“Short and sweet is a safe strategy.”
That’s a direct quote from a blog post we wrote back in 2016. In it, we argued that 2 minutes was the sweet spot for maximum engagement with video content online. And we stand by it, except we also stand by something else: You should be making long-form videos for your business. So, what gives? Why the sudden (three years in the making) change of heart?
According to 2018 data, U.S. adults now spend around 6 hours per day watching video. That includes viewing on TV, mobile devices, social media, and the web. Demand for video is soaring — and attention spans for video, in contrast to what you might hear about the internet and goldfish — are not diminishing. In fact, long-format TV is still far and away the most popular type of video that exists today.
As a marketer, this leaves you with lots of room to experiment with different types of video content. Your audience might love the aforementioned 2-minute video, a 15-second Instagram Story, or maybe even a 30-minute episode as part of a series. Your brand can be built on the back of several types of videos across channels and devices.
You might assume that long-form video is more costly and that it takes longer to create, but depending on your strategy and approach to content creation, that doesn’t have to be the case. As we’ve mentioned before, more and more companies are jumping on the episodic, long-form video bandwagon, and their approaches to the content they create are all vastly different.
“You might assume that long-form video is more costly and that it takes longer to create, but depending on your strategy and approach to content creation, that doesn’t have to be the case.”
Now, if you’re still on the fence about whether or not long-form content is right for your business, let’s take a look at the many benefits of this content and how you can start using it to build your brand!
Call long-form video the king (or queen) of engagement. When it comes to making a lasting impression on viewers, longer videos work magic.
In fact, a 2017 study by video marketing platform Twenty Three showed that 80% of videos surveyed were under 5 minutes, but those short videos drove less than a third of overall video engagement. The 8% of videos that were 15 minutes or longer drove 50% of audience engagement.
MailChimp has been known for its quirky yet ambitious marketing campaigns, even launching a potato chip brand and an art-house film at one point. The email company’s most recent video campaign, MailChimp Presents, features a new long-form video series called Wi-Finders. This series follows folks around the world who’ve left their offices behind to work from anywhere (and everywhere).
While not directly related to email, the episodes provide an entertaining and relatable perspective on remote work around the globe. And the more time viewers spend watching these videos, the more time MailChimp has to win viewers over.
You may not see as high of a play rate when you post a longer video, but the people who are watching are really interested in what you have to say. This audience is valuable because they’re willing to spend the time to get to know your brand and actually consider your message. Our recent post about why Time Watched is the best metric to measure the value of video digs into this concept a little deeper if you’re curious to learn more!
“You may not get as high of a play rate when you post a longer video, but the people who are watching are really interested in what you have to say.”
Wistia’s CEO, Chris Savage, recently said that he believes the B2B companies of the future are going to look a lot like media companies. That’s because companies will be creating content that adds value in and of itself instead of just promoting products.
To add value, you don’t always need to be adding new bells and whistles to your core goods and services. Long-form videos can add value to your company by contributing to user knowledge and success.
Just look at this video series from Unbounce, called The Landing Page Sessions:
In each video, Oli Gardner provides an in-depth analysis of a business landing page and discusses what could be done to improve it. The videos include tool tutorials, best practices, and expert advice. For a marketing manager viewing Unbounce’s series, the education on landing pages is as valuable as Unbounce itself.
Other B2B (and B2C) businesses can learn a lot from this approach. If you’re offering educational content, people will depend on you for more than just your products. They will use the information you give them to improve their professional lives. Your expertise-driven content becomes a service you offer, which differentiates you from competitors and adds to an overall positive user experience.
Last, but not least, long-form video is a platform for expression. Your long-form content can help you develop a unique identity that stands head and shoulders above other brands in your industry.
Since its first viral success in 2012, Dollar Shave Club has invested heavily in video over the years. Their Shorty Award-winning campaign Stop Living the Dull Life is a perfect example of long-form video that succeeds despite the odds.
The whole premise of the series is wordplay: To demonstrate the horrors of “dull” razor blades, the company produced intentionally “dull” long videos.
Surprisingly, the videos are delightful. They’re some of the most-watched videos on DSC’s YouTube channel, racking up humorous comments like, “There go my plans for tonight.”
