Why Your Company Needs Branded Content

With more and more things clamoring for our attention in the digital age, and even less attention to devote to them, the competition for those precious seconds of customer engagement is fierce. And in those few seconds, brands have to communicate their message in a way that’s compelling, interesting and impactful to their customers.

 

That’s a pretty tall order to fill for just a few seconds isn’t it?

 

Fortunately, video gives you a way to not only attract attention, but build brand awareness in a way that encourages the customer to learn more. Here’s why video is the best option to connect with new customers and how to do it right: 

 

Why Use Video to Create Branded Content? 

Whether you’re creating a corporate or non-profit video, your chosen “brand content vehicle” matters. And with online video viewing on the rise globally, there’s no better time to share your story visually than right now. Here’s why: 

Video is Engaging and Memorable

Great video has the ability to connect with viewers in ways that plain text or images can’t. Through a combination of sound and visuals, video has the potential to plant a seed in our mind. 

 

Whether through a quirky slogan, a catchy beat, or an awe-inspiring moment, we often find ourselves sharing it with friends, who share it with friends of friends, and so on. In the very best cases, a video is so good that it goes viral.

 

 

Here’s one such example from LG promoting their HD TVs. Nearly everyone can identify with the stress of a job interview. Now add the end of the world to that moment and you’ve got a video that people can’t help but talk about—to the tune of 33 million views.

 

 

Video Forges an Emotional Connection

Great branded content isn’t just about presenting a product. It’s about presenting a product as part of a larger, more intricate and more compelling story. Through visual cues, music, speech, body language, and tone, branded content can evoke everything from joy to empathy, excitement to inspiration. Done right, these very same emotions can nurture and create a positive association with the brand they’re promoting. 

 

This Coca-Cola commercial, will tug at your heartstrings even though the people involved are thousands of miles away. If nothing else, it most certainly gives you a new perspective on the holiday season.

 

 

Video Demonstrates Value – Quickly

Even though our attention is often being pulled in a thousand different directions at once, there’s still a spark of an opportunity to create value, and video is the best way to get that message across succinctly. 

 

Video directly answers the question at the forefront of the viewer’s mind: “What’s in it for me?” Nobody wants to sit through a minute and a half product pitch droning on and on. But they will watch a captivating video showing just how far we’ve come in our quest to do things not just faster, but also better. 

 

Branded content allows brands the freedom to showcase their values, mission, and personality in a way that is authentic and real. Have a look at the video we created for GitHub to see just how quickly value can be shared in a way that’s powerful and impactful. 

 

Video Lets You Tell a Compelling Story

Last, but certainly not least is the very heart of what video and branded content is all about: storytelling. We’ve been sharing stories around a campfire for generations and even with the advent of new technology, there’s something about a captivating story that speaks to us on a different level.

 

This video from Dove tells the story, not of Dove the brand, but of women who, for years, have been told by society, television, and even by their parents, how they look. So during the video, you can hear them share these bits of self with the artist by saying things like “My mom told me I have a big jaw.” or “I would say I have a pretty big forehead.”

 

When they see how the forensic artist has drawn them, their natural beauty surprises them, leading one woman to add “I should be more grateful of my natural beauty. It impacts the choices in friends we make, the jobs we apply for, how we treat our children.” Dove doesn’t even mention its products, it merely creates this association of real beauty with its brand.

Can I Use a Branded Content for Marketing? 

So far, we’ve talked a lot about building brand awareness using video, but what about the next step and using branded video content for marketing? Here are seven steps you’ll need to take to ensure your branded content resonates well with your target audience: 

Step 1: Define Your Marketing Goals

Are you aiming to drive website traffic? Promote brand recognition, generate leads, or introduce a certain product? The clearer your goals, the better your video will be at reaching them. By defining your goals before the video production gets underway, you’ll also give your video production team room to get creative and make your marketing vision happen. 

Step 2: Identify Your Target Audience

Knowing your ideal customer’s demographics is a key step in video creation. The more you can be “in tune” with your target audience, the more your video will stand out and get watched. 

Step 3: Weave Your Narrative

The key to a successful branded content piece is a compelling narrative: a mission, story, or piece of content that attracts attention and helps people to see themselves in the story. What kind of emotions or messages do you want to share? Look at the examples above for several ideas to help inspire you. 

Step 4: Create a Powerful Script

The best video scripts communicate your brand in as few words as possible. Keep your script clear, concise, and compelling and look for ways to connect with your viewers through the power of emotional storytelling.

Pro tip: Work with a video agency like Slow Clap on this step, if you don’t have the capabilities in-house.

Step 5: Plan for Your Shoot

What sort of visual style, tone, and mood will your video evoke? High quality video, animation, graphics, and music that all align with your brand each work like pillars to prop up the message you’re promoting and the words and feelings you want to be associated with your brand. 

Step 6: Optimize for Different Platforms

Once your video is complete, you’ll want to ensure that it’s optimized for different platforms and devices. Depending on your marketing goals, your video may be broadcast at a conference or showcased on Instagram or anything in between. Make sure it’s designed to work flawlessly on the platforms you’re targeting, including on mobile devices. 

Step 7: Promote and Share Your Video

Even after the production work is done, you still have to promote your video. Add it to your website, your social media accounts, relevant video sharing platforms, and encourage viewers to do the same. You have a wide range of options for marketing your video, including partnerships with influencers, email marketing, and paid advertising to help boost your video’s reach. 

