Slow Clap’s 2023 Year in Review: A Year in the Fast Lane

As Slow Clap wraps up its first decade in business (we turned nine this past summer,) we look back and reflect on all the amazing things we’ve learned, and just how much things have changed… and how fast! Take a look at our year condensed into one minute:
 

2023 by the Numbers

Speaking of AI, we had yet another huge project for AI startup Imbue to announce their $200MM fundraising round, and to help with their hypergrowth hiring spree. You can see the Imbue brand story video we made here. It’s a really interesting blend of documentary storytelling and hand-drawn illustrations, animated to bring the CEO’s anecdotes to life.

August 2023


We had another blowout party for Slow Clap’s ninth birthday party in August. This is our favorite night of the year, as we get to celebrate all the big wins that we rarely have time to celebrate as they’re happening (on to the next deadline!) with our team, clients, and collaborators. 

We also welcomed Kiante Marron to the team as a camera and post-production assistant. Kiante’s Gen Z, everything-is-content mindset has been a great refresh to our creaky old Millennial brains!


September 2023


In September, our producer Katy went on maternity leave (more about that next year!), and we welcomed a new producer to the team, Sarah Nathan. Similar to Katy, Sarah brings a documentary and journalist eye to Slow Clap’s body of work, having formerly worked at AJ+, ESPN, as well as Washington State University.

Our team traveled to Orange County to produce this customer story video for a new client,  InterPayments, as well as another virtual event video for our longtime client, Ironclad, in Dallas,TX.


October 2023


In October, we were thrilled to receive the Fast 100 award from the San Francisco Business Times, as one of the 100 fastest growing private companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. And on top of that, we were ranked #23.

We also continued our longtime partnership with the nonprofit Asian Law Caucus, producing three videos for their 2023 gala. We’ve produced these stories for ALC every year since our founding.


November 2023

In November, we produced multiple equity training modules for our partners at The National Equity Project (NEP). We’re happy to continuously support this non-profit and to create content that educates and supports DEIB work in the community. The Slow Clap team had a great 4-day shoot at the NEP office in downtown Oakland and the collaboration was seamless.

On a side note, we got another Slow Clap baby on the way! Our founder, Dan, left for paternity leave in mid-November. Wish him congratulations on his baby girl!


December 2023


Wrapping up this year, we were all hands on deck (or all legos on deck) for our Slow Clap holiday card video. We couldn’t resist the opportunity to live our childhood LEGO® dreams. When it came time to decide on a theme for our annual card, we were inspired by 90’s toy commercials. As it was also our first take on stop-motion animation, we were glad to have Kiante lead the way. Check it out here if you haven’t already.

Looking ahead to 2024, we’re excited to take on new adventures with our amazing team and partners.

Cheers,

The Slow Clap Team

  • 59 video projects completed for our clients, from product launches to client success stories to brand stories and branded content
  • 14 clients, including cause-based non-profits like Asian Law Caucus, startups like Imbue and The Yield, and Fortune 500 companies like eBay and Apple
  • 23rd fastest-growing company in the Bay Area, according to the SF Business Times’ Fast 100 list
  • 10+ different cities filmed including New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, and (of course) San Francisco & Oakland 
  • 100+ videos delivered; from long-form virtual event videos to 15-second social media videos
  • 100% NPS (net promoter score) on Clutch
  • 9 Industry Awards
  • 2 new team members
  • 2 Slow Clap babies
  • 1 virtual production shot on an LED volume

2023 by Month

January 2023


We got 2023 started on a light note, making a series of social media video skits for startup Ironclad. The videos were produced in a DIY style to feel more like organic social content, and featured the lawyer influencer (yes, those exist,) Alex Su making fun of all things business contracts.


February 2023

2023 was year nine of our continuing relationship with healthcare insurance company Blue Shield of California. One highlight was continuing our series of ERG (employee resource group) video profiles. In each mini-documentary, we tell the powerful stories of employees who have gone through their careers facing adversity because of who they are. In February, we filmed interviews for the Black Employee Network, Elevating Women, and the Unidos (Latinx) ERG. All videos have since been released. 


March 2023

In March, the Slow Clap team learned about the fascinating world of low and moderate income housing development and lending as we produced a video about the Golden State Acquisition Fund (aka GSAF). GSAF is an innovative fund created by the State of California and administered by Low Income Investment Fund (aka LIIF) that, to date, has been responsible for more than 10,000 new units of affordable housing.


April 2023


In April 2023, we got a repeat of April 2022. We love when our clients come back for more, and the San Francisco Treasurer did just that when we produced this video about the Kindergarten to College (K2C) program’s success. It gives us a chance to be part of something bigger, something that affects our community. This video features four students in San Francisco schools that have taken advantage of the program to save for college throughout their entire schooling, starting in Kindergarten.


May 2023


Slow Clap produced a fully-virtual production from start to finish for the first time. For those who don’t know, a “virtual production” is a new technique of producing video content that was first developed by Industrial Light and Magic for The Mandalorian. In May, we wrapped and delivered this product launch video for Mindful.

Mindful was releasing an entirely new UI for their product, with design that was accessible and “kind by design.” And to announce it, they reached out to us to build an entire virtual world from scratch. We built the world in Unreal Engine, rigged it on the large volume LED wall with Disguise, and used active camera tracking to bring the whole thing to life. This is a technology that will become standard industry practice in the near future, and the Slow Clap team is so excited to get to be on the bleeding edge of it. Check out a behind-the-scenes video about the making of this.


June 2023


2023 was the year of AI… from ChatGPT to labor strikes to deep fakes to AI Drake songs. 2023 was the year of AI for Slow Clap as well. We adopted some amazing AI tools like Descript for our workflow, and we got to produce video projects for some leading AI companies, like Sana, a leader in the TechEd space. Here, you can see Sana’s CEO talking with the CEO of Nvidia, which is now the sixth-largest company in the world due to its all-in play on AI hardware.


July 2023

Speaking of AI, we had yet another huge project for AI startup Imbue to announce their $200MM fundraising round, and to help with their hypergrowth hiring spree. You can see the Imbue brand story video we made here. It’s a really interesting blend of documentary storytelling and hand-drawn illustrations, animated to bring the CEO’s anecdotes to life.

August 2023


We had another blowout party for Slow Clap’s ninth birthday party in August. This is our favorite night of the year, as we get to celebrate all the big wins that we rarely have time to celebrate as they’re happening (on to the next deadline!) with our team, clients, and collaborators. 

We also welcomed Kiante Marron to the team as a camera and post-production assistant. Kiante’s Gen Z, everything-is-content mindset has been a great refresh to our creaky old Millennial brains!


September 2023


In September, our producer Katy went on maternity leave (more about that next year!), and we welcomed a new producer to the team, Sarah Nathan. Similar to Katy, Sarah brings a documentary and journalist eye to Slow Clap’s body of work, having formerly worked at AJ+, ESPN, as well as Washington State University.

Our team traveled to Orange County to produce this customer story video for a new client,  InterPayments, as well as another virtual event video for our longtime client, Ironclad, in Dallas,TX.


October 2023


In October, we were thrilled to receive the Fast 100 award from the San Francisco Business Times, as one of the 100 fastest growing private companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. And on top of that, we were ranked #23.

We also continued our longtime partnership with the nonprofit Asian Law Caucus, producing three videos for their 2023 gala. We’ve produced these stories for ALC every year since our founding.


November 2023

In November, we produced multiple equity training modules for our partners at The National Equity Project (NEP). We’re happy to continuously support this non-profit and to create content that educates and supports DEIB work in the community. The Slow Clap team had a great 4-day shoot at the NEP office in downtown Oakland and the collaboration was seamless.

On a side note, we got another Slow Clap baby on the way! Our founder, Dan, left for paternity leave in mid-November. Wish him congratulations on his baby girl!


December 2023


Wrapping up this year, we were all hands on deck (or all legos on deck) for our Slow Clap holiday card video. We couldn’t resist the opportunity to live our childhood LEGO® dreams. When it came time to decide on a theme for our annual card, we were inspired by 90’s toy commercials. As it was also our first take on stop-motion animation, we were glad to have Kiante lead the way. Check it out here if you haven’t already.

Looking ahead to 2024, we’re excited to take on new adventures with our amazing team and partners.

Cheers,

The Slow Clap Team

Tips for Great Video Production at any Budget

“Every budget tells a story. If you want a good ending, you have to plan and make smart choices along the way.” – Some wise person 

According to a recent report by HubSpot, 54% of consumers claim they want to see more video content from their favorite brands, which is no surprise with video marketing being at an all-time high. A whopping 91% of businesses use video as a primary marketing tool. What’s more, 92% of video marketers say that their video has given them a positive return on their investment. In other words— online video consumption isn’t just #trending, it’s profitable!