When Wistia’s co-founders announced they were buying out our investors and taking on $17M in debt, we also launched the news with a long-form video about the decision. The video included an 11-minute interlude, during which Brendan and Chris waited for viewers to finish reading the announcement.
The announcement was one of the most popular posts we published that year, and it led to lots of press and conversations on social media. Brendan and Chris even did a follow-up Ask Me Anything session to answer people’s questions about the decision. With video, they were able to lead a far-reaching conversation about growth and startups and express their point of view.
With long-form video, you get to decide the direction you want to go with your brand. You get to expand in ways that people might not expect or have even thought possible before. You can build your brand around certain topics, interests, or subject matter. You can make your business a platform for learning, for entertainment, or for inspiration. You can make people laugh — or you can be honest about what you’ve struggled with or where you’ve failed.
“You can build your brand around certain topics, interests, or subject matter. With long-form video, you can make your business a platform for learning, for entertainment, or for inspiration.”
As you can see, the possibilities for long-form video are endless. But let’s back up a moment. If you’re just starting to make video marketing part of your business strategy, try starting with one of those “short and sweet” 2-minutes-or-less videos. Share it around, make another, and see what people say. It’s only by putting your work out in the world that you’ll know what direction you want to take with video.
You might find that short videos, social videos, or TV commercials are your thing. Just keep in mind that at the end of the day, long-form video makes your company a conversation starter. It will increase your influence and establish you as an innovator based on the way you create the content and share it with the world. Don’t let a silly thing like length stop you from making the content you’ve always dreamed of making!
How ProfitWell Built and Launched a Media Network with 7 Binge-Worthy Shows
When you think about binge-worthy shows in the business world, whether that’s a video series or a podcast, chances are a few companies come to mind. You might conjure up the names of enterprise businesses like Salesforce, HubSpot, and Mailchimp. These brands have been in the “show business” game so to speak for a while now, and have even built out content departments to help execute against their goals.
But what if I told you one SaaS company with less than 100 employees actually built out an entire network of shows on their own? That’s right, let it soak in. If you’re having trouble imagining that, then read on to find out how Patrick Campbell, CEO of ProfitWell, a software company that helps businesses achieve faster recurring revenue growth, started the Recur Network and launched seven shows on their own.
With the inbound marketing space more saturated than ever before, ProfitWell launched the Recur Network to cut through the noise and separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
“We started looking at what was happening in the world of content and noticed that content was just getting better and better, which is great for the community and world,” says Campbell. “But how do you compete when everyone has really good, 2,000-word blog posts today?”
To find the answer to this tricky question, ProfitWell decided to study the companies that are best at attracting and holding people’s attention — the media industry. “We studied lot of media sites like Bloomberg, Hulu, and Netflix and ended up discovering that the best folks in the world at creating content were, essentially, these media companies,” says Campbell. “Launching the Recur Network really came down to us deciding to be more like a media network and less like a traditional SaaS blog.”
In order to emulate these media networks, ProfitWell split their content department into three teams — production, writing and scripting, and audience development.
As the head of the production team, Campbell serves as Executive Producer. Below him sits ProfitWell’s Creative Lead, Dan Callahan, who runs all creative and production. Underneath Callahan sits a show producer, who focuses on the execution of specific shows from end-to-end, and a creative producer, who focuses on each show’s brand and graphic design elements.
“In order to emulate these media networks, ProfitWell split their content department into three teams — production, writing and scripting, and audience development.”
ProfitWell’s Editorial Lead, Danette Acosta, runs the writing and scripting team that develops each show’s concept, storyline, and script. She manages two writers who are also show-hosts. They split their focus on two different verticals — B2B SaaS and D2C, or direct-to-consumer.
Last but certainly not least, is ProfitWell’s Audience Growth Manager, Danielle Messler. She’s in charge of each show’s distribution and launch strategy, which includes email and social media campaigns.
At first glance, ProfitWell’s content team might seem like one of the biggest in the B2B space. But keep in mind that ProfitWell isn’t simply focused on creating one video series or podcast — they’re trying to build out an entire media network.
“Our team is big for a B2B content team, but it’s not that big for a network. If you think about BuzzFeed, they launched their morning show, AM to DM, with a 30-person team,” says Campbell. “To me, it’s super fascinating to see how we can produce content at a certain scale without having dozens and dozens of members on our team. I don’t know if we’ve figured it out completely, but we’re certainly working towards it.”
