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The Social Media Video Checklist

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Don’t think you have enough time to make a video for social media? Aren’t really sure where to begin? Pish posh! There’s no reason to let these hesitations stop you from making your social video dreams come true. And while there’s no secret formula for crafting the perfect video, there are some key steps you can follow to ensure your videos are not only well-thought out and impeccably executed, but also engaging and entertaining. So, without further adieu, here’s our comprehensive checklist for creating videos for social media.

Before jumping into the production of any video, it’s important to remember why you’re making the video in the first place and what you want it to accomplish. Do you want to increase engagement with your followers, share a glimpse into your company culture, or even promote another bigger piece of content? Ask yourself these types of questions before you shoot and you’ll have an easier time understanding what success looks like once it’s out in the world. Without a clear goal in mind from the start, it’ll be difficult to know which metrics matter most once its seen by all your followers.

Speaking of followers, social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are all suited for different types of content and audiences. So, before jumping into creating your video, consider what makes each platform unique and how you can tailor your content to the platform itself.

For example, LinkedIn is all about making business connections and growing professionally, whereas Instagram is more about personal connections and keeping up with friends or influencers. Because people have different expectations about what types of content are shared on each platform, it’s always important to keep the context of the channel in mind.

“Because people have different expectations about what types of content are shared on each platform, it’s always important to keep the context of the channel in mind.”

Beyond the type of content you create, you’ll also want to consider how it’s formatted. Here’s a quick run-down of the maximum video lengths for each platform, plus some recommendations for ideal video length, thanks to this helpful article:

  • Facebook: 120 minutes (Recommended: 10–30 seconds)
  • Twitter: 2 minutes, 20 seconds (Recommended: 45 seconds
  • Instagram feed: 60 seconds (Recommended: 30 seconds or less)
  • Instagram Stories: 15 seconds (Recommended: 15 seconds)
  • Snapchat: 10 seconds (Recommended: 8–10 seconds)
  • LinkedIn: 10 minutes (Recommended: 30 seconds–5 minutes

It’s especially wise to optimize for small screens since over half of online video views occur on mobile. For mobile video editing, square video is your best friend. Not only is square video the default in the Instagram feed, but it’ll also take up more real estate on Facebook, too.

You can upload both square and portrait videos to Twitter, but because of the way the mobile feed is laid out, you’ll only see previews in the traditional 16:9 aspect ratio. You don’t want your content to get cut off, so we recommend sticking with horizontal video on Twitter. And last but not least, if you’re editing video for Snapchat, Instagram Stories, or Facebook Stories, you’ll want to shoot video vertically and then edit within the 9:16 aspect ratio.

If you plan on repurposing one video across multiple platforms, make sure all the essential content can fit in the frame — especially when creating a vertical video from a horizontal one!

This is a big one! Thinking outside the box is always encouraged, and especially by us (creativity is one of our company values, after all). But, it’s important to stay realistic here and make sure you’re not over-scoping your video. If your first idea is to shoot your video in a rainforest, maybe see if you can achieve a similar look by shooting in a park close to your office instead.

As for props, look around and see what you already have in your office before you buy anything new. It would be a real bummer to go out and buy a new top-hat only to realize you had one kicking around from a previous shoot. And speaking of using what you have, when it comes to building your set, you can usually work with a set up you already have in your office! Move things around, take a few test shots, and get creative. What may look “off” in one corner could look great in another.

This is also a good time to figure out if you’ll need any additional help from other folks on your team. Can you film this by yourself? Will there be scenes where you need some teammates to step in as extras? Before scripting, make sure you understand what resources you have available to you.

Even if you don’t have dialogue in your video, it’s important to have a concept and an idea of what each shot will look like. In the world of social video, nothing feels worse than getting to the editing stages and realizing you didn’t get the shots needed to get your point across. Take, for example, this educational video we made for social:

As you can see, there’s no dialogue or people present in this video, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t still need to write a script first to make sure we incorporated all the must-have information. We can’t say it enough — script, script, script!