Yet many businesses may not have the kind of video marketing budget it takes to make a show-stopping blockbuster.

In this blog, we’ll go over how to produce high-quality and engaging video content without going broke. Here are some insider tips on how to create compelling videos that will yield results— regardless of your budget.

Plan Meticulously 

There’s a lot that goes into a successful shoot, so working with like, say… Slow Clap means having a professional guiding hand to lay all this out with you. Yet big budget or not, planning is your best friend when it comes to video production— because every minute costs money.  

It helps to plan out as much as possible of what it is that you hope to achieve with your video in advance. Start with a project brief for the video where you identify your target audience, key marketing messages, goals, and a call to action. From there, you could either pass the brief over to a few video agencies and compare prices, or, if that’s not quite in budget, you can handle the creative in-house.

From a detailed script to a storyboard of your scenes, having the groundwork laid out minimizes your overall video shooting time and ensures maximum efficiency of your resources. 

 

Embrace Stock Footage and Archival Media

Stock footage is a great way to increase your overall production value and fill gaps in your narrative.

As an alternative to stock footage, consider using your company’s archival images and videos that could be repurposed for your video. Does your company already have an archival library of past video projects or photos? If so, repurpose it!

Another option is personal photos and videos. While this depends on the story that you’re telling, it can be a budget-friendly option to get your story across. 

Take this video, which relied almost entirely on personal images, archival footage, and stock footage. It’s an example of how it’s possible to make an elegant, engaging, and effective video without lots of additional filming days for b-roll. 

https://slowclap.com/work/ucsf-diabetes-academy-joanne-kagle/

It’s important to note that while we managed to tell a story, the con is that the quality of the images don’t match across the entire video. Ideally, if you have the time and budget, shooting b-roll promises consistent high-quality video. 

 

Limit Filming Locations

When mapping out the idea for your story, try to create a storyline that doesn’t require filming in various locations, especially if you only have one day of production budgeted. Filming in multiple locations means more time lost to travel and equipment setup. 

The right video production agency can help you choose a versatile location that can be made to look like various places.  By using different angles and backdrops, a smart video producer can create the illusion that your video was filmed in various locations without the hassle of it, ultimately saving time and money.

Pro-Tip: 

To save on location fees like renting a studio, consider shooting at your own office. If you’re creating a corporate video or a video specifically about your company, using your own office space means no need to rent furniture or props, you’ve got a ready-made set! Alternatively, you could even consider shooting in someone’s home if it’s appropriate for your video.
 

Here’s a great example of how Slow Clap was able to turn their client’s office into a studio with a backdrop. This reduces the hassle and cost of renting a studio space and the film team comes to you!


 

https://slowclap.com/work/imbue-brand-story/

Emphasize Content Over Aesthetics 

While a highly curated, scripted, and glossy approach can look great, it’s the content that truly draws viewers in. In other words, an engaging story that’s well presented can overshadow any holes in your budget. By creating a captivating narrative that connects with your audience, your viewers won’t even notice less polished visuals and production values.

Focus on presenting a story that resonates with your viewers and encourages them to watch until the end— not just because it has special effects or snazzy visuals, but because it facilitates meaningful engagement and stirs emotions. Viewers are more likely to remember, share, and act on videos that make them feel something, and evoking feeling is totally possible on any budget.

That’s where Slow Clap shines; we specialize in authentic storytelling that strikes an emotional chord with viewers.

Here’s a compelling example of authentic storytelling in a video by Slow Clap and Blue Shield of California with a simple, one-day shoot.

 

https://slowclap.com/work/joses-story/

Never Underestimate the Power of Post-Production

What if we were to tell you that you could create a video without needing to film at all? You can create a perfectly engaging video with stock footage, motion graphic text, animation and a voice over. Here are some examples of videos that didn’t require any shoot days, yet still tell a good story.

 

 

 

 

https://slowclap.com/work/lattice-the-era-of-people-success/

 

 

 

 

https://slowclap.com/work/workato-the-new-era-of-automation/

 

 

 

 

https://slowclap.com/work/oaaa-awards-kick-off/

 

Turn Budget Constraints Into Creative Triumphs

Obviously, a higher budget yields higher production value. To give you a better idea, in Slow Clap’s case, we filmed a virtual event over three days using intricate props, an LED video wall, and Unreal Engine, creating realistic virtual backgrounds for Mindful, a cloud-based contact center. 

 

Kind by Design: A Special Mindful Event

Take a look at the behind the scenes of this production below.

Needless to say, this video was not created with a modest budget. However, that’s not to say that a low budget means you have to skimp on quality. It’s all about getting creative with your storytelling and optimizing your resources.  

A great example of this principle is the film Searching (2018), a thriller that had a small budget of only $880,000, but managed to gross over $75 million worldwide. The entire movie was shot from the perspective of computer and smartphone screens, which was a fresh and unique approach to storytelling. It’s a testament to the power of creativity and proving that a modest budget doesn’t have to mean modest results. 

And while your tech company or corporate marketing strategy may not necessarily be looking to make a low-budget thriller film, you get the idea.

Here at Slow Clap, we’re committed to creating authentic stores that captivate. We’re deeply rooted in the belief that genuine storytelling is the backbone of every outstanding video—not necessarily production value.

In a world where audiences have no shortage of brands to choose from, let us help make your brand the obvious choice.  From explainer videos, to testimonials, to motion graphics, we’re here to tell your brand’s story. 

Are you ready to see how Slow Clap can help you create high quality and engaging video content regardless of your budget? Get in touch today.

 

Further reading:

 Why Your Company Needs Branded Content

 Video Trends Proven to Work for Your 2023 Marketing Strategy

 How to Maximize Views for Your Video Content

 These Five Case-Study Videos Earn Brand Recognition

The History of San Francisco’s Waterfront

In 2018, the City & County of San Francisco passed a proposition to reinforce the Seawall, a barrier that protects the City’s waterfront from flooding. The Seawall is over 100 years old and is in desperate need of reinforcements to protect it from earthquakes and sea level rising. As part of the project’s overall budget, Slow Clap was selected by the Port of San Francisco to produce videos on an as-needed basis. The Port wanted to tell San Francisco’s rich waterfront history as a reminder of how much has evolved over the years to adapt to a changing city, and to get residents ready for another big period of change. The Seawall’s upgrades are likely to span decades and cost taxpayers billions.

“Working with the Port and Civic Edge for four years on this contract has been amazing. It’s so rare that you get to form such a deep working relationship, as the Port’s exclusive video content producer, and get to help define the story of a government agency.”


– Daniel Lichtenberg, Creative Director, Slow Clap

Approach

The Port wanted to tell the history of San Francisco’s waterfront in just a few short minutes, leaving local residents with a strong sense of history and a greater understanding of what’s at stake if we don’t adapt fast enough. In order to quickly communicate this, Slow Clap thought the best course of action would be to find and license archival photographs from the past 100+ years, and create a “timelapse” wherein our archival photos are juxtaposed with video footage shot in the present. If we were to find the right photos that lined up with the perfectly filmed scenes from today, this would clearly and succinctly communicate how much has changed, and how much of San Francisco’s waterfront is on land that formerly was under water.

“We wanted to give comfort to San Franciscans with the message that things are always changing and that’s the magic of the waterfront – we get to weigh in the direction that we want to go.”
– Amber Shipley, Managing Partner, Civic Edge

Pier 7 and the Embarcadero Freeway (1970)

Pier 7 and the Embarcadero Freeway, 1970Pier 7 and the Transamerica Building 2020

Pier 7 and the Transamerica Building, 2020

 

Execution

Over the course of almost a year, Slow Clap dug deep into the archives and found the perfect archival photographs to contrast with images of today. This included photographs from the gold rush, the 1906 earthquake, the Seawall’s construction in the 1910s, Fisherman’s Wharf in the 1950s, MLB footage from the 1990s, and numerous other photos. What isn’t reflected in the final video, though, is that our team pulled several hundred archival photos in order to whittle it down to the perfect photos and spent months tracking them down and licensing them.

“We really wanted to capture the significance, beauty, and transformation of the waterfront. Finding the most compelling photos through research and proper licensing of each image was crucial.”


– Nicole B Wilson, Associate Producer, Slow Clap Productions

Challenges

Each photo had to match perfectly with a compelling present-day scene. We identified the exact location where each archival photo was shot, scouted the street corners first on Google Earth to make sure the contrast from past to present was compelling, and then in person to get the perfect camera match, procured permits for filming, and then used semi-transparent print-outs of the photos to get an exact match during filming.