When ProfitWell first started brainstorming show concepts for the Recur Network, Campbell knew he could bring a ton of SaaS, subscription, and pricing knowledge to the table. But he needed his content team to craft and hone-in on the messaging and helm the creative side of things. So, he tasked them with a job that any marketer (No? Just us?!) would work a weekend for — creating the SaaS versions of their favorite TV shows.
“All of our content folks — who hadn’t worked in SaaS before — would consume content on E!, TMZ, ESPN, Bloomberg, Netflix, etc., and pick out the most interesting concepts that they wanted to emulate,” says Campbell. “We didn’t know how we would apply it to the world of SaaS, but we knew there was probably some way to do it. Once we started to collaborate, we knew what to focus on. For instance, our show The ProfitWell Report is a very news-inspired show.”
ProfitWell adopted a “learn as you go” mentality when coming up with the Recur Network’s first batch of show concepts. And after they produced and promoted them, their approach helped them realize that the network had even more room to grow.
“Now that we had these shows, we decided to ask ourselves, ‘what are we doing wrong?’ For us, we found out that we weren’t targeting certain industries and personas enough,” says Campbell. “We’ve worked on that, at least in a couple of experiments in the past couple of months, and they’ve paid off as we continue to grow the network and build it over time.”
The thought of producing one show, let alone seven, can be a little hard to wrap your brain around at first — and we totally get it. Managing the production calendar for seven different shows sounds like a huge undertaking (because it is!). But, Profiwell has been able to run their network so seamlessly and successfully by not tackling everything all at once, and by working in batches.
“We basically work in different seasons. If we focus on making X-show now, we can also distribute Y-show now and don’t have to worry about producing two shows at the same time,” says Campbell. “Overall, it’s been a very iterative process, and there’s no silver bullet, except for having people who are super comfortable with figuring out things as we go, and not being afraid to get a little crazy once in a while.”
“Profiwell has been able to run their network so seamlessly and successfully by not tackling everything all at once, and by working in batches.”
Interested in taking a peek at some of these shows from ProfitWell? Get a taste of the types of shows you can expect from the Recur Network:
When it comes to investing in the creation of binge-worthy content, it’s not enough to just make the content — you have to get people to consume it. And ProfitWell understands that in order to build a loyal audience, you have to market your content like a media company, too. That’s why they’re relying on building their subscriber base and utilizing email to keep people engaged.
“We’re working to figure out how to distribute multiple shows at once through email. We don’t want to send people too many emails, but, then again, some people want more emails, so we’re learning how to strike that balance,” says Campbell.
“That’s been our mental model — how would we approach marketing if we had a network of sites? The main way we do this is by taking stock from the Bloombergs of the world. What are they doing to push things forward? A lot of times, what it comes down to is creating email digests and sending subscribers everything as soon as it’s published.”
ProfitWell may have spun up seven successful shows as part of their own media network, but their journey was not void of any obstacles, particularly when it came to content creation.
“As soon as you decide to create a video series or podcast, you start to multiply your surface area, which can become super problematic. For us, we first just had to figure out how to create a video. Then we had to figure out how to create a series. And after we created a series, we had to figure how often to shoot it and what the content was going to look like,” says Campbell.
“A lot of that came down to how we could produce content at an affordable cost, how we could prove the value of these processes, and what we learned to completely reformulate our approach.” When it came to troubleshooting, Campbell noted that it was all about taking a big problem and distilling it down into smaller ones that were easier to solve.
“A lot of that came down to how we could produce content at an affordable cost, how we could prove the value of these processes, and what we learned to completely reformulate our approach.”
“Itreally just came down to breaking down the problem. How do we best break down the issues into digestible bits?” says Campbell. “Oftentimes, when you want to launch a network, you suddenly have to ask yourself what that means and how long it’s going to take. So, I think it’s more about breaking the process down into small pieces. Taking on the bigger pieces can get overwhelming.”
There’s certainly a competitive advantage to becoming an early adopter in the show creation space, and thanks to the Recur Network, ProfitWell has been able to break through the noise in their space.
“Producing informative content that’s also just as entertaining is really good for our brand,” says Campbell. “Each of our shows attracts a lot of subscribers and engagement, so they’re really helping us differentiate ourselves.”