Just because social media videos are typically short, doesn’t mean you should only book off an hour to get all the shots you need. It’s really easy to think, “Oh, a video for social media? That won’t take that long!” or “I’ll be able to get that shot later,” but if you don’t have a specific time set aside for filming, you run the risk of getting caught up in other things and not getting the shots you need. This is especially important if you’re working with other people — you always want to make sure you’re making the most of everyone’s time!

Shooting for the edit is a pretty simple concept — all it means is that you should keep in mind how you’re going to edit your footage in the near future while you shoot. Before pressing that sweet, sweet record button, make sure your actors have rehearsed their lines, the shot is in focus and well-lit, and double check that the camera is stabilized. Keeping these things in check will cut down on the amount of footage you need to sift through later on.

And as always, be sure to shoot some b-roll. You might not think you’ll need it, but a lot of the time b-roll is what supplements the story and drives the piece visually. So once you think you’ve got the shot, keep rolling for about 10 seconds. That’s usually when the good laughs and candid moments happen. Having those gems will help diversify your shots and make your editing process much easier!

“You might not think you’ll need it, but a lot of the time b-roll is what supplements the story and drives the piece visually.”

Social media is a superhighway of information. Viewers are constantly running into new content everywhere they turn. So, start with some action and eye-catching footage right away to capture your viewer’s attention. In this case, “action” doesn’t have to mean a car chase or something super outlandish. Take this post from Glossier for example:

In this video, Glossier is promoting its latest product, Bubblewrap, an under eye cream. It starts with the subject somewhat humorously drinking a cup of tea, which is a nice, subtle hook. It then quickly jumps into him using the product and explaining the benefits succinctly. The video only lasts about 20 seconds, but by the end of it, we know exactly how to use Bubblewrap and what it does. ~Chef’s kiss~ You only have your viewers attention for so long, so take a page from Glossier’s book and don’t waste any time!

The best videos are the ones that can be consumed by everyone. And not only that, but captions can also help you get your message across more effectively, regardless of where or when someone is watching your video.

Over the past few years, Google and Apple have both released updates to their browsers that prohibit autoplaying videos with the sound on. And by now, you’ve probably noticed that any video posted to a social platform — whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram — starts silently as well. So, you want to make sure you’re meeting people where they are in their feeds, and that’s with the sound turned off.

“You want to make sure you’re meeting people where they are in their feeds, and that’s with the sound turned off.”

Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to upload SRT files, but what about Twitter and Instagram? You want to make sure your viewers can still get the most out of your content, so we recommend “burning in” your captions to the video itself before you upload to your platform of choice. This just means that you’re merging the captions file with the video file so they’re one and the same.

To burn in your captions, we recommend using the free program, Handbrake. Here’s how to get it all set up:

  • Upload your video on Handbrake and navigate to the Subtitles tab.

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  • Once there, click the dropdown menu that says “Tracks” and choose the option,“Add External SRT…”

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  • Upload your video’s .SRT
  • Once that step is complete, press the green play button up top and voila! A copy of your video with burned in captions will be exported.

This step mainly applies to Instagram, since the other platforms display auto-playing videos on their feeds. On Instagram, your video will live on your profile’s grid, so it’s important to make sure the video thumbnail is click-worthy. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here, but always be sure to stay away from blurry shots or drab colors when choosing your thumbnail.

Makings of a good thumbnail include, but are not limited to:

  • Smiling faces
  • Cute animals
  • Bright colors
  • Text overlays
  • Crisp images

Here’s an example of one of our favorite, click-worthy thumbnails:

Our office dog Lenny sitting at a computer? Faris looking perplexed and surprised? Don’t know about you, but we’d definitely press play on this product update video.