 

Conclusion

That’s a considerable number of steps, and for brands that are just starting out—or even more established brands—you may not have the time or the team to do it all yourself. That’s where a great video agency partner like Slow Clap comes in.

 

Leveraging our experience working with Fortune 500 brands like Sony PlayStation, eBay, Adobe, and Capital One, as well as startups like Slack, Ironclad, and Stampli, our creative team is ready to help you make a powerful impression through video content. 

 

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

Meet Slow Clap’s Producer: Katy Bailes

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

Introduce yourself!

Hello! Nice to meet you! My name is Katy and I am Slow Clap’s newest recruit! I am originally from London in the UK and have been living in San Francisco for around 2 years now by way of marriage to my lovely husband George! Prior to joining Slow Clap, I worked at the in-house documentary film team at The Economist newspaper. There we made short(ish) documentaries about anything and everything from start-ups in the world’s largest refugee camp to what led to Trump’s victory in the 2016 US presidential election.

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

I am a producer at Slow Clap which I’m very happy about because I love producing! In general, I have always wanted to produce and make documentaries because I’ve always been interested in what’s going on in the world. It may sound a bit simple but that is simply it! From a young age, I was always fascinated in the stories of my friends from different places and the stories of the new places I visited and lived in and so making films and specifically documentaries just kind of made sense to me as a job. I like the mix of creative organizing (if that’s a thing!), whereby you have an idea or a concept and you make that a reality through solid processes. I love working in a team and truly appreciate the collaborative nature of filmmaking in all its forms.

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

I was interested in the role firstly because I wanted to diversify my experience from documentaries into more commercial work. As Slow Clap is a corporate video production company in San Francisco, I really love that Slow Clap works with a large variety of companies from large tech organizations to smaller NGOs and I was impressed with the documentary style of the work they produce. To me it was sort of the best of both worlds— I could continue working in a style I was used to and appreciated but rev it up a bit with new clients and processes. I also really liked the photo illustrations of each member of staff and the inclusion of the company pets! 

What am I watching? 

Anything from Keeping Up with the Kardashians to old Brazilian classics like Black Orpheus! This year I am excited for the new series of Succession but am also looking forward to watching some new documentaries like To The End and Descendant which is about African-Americans tracing their ancestral roots.

Any Hobbies?

I’ve always loved dancing from ballet to dancehall and so I try and keep that up! I am a big fan of anything Brazilian and so I enjoy reading and keeping up to date with what’s happening over there and on the continent in general, as well as speaking Portuguese as and when I can. Now that I live in California, I am embracing the outdoors and love a good hike to watch a sunset and am even considering taking up paragliding!

Lastly, favorite project you’ve worked on? 

I have to say probably Public Advocates’s 50th Anniversary as I got to piece together 50 years in a paper edit, continue to develop it throughout the editing process, and see it come to life. It was an honor to learn about the many stories of Public Advocates as well as highlight the systemic changes that they created in the community.

Slow Clap Announced as a 2022 Local Excellence Award Winner by UpCity

UpCity spotlights the most trustworthy of over 70,000 B2B service providers. For Slow Clap to win the UpCity Local Excellence Award again in 2022 is really exciting for us. Slow Clap is also a listed and trusted vendor on review sites like Clutch, 50Pros.com, and Design Rush. We love helping our clients tell their authentic stories. 

Here are a couple of things our clients had to say about our partnership in our UpCity reviews:

“Dan and the Slow Clap crew were very professional, conscientious, and worked very hard to deliver a great production under budget and on time. They had to work with some difficult restrictions and they smiled through every adversity. I would highly recommend them.”

Mark Hornung, Employer Brand Consultant

“As someone who has personally worked with Slow Clap during the filming and editing process, they are wonderful to work with. Slow Clap are not just filmmakers, but advocates and storytellers as well. They are invested in helping you tell the best story.”

Casey Tran, Asian Law Caucus

Thanks to all our clients who have chosen us to help tell their stories. It’s your support that has made this award possible and helps us evolve as storytellers. Can’t wait to see you on our next project!

If you or someone you know is interested in making a video, let us know! We’d love to share our knowledge and help you get started. Share your ideas with us here.

The Manifest Names Slow Clap Productions A Most Reviewed Video Production Company In San Francisco for 2022

Making an impact in your business is a difficult journey to navigate, and we are always honored when our clients choose us to guide them in telling their authentic stories.  

Thanks to our clients, we were recognized as one of the most highly reviewed video production companies in San Francisco for 2022 by The Manifest. Without our clients’ honest reviews, we wouldn’t have been acknowledged as one of the top two video production companies in San Francisco.

Check out what one of our largest clients, Blue Shield of California, had to say:

“They make us feel like we’re their only client. Not one request or inquiry felt like it was dismissed ever. I also like how whenever we provide them feedback, whether it’s on the creative brief or the videos, they actually take everything in.”

Suffice to say, we love our clients, and the creative challenges they bring to the table. From scripting to filming to animating to editing, even to project management and client relationships, we love it all. No two days are the same, and no two video projects are the same.

Want to collaborate together on a video? We’re always happy to learn about your project to see if we’d be a good fit. Reach out here.

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