The Recur Network has generated a substantial increase in traffic, leads, and sales for ProfitWell, too. But Campbell warns against falling into too many rabbit holes when measuring the performance of your own binge-worthy content. They’ve found that you can lose sight of the forest for the trees when you get too bogged down by metrics — and that’s saying something coming from a company that’s all about boosting revenue.
“The one thing I will say is that it’s hard to measure this stuff. That’s why we don’t worry too much about granular ROI. It’s just really hard to measure that,” says Campbell. “Over time, we will worry more about it, and we’ll get better at measuring it, but, right now, we want to focus on the overall investment of the network.”
ProfitWell’s primary marketing focus will be building out the Recur Network for now and in the future. “I don’t know if the dollar amount will increase in terms of actual investment, but the time is certainly going to stay consistent, if not up in certain capacities,” says Campbell. “We’re rolling certain things into the Recur Network, like some of our other content and some new launches, and turning it into our central content hub.”
Regardless of the approach ProfitWell decides to take with their binge-worthy content strategy moving forward, we can’t wait to see what they’ll create. Stay tuned!
Get Inspired: 9 Binge-Worthy Shows Produced From Home
For B2B and B2C companies, the pandemic has caused many marketing and creative teams to pivot from their original plans of producing campaigns, video series, and podcasts in-person. But, not everyone has stopped making content. In fact, we’re super inspired by businesses that are embracing work-from-home limitations to create engaging content for their niche.
In this post, we’re highlighting nine companies who are continuing to create binge-worthy content to stay in touch with their audiences in helpful and entertaining ways. Let’s get into it, shall we?
When the pandemic began, Frame.io — a cloud-based collaboration platform for creative professionals — put out a new series called Workflow From Home. In this online master class, Michael Cioni helps shed some light on unfamiliar technologies and highlights the tools that might make it possible to create a solid workflow at home using Frame.io.
We loved the approach they took with this series, offering genuinely helpful information for using Frame.io as a foundation for collaboration. Interviewing people in different sectors of the industry, they give an inside look at media and entertainment professionals’ remote setups and inspire their audience to build and optimize their own remote workflows in the cloud.
360Learning, the world’s first collaborative learning management system, also released its new docuseries Adapt. This series follows five employees from top SaaS tech startups like Gong, Drift, Twilio, and more as they adapt to working under these new remote limitations.
Week after week, you get a super authentic glimpse into how they’re forging ahead with work and balancing life outside of work as they tell their stories through the lens of their webcams or phone cameras. For anyone out there struggling to adjust to this new normal, these real people talking about developing new routines and overcoming challenges is a nice reminder that you’re not alone. Be sure to subscribe to their series so you’re notified when new episodes roll in!
Fuel is a specialized hotel software and marketing agency, and recently they’ve ramped up the number of podcasts they’ve been putting out weekly for the Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast. Consumer mindsets toward traveling have completely shifted due to the pandemic, and Fuel saw an opportunity to help inform folks in the hotel industry about topics that’ll help their businesses stay informed and afloat.
From conducting a series of studies surrounding consumer sentiments to interviewing experts about strategies for recovering your hotel’s lost bookings, they’re coming up with extremely valuable content for their niche audience.
Privy, an email capture and marketing software for ecommerce, launched a podcast called The Ecommerce Marketing Show in January. The show is designed to be your go-to source for everything you need to grow your ecommerce business. At a time when many businesses now have to rely on digital communication, the podcast’s concept is more relevant than ever. They’ve continued to produce new episodes with timely topics to help people navigate their marketing efforts in the middle of a crisis.
With fresh segments like masterclasses and “Ecomm Noms” hosted by experts in the field, you can learn a new skill like writing emails that make people want to buy and stay up-to-date with the latest news in the world of ecommerce. If you’re a marketer, you’ll want to check this podcast out!
Over on the B2C side of things, Pebbles Cereal is a brand that’s supporting artists and creators by creating a daily video series for kids during the pandemic. With The Daily Yabba Dabba Doo, they’re encouraging kids to do something creative every day, which also offers a little break for all the parents out there.
Kids can beat boredom and learn some pretty sweet skills. Heck, even we want to learn some of these things! From breakdancing to beatboxing and magic to scarf juggling, kids can conquer Pebbles’ whole collection of “DOO’s” on their kid-friendly website. Here’s a still from a video that’s all about making art with dried flowers!