Whether you leave a CTA in your company’s bio or actually write it into your script at the end of your video, you always want to tell your viewers where they should go next. Of course, some videos for social don’t require a call to action, so don’t add one in if it doesn’t make sense. Here’s an example of a video we shared of our team painting a mural in our office that didn’t require a call to action:

This video is an example of a brand touch video that often doesn’t require the viewer to take action afterward. When we wanted to promote our latest blog post, however, we gave viewers direction around where to go after watching if they wanted to get more intel:

Whatever the case may be, when crafting a CTA to support your social video, you want to make sure you are persuasive, but not too pushy. Adding something as simple as “Click the link in bio for more!” to your caption or including “Check out our new post!” at the end of your video can help get the job done. If a viewer loved your video and wants more, you should strive to make it as easy as possible for them to take the next step.

There you have it! From setting your goals and scripting your video, to adding captions and making snappy edits, you now know what it takes to make a successful video for social media. Keep this checklist with you and remember to take it one step at a time (and have fun with it!). So what you are you waiting for? Grab a camera or pick up your phone and get going!



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Video Marketing

How to Delete Your YouTube Channel

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Over the years YouTube has become a massive video platform, and due to some recent changes, a pretty confusing one at that. For first-time creators and brands who want to grow a following, it can be hard to tell what rules apply to you, what “counts” as a video view, how to measure your success, and more. And while the Google-owned platform isn’t going anywhere any time soon, when it comes to building an audience with video, it’s no longer the only option for your business.

Now that businesses can more easily attract viewers with content hosted right on their own sites by embedding Wistia Channels or working with other tools, it might make sense to let that YouTube Channel of yours sail off into the sunset. If you’re considering removing your channel from the old ’Tube, read on to learn why that might be a smart move, how to actually get rid of it for good, and what to do once you’ve moved on.

Not quite ready to hit “delete” on your YouTube channel? Consider hiding it instead. Keep in mind that when you hide or delete your channel, you permanently delete all Community posts, comments, and replies.

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YouTube is great for some folks and well … not so great for others. If you’re not sure why a business would want to delete their account, here are some reasons to ponder:

  • Ads: While the opportunity for monetizing makes YouTube’s ad business model enticing for new creators, the fact is, unless you’re getting tens or hundreds of thousands of views on your content, chances are you won’t really benefit from ads. And unfortunately, for small channels, ads ultimately serve as a distraction that can draw people away from your content
  • Autoplaying videos: YouTube’s algorithmically driven “Recommended” feature is designed to help viewers find content they may be interested in, but it also keeps viewers on YouTube longer. Chances are, the video that plays after yours won’t come from your channel, even if the viewer purposefully navigated to your channel to watch your content. Instead, viewers are likely to click into other channels, forgetting why they went to YouTube in the first place. Bummer.
  • YouTube-centric design: From white backgrounds and red buttons to videos organized by most popular and date added, YouTube channels are not very customizable. The main ways you can control your branding on YouTube are with a banner on your channel page, a thumbnail profile image, and thumbnails on your videos. Which isn’t awful, but it could be better!
  • Regular updates to the algorithm: Remember how we mentioned that YouTube can be confusing before? While changes to the algorithm can be a useful creative constraint, they can also be unpredictable and frustrating, especially if you’re relying on your videos reaching a particular set of people on a regular basis.

As YouTube evolves, it will continue to make decisions that help the company grow more than help their users succeed. If those decisions align with your own creative ambitions and marketing goals, that’s fantastic. Otherwise, it may be time to move on. If that time for you is now, then here’s a quick guide to deleting your YouTube account.

Phew, is it hot in here or is it just us? The first step here is to really make sure you’re ready to delete your channel (not just deactivate it). Wipe that sweat off your forehead and follow these steps to bid your channel farewell. You got this.

1. From your channel page, go to Settings > Advanced settings.

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Note: Don’t choose “Account settings.”

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2. From the Advanced Settings page, select “Delete channel.”

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This choice will permanently remove your video content and video data from YouTube. You won’t be able to retrieve it, so make sure you have saved the original files.

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Always have a backup (or two) of all your video files saved on a hard drive or in another safe location. There’s no coming back from deleting your YouTube channel so quadruple-check that you’ve got back up.

