I DO A LOT of social media and communications consulting with churches and other Christian organizations, and almost everyone with whom I work wants to know how they can create better online video content for their ministry efforts. Some want to use online video to reach new audiences, others want to use online video content to serve the audience they have, but most want to do some combination of the two.
Here are five basic steps to exploring online video content creation.
1. IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS.
If you don't start your video content creation with a right understanding of what you hope to accomplish, you will fail before you begin. No matter how well you execute every other step on this list, if you do not pursue video content creation with a specific, attainable goal in mind, you're just wasting your mon¬ey, effort, and time.
For instance, let's consider Facebook Live video. You could have any number of goals when creating a Facebook Live video, but really it comes down to two: First is immediate audience engagement while live, and second is long-term share value over time. If you're considering Facebook Live, you need to know which of these goals you want to accomplish because you won't be able to accomplish both.
Why? Long Facebook Lives (those more than five minutes or so) encourage audience participation and are live for long enough to be seen by many people. However, long Facebook Lives are not very likely to be shared. Likewise, short Facebook Lives (less than five minutes) are less hospitable to immediate audience participation because they are live for such a short period of timepeople may not see the video in time to join in on the discussion. However, these shorter Facebook Lives have more long-term value because short videos are more likely to be shared.
All of that is to say this: know what you want out of your video content before you go any further in this list of steps. Set your goals and worry about everything else after that.
2. FIND THE RIGHT PLATFORM.
The fact that this step comes after the "Identify your goals" step is intentional because the goals for your video content will dictate, in part, which platform(s) you choose to host your video content.
Look, it is unrealistic for you to consider creating video content for every online video platform right out of the chute. As you begin to create video content, understand that you should be focusing your effort on one or maybe two social media platforms. This is the case no matter what kind of social media content you're creating, but it is especially true for you if you're focusing on video content.
In some cases, the same exact video content can be posted to multiple platforms, but most of the time, video content needs to be tailored to specific platforms. Different video platforms have different cultures. You¬Tube culture is very different from Facebook culture, for instance.
3. USE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT.
When I am coaching someone on creating video content, one of the most common obstacles I encounter is the person I am coaching saying, "I just don't want to spend $10,000 on video equipment, lighting, and personnel to help me make YouTube videos."
This is not a legitimate excuse not to create video content. Why? In the year 2018, it does not require $10,000 worth of equipment and manpower to create video content for the internet. In 1998, sure, maybe production costs are a legitimate obstacle to creating video content. Not today.
Use the right equipment for the platform on which you are creating video content. You may have to spend a little money, you may have to spend a lot, or you can just run with what you have. Regardless, use the right equipment. Don't let bad equipment hinder your creative efforts, and don't let a lack of funds prevent you from creating at all.
4. CREATE ENGAGING CONTENT.
This step is certainly no "secret" ingredient. I bang the drum about the importance of good, engaging content whenever I talk about building an online platform, whether on social media or otherwise.
There simply is no substitute in building an online platform for good content. Trying to build an online platform without good content is like owning a restaurant without having good food. It's not a viable plan. You just rely on tricking people to pay attention to you through marketing and shady schemes.
You have to rely a lot less on social media tricks and strategies if the content you create is interesting to your audience and makes them want to engage. That is not to say that good content erases any need for a social media strategy. Too many people rely on innovative social media strategies to buoy bad content. For instance, Facebook is favoring video content with a lot of extra reach right now, but that doesn't mean you have permission to make bad video just to take advantage of the strategy. Bad video will not benefit from the Facebook algorithm just because it is video. Not to mention it's just bad stewardship of your platform.
Creating engaging content is especially important for the video space. A bad blog post isn't as detrimental as a bad video. A bad blog post can be navigated and eventually read. A bad video just gets ignored entirely. Don't feel like you need to have a professional video setup, but be a good steward of your time and your audience's attention. Create video content that is interesting to your audience and makes them want to engage. In order to do this, you must understand who your audience is and what their needs are.
5. TEST, LEARN, AND ADAPT.
This fifth and final step is one of the more underrated steps of creating content online in general, and it is particularly true when it comes to video content. Too many of us see social media as a one-way platform to post content for people to consume without actually paying attention to how our audience engages with our content or if they respond to our content.
If we are going to steward our online platforms well, we must be willing to not only create content, but also test what works and adapt when the social media circumstances change. It is tempting to find a strategy that works and stick with it longer than is wise. It is difficult to change strategies.
What does it practically look like to test, learn, and adapt online? Let's take the Facebook algorithm changes as an example. In 2014, posting images and blog post links multiple times a day on Facebook would have been an acceptable strategy. Posting native video to Facebook in 2014 was brand new and not used by most people. In 2018, posting native video to Facebook should be the cornerstone of any sound Facebook strategy, and posting the same link multiple times in one day is a major no-no.
The social media landscape is constantly changing. This is incredibly frustrating for many people, and I understand why. But the ever-changing nature of social media is one of the features that keeps me so fascinated with it. If social media never changed, studying it would be pretty boring.
Trying to build an online platform without good content is like owning a restaurant without having good food. It's not a viable plan.