The founder of a Boston area cult-favorite restaurant chain, Clover Food Lab, has spun up a series on YouTube called In Ayr’s Kitchen. Getting a lot of asks for advice on cooking at home during these times, Ayr Muir took it upon himself to share his love of home cooking by live streaming every weekday. People can watch and follow along in their own kitchens as he shares delicious recipes and cooks in real time.
Focusing on simple ingredients and techniques (and having fun in the kitchen) you can learn how to make all kinds of meals and treats from enchiladas to pineapple upside-down cake and everything in between!
JetBlue, a major American airline, is helping to offer some “inflight-style” entertainment for their customers with little ones right now. They introduced JetBlue Jr., an educational video series for kids ages 7 to 10 with bite-sized courses on aviation vocabulary, physics, and more.
Leading these lessons are real pilots and captains, which adds a level of expertise we loved. Plus, we couldn’t get enough of their playful use of puns and animations to make each lesson engaging. Way to go, JetBlue!
In the retail industry, Anthropologie started a new video series called Afternoons with Anthro. Although all of their retail stores are currently closed, they wanted to bring Anthro to you by offering styling guidance from their team members across the country. Watch their Senior Brand Stylist, Studio Style Director, and more from their talented team show you their favorite ways to spruce up a wardrobe.
Their stylists may be shooting with their iPhones, but their team is really enhancing the production quality in post-production with animations that follow brand guidelines, making the content feel consistent on @anthropologie’s IGTV and on their website. After watching one of these episodes, you’ll have plenty of inspiration to refresh your style without setting a single foot outside.
Lastly, tablehopper, the e-column for San Francisco restaurant reviews, industry news, food and wine events, and more created a podcast called On the Fly. Marcia Gagliardi of tablehopper.com is the host, offering twice-weekly interviews addressing the monumental changes the pandemic is causing for the food and beverage industry.
To inform an audience that’s passionate about food in the Bay Area, this podcast features chefs, restaurateurs, and other members of the hospitality industry. Listen to hear their stories about how they’re pivoting to adapt and survive these days.
The pandemic may have put many projects on hold, but the way these companies have leaned into their work-from-home limitations proves that you don’t need high-quality production gear to put out engaging content. We know we’re inspired by the way they’re continuing to reach their audiences with binge-worthy content, and we hope you are, too. If you’ve been impressed by another business putting out binge-worthy content, don’t keep it to yourself — let us know in the comments below!
How Video Producers and Other Creatives are Forging Ahead with Remote Work
This time last year, we were scheduling pre-interviews, working with expert animal handlers, and heading down to Pennsylvania to pick up our beloved Brandwagon — all in the name of producing a binge-worthy show. If we were tasked with making season two of Brandwagon today, however, things would certainly look a lot different.
Many industries that rely on in-person interactions to do their work have had to adapt their practices to stay afloat and maintain connections with their audiences — and video producers and other creatives are no exception. In this post, we’re highlighting the ways we’re seeing these folks forge ahead despite the circumstances given the world-wide pandemic. Keep reading and get inspired by how people are adapting to working remotely (and continuing to stay creative).
Sometimes the show must go on. Here at Wistia, our production team hasn’t given up on bigger projects we had slated for this year. Our Producer, Adam Day, shared how he’s still continuing to produce a video project despite being remote:
“Before the pandemic, we were right in the middle of production for a new Wistia series. Our shooting schedule was interrupted, and everything from key guest interviews to b-roll production was put on hold! So now we’re doing anything and everything we can to push the project forward in post-production. Wistians are using cell phones and laptop cameras to record stand-in scenes. We’re shooting b-roll in our apartments. And we’re leaning into animation and finding creative ways to use stock footage to get rough edits of our episodes together. This way we can still get a sense of the look, feel, and flow of a video. It helps us with creative decision making and planning so we can quickly finish production whenever we get to work together in person again.”
On the other hand, oftentimes the pre-production process can take up a ton of time, and not every type of show’s pre-production work is the same — some shows require much more creative thinking and strategic planning than others. Doing a bunch of prep work right now such as choosing the execution of your show wisely and writing all your scripts could set you up for the future when we’re back in action!