Behind the Scenes SF Port

Behind the Scenes at SF Port, 2020

Result

The final video transitions from past to present day with a seamless, surprising, and impactful crossfade that immediately communicates to our audience the changes along the waterfront. An informative narration and motion graphics further reinforce the past to the present theme. Viewers are left with a clear picture of what’s at stake as the Port of San Francisco prepares for the future of our waterfront, with the Seawall project and beyond.

This video first premiered at the 2020 Oceans Film Festival in San Francisco, with plans to launch on the Port of San Francisco’s YouTube and Facebook pages. In the meantime, the Port has used the video at numerous community engagement events. In 2023, Slow Clap won the Gold Telly in Branded Content for Government Relations.

 “We love working with the Slow Clap team and in all my experiences, there is always so much creativity. I admire their ability to polish and execute a creative idea.”
– Amber Shipley, Managing Partner, Civic Edge

The History of the San Francisco Waterfront

Meet Slow Clap’s Founder & Creative Director: Dan Lichtenberg

Get to know Dan a bit better with our quick Q&A interview.

Introduce yourself!

Hi, I’m Dan, and I’m the founder and creative director of Slow Clap.

What’s your role? What made you gravitate towards this craft?

I wear a lot of hats. Which I think is a theme of my career. I like to consider myself a “generalist” (as opposed to a “specialist”) and I also always tell the team that they too should think of themselves as generalists (albeit, with one or two specialties where they hold deep knowledge).

I suppose my formal roles are Executive Producer and Creative Director. I love overseeing the creative process, and guiding a group of creative folks to create something amazing. But I also love the logistics and budgetary side of things. In our field, these problem-solving tasks are sometimes just as creative as the “creative” side of things!

What’s your prior experience? What made you interested in founding Slow Clap as a company?

My “craft” background is in editing and post-production. Which I think is a good foundational skill set to have in video, in terms of storytelling and understanding what’s possible. But what editing doesn’t teach you is how to effectively communicate and collaborate with a diverse group of stakeholders and partners to bring a vision to life. I guess what led me out of editing and into the world of production was the constant thought in my head of “why didn’t they get this shot?” and “what on earth were they thinking?” And can I tell you, after a decade in production, I feel a lot more humble about it. Nothing ever goes as planned on set, and it’s always easier in hindsight. Which… again… is part of the fun of production! If you can’t handle uncertainty, don’t bother applying.  

Jumping into production was one thing. Founding a company was a whole nother thing. Slow Clap started as a side project with my friend Katy Montgomery. We made a few short films and passion projects. Then I decided to leave my job and try to do Slow Clap as a real business thing.

At my old company, which was also a boutique production company like Slow Clap, we made lots of videos for tech companies, also like Slow Clap. But the work we made tended to be a bit more geared towards lucrative projects. Which, don’t get me wrong, is great, and smart business. But I wanted more out of my job. I wanted to feel like the work I was producing was making an impact, and I wanted the opportunity to tell stories that otherwise might not be told. So with Slow Clap, we’ve made it a priority since day one to always work with nonprofit clients at below-market rates (and, depending on our calendars, often well below market rates). You can see many of the videos we’ve made for Asian Law Caucus, SFILEN, the San Francisco Foundation, Artsy, and more to see some of our cause-based projects.

To me, the amazing part about getting to tell these stories is not just being able to contribute to social justice causes, or telling amazing, creative stories. It’s getting to see my team in action, working on these videos, and being so proud of these projects after we complete them. That is what Slow Clap is all about, coming together around a joint cause. And, yeah, also, making some lucrative tech videos to make sure we stay afloat!

Favorite Film? What am I watching?

I’m not really one for favorites. I tend to think something is good, bad, or really good. 

Recently, I’ve seen examples of all three. Good: Black Bird. Bad: Everything’s Trash. Really Good: Luce. Oh, and actually recently I watched something really bad: You People. Lauren London needs to quit acting. Jonah Hill needs to reassess what the hell he’s doing with his life.

Any Hobbies?

My hobbies for the last eight years have mostly just been my business… Before that, I wrote a lot. I even have a book of poetry published, as well as some poems and short stories in various journals.

These days, I’ve been getting back into tennis, which is great!

But mostly, I just enjoy hanging out with my wife, Rahel, and two dogs, Salty and Peppa.

Lastly, favorite project you’ve worked on?

I’ve been part of pretty much every Slow Clap project for the past eight years, and there’s too many to pick just one.

I will point to a few that I think best summarizes and achieves what I think we do best at Slow Clap, which is to tell authentic stories for brands and causes in a way that entertains and elicits an emotional response.

GitHub Future Builders – Optikey: This was part of a multi-video series about “Future Builders” we produced for GitHub. It documents some of the folks who are “building the future” using GitHub. I think these videos really were the culmination of a lot of hard work we did over the first four years of the company. I like to think of them as “the first time we actually got paid to do what we love to do.” These videos are similar to many of the stories we got to tell for our nonprofit clients, but we got to do it with a healthy budget and nice production values.

Built in Slack: Another great intersection of cause-based work with a client’s agenda at the center of the story. We got to document several nonprofit grassroots movements that were using Slack to make an impact during the pandemic. I love telling these stories about changemakers.

Adobe – Jessica Chou Spotlight: I’ve always loved telling stories about artists. We’ve done this for many years pro bono. But this video is probably the first time we were hired by a brand to tell an artist’s story. Another example of the powerful documentary-style storytelling Slow Clap excels at.

Meet Slow Clap’s Post-Production and Camera Manager: Jake Richard

Get to know Jake a bit better with our quick Q&A interview.

Introduce yourself!

Hi! My name is Jake Richard. I grew up bouncing around from Southern California to the Bay Area and in between but decided to settle in the Bay. I have attended classes at the Academy of Art and City College of San Francisco.

What’s your role? What made you gravitate towards this craft?

I am the Post-Production and Camera Manager which means that I am responsible for all of the footage and projects we take on, making sure it is safely ingested on our systems and that it is prepped and ready for an editor to begin work. I also manage the company’s equipment making sure that it all remains in working order and is ready to use on the next shoot. I always had a love for filmmaking and wanted to get a deeper understanding of the full processes it takes to make something great. 

What’s your prior experience? What made you interested in joining Slow Clap?

I started at Slow Clap as a production assistant with no experience and did my best to work my way up. My main goal was to learn something new every day when I started to work here, and I couldn’t imagine where it has led me to today. My interest in Slow Clap was always how authentic and human the approach to storytelling was. 

Favorite Film? What am I watching?

It’s always so hard to pick a favorite film, but a couple of my favorites from childhood are Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and John Carpenter’s The Thing. Currently, I am watching the Sopranos for the first time. 

Any Hobbies?

I am a fan of going to the movies and I try to stay up to date on the latest shows. I also enjoy relaxing with my friends and playing video games. Most of the time I can be found training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in my off time. I have been doing it for almost 8 years and have recently received my brown belt.  

Lastly, favorite project you’ve worked on?

This is hard because I love all of our videos. Some of my favorite projects I have worked on are the Building the Future videos we did for Github which was one large scripted video and 3 doc-style videos. The scripted video was the first big production I had worked on, and the doc-style videos were all fun to travel and work for. Others include the Juror Orientation video which I think has the biggest audience (albeit a captive one) of any video I have worked on and Earl’s Story for Blue Shield which was one of the first projects I had worked on. Most recently, I am really proud of how the Freemark Abbey videos turned out for Jackson Family Wines which we have already won a few awards for. 

Video Trends Proven to Work for Your 2023 Marketing Strategy

At Slow Clap HQ, we’re (obviously) always trying to deliver the best content for our clients so that more audiences clap…more…slowly. But it’s deeper than that— we want to inspire viewers to act, whether that be sharing, subscribing, or signing up. In order to do that, we need to pay attention to more than just beauty shots and captivating storylines. We need to think strategy, we need to think trends— we need to be ahead of the curve.

And it’s quite a big curve to get ahead of. Video is, quite simply, exploding:

In 2022, 82% of all internet traffic was video downloads and streams.

Nearly 700,000 hours of video are streamed on Youtube each minute.

According to Vimeo, video is preferred by 80% of people over written text.

And despite the global economy taking a hit, 64% of marketers expect their video budgets to increase in 2023.

