they are.

Maybe we need to examine them a bit more. If you make a video of a friends birthday party and post it to FB and everyone of your 600 friends on the platform viewed it, then you can say your video was a success.  It reached everyone of your intended audience. Beyond your Facebook friends your video has no audience.Maybe we need to re-examine what we deem success in the social media world. Huge audiences does not necessarily imply huge engagement.We need to define our audience better and assess the success of the video or campaign, not by how many random people have watched it, but by the engagement it generated with our intended audience.

Numbers only tell a part of the story. It seems to me having plenty of committed activists engaged with your message is much better than a large mildly interested one.

How you define your audience is up to you but define it and reach it you must. Viral isn’t everything engagement on the other hand.