If you’re a video producer out there, you might think your value is dependent on being in-person to help people shoot videos. But, you should know you can adapt your offerings and still be valuable to folks who are trying to create content from home. Our Head of Video Production, Chris Lavigne, explained how you can step in on a more consultative basis in remote environments and still charge for your services. Video producers are uniquely good at making shots look great, and in a remote world, there are plenty of instances where a little remote directing can go a long way.
“Video producers are uniquely good at making shots look great, and in a remote world, there are plenty of instances where a little remote directing can go a long way.”
On the second episode of our (Out of) Office Hours livestream, Chris covered remote directing techniques from his experience shooting a video of our co-founders remotely. Some direction you can provide remotely includes production design tweaks, helping adjust camera angles, and coaching your talent by being a bug in their ear (or an airpod, if you know what we mean). These things aren’t all that different than what you’d do if you were producing a video in-person, and they’re just as valuable in this remote world!
Other video producers and creatives are seeing this moment as an opportunity to experiment and lean into new formats to adapt their offerings. For example, if you’re a creative producer who primarily focused on video, but has audio experience, too, you could pivot your offerings toward podcast production. Not only podcast production, but creating a podcast and video interview series remotely isn’t out of the realm of possibility, either.
We’re also seeing people’s creativity come to life in new and engaging ways. We’re big believers in creativity being born from constraints, and two examples of delightfully entertaining content that’s been put out into the world in recent days come from Saturday Night Live and Bon Appetit.
Recently, we saw SNL put on their first-ever remote episode, and we had a few guesses as to how the staff would go about producing the show. Even though the cast wasn’t working with a complete arsenal of video production gear for shooting their segments, they focused on making their content genuinely entertaining, which definitely paid off.
Our main takeaway here was that quality content will always be more important than high-quality production value. The team also took the time to understand their audience to inform the content they created. By leaning into our shared experiences surrounding staying home, self-isolating, and navigating our “new normal,” they created entertaining content that had a little something for everyone.
Similarly, over at Bon Appetit, their chefs can’t all be together to film their series Test Kitchen Talks. So instead, they’re having their Pro Chefs take you on virtual tours of their kitchens to share their favorite tools and recipes. From making 13 kinds of pantry pasta to brewing their favorite coffee at home, they’re working with what they’ve got to spin up entertaining content for all of us to consume.
As creators, seeing the quality of content SNL and Bon Appetit is putting out is super inspiring to us. Despite the circumstances, they’re letting their creativity drive their ideation of concepts to continue to engage their audiences. If you’re a creator out there during this time, thinking creatively about how you can still produce content right now is a power you can employ (and charge for) as a creative person.
“If you’re a creator out there during this time, thinking creatively about how you can still produce content right now is a power you can employ (and charge for) as a creative person.”
While you’re thinking of ways to produce videos remotely, consider creating a crowdsourced video. Crowdsourcing could be an aesthetic choice at any time, but it’s super practical today. Like with any video, you have to produce the content, shape it, and direct it. And just because you aren’t there to shoot the video, doesn’t mean you can’t have a hand in making it the best it can be. As we mentioned, remote directing is a valuable skill you can still put into action! It’s also nice to keep in mind that high-production value is not what’s expected right now — people are comfortable with seeing low-production value content.
Pointing to Saturday Night Live once more, they crowdsourced footage from their talent to recreate their iconic intro. The editors there leaned into post-production with their familiar outlines, text treatments, and music to put out something that felt very in line with the SNL we know and love. It was a prime example of edits being saved in post-production and just goes to show how leveraging old tools can help you keep forging ahead.
We hope these examples of how people are adapting to working in remote environments and forging ahead will get your creative wheels turning. In these uncertain times, creating might feel like a constant uphill battle. Many of us are doing things we’ve never done before and trying to figure out our own value as creatives. But we’re all in this together, and if there’s any way we can help each other during this time, it’s sharing the new things we’re seeing and learning along the way.
- How ProfitWell Built and Launched a Media Network with 7 Binge-Worthy Shows
- Get Inspired: 9 Binge-Worthy Shows Produced From Home
- How Video Producers and Other Creatives are Forging Ahead with Remote Work
- Creative Ways to Use Video for Remote Team Building
- Tips for Showcasing Your Virtual Conference on a Wistia Channel