So here’s our two cents on what’s coming up in the industry and what to look out for:

BE A SHORT KING – Now this isn’t necessarily groundbreaking news that short videos can be more successful than longer ones. Maintaining audience engagement is one of the hardest things to do when making a video, so keeping a piece of content short and sweet can be instrumental in achieving it. As a video production company in San Francisco, we’ve known this for a long time and there are ever-more data to prove it:

Source: Hootsuite

Leveraging the power of short-form content is essential to any video marketing strategy. As long as it stays true to your brand, there’s no reason to shy away from it. It doesn’t have to be all about TikTok, but keeping your videos succinct and to the point will increase messaging and access to your audience.

It’s important to note, however, that this is not a blanket rule, and the length of a video should also be discussed in the context of the platform it’s going out on.

BE HUMAN –  In a nutshell, successful videos are informative but also relatable. A recent study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute found that half of the respondents create videos to raise brand awareness and nearly 40% said one of their primary goals was also to create a human connection. There are multiple ways to do this— you can use real employees or customers over hired talent or delve into the world of UGC (user-generated content):

Not only do user-generated videos provide more value in terms of authenticity, but they also drive higher engagement and are often a good way to save time and money.

STRATEGIZE THIS – Creating content is all well and good, but if you don’t have a strategy to lead it out into the stratosphere and support it while it’s there, then you might as well stand on a hill and watch it roll down. 

  • Setting a video strategy is essential to provide direction and focus for your videos. If you publish a video without a strategy, and it doesn’t get seen, that’s not the fault of the video—  it’s the fault of your strategy.
  • Put your money behind the videos.

And that’s it! Good luck with all your video marketing dreams for 2023.

Slow Clap’s 2022 Year in Review: A Bananas Year for Video Content

As the Slow Clap team gets ready for 2023 (wow, we never thought we’d make it but here we are), we took some time to reflect on 2022, the busiest, craziest, most fun year in our company’s eight year history of making videos. Take a look at our year condensed into one minute:


2022 by the Numbers

  • 58 video projects completed for our clients, from virtual event videos to commercials, explainers and educational videos
  • 29 clients, including cause-based non-profits like Public Advocates and Asian Law Caucus, startups like Lattice and Ironclad, and Fortune 500 companies like eBay
  • 10+ different cities filmed including Palm Beach, Dallas, Los Angeles, Riverside, Napa, Santa Barbara, Monterey, and (of course) San Francisco & Oakland 
  • 100+ videos delivered from long-form virtual event videos to 15 second social media videos
  • More than 500 minutes of video content produced
  • 5 million views (and counting)
  • 100% NPS (net promoter score) on Clutch
  • 9 Industry Awards


2022 by Month

January 2022

Our first assignment of the year got us out of the office, and into the water. We partnered with the Port of San Francisco, a longtime client of ours, to produce a video highlighting the fisherpeople of Fisherman’s Wharf, who recently started selling live crabs right off their boat. Tourists and locals alike really enjoyed gaining access to the “working Port,” and getting to talk directly to the folks that catch the crabs. It’s like an open air farmers’ market on the wharf.


February 2022

Our longtime client Ironclad tapped us for yet another virtual event production (the first of three in 2022). Last time we worked with them, we got to film at the Port of Oakland on a tugboat. We figured that was hard to beat. But we beat it in February by filming in a hundreds-year-old redwood forest in Marin. To capture the epic scale, we worked with a massive jib arm, and some heavy duty lighting. Always fun to pull out the big guns.


March 2022

Glide is one of the coolest clients you could think up. Their no-code platform lets anyone turn spreadsheets into mobile apps, whether or not you’ve ever seen a line of code. How cool is that?

We’ve been lucky enough to partner with them to tell their customer success stories for several years. This time around, we got to go big, featuring the PGA, who used Glide to develop apps for the Ryder Cup. We captured interviews at PGA’s Texas and Florida HQs, plus even got to film some product shots and reenactments at our Oakland studio. But most importantly, this customer story video is surprising and entertaining.

Our client at Glide said it best: Their team doesn’t create videos that are off the shelf. They create something that engages the viewer emotionally.


April 2022

We love partnering with our government clients like the San Francisco Treasurer. Telling stories of huge impact, like the Kindergarten to College (K2C) program’s success, gives us a chance to be part of something bigger, something that affects our community. The video we produced does just that, featuring stories of kids and parents who have taken advantage of the K2C program to save for college.


May 2022

After two years spent researching, writing, filming, and editing, in May we completed the new Juror Orientation video for the State of California. Our client had this to say about the collaboration: The team was adaptable, flexible, innovative, creative, and open to new ideas and solutions.

This educational video is seen by nine million jurors a year, and is used as the primary tool to make sure we have an educated jury of our peers. The video has a shelf life of ten to twenty years. At 100+ million views, that’s blockbuster status baby!

We were also excited to simultaneously launch a documentary about the history of Jury Service as a companion piece to the orientation video. We had the amazing challenge of condensing several hundred years of history into ten minutes, and we got to learn how essential juries are to a healthy democracy.


June 2022

Another huge production challenge landed in our laps with Ironclad’s summer virtual event video. Ironclad has always been thinking outside the box for virtual events, but this was on a whole nother level. The theme was 80’s high school in the style of John Hughes films like Breakfast Club and 16 Candles. So we scoured thrift stores and local area high schools to put together an authentic expression of this fun theme. We rented a high school that hasn’t been updated since the 70’s, put together a classic gymnasium school dance scene, rented a 1980’s Porsche, and so much more. Our production design team had a blast with the 80’s period pieces. There’s enough in there to watch this video 10 times before you catch all the easter eggs.


July 2022

We celebrated Slow Clap’s eight year birthday party in a big way at the Alice Collective in downtown Oakland. We’ve celebrated every Slow Clap birthday with a party, inviting our clients, our team, our collaborators, and their loved ones to celebrate another year of amazing video projects, and connect over some banging food and drink. 2022 was no exception.


August 2022

In August, Katy Bailes joined the team as a producer, to help lead our increasingly complex and large body of work. Katy came from the Economist’s documentary films division before joining Slow Clap, and brings her top notch storytelling skills and can-do attitude to all our projects. She’s been a huge asset to the team, and to our clients, in the short time she’s been here.

We also added Keely Liles to the team as a camera and post-production assistant. Keely brings her fresh ideas and fun personality to all of our projects.


September 2022

The Slow Clap team tackled a new challenge in 2022, partnering with San Francisco Bay Area regional retail chain Beck’s Shoes to create a brand story video about their unique approach to retail. Shoe cinematography is unlike any other challenge. These are fashion items that move at ground level. But of course, the most important thing is the look on a customer’s face when they find that perfect fit, which is right up our alley.


October 2022

We always reserve a portion of our calendars to partner with cause-based organizations, offering below market rates. This year, we partnered with Public Advocates, one of the first public interest law firms in America, to produce this short documentary about their 50 year history. We worked with the folks at PA for the entire year to go through decades of archival material and film several new interviews. In the end, we produced a brand film that shows how Public Advocates “makes rights real.”


In addition, after three years of development and pandemic delays, we finished a five-part documentary brand film series for the iconic Napa Valley winery Freemark Abbey. From being founded by a woman in the 1880’s, to winning top prizes at the Judgement of Paris, Freemark Abbey has been redefining what great is since its founding. It was fascinating and exciting to get to be the team to bring this story to life.


November 2022

Another one of our cause-based clients is Asian Law Caucus, who we’ve been partnering with for eight years. In fact, they were our very first client!


This year, we helped them celebrate their 50th anniversary by producing several videos. Our favorite among them was this moving montage featuring several of the best interviews we’ve captured with ALC clients over the years.

December 2022

We’re used to being behind the camera, but in December, the whole team got to try something totally different: we turned the camera around, and starred in the Slow Clap holiday card video. It was a blast, and an opportunity for the team to poke fun at me, in the style of The Office.

To put a cherry on top of the year, we scored some major wins, taking home top awards at: Clutch (Top 1000 B2B Companies), the John Barleycorn Awards (Double Gold and Top Marketer of 2022), the Telly Awards (Gold in Branded Content), the MarCom Awards (Platinum in Corporate Image Video), and the Corporate Content Awards (Best Content in a Live Setting).

We’re looking forward to another great year of partnerships and challenges in 2023.

Dan Lichtenberg
Founder and Creative Director
Slow Clap

How to Maximize Views for Your Video Content

A step-by-step guide to high-engagement videos.

In this blog post, we’ll show you how to plan and market your video for maximum views, watch-throughs, and sales.

There’s an old thought experiment that goes like this: deep in space is a comet. Nobody has ever seen, heard, or thought about this comet. Nobody has any memory of it.

So, does that comet exist?

We don’t actually know the answer. But if you swap “comet” for “video,” and it’s your video, then we do know the answer: you’ve got a video that exists, but nobody is watching.

