Companies across an array of industries are facing the pain of having to cancel events due to the global pandemic, and because of that, many of them have turned to hosting virtual conferences instead. Here at Wistia, we’re no strangers to the world of virtual conferences. Just a few years ago we held our very own virtual conference called CouchCon, which took the place of our annual in-person conference, WistiaFest.
CouchCon featured 13 marketing experts who shared their experiences using video to solve common marketing challenges. And when it was all said and done, we realized we had a ton of valuable video content to show for it.
Flash forward a few years, and Wistia Channels has made showcasing our CouchCon content even better and more binge-worthy! In this post, we’re giving you our best tips to help you get the most out of your virtual conference’s content using a Wistia Channel. Let’s get into it!
If your business puts the time and effort into creating unique branding for your virtual conference, you can customize your Wistia Channel to reflect those designs. Take a look at our CouchCon Channel for example. We created custom thumbnails, uploaded our CouchCon logo, and stuck to all the colors in the event’s brand guidelines to make sure everything looked consistent. Remember, as with any other Wistia video, you have full control over the thumbnails displayed on each video on your Channel.
Another branding must-have? You can also choose between Light or Dark Mode depending on the look and feel of your conference’s brand (and the content you have displayed). When you’re viewing a project, simply go to Edit > Color > Background to modify this setting. For your banner, instead of a static image, you also have the option to throw in a looping video background! Now you’re looking snazzy.
Creating a promo video to build hype on social media is a great way to get people interested in attending your virtual conference, and it also makes for the perfect trailer on your Channel. By including a trailer, folks will get a feel for what your event will be like before they dive into the rest of your content. You might be wondering how you can create a promo video for a virtual conference that hasn’t happened yet or has already happened but primarily featured webcam footage. One suggestion we have right off the bat is to rely on b-roll from conferences or events you’ve hosted in the past and repurposing that into a new video. Alternatively, you could crowdsource some footage of your guests waving to the camera, doing a silly dance, or playing with their pet! Why not have some fun with it?
When you showcase your content on a Channel, your viewers will only see your content. So, even if they’re tempted to click on a different video and dive right in, skipping the trailer all together, they’re still only being exposed to content on your Channel. Unlike uploading your content to third-party sites like YouTube, there’s no risk of your viewers being distracted by unwanted ads or related content served up by competitors. Once viewers are at the end of a video, they’ll see a little “Up Next” modal pop up, giving them a preview of the next session in the queue. Look how sleek that is!
Clearly adding titles and descriptions to all of the videos on your Channel will give people a taste of what they can expect from each session — before they start watching. Your descriptions can also be used to build a bit of intrigue without giving too many details away.
On our CouchCon Channel, for example, we incorporated our speaker’s names and social media handles on the thumbnails themselves, which freed up some space for us to get creative with the name of each session.
Here’s an example of what that looks like:
Regardless of your creative approach, we recommend sticking to a consistent naming convention across all of the content on your Channel. This will help keep things cohesive and will drive home the “conference” feeling. If you’ve ever been to a conference, you’ve seen agendas packed with enticing titles for workshops and sessions. Keep that in mind when writing the copy for the titles of each episode! Remember, this is a conference just like any other — except it’s virtual.
Depending on the schedule of your virtual conference, you might be covering a bunch of different topics from a number of speakers. One way you can make it easier for people to sift through your content to find what they’re looking for is by creating sections in your Channel with clips you’ve edited down.
For example, at our live-streamed event, Change the Channel, we brought in some special guests to talk about how they’re creating episodic content to build their brand and grow their audiences. Since this content was related, but separate from the big keynote address our co-founders gave, we organized these clips under their own category titled “Learn from the experts.”
Sharing behind-the-scenes footage from the event itself can also make for engaging content your audience might be interested in. Even if it’s just bloopers or videos featuring your team getting set up, people tend to engage with purely entertaining content, so why not give it a whirl?
Another factor to consider when setting up your Channel is which layout will do the best job of showcasing your content. You can choose between a Carousel or Grid format by simply clicking on Layout. Typically, the Carousel format is great when you have a large number of videos within each section of your Channel. This setup lets viewers scroll through all your videos easily. The Grid format, however, shows all of your video thumbnails in one grid, no scrolling necessary. We chose this format for our CouchCon Channel because we didn’t have a ton of videos and sections and wanted to showcase all the content up-front.
Take a peek at what we created for Change the Channel:
We know that pivoting from an in-person conference to a virtual one is challenging, but pulling off a virtual conference can still be super valuable for your audience. Just think of all the evergreen content that’ll come out of it. And with Wistia Channels, you can get the most out of all your hard work to showcase in a binge-worthy format on your site. As they say, there’s a first for everything, and we think this first is worth the investment!
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!
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.
Creative Ways to Use Video for Remote Team Building
Life during a pandemic isn’t something our roadmaps or project plans could’ve ever prepared us for. And while practicing social distancing has led to adjustments in all aspects of work and life, one that is especially obvious to us is the switch to being a fully remote company. As teams around the world make this transition as well, there’s a real need for creativity and resourcefulness when it comes to keeping your company culture thriving (and your employees engaged).
So, how do you maintain meaningful connections with your teammates when your workplace norms have changed so much? Whether it’s keeping in touch with your team on weekly Zoom calls or just saying “Hey, how are you!” with a Soapbox video, communicating via video has become the new norm.
Let’s take a look at some creative examples of how businesses are using video for remote team building. Hopefully, after reading this post, you’ll walk away with some fresh ideas for what you can do to keep the company culture you’ve worked so hard to build thriving.