4. Check the blue box that explains exactly what will be deleted.

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5. Click “Delete my content.” You will be asked to enter the email address associated with your YouTube account to confirm.

That’s it! Your channel and all your videos are now deleted from YouTube. Keep in mind that the Google account you used to create the channel (business or personal) will still be active and recognized by YouTube.

If you’re looking for a new home for your videos and want more control over the entire viewing experience, Wistia Channels may be a great option for you. Don’t want to send viewers elsewhere every time you share a new video with the world? Luckily, Wistia Channels live right on your company’s own website and are easily customizable to match your brand. In case you aren’t super familiar with this Advanced Plan addition, here are some of the key features that’ll help you achieve your goals with Wistia Channels:

  • No ads: This is an ad-free zone! We’re not taking any cuts here, so no ads will show up on your videos or to your Channel on your site.
  • Designed for deep engagement: When viewers are almost done watching a video, our Up Next feature helps keep them watching more by showcasing the beginning of the next video on your Channel. Distracting ads and suggested content from other brands? Not a chance!
  • Organized and customized: You can easily organize your content and tailor the layout on your Channel to suit your needs. Customize the design to match your brand by changing the color of the player, video thumbnails, header images, fonts, and more.
  • Built-in lead capture: Add calls to action, annotation links, and email capture forms directly to your videos. Tell your viewers where you want them to go next and drive more action from your content!

If this sounds enticing to you, we’d love to show you how it works. You can get in touch with our team to learn more about Channels, pricing, or our other features whenever you’re ready.

For most businesses, simply uploading all of your content to a YouTube Channel and hoping for the best isn’t very strategic. After all, while YouTube is designed to encourage viewers to click around and watch as many videos as possible, that doesn’t mean they’re still watching your content. So, instead of trying to compete for attention on giant social networks, why not build an audience on a site that’s all your own? Start by deleting that old YouTube Channel of yours that’s been sitting around gathering dust and take more control over your content today.



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Video Marketing

How to Name Your Wistia Channel

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With Wistia Channels, the name-picking power is in your hands. And believe it or not, the name you pick may ultimately influence the number of clicks, views, and video engagement you get on that Channel. But how are you supposed to pick just one name that encompasses all of your videos, while still bringing all the views, clicks, and engagement you want? Don’t worry. We’ve got some tips that’ll simplify the process and make you believe in the power of name-picking in no time.

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For businesses using video for marketing, a Wistia Channel turns your collection of videos into a destination where people can explore certain topics in depth and get to know your brand. Because this is a singular destination, it’s important to come up with a cohesive name that accurately describes the Channel. To do that, you need to think beyond your individual videos.

When you think about your Channel on a more holistic level, you should consider the following factors:

  • Branding — the “identity” factor: The name you pick will be very public, so it needs to accurately reflect your videos and your brand.
  • Discoverability — the “index” factor: The Channel name comes up in search, so you want people searching for a relevant topic to find your video content fast — and first.
  • Shareability — the “click” factor: Your audience watches a lot of stuff online. A catchy name for your Channel will make it easy for people to remember. That means when it comes time to share your videos, they’ll be able to pull up your Channel and link to it instantly.

Considering these factors as you set up your video Channel will help you grow your audience and your brand over time. To dig a little deeper, let’s break down the three factors we mentioned above: branding, discoverability, and sharing. Shall we? We shall!

“Considering these factors as you set up your video Channel will help you grow your audience and your brand over time.”

When you’re thinking about your Channel, remember that it should support your company’s brand but also have its own identity. Plus, the name you pick should align with your marketing strategy, whether that’s connecting with a particular audience, highlighting your product, or educating your viewers. To get just the right fit, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Be specific

Regardless of your industry, it’s important to narrow in on a niche. Let’s take a look at the topic of real estate as an example. Real estate is far too broad of a term to use on its own for your Channel name. Instead, you’ll want to pick a more narrowly defined niche, like “The Smart Real Estate Investor” or “Architects Eating Lunch.” This will help you build an audience faster because you know it relates to the overarching subject, but there’s something specific your viewers can latch onto.