YouTube hosts over 500 hours of new content every minute. Some have big production budgets. Most don’t. But only a handful of videos of any budget get big-time views.

Fortunately, we’re here to help with some ideas on how to increase views and watch-throughs of your video content.

To be clear, views are not the only marker of a video’s success. For B2B, the ultimate metric is the sale, which (without tracking) is sometimes hard to quantify. But views are, of course, the first marker that matters. No views means something is broken. And right after views comes watch-through rate. If the audience doesn’t finish your video, something else is broken.

We focus on views and watch-through because they are easily measurable. If you are using YouTube, Wistia, or many other platforms, their analytics will give you this data. And in some cases, you can use that data to identify the problem, and either fix it or do better next time.

So here is Slow Clap’s seven-step strategy to ensure your video gets the engagement it needs to promote sales.

1. The video lives where your audience travels

Let’s return to that comet. If your audience travels in a particular galaxy, and your comet passes through that galaxy, they are more likely to see it. In internet terms, each galaxy is a particular platform, like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Different platforms serve different demographics. It can be a challenge to select the right one. Age, buying patterns, and other factors will matter. YouTube began as a place of authenticity, so selling directly isn’t as common as, say, on LinkedIn.

It doesn’t hurt to use more than one platform. But when you know one works, put most of your promotion efforts there.

And one thing to know: upload your video natively to each platform. LinkedIn, for instance, will penalize your posting’s rank if it links to anything outside of LinkedIn, and other platforms use similar strategies to try to keep users on their platform longer.

How to choose the right platforms:

Hootsuite has a great article on which platforms attract persons of particular demographics. And, interestingly, on what devices they tend to visit those platforms!

Wherever you choose, invest in it, learn how to use it effectively (learning their tags, posting schedule, etc.), and make it yours. 

And when you do use more than one platform, you can use hub platforms like Hubspot to compare results and automate posts.

2. The video shows up in Search, Feeds and Ads

On any given platform, there are three ways users will see your video:

  1. As a search result
  2. In their feed, through a recommendation or a follow
  3. Or as a paid ad

You have the most control over #1 and #3, where the common denominator is using the right keywords. These are words that audiences search to find answers to their questions.

Understanding how each platform uses keywords and tags is the key to getting it to show up in searches. That’s not to say you’ll rank first right away – sometimes that’s a matter of promotion and engagement. 

But you need to know what words people search so they can find your answer to their problems. 

And when running advertisements, you need to know what words describe those audiences. Age range. Profession. Again, these vary by platform. 

How to track a keyword’s effectiveness

Preemptively, you can estimate a keyword’s effectiveness in several ways:

  1. See if it comes up in Google Search autofill
  2. Compare it to similar keywords for free in Google Trends
  3. Find its CPC cost through tools like Keywords Everywhere
  4. Use Answer the Public to search your niche, and see what questions people are asking

After you begin using a keyword, you can track its effectiveness in several ways:

  1. A/B Posts or A/B videos. Create two versions using different keywords, and use that platform’s native analytics tools to see which one gets more views and longer watch times.
  2. Use a tracking platform like Hubspot to specifically follow that keyword.

3. The thumbnail makes your target audience unquenchably curious

Remember back when we had movie theaters, and you’d see movie posters in the lobby? A good poster could turn your head. A great poster made you hunt for the movie’s release date, because you had to see that movie.

Thumbnail images are the images that overlay a video before you hit play. And functionally, they are little movie posters. Through audience selection and good old curiosity, they bring in an audience better than nearly anything. 

Here’s how to create a great thumbnail:

  1. Plan ahead. Design the thumbnail during pre-production. The thumbnail imagery and story needs to integrate with the video itself. Don’t improvise later.
  2. Your thumbnail should answer the questions Who and What. Let your audience know it’s about them or a problem they have. If you are a secure paper-shredding company, plan a visual of an employee buried under documents. 
  3. Use human faces where possible. They connote feelings. 
  4. But if you can’t use any human faces, consider a simple graphic that explains a relationship.
  5. Words are the last thing you should add. Do as much communication with the visuals as possible. Words should fill in any context you can’t show.
  6. Sketch it, but leave it to a graphic designer or video editor to make the final product.
  7. Brand it. The usual colors, fonts, and other graphic assets.
  8. Test it. Can somebody you know identify who it’s for and what it’s about after looking at it for three seconds? Does it pique their curiosity?

How to track an effective thumbnail:

View count is the primary metric. There are ways to A/B test different thumbnails – you could publish two copies of the same video, but with different thumbnails, and keep the one that performs better. 

4. Write a title that can sell on its own

You can’t always depend on a thumbnail. Depending on the platform you’re on, you may not always be able to use one. On LinkedIn, for instance, videos autoplay in the feed, decreasing the utility of a thumbnail. 

This headline without the photo would still get clicks.

Source: swipefile.com.

Or maybe your topic is simply too abstract to explain in an image. If you’re a company that specializes in API’s (Application Programming Interfaces), you could try to show two pieces of software talking to each other in your video thumbnail. Or you could say “we build error-proof APIs” in a text title. 

And even if your thumbnail rocks, you should still have a title, or “headline,” that can sell on its own. We use “title” and “headline” interchangeably, though in marketing speak, the “headline” is any piece of media that is seen first.  

Great headlines won attention in printing-press pamphlets 300 years ago, and they still work today. A headline is the top text that answers the question, “what’s in it for me?” 

According to The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert Bly, a good headline does four things:

  1. Gets attention.
  2. Selects the audience. This tells people who the media is for, and not for.
  3. Delivers a complete message.
  4. And draws the reader into the body copy. Or in this case, the video.

Sometimes your video title completes the thumbnail, like this:

How to track an effective title:

View count. As with the thumbnail, you can try A/B testing to find out what works best.

5. Hook ‘em in the first ten seconds of the video.

David Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy and Mather, said the first ten seconds of a commercial are, in fact, its headline.

Ogilvy died in 1998, and did not live to behold the digital age. But even in an age where people have more control over the videos they watch, statistics bear out Ogilvy’s viewpoint. If you don’t intrigue your audience in the first 10 seconds, you’ll likely lose them.

If you’re not sure how to do that, write up a script, and evaluate it according to these criteria:

  1. Do the first 10 seconds give a clear clue that this video is about a problem your audience can appreciate? 
  2. Once you fully define the problem, is it easy to understand?
  3. Do the music, narrative, and visuals mirror the correct emotion? For example, do they show how frustrating it is finding an enterprise-level password manager?
  4. If you watched just the first 10 seconds of the video, would you want to know more?

How to measure your first 10 seconds:

Use your platform’s Watch-Time or Watch-through metrics. If you’re experiencing a dramatic drop in the first ten seconds, the video should probably be re-edited according to the guidelines above. 

6. Cut the fluff.

A problem in any story – be it a book, a film, or news from a chatty friend – is adding story arcs that don’t resolve or don’t matter. For example, you write a script about a pen that can securely and remotely sign contracts. You connect to Thomas Jefferson signing the declaration of independence. 

Source: Ad Age

But attention spans are short. Jefferson’s pen better be relevant or your audience will raise their eyebrows at best, and more likely click away.

Sometimes you don’t realize you’re off on a tangent.  This is why Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch coined the phrase, 

“Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it — wholeheartedly — and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”

This is best achieved in script revision. Cut, cut, cut as much information as is unnecessary. Cut as many words as you can and achieve the same effect. 

Video editing also uses this process – to tell the best story in the fewest shots necessary. 

How to track attention:

Use the Watch-statistics. Is there a point far away from the end that drops off? If so, you may be able to edit the video to be shorter and tighter.

7. End the video where it should end.

A strong finish is a predictable finish. Once the story arc is complete – once the problem and solution are fully disclosed – that’s where to stop

In your call to action, ask only one thing of your audience. Don’t ask them to buy and subscribe. Don’t ask them to sign up for the email list AND don’t forget to check out our webinar. A video should have one CTA, as once it’s done playing, it’s done. 

There is one kind of video that can shoehorn multiple CTAS into a one-hour runtime: the 3 A.M. sales video. The kind that accompany “funnel” sales pages that look the same everywhere. The kind that use gimmicks to keep you watching. “But wait, there’s more!”

But we don’t recommend you make one of those. Respect your customer’s intelligence. Respect their understanding of story. Be transparent by using a clear story arc. And end it where it logically ends.

OK, and there is one more exception: funny bloopers. But do run them by some honest (brutally honest) friends to see if they’re actually funny.

How to track a strong ending:

Watch statistics that make it through the end at least 60% of the time are a win.