Getting to know your teammates
Take a look at our friends at Help Scout, for example. It’s clear from their “office” culture success, that we can learn a lot from them when it comes to working remotely. Their team consists of about 60 people — 75% of whom work remotely. Help Scout didn’t actually start out remote, but hiring for talent and culture fit has helped steer them in that direction. Finding the right folks for the job was always a priority over proximity, so they decided to bake remote culture into how their company was structured from the beginning.
“Finding the right folks for the job was always a priority over proximity, so Help Scout decided to bake remote culture into how their company was structured from the beginning.”
Today, they use video in all aspects of their business. From making weekly all-hands into a “Monday video party” to Friday Fika coffee chats, team members have ways to easily connect over video during the workweek. But, of course, there’s more to life than just the workweek.
Inspired by MTV Cribs and a realization that most of her remote team would never see where everyone else in the company lives and works, Leah Knobler of the People Ops team started an “At Home With Help Scout” series.
With this series in place, team members were able to show off a bit of their home life while learning some fun facts about other members of their team. Whether someone built their own custom desk, or they happen to co-work with chickens, it’s the little details that really help people feel connected.
Keepings folks engaged and excited
Here at Wistia, our company-wide meetings like Show & Tell (now attended on Zoom) are hosted by a different team member who leads an engaging game throughout the meeting. This small lift keeps folks entertained through what might have been an easy opportunity to lose focus. The first time we experimented with this, we played a game called “Where in the World is Lenny?” Throughout the game, we were led on an extravagant scavenger hunt à la “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego,” and based on the reviews, it’s safe to say it was a hit!
In the end, we wound up with this gem, which is sure to keep us laughing for a while.
Now, you might not have an office dog that also doubles as a world traveler, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still engage your team in a similar way. Other ideas here include house tours, or videos of pets and kids at home, to name a few. Not only did we get to learn about the different projects and initiatives our teammates were working on, but we also had a lot of fun all together. Which, these days, is something that we’re not taking for granted.
Introducing new hires to the team
Team members at Animalz, a content marketing agency, are also encouraged to make a short intro video when they join the team to help people get to know them better. Share a fun fact, show off your favorite pet, or give a tour of your local neighborhood — these videos showcase the unique personalities of every team member.
As their remote team grew, one thing never changed — the emphasis on their core values. Your values don’t have to be compromised just because your team isn’t structured “traditionally.” Video helps you find creative ways to build your team without location constraints.
“Video helps you find creative ways to build your team without location constraints.”
Similarly, when we bring on a new hire here at Wistia, making an introductory Soapbox video is baked into their onboarding. We do this even though we’re an in-person-first team because we understand it can feel overwhelming or inauthentic to have the same first conversation with 100 people. So, the Soapbox intro gives us an opportunity to relate to folks and inspire unique conversations from the get-go.
Here’s an example from Brock, a designer who started at Wistia a few days before the office shut down:
Nowadays though, our Soapbox intros have proven to be even more helpful when introducing new teammates. Since we can’t be in the office together, it’s a really fun way to get to know new folks.
Of course, we can’t talk about using video to maintain a thriving remote culture without mentioning how we use it to have some fun just for the sake of having fun. After all, studies show that workplace fun leads to improved communication and increased job productivity. Not only that, but some of the best parts of office-life are the quick conversations we have in passing or the impromptu discussions in the kitchen about the latest show we’re all binge-watching.
And now more than ever, it’s so important that we keep those casual, yet vital, interactions up. Thankfully, video makes it easy to do so. Every week we hold various “social Zooms,” hosted by volunteers from the team. These social Zooms have included a dance party led by our VP of Product’s daughter, solving the New York Times’ crossword puzzle, group Peloton rides (any indoor bike works though), and a full-on debrief of Tiger King, complete with a PowerPoint presentation and discussion questions.
Whatever your team activities end up being, make sure to stay mindful of where folks are at. Host activities that are inclusive and give people a variety of ways to participate. Maybe parents could use a social zoom to keep their kids entertained for a little bit during the work-day, or maybe they just really miss the social aspect of working out.
Whatever it is, the idea here is to bring back a little bit of the normalcy everyday life used to have. It might seem inconsequential, but clearing some mind space with stress-free activities is key to maintaining a happy and unified team, especially in these times.
“It might seem inconsequential, but clearing some mind space with stress-free activities is key to maintaining a happy and unified team, especially in these times.”
When it comes to using video, it doesn’t matter if your company is big or small, has been around for a while, or is just getting started. Video is a great way to help you communicate and build culture for remote workers. Here are some helpful suggestions to get started!
- Encourage your teammates to share their skills. This could be anything from coding, to cooking lessons, or even how to make some impressive origami. Create a community that values sharing knowledge by showing your teammates your unique skills. And maybe even inspire others to learn something new!
- Ask new hires to make an introduction video. This helps people get to know new members of the team and shows that you care about your team members beyond the work they contribute.
- Have your team members share their favorite quarantine life-hacks in a video. Who’s mastered the art of sourdough baking? Or have they figured out the best way to make a standing desk with pots and pans? These tips could end up being genuinely helpful and allow your team to feel more connected!
- Talk “in-person” whenever possible. Hop on a Zoom for conversations that might have just been in Slack if you were in the office. It might add a little time to the conversation, but the digital face-to-face conversation will be worth it.
- How ProfitWell Built and Launched a Media Network with 7 Binge-Worthy Shows
- 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
- Why “Saturday Night Live’s” First-Ever Remote Episode Was Such a Success