Know your audience

In addition to knowing your topics, you should have a good idea of who will be watching your videos. If you want to appeal to a certain type of viewer, then be sure to include terms they resonate with in the name! To keep up with the real estate theme, you could add words like agent, investor, or homeowner right in the name of your Channel.

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Don’t just use your company name

Some people rely on the strength of their company names alone to build up a brand. But unless your company’s brand as a whole is the purpose behind your Channel, this can be both too general and too limiting for your business over time. Not only that, but you also run the risk of your brand changing. Brands evolve, and if there’s any chance that your company will pivot, or the focus of the Channel will change, we recommend trying to avoid using just your company name.

Something else to keep in mind is how your Channel shows up in search. Whether people are searching for your Channel by name, or for individual videos, you’ll want your Channel to appear in the results. If you align your name with commonly searched terms, then you’ll create more visibility for your content and have a better chance at boosting your rankings online.

For example, Brian Cox, aka The Travel Vlogger, has nearly 16K subscribers on YouTube, but the Channel itself ranks at the number two position on the Google results for “travel vlog.” His smart SEO strategy will help him continue to grow his channel organically, with little extra effort on his part.

travel vlog

This is a pretty straightforward strategy, but SEO (especially as it relates to video) can get complicated really quickly. With that in mind, here are a few SEO tips to remember when it comes to naming your business Channel.

Use keyword tools for research

Plug your potential Channel names into tools like Ahrefs or Keywords Everywhere to see what the keyword volumes are, as well as the competition score. That way, you can see exactly how many people are searching on Google for your terms and how hard it will be to land on page one of the results.

Check for other similar Channels

Do research to make sure that your name isn’t already in use on YouTube and beyond. Also, check for similar video Channels in your category. Less competition = more search traffic for your Channel.

When you create lots of high-quality content around a certain topic, Google’s algorithm will start to recognize your Channel as an authority on that topic. So, if you’re tying your Channel name to an SEO term (the wheel), make sure that the individual titles of videos are related terms (spokes). You can find related terms in your keywords tool. This will show Google that you’re continuing to contribute valuable and expert information through your videos.

Be patient

SEO takes a bit of time to work (you have to prove your trustworthiness to Google). So, be patient if you aren’t instantly ranking where you’d like. Even a little bit of effort and research can go a long way in helping your results.

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With a catchy name, people will be more likely to remember and share your Channel content. People don’t watch videos just because they are educational; they also watch to be entertained and inspired. A catchy title will instantly endear your audience to you and make them more excited about viewing and sharing your content. This gives your originality a chance to shine, as well as gain name recognition and spread your message.

“People don’t watch videos just because they are educational; they also watch to be entertained and inspired.”

For example, YouTubers The Try Guys (5.7M subscribers) started off making videos as BuzzFeed employees, but the success of their series about, yes, trying new things, led them to branch out on their own and create a successful media brand. While the success can be attributed to the creative and sometimes daring content — like trying everything at Taco Bell or giving a plastic surgeon free rein with their faces — the intriguing name certainly doesn’t hurt, either. They even sell merch with their name on it.

Here are some other tips for picking a catchy name:

  • Keep it short
  • Use humor
  • Be relatable
  • Be surprising
  • Avoid apathy — pick something likely to evoke emotion
  • Use alliteration or rhyming (sparingly)
  • Don’t use made-up or jumbled phrases or camelCase combinations

A great Channel name will help you decide what direction to take your efforts, which will position your brand for success later on. With a focused, SEO-driven, memorable channel name, you can connect with a wider audience, grow your channel, and make an emotional impact, right from the start!



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Video Marketing

How a Different Approach to Brand Marketing Helped us Win a Webby Award

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We get excited about a lot of things here at Wistia, but we’re especially excited (along with wowed, humbled, and pleasantly surprised) to share that our first-ever original series, One, Ten, One Hundred, just won the 2019 Webby Award for “Best Video Series” in the Branded Entertainment category. But, that’s not where the excitement ends, because we won both the Judge’s Panel award as well as the People’s Voice award, which is decided by popular vote.

If you haven’t watched the docuseries yet, set aside a couple of hours and find out how money impacts creativity in One, Ten, One Hundred.

This win is nothing to sneeze at — we were up against some pretty stiff competition in our category. Here are the other brands whose videos were up for the nomination:

It’s probably safe to say that we aren’t quite as popular as brands like Google, Uber, and Lego … well, okay. We definitely aren’t as well known (or as popular) as any of these other brands. So, what did we do differently with One, Ten, One Hundred that helped us stand out and win not one, but two awards? Here’s what we think made the difference for us.

Our view count is much lower than the competition’s. This episode of Uber’s Da Republic of Brooklyn, directed by Spike Lee (and featuring a really cute dog) has nearly 10 times the view count of the first episode of One, Ten, One Hundred. But, the number of impressions is not the number of people impressed.

Instead of worrying about exposure, virality, and view counts, our success metrics were based around the time spent with our brand, and the impact that had on traffic from search, rather than the total number of passing interactions.

  • Our average viewing time is 43 and a half minutes.
  • Our branded search volume is up 11% since we launched the series.

Most brands use their social channels (particularly YouTube) to share creative video content, despite the fact that the audience there may be easily distracted by comments and recommended videos in a sidebar. That’s why we chose to only make our content available on our website and on Amazon Prime, where we can offer a more controlled, distraction-free viewing experience.

One, Ten, One Hundred was developed for in-house marketers at small businesses who, like us, have aspirations to do more creative advertising campaigns, but face challenging budget and resourcing restrictions.

It’s true that all of the other nominees in our category are global B2C brands, so they speak to a wider audience than Wistia, a small B2B company, but we chose to make One, Ten, One Hundred for a subset of even our more limited audience. This isn’t aimed at professional creators at agencies or marketing directors at big companies (both of whom make up a sizable portion of our customer base), but rather a specific group of people with a specific desire and a barrier to achieving it.

This obviously means our series was never going to get the viewership of Game of Thrones or a Superbowl commercial, but we wanted to create something that would resonate deeply with a specific group of people, rather than worrying too much about reach. In our view, limiting our audience improved the quality of the creative, since it allowed us to assume a certain amount of knowledge and interest from our viewers, rather than requiring us to cater to everyone.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with working with an agency — there are many fantastic creative shops out there who do great work for their clients. However, there are some distinct advantages to taking the creative reins yourself rather than outsourcing.

Our creative team on the project, Chris, Dan and Trevor, have more than 20 collective years of experience working with our product and creating content for our customers. They understand the challenges our customers face in a first-hand, personal way.

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This means they can speak with more authority on the topics that are important to our customers than a creative agency could, since our team has already walked the walk themselves.

Because our content wasn’t available to watch in full on social media, we used social advertising in a different way — to advertise the complete viewing experience, as if it were a product, as opposed to just boosting the presence of the videos themselves.

This meant we were able to set conversion-focused goals and take advantage of video advertising formats like Trueview for Action that allowed us to pay only when users visited our website, as opposed to absentmindedly paying for a YouTube video to play in the background.

Here’s the thing–you can’t email your YouTube Subscribers or Facebook Page Likes. But, you can email people who have subscribed to your content via email collectors in Wistia Channels.

Because our strategy had an owned platform at the core of its promotional plan, we were able to collect many thousands of email addresses over the course of our campaign. This meant we could begin an active conversation with those who watched our content. We could send reminders to those who got only halfway through the series encouraging them to watch more, or even reach out to those who devoured the series in one go to suggest other videos they may find interesting to watch.

And, most importantly in this case, we were able to reach out to everyone who watched the series to ask them to vote for us in the Webby Awards.



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