The Slow Clap Hook ‘Em TLDR; Summary

When you need your audience to watch your content all the way through:

  1. Start with the platforms where your audience spends time
  2. Make it relevant to things they search and read about
  3. Make sure they know it’s relevant in the thumbnail and headline
  4. Make sure they know it’s relevant in the first 10 seconds
  5. Cut all the fluff and extra time. People are busy!
  6. And end where it makes sense to end.

And if you want help – a team to translate your understanding of a topic, process, or industry into compelling content – give us a shout


Further reading:

Headlines account for 50% of a blog’s effectiveness

How to Write Headlines: A Step-by-step Guide

23 YouTube Stats that Matter to Marketers

A Complete Guide to B2B Video

500 Hours of Content are Uploaded to YouTube Every Minute

Social Media Demographics that Matter to Marketers

10 YouTube Stats Every Marketer Should Know

How to Create a Great Video Thumbnail

The Optimal Video Length

How to Grab a Viewer in 5 Seconds

YouTube View Metrics

Video Marketing Trends for 2021

Big data, 360 video and more: a preview of the biggest video trends of 2021

This is an overview of what’s new in video in 2021, what continues to improve from 2020, and how to use each rising technology.

Slow Clap Productions is a San Francisco-based creative video production company that helps brands like GitHub, Blue Shield of California, and Capital One use video to its full potential.

2021 feels like the year of the comeback, but in video, it’s been an uninterrupted campaign of internet domination. While marketers continue to shout, “brands must use video today or risk everything!”, video marketing itself is not risky. Because in 2020, people consumed a ton of video, and data gives us a great picture into what will continue to work in 2021.

This means you have more data than ever to create the right video for your favorite audience. But here’s the twist: 2021 may be the year to let others tell your brand’s story, and get better results. And not only are influencers bringing audiences into familiar company – more brands will bring audiences into their world using relatively new technology, including one that used to just be for people who “gotta catch ‘em all.”

Here’s how that will look.


Artificial Intelligence will improve audience matching

In 2021, “big data” will continue to improve video effectiveness by showing targeted videos to the right audience.

With more consumer data available every second, algorithms can increasingly predict which videos will garner more likes, subscribes, and sales.

This is already the strategy for YouTube and Facebook ads – but how about emails, popups, or celebrities who show up in a 360-degree virtual space?

HOW TO USE IT

  • Use platforms with data management and analytics, like Wistia, Google Analytics, Brid.TV, or Hubspot
  • Create demographic tiers based on variables native to your audience
  • Create A/B versions of videos or CTA landing pages and see how they compare

But influencer marketing remains more trusted

influencer marketing, video marketing, social media influencer

Influencer marketing is still on an upward trend. With ads everywhere – and soon to appear in immersive 3D worlds (more on that later) – advertisement fatigue is massive.

But humans continue to know, like, and trust each other – even online. We also value authority. And that’s where everyday people become influencers – by being likeable and knowledgeable.

YouTube changed the face of video, from entertainment to news to yes, even marketing. It’s possible to learn to fix your own car, build your own computer, and know which boots will last the longest – thanks to helpful video content.

But the hard-to-replicate element is trust. Humans value free and helpful information, and they really value it from other humans who act, look, and think like them. And in this age, they earn more credibility if they have nothing to gain by sharing that information.

The future of credibility may be in “brand advocacy,” where ordinary (but trusted!) people make videos about your products and services. Their opinions are the difference between being the giant evil corporation and the community business people know and trust.

HOW TO USE IT

  • Make it easy for influencers to test and review your products and services
  • Offer partnerships with influencers
  • Don’t ask those influencers to exclusively use your products and services – they will lose their trust with the audience

Virtual conferences become a weekly event

Online webinars, virtual conferences, Online events,
Ironclad Virtual Conference, Winter 2020

Just as live streams are the influencer’s sold-out concert, virtual conferences are multiplying. You’ve probably been to at least one. A virtual trade show. A Q&A session with an expert. A discussion group.

But even in live streams, it’s good to step away from talking heads when you simply have to “show” your audience what you can do for them. Last year, Slow Clap made a testimonial video for Slack Frontiers 2020, showing the audience how fast and effortlessly they can both gain momentum and pivot with the right communication platform.

We also helped with Adobe MAX 2020,  creating a fast and fun showcase of creatives empowered by Adobe – while staying focused on how accessible creative work is for anyone, anywhere.

HOW TO USE VIRTUAL CONFERENCES:

  • Choose a theme based on what’s trending in your industry
  • Build attendance with a full-fledged campaign
  • Protect the event with a great video and tech team
  • Bring in well-known experts as keynote speakers
  • Repurpose great talks and Q&As as content after the event

360-degree video grows more accessible

360 video is where the audience can move through and look in any direction. And like The Matrix, sometimes you just have to see it to understand what it means:

And some applications not yet created:

  • Virtual events: feel like you’re there with the live attendees
  • Movie promotion: let the audience explore the asteroid belt from a space pod
  • Education: learn to watch the pitcher’s tells in a virtual baseball training
  • Travel: Following along as explorers dive an ancient shipwreck
  • Health Care: Learning the layout of a hospital before you visit
  • Home Decoration: tour the house’s Christmas decorations

360 video is not new for 2021, but it’s reaching its adolescence, and it’s growing muscles. Once the exclusive realm of video games, 360 is now less expensive, and therefore more accessible to imaginative businesses everywhere. That’s because the technology continues to decrease in price. Though if you want super high resolution, you’ll want to hire a team like Slow Clap.

Augmented reality is now more than just a game

AR, ipad shopping, video marketing with AR

AR is the converse of 360  – instead of placing a user in the brand’s world, it places the product in the user’s world.

Augmented reality was, for most, seeing a Pokemon on their kid’s phone as they walk through the park. In 2021, it’ll be a lot more than cartoons, and many of us will see it through our glasses, too.

While not strictly “video,” augmented reality nonetheless brings products, services, and education into perception in a novel way. And for the B2B environment, this can mean ideas like:

  • Teaching anatomy and medicine – like Case Western Reserve University
  • Training employees, like where to place objects when a shelf is empty
  • Seeing if office furniture fits (and looks good) in a preview
  • Identifying an out-of-place part or product instantly – just point your phone at it and find out what department it belongs in
augmented reality shopping with smart phone,

HOW TO USE AUGMENTED REALITY:

  • Start with an idea. What can you bring into your customer’s world that they want or need?
  • You’ll have to build an app – or integrate it into an existing app
  • You’ll need 3D footage or a 3D animated model of the objects

Education videos are still a tried-and-true video entry point

Educational videos continue to make up a huge portion of YouTube viewership. While it would seem that every “how” has been answered on YouTube, it makes lot of sense for any brand to find out what questions their customers ask most, and make content about it, because:

  1. It positions you as a thought leader
  2. It creates value, which builds trust
  3. And it drives inbound traffic to your brand

For example, RepairPal created simple, professional how-tos that, frankly, anybody could have made with a shaky phone camera. But in both content for businesses and customers, they contrasted themselves as an organized and reliable source for repair.

HOW TO USE EDUCATIONAL CONTENT:

  • Find the most-asked questions about your product or service
  • Write a script – or consult a scriptwriter
  • Shoot the video yourself – or hire a production company
  • Upload it to the platforms your audience uses
  • Name, tag, and keyword it effectively

Public platforms continue to attract different audiences

Holding a smartphone with social media apps open

Your platform is wherever your audience already is. But odds are you’ll use more than one platform.

YouTube remains the biggest host and curator for video on the internet.  YouTube is largely about sitting down with people from around the world as they share their perspectives.

As such, traditional commercials don’t fare well unless run as ads – but educational content still makes up around half of YouTube views. And of course, reality shows and influencer vlogs are doing just fine too.

One more reason to use YouTube: videos hosted there can greatly boost blog posts on the same topic.

Tik Tok grew tremendously in 2020, in spite of legal restrictions. It is deliberately short-form and works well for younger audiences.

Tik Tok doesn’t yet have the filtering of older platforms (YouTube), which allows disruptive newcomers to kick down doors with clever and trendy ideas.

LinkedIn now has 700 million users. LinkedIn’s culture is deliberately workplace-safe,  but if you can balance the platitudes with a dose of real emotion, you can build an audience.

If you’re a B2B brand, pay special attention: LinkedIn is the first place many businesses turn for their needs. It’s where their partners go, their audience goes, and often where it’s safe to spend a little work time visiting.

A note: share your videos by uploading them directly to LinkedIn. LinkedIn’s algorithm prioritizes natively hosted videos, and we’ve seen view counts as much as 4x higher just by uploading directly to LinkedIn.

