3 meta-steps to getting started with video content

Boston Media Makers January Meetup

Has anyone else noticed as of late that there are far more videos in your Facebook News Feed than before? I was scrolling through the other day and at one point almost every other post was a video of some kind. (and of course, began to auto-play as I scrolled by)

Facebook, of course, is likely prepping the ground for their LiveRail integration. Twitter’s got its video player cards (which work quite well) and its acquisition of SnappyTV to roll out. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that LinkedIn is going to make a video-related acquisition.

The ever-increasing frequency of video media should be hint, clue, and warning sign (all in one!) that video should be part and parcel of your marketing, if it isn’t already.

If you haven’t already begun making video, some basic skills are in order. First, learn how to tell a story. If you have no compelling story, the video isn’t going to matter. Books such as Peter Guber’s Tell to Win and Robert McKee’s Story are essential reading.

Second, learn how to storyboard and script video. The free program Celtx will help you on the scriptwriting front; for storyboarding, check out your mobile device’s app store for a storyboarding app that works best for you, or go old school and print out some six-cell sheets for hand-drawing:


Third, learn the basics of video production. For a handy, step-by-step guide to your first video shoot, grab CC Chapman and Mark Nemcoff’s book 101 Steps to Making Videos Like a Pro.

For a more comprehensive look, grab Get Seen by Steve Garfield, considered by many to be THE book in learning video production.

Finally, a word of advice: as with every other form of marketing, tools are secondary to talent. You can – and many people have – shoot “good enough” video with a DSLR or even a smartphone to make a successful video if the story and production are great. Conversely, you can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment and produce stellar, polished videos that no one wants to watch. If you have to make a choice about where you’re going to invest the bulk of your time, learn storytelling first, then skill up on video second. The skills you gain in storytelling will positively impact all of your marketing and not just video.

Disclosure: huge surprise, any link to Amazon is an affiliate link.

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Steering the marketing canoe


I learned 4 things about canoeing while on vacation last week that reminded me of marketing:

  • Canoes turn more slowly than you think they will.
  • Canoes have much more momentum than you perceive.
  • Canoes require whole commitment to work well.
  • Canoes are not kayaks.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not only a novice canoeist, I also received exactly zero instruction and without access to the Internet, YouTubing “how to canoe” wasn’t possible, so I did the best I could. Anyone with even a modicum of experience and training probably would have laughed their butts off at me. I laughed at myself once I got home because I did check YouTube and learned I was doing it wrong from a technique perspective.

That said, the experience reminded me of marketing because of the similarities of making marketing work. Marketing programs, especially at larger companies, do take more time to change direction than you’d think. Folks who work in a startup environment where you can just change the program in an hour are often dismayed at how slowly larger companies move their marketing.

The second thing I noticed was that I didn’t think I was going particularly fast until I tried to stop and nearly lost the paddle. It didn’t feel like I was going fast, but I covered a mile in less than 15 minutes, which is far faster than swimming (for me) or using a paddleboat (which would take about 45 minutes). The same is true of your marketing program. Once you have momentum, it’s hard to perceive it unless something causes you to stop marketing. Only then do you realize how many things were running and how much you know it’s going to hurt to try to regain the momentum and rebuild your lead generation flow. You can coast for a fair amount of time while you figure out what to do next, but know that every day or week you’re not actively marketing, you’re going to have to work twice as hard to get back up to speed.

Canoeing requires commitment across the board. You can’t just paddle with your arms. You have to use your whole body. Even the people along for the ride have to be seated in a hydrodynamic way so that their weight distribution doesn’t unduly slow the boat down. The same is true of marketing. You can’t just use a tactic here and a tactic there. You have to market with everything you’ve got, and everything impacts your marketing. Bad customer service will damage your ability to market. Inept sales tactics will impact your ability to market. Public relations stunts gone awry can hurt your marketing. Everyone has to metaphorically be on board and rowing in the same direction.

Finally, canoes are not kayaks. I discovered this the hard way, having had some experience with river kayaks. Canoes behave very differently, are paddled very differently, and maneuver very differently. As a novice boater, this was not immediately apparent – they’re both boats with paddles, how different could they be? The same perspective is often held in marketing, especially by more senior marketers who haven’t done day to day tactical work in a while. Direct mail marketing and email marketing may look to be very similar on the surface, but once you actually start doing, you realize just how different they are. Beware of this in your own marketing strategy! If you’re not familiar with the tactics, get familiar so that your strategy isn’t relying on things you may not be able to do.

Canoeing was fun despite the struggles of not knowing what to do, and so I’ll close with this last analogy to canoeing and marketing: a little bit of research in advance goes a long way towards your success.

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Do content marketing reruns work?

I’m glad to be back from vacation after a week completely off the grid. Talk about a drastic change in lifestyle, going to a place where devices don’t even work (thus removing the temptation to “just check in”). I recommend it heartily.

Before I left for vacation, I thought I’d run an experiment using reruns on social media to power my social media postings for the week. Instead of my normal routine of a new blog post each day plus a welcome message (2 links back to my website per day), I went to five reruns plus a welcome message (6 links back to my website per day). Each rerun was a link back to a past popular post of mine from the past two years.

Now, going into this, the logical hypothesis would be a 300% increase in website traffic, right? I literally tripled the number of direct links back to my website. In fact, it should be even more, because my audience has changed and grown in a year. Last year on Twitter alone, I had 7,000 fewer followers:


So with an audience that’s bigger and triple the number of links, let’s see what the results were:


Cue the womp womp trumpet, please. Yes, folks, you read that correctly. I had 43% LESS traffic this year compared to the same calendar week the previous year. The traffic source that drove the loss? Organic search traffic, where I had half the visitors from last year.

It’s been shouted far and wide that Google loves relevance, freshness, and diversity of content. Re-runs with no new content paint a bulls-eye on your butt for freshness and diversity, and in the world of the content shock, someone will always be creating more relevant content today than content you made a year or two ago.

The bottom line? Re-runs didn’t work for me in this particular test case. My site took a beating on organic search traffic by my taking my foot off the gas for a week. Does this mean re-runs won’t work for you? Of course not – as always, you need to test for yourself. However, go into that test with a modified hypothesis, now that you’ve seen at least one test case where the result fell far short of the hypothesis.

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