Facebook video is worth prioritizing if most of your audience is already on Facebook. They’re more likely to see videos hosted on Facebook in their feed. And Facebook is, naturally, a more social platform than YouTube, leading to more shares and likes.

That said, Facebook’s video tab suffers from weak recommendations – geared more toward total views than the appropriate audience.

Instagram, an influencer’s best friend, lowers the bar to admission for brands of any size. But it remains primarily oriented toward B2C.


As video grows, private platforms help leaders inspire

CEO of Blue Shield of California, Paul Markovich, uses private video to speak to his employees.

Sometimes it’s just faster – and more impactful – to send a video to your employees, colleagues, or coworkers.

This is why internal platforms like Wistia, Brighteon, Vimeo, BombBomb, and others are strong options for keeping your messages away from prying ears.


Pants optional, but lights are now dress code

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, video chat, complete with screen sharing, grew exponentially in 2020. And while we can’t stay inside forever, it will take some time before in-person meetings become a regular part of life again.

For some companies that may never happen. That’s where having a video-chat friendly setup makes you look and sound as professional as you are.

A good web camera is nice – but bright and even lighting and a good quality microphone are better gifts for your audience and your personal brand.

HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT VIDEO CHAT EQUIPMENT

  • Search YouTube for options within your budget and technical needs
  • Get lights of a matching color temperature
  • Consider what’s the best space to chat, for both noisiness and light

Shoppable video will be assessed for effectiveness

shop through video, shoppable video screen, ecommerce through video, ecommerce video marketing, online shopping,

The fewer clicks between the consumer and a product, the easier – and more likely – it is for them to buy. So why not let them click right there in the video?

As more customers shop online due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as generational trends and preferences, this – and an integration with 360 environments – could become a major market share. And for those of us who live miles away from our favorite stores, this could be a new form of freedom.

But shoppable videos’ effectiveness is still a question mark. Big data will help with that, but given that this is standard in Instagram, there is reason to be confident that shoppable videos will continue to rise.

HOW TO USE SHOPPABLE VIDEOS

  • If your brand is a lifestyle, it’s a no-brainer to give tours of an iconic scene with products they can buy
  • If your sales lean on an influencer, let them showcase your products with affiliate links
  • Make videos about your best-selling products first

Principles that haven’t changed in 2021

Focus on your customer, not your company

The highest-ranking and hottest-selling videos – be it content or advertisement – are stories where your customer is the hero, and you are merely a guide.

This can be an ad about your customer saving the day with a better fire extinguisher, or content teaching them how to fireproof a garage. But videos about your company’s greatness should be saved for the people who make your company great.

Value is still king

As in, content that shares helpful information will outlast and, over time, outperform the best ads. You still need ads – but even those should focus on your customer’s journey.

So when you begin planning your videos, here are some highly successful examples to draw from:

Get started. Today.

Yes, earlier we insisted you have time to make good decisions. That’s true. But this next step should go into your schedule for this week.

If you don’t yet use video in your marketing, figure out what video your audience wants most. Then set that video in motion. And if you need help making it, contact us.

Hook ‘em from the start:

In your video thumbnail, show them what they can expect in the easiest to understand way possible. If you can, make it so a 4th grader will understand.

Then in the first 15 seconds of the video, make it clear that you’re going to deliver on the promise that brought them there.  “Today I’m going to show you how to hook your audience” is a lot more trustworthy than an open loop (“later I’ll show you how to hook your audience, but first let me tell you about SuperCorp”).

Make your videos searchable

Google still can’t “read” videos, but it can read transcripts. And while YouTube provides automatic transcribing, it’s often inaccurate – which is a problem for Google and for your audience. To counter this, include captions whenever you can. Services like Rev make it easy and inexpensive.

Stay in the conversation.

In our crowded mindspace, people need constant and value-rich reminders that you’re great at what you do. So make a list of the rest of the videos your audience needs, and schedule them to launch at set intervals. And then, create a plan to repurpose your content.

Most of the time, keep it short

YouTube prioritizes long videos because they can then show more ads. And for some content, a comprehensive approach is best. Or when you want to hang out with your fans for a long livestream.

But most video is better short. Your audience will stick around if you don’t waste their time. Executives prefer shorter video, too.

Don’t use autoplay in your ads

Google knows it irritates most audiences – and they continue to hunt and kill it. It’s better to blend your marketing into value-rich content than to shout at people while they look up dinner recipes.

Conclusion: try something bold in 2021

Whether it’s partnering with an influencer, or investing in Augmented Reality, or experimenting with 360 videos, or just creating good educational videos about your products and services, 2021 is a great time to start using video. And if you need help with any project, contact Slow Clap.

Further Reading

Personalized Video Marketing: The Next Revolution in Content Marketing

The 7 Most Creative Uses of 360 Video by Brands

25 Predictions for Social Media Marketing in 2021

The Best Video Production Companies in the San Francisco Bay Area

How to Make Videos While Sheltering in Place

A Complete Guide to Understanding, Planning, and Creating B2B Videos

To make effective B2B videos, you have to think differently than B2C.

This is a guide to making B2B videos, or videos that sell from one business to another.

Is there a difference? Put simply, the B2B audience is small and practical. They are company decision-makers, managers and CEOs. They have strict budgets, stakeholders to please, and employee jobs to protect. 

B2C markets don’t have to be so methodical. While a B2B software company may have 10,000 real-world prospects, a B2C software company may have 10 million or more. And their purchase habits can be guided by logic – but they can also be for curiosity or comfort. 

Therefore, while all advertising requires emotion to sell, B2B depends heavily on concrete data to close a sale. Statistics, industry knowledge, and proven results are required. 

Sounds daunting, right? Well, in a lot of ways, we’ve found that B2B video can actually be easier than B2C, because if you know the industry, you know precisely what the players need. And creating videos to position yourself as an indispensable guide can actually be fun.

Slow Clap Productions is a San Francisco-based creative video production company that helps B2B brands like GitHub, Slack, Blue Shield of California, Capital One Small Business, and Insightly use video to its full potential. 

This article will show you: 

  • How B2B video is different. 
  • The best types of B2B content to make. 
  • How to choose which content to make. 
  • And where to deploy your videos for maximum results.

So let’s get started.


Great B2B video starts with B2B marketing fundamentals

B2B video follows the same principles as any great marketing, but differs in the where and how the message is delivered.

Start by thinking about who buys. Are they the director of marketing? Purchasing director? Or field supervisor?

Next, what does this person want? They may have a large budget, but misspending can damage the company and possibly cost them their job. A B2C customer can suffer a broken hair dryer, but a B2B customer may not be able to survive faulty software. 

Your customer’s first desire is safety (not to lose), but their hopes are pinned on products that go beyond “staying the same.” They do want software that really does save them an hour a day. 

Because these are the stakes, the goal of B2B marketing is first and foremost to build trust

To build trust, We suggest you demonstrate five things:

  1. You understand their industry. You know their operations and supply chain. You speak their language, including industry-specific lingo. Our testimonial video collaboration with GitHub, for instance, targets a very specific audience interested in cutting edge cloud computing, featuring Spotify, Google, and the Apache Foundation.
  2. You can prove your results. You gather testimonials from other customers – ideally recognizable brands, but at least companies in the same industries as your prospective customers. The video we made for NewVoiceMedia (now Vonage) about DoorDash does a great job of laying down the concrete benefits of their product.
  3. You can show relevant data. This includes test data, like “our drills lasted 40% longer in an independent study.” And related data, like “tungsten has shown to outlast other metals by as much as 90%” Our animated videos for States Title, for instance, use data points to make a strong case for their solutions.
  4. You know the culture of the industry. Like CRM, where sarcasm and color are encouraged. Or IT, where being efficient and correct are virtues. Or law, where reputation and power matter most. Stampli’s audience is Accounts Payable, one of the least sexy silos in a business. But they know their audience and know that AP teams love a good sense of humor. We made sure that shined through in our Stampli brand videos.
  5. You have a clear message that wraps the first four together. “Suppliers who use HoverTruck pay half as much in mileage costs, and it’s trusted by brands like FedEx.” Blue Shield of California did a great job of this when discussing new emerging technology, Virtual Consults, in our animated video series Health Reimagined.

How to use this knowledge in your B2B video best practices

Video is arguably the most powerful marketing short of a friend’s referral, but it faces the same problems as every other type of online marketing, including:

  • How will we get them to find it?
  • How will we get them to click on it?
  • How will it resonate with the audience?
  • How will it persuade the audience?

To tackle these, answer the following questions.

Who is the hero of the video?

More specifically, who is your customer “avatar?” What are their demographics and gender? How do they dress? How do they talk? If using actors or animated characters, you’ll need to make these decisions so you can include characters with whom your audience can identify. 

“To be good at sales, you have to be good at basically duplicating and mirroring the person you’re selling to and giving them the personality they need to feel comfortable to buy,” says Benjamin Denehy, CEO of The UK’s Most Hated Sales Trainer. 

What story does your customer need to hear?

It’s a simple formula – your customer has a problem (X), so they obtain your product/service (Y), and get a specific outcome (Z). 

Even in B2B video, most of your storytelling should be about your customer. This means skipping the office tour video unless it’s relevant – for instance, if you want to show that your employees all share a background in the same industry as your clients.

How is your customer searching for answers?

You solve a problem. Your customer asks about how to solve that problem in different and sometimes unexpected ways. 

Promising these answers is the key to being found, being watched, and (eventually) being purchased. 

This is first a problem of defining the answer, and then using keyword research to find out exactly how your audience is really asking it. For example, if you run a SaaS company, a frequent search is “software as a service vs. subscription.”

Source: Answer The Public

One way to begin is by using Answer the Public, which is sort of a reversed search engine. You type in a topic, and you’ll get questions and queries most frequently searched in Google that includes that search phrase. Be sure to try different search phrases – and consider comparing them in Google Trends to see which one(s) are searched most overall.

What proof do they need to hear and see?

According to Harvard Business Review, emotional purchase decisions are still rational – but in a complex way, where the intuition processes data faster than conscious logic, and then offers up its judgment as an emotion.

So maybe we don’t exactly “buy with emotion and justify with logic.” But either way, data is necessary to sell. Here are four easy-to-use forms of data for your B2B videos:

  • Before & after: Whenever possible, show the problem, action, and result 
  • Testimonials: “I’m director of marketing at TechCorp, and video helped us grow tremendously.” 
  • Primary data: “In our tests, video had a 20% higher conversion rate than email.” 
  • Secondary data:  “According to X, 90% of marketers say video brings them success”

During planning and scripting, consider adding every credible form of proof to your video. Rank them by how impactful they are to your avatar. Safety is always the first concern, with success coming second. 

Where will they watch this video?

The last consideration in this set is choosing where to launch your video for best results. This involves some knowledge of platforms. 

Start with these questions:

  • What platforms will you use? 
  • Is that platform’s culture best for this content?
  • What are their size limits? 
  • What are their runtime limits?
  • Should you upload the video natively on the platform, or embed it from another platform (e.g. Wistia, YouTube, or Vimeo)?

If you’re hoping to be found organically, ask these: 

  • What keywords would bring your customers there? 
  • Are the keywords found in the video? Or the video’s description?
  • Is your thumbnail eye-catching to your customer avatar?

And if you’re using advertisements, consider these:

  • Which platforms have the most professionals?
  • What keywords would target them best?

The best formats for B2B videos

Testimonials

A customer’s success story is worth… well, don’t tell them how much it’s worth, or they may invoice you. All the data in the world still doesn’t compare to a trustworthy recommendation. Even better: a human from a brand recognized in your industry. 

For instance, our case study video of how Asana’s legal operations pros use Ironclad is worth its weight in gold. It describes a story of a company department (legal ops) on the cutting edge of an industry (business contracting) all powered by Ironclad.

Ironclad x Asana Testimonial Video

To create a great testimonial:

  • Ask an outspoken customer who loves your product for help.
  • Film them in their native environment, using a professional production team.
  • Have them speak to an interviewer. It’s easier than talking to the camera.

And for basic interview questions:

  1. Who are they, and what does their business do?
  2. What was their problem?
  3. How did they know that your product had the answer?
  4. What was the result?
  5. Do they recommend you?

Explainer Videos

Explainer videos aren’t always about animated characters facing abstract problems. They can be live action, too, with a company representative talking about their methods. The common element is that they sell by explaining their unique solution to a problem.

You’ve seen a million of them – but they don’t need a million views. They only need to be seen by the right people. So targeting and promoting is just as important as creating a clear message. 

Stampli: Effortless Invoices Explainer Video

To create a great explainer video:

  1. Use an avatar that is familiar to your customer like Tony in our Stampli videos.
  2. Start with the problem. And really make them feel it.
  3. Explain the advantages of your solution.
  4. Show results with your strongest data.
  5. Target your audience with ads – be it through Google search, or through ads on specific problems.

Webinars and Live Streams

As an alternative to meeting in person, video conferencing is still rising. There are big advantages, too, beyond safety and lack of travel. 

  • It’s friendly. You’re not some faraway company in a tower nobody can enter. 
  • Customers get to learn and learn about your brand at the same time.
  • You can answer specific questions. B2B video marketing is largely about concrete answers, and you probably won’t be able to answer all of them in your other marketing. 
  • You get content you never knew you needed. Customers will raise concerns you never thought about. 

Slack Frontiers

Webinars live or die on audience participation, so we recommend you devote a large portion of time to answering questions. Lecturing through a pitch deck is boring. Keep your presentation short and open up the mic as soon as possible.

Besides planning, spend time promoting your webinars. Use your email list and your social media. And offer value. Your webinar should be worth skipping lunch. Two great methods include offering answers customers can’t get elsewhere, and offering discounts on your product.

Lastly, make sure you partner with an event production agency, or have an internal event producer, who knows the ins and outs of attendee registration, and how to turn registrants into high quality vetted sales leads.

Interviews with Experts

Often in B2B marketing, the word of an expert can be as good as a testimonial. If you make medical-grade masks, talk to a microbiologist who can verify that some masks – like yours – can stop even the tiniest of viruses from passing through.

La Crema Brand Story as an interview with experts

People understand that experts are busy and often live far away, so they don’t expect a full-scale production. Their first concern is getting answers. So your two priorities in expert interviews are good audio and good questions.

To create great expert interviews:

  1. Contact the expert with full disclosure about who you are and your intentions
  2. If they’re unwilling to host a film crew, ask them to record in a quiet area, preferably with good lighting
  3. Send them your questions in advance
  4. Set up your space for high-quality recording
  5. Respect the expert’s time and thank them

Educational Videos

Educational videos naturally include teaching your customer how to use your product or service. If you don’t show them how, somebody else will, and you don’t know what they’ll get wrong, let alone what they’ll say about you.

RepairPal Educational video

But beyond that, educational video can add value to your brand by creating industry-specific content. For example, SEO juggernaut Moz creates how-to videos on every aspect of SEO and search. And RepairPal collaborated with us to create content about commonly asked car maintenance questions.


How to choose what videos to create

If you have no video content whatsoever, this is the B2B video marketing strategy we recommend:

  1. A great explainer video. Your customer must first understand how you help them through a problem.
  2. Testimonials. Even when filmed on a phone, testimonials can build trust. But capturing them professionally demonstrates your success and reliability.
  3. Webinars. These help you build email lists, meet people interested in your product, and find out more about what they value. It’s win-win stuff.
  4. Educational videos. First, create some on how to use your product (if necessary), and second on heavily-searched topics related to your business. If you recorded a great Webinar, it can easily become an educational video.
  5. Interviews with experts. They’re essentially more educational videos, but it’s harder to predict if the content will answer specific questions your audience has. Sometimes, though, you need somebody with more authority to prove your own credibility.

Choosing the right platforms

As always, go where your audience goes. But in B2B, that’s a somewhat predictable breakdown: 

If you’re starting from scratch, build your presence in the top four platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube). You can use programs like Hootsuite to post to every platform on an automated schedule. 

Remember that total views and total subscribers are nice, but they’re not the metrics you want. Your goal is engagement with actual customers. It doesn’t matter if you only get 25 views in a month if one of them is a major customer.


Tips for better videos and better outcomes

Start with a script. It’s a lot easier to change paths on paper than it is mid-filming or in post-production.

Add captions. Captions make your content friendly to hard-of-hearing and increase engagement from users scrolling down feeds. Some platforms offer them for free. Rev.com offers them at just over $1/minute. 

Hire a top-notch production company if the video is going to directly impact your sales. Reach out to us to start the conversation.

Follow the 80/20 rule. Spend 20% of your time on creation, and 80% on promotion. Use it in ads. Put it on a social media schedule. 


Further reading

Building a Brand Voice with Video (Slow Clap)

A Complete B2B SEO Strategy for 2021 (Backlinko)

Understanding the Differences Between B2B and B2C Marketing (The Balance – Small Business)

2016 B2B Benchmarks Report (Content Marketing Institute)

Four Best Practices for B2B Marketing (Uberflip)

Six type of B2B video and when to use them (LinkedIn)

The Best B2B Social Networking Channels To Grow Your Business (